How Tos & Tutorials

The Ultimate Rock Crawling Guide

How should rock crawling be done?

In this article, we tell you the some significant rock crawling strategies that’ll help you effectively reach the top, without having to resort to rushing.

What Is Rock Crawling?

rock crawling 2

Rock crawling is a special form off road driving wherein people use modified trucks and jeeps to go over steep terrain surfaces that are also guarded with obstacles – ranging from rocks to mountain trails.

Approach, Breakover, and Departure Angles

vehicle approach angle

Climbing over different obstacles and getting away from them depend on three factors:

  • Approach Angle – is the highest point that your 4×4 can ascent an obstacle without damaging its front part (Recommended: 19.5-37 degrees).
  • Breakover/Rampover Angle – is the highest point your 4×4 can pass over an obstacle without damaging its undercarriage body (Recommended: 19-28 degrees).
  • Departure Angle – is the highest point your 4×4 can descend from an obstacle without damaging its rear or back part (Recommended: 21-49 degrees).

Drive Slowly

drive slowly

The faster you are, the easier you fall. Rock sizes can range from small ones that can pinch your tires, to ones that can be as gigantic as a regular house. Once you hit them hard, they can send large amounts of impact on your tires, which can automatically tip you upside down.

Experts say that a 4.8-kilometer-per-hour speed is enough to get you through a rough ride, as it prevents the possibility of more than just damaging the important components of your 4×4.

Go for Proper Tire Pressure

correct tire pressure

The bulkier your 4×4’s tires are, the bouncier and less comfortable your ride becomes. This is because your tires’ traction is reduced which can result to fatal accidents, especially when you’re moving on a very steep and uneven surface.

See to it your tires are deflated according to their recommended tire pressure. Tire pressure varies based on the type of surface you’re on. But if you’re on one that’s filled with rocks, 22-28 PSI is sufficient.

Use Off road Track Boards

traction pads 4x4

If climbing suddenly takes its toll, then continuing your way up is useless, no matter how hard you try. Establishing a safe and stable route via smaller rocks, wooden logs, or off road track boards or pads can serve as step-up instruments.

However, remember to strike a balance in controlling the pedals and brakes as well, so as you don’t accidentally slide backwards.

Don’t Drive in Zigzag Motion

no zig zags

When you’re on an uneven terrain where large rock boulders are present, your chances of rolling over are high.

To avoid the possibility of fatalities, it’s always best to travel in a uniform direction. If you’re going up, observe a slow and straight ascension. If you’re going down, do the same only in a descending manner. Only do a zig-zag motion as a last resort or if it’s truly necessary.

Familiarize Yourself with Your 4×4 Parts’ Assembly

4x4 parts names

There’s nothing wrong in asking a professional’s help in some repairs and modifications. However, others have a tendency to be very reliant on the experts they don’t bother to know their 4x4s in and out.

On the other hand, learning where your 4×4 parts are found and how they work, help you perform minor troubleshoots if you encounter certain problems. More on vehicle familiarization here.

Control Your Temper

control your temper

Never force your 4×4 to climb on huge and very steep rock boulders, when you’re a new rock crawling enthusiast. Instead of letting anger and frustration get the better of you because you can’t reach your desired peak, hone your skills through experience.

Choose offroading trails that have mild, rocky surfaces. This will teach you a thing or two in terms of proper navigation strategies until the time comes when you’re finally ready for bigger challenges. If you can’t reach the top and accidentally got stuck somewhere, always search for an escape route.

Ask Help from a Spotter

vehicle spotter hand signals

If you lack the confidence in judging which one’s the right trail to take, you can seek help from a guide or spotter. The spotter serves as your lookout if the path ahead of you is safe or not.

He usually informs you about the wisest contours to take. But he can also warn you regarding deep holes that can get your 4×4 stuck and other potential dangers, through hand signals.

Other Rock Crawling Tips

Rock crawling requires a lot of patience and carefulness in the approach so you don’t risk rolling or toppling over in the process. Here are other things you have to think through when it comes to rock crawling.

Climbing a Rock Step

rock crawl slowly

When going over a steep rock step, make sure you’re under low speed and place your right foot snugly on the kick panel of your 4×4 found on the right most part of the pedal set. It’ll give you proper control of your accelerator the moment you reach some bumps.

Balance in Rock Climbing

rock crawl with balance

When you feel like your 4×4 is about to tip over because the surface is really high, the best way is to go on reverse. Doing this, helps you regain your vehicle’s traction. Once it’s settled, survey your surroundings and look for a trail that’ll help you gradually move up.

Front-wheel Drive Descent

front wheel drive

Moving down with your 4×4’s back facing up, puts a lot of pressure on the font wheels because of the weight. It’s in this case you may sometimes find either your left or right front wheel slightly straying from the path and end up hanging. If you encounter such, all you have to do is slowly continue going down the trail as long as one of the front wheel and the rear wheels are still on track.

The logic here is that one front wheel can still provide you with sufficient traction for stability, while the rear wheels help push your 4×4 a bit back on trail as you carefully go forward.

The Significance of a 4×4 Armor

Since you’ll be encountering a lot of more than just bumps on the trails, one more thing you need to consider before you go rock hopping, is to equip your 4×4’s susceptible parts with an armor. Here’s why. See also the brief guide here.

4x4 armor 3


Rock crawling takes time. By learning from other rock crawling experts’ mistakes, as well as yours and doing your best with these tips in mind, you’ll simply glide over obstacles. Share us your thoughts below.


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