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    • Make sure your off-road driving etiquette is top-notch

      You've learned a lot about how to equip your off-road vehicle so it can handle anything in its path. What occasionally goes unrecognized is the fact that you have to be armed with the right knowledge to handle your own obstacles. Knowing the etiquette rules for off-roading is a must, and even having a grasp of a few key elements can help you figure out what to do in a few common situations. 

      Yield to non-vehicles
      There is a good chance you will run into other people on public off-roading trails. Mountain bikers, horseback riders and hikers are just a few of the adventurers who frequent parks and open spaces you may be driving through, so it's important to know how to interact with these individuals for a peaceful and respectful meeting. Always let these groups pass by you first - you both know your truck mods make you a formidable thing to run into while off-roading, and allowing others to get some distance and choose their route can keep everyone safe. 

      Watch behavior on hills
      Few things are more rewarding than hearing the rev of a souped-up engine as you accelerate up a hill. When you're pushing your truck to the limit to get it up a steep incline, the last thing you want is another vehicle coming out of nowhere and stopping you in your tracks. So if the situation is reversed and you come to a hill that another driver is trying to climb, you should yield to him or her. That truck or Jeep may need the momentum to reach the top of a hill, and making them come to a complete stop could throw that off. 

      Pull over when you stop
      At any pit stops or breaks during your off-roading experience, you should be sure to pull over so your vehicle is completely off the trail. That way, if anyone speeds around a corner or loses visibility, there is little risk of hitting your ride and causing damage. When looking for the perfect parking spot, try and stay away from tall grass or dry areas. Tall grass may be hiding wild animals or obstacles that could cause damage to your vehicle, while dry areas could be easily damaged by your vehicle - even catching fire because of a catalytic converter, reports. 

      Don't litter
      It may seem self explanatory, but it can't hurt to remind yourself that littering in nature is a no-no. Make sure you bring along a garbage bag to contain any waste you produce during your adventure, whether it's water bottles or cigarette butts. There is no telling what kind of harm even the most innocent of mistakes can do, so properly disposing of all waste is a must. If you forget to bring a bag along for your trash, try to check in at a park's visitor's center or ranger station. Often, these facilities will have what you need free of cost. 

      Make sure your vehicle is up to snuff
      Setting out on a difficult trail with a vehicle that doesn't have all of the necessary Jeep or truck modifications is a recipe for disaster. While you may be eager to push your vehicle to the limit and see exactly what it's capable of, that doesn't mean you can head out into the wilderness without knowing you are completely prepared. If you do, you may end up causing damage to your ride and potentially even to others, not to mention any type of stalling can negatively impact others on the trails who are stuck behind you and have to rescue you. 

    • Strategize for an off-road race with these tips

      Some truck modifications aren't made to sit in a garage. When you make alterations to an off-road vehicle, you're going to want people to see them, and you'll also want to the chance to test out the changes. There's no better way to do that than as part of an off-road race. These events pit drivers against each other in a mad dash for the finish line, and in many instances motorists have to test their vehicles' capabilities to complete the course quickly. 

      Scout the area
      One of the most essential parts of preparing for an off-roading race is scouting the course. Whenever possible, you should take a trip to the location and conduct a practice run. A map may give you a general idea of what to expect, but lots of things can change in a short amount of time, and seeing the area for yourself is the best way to understand a course. 

      Try to head to the course at the end of the day after many other drivers have already made their way across the land. This way you'll be on terrain that is similar to race conditions - it may be torn up and muddy, but it could also be an accurate depiction of what you can expect on the day of the big event. 

      If for some reason you can't get to the trail before the start of the race, search for other ways of getting information about the course. See if there are any write-ups from people who have driven on the trail in the past to find out about certain areas you should watch out for. 

      Be prepared for anything 
      Off-road racing means pushing your vehicle to the absolute limit. When you're doing this, there's no telling what type of hiccups might happen along the way, so you need to be ready to handle whatever comes at you. Have a well-stocked tool kit with all of the basic equipment you'll need to do repairs on the fly. Recovery straps are great to keep close in case you get stuck, and spare tires are an absolute must-have in case you hit a patch of land that damages a tire. 

      Organize your gear
      Once you have collected all of the tools and parts that could be needed on the trails, you should organize the gear in a way that makes sense to you. Giving everything a proper place - one that feels natural to you - you can easily find what you need in a short amount of time. Some items you may want in the glove compartment, a tool box in the truck bed or thrown in the trunk of a Jeep, and stocking up ahead of a race will guarantee you know where all of the gear is. 

      Make sure you conduct one final check the night before the race and have everything securely stashed in your vehicle. Taking care of this in the days prior to the event ensures that you won't be scrambling to complete these tasks the morning of. 

      Be aware of weather conditions
      You can know the course like the back of your hand and have all of the top gear, but if you don't prepare for certain weather conditions, it may all be for naught. While most drivers may prefer a clear or partly cloudy day, the odds of getting your ideal weather are slim. Be sure to research in the days leading up to the event to see what the forecast is like, as this may influence your strategy for the race as well as what type of tools you bring. Something as simple as packing sunglasses for a sunny day could make a big difference. 

    • What you need to be prepared for emergencies

      Before you head out for a day of mud bogging, it's important to make sure you have all the equipment you need to have a safe, fun experience. You should be prepared for all scenarios, including getting stuck in the mud or facing a mechanical failure. Having the right tools in your off-road vehicle can help save a lot of time and effort in the event your truck gets stuck in the wilderness. You should keep a few supplies on board just in case, including ropes and chains to help you get un-stuck as well as items to keep you and your loved ones safe.

      Emergency supplies
      You and the people you have with you should always come first in the event of an emergency. You can worry about your truck after you're sure everyone is safe. You should keep a first aid kit, flashlights, bottled water and emergency blankets in your truck so you won't have to worry if you wind up waiting for a friend to tow you out of the mud. If you are heading to a secluded off-roading spot, it is probably a good idea to bring along some food too. Jumper cables, extra quarts of oil, electrical tape for temporary fixes and maybe even a can of gasoline are other items that can come in handy. You can find emergency kits for vehicles that include most of the items you should have, such as AAA's Emergency Roadside Kit.

      Recovery equipment
      Half the fun of mudding and dune bashing is the thrill of defying the very land you're riding on, but this also means you risk occasionally getting stuck in an especially soft area. In cases like these, you'll need to find a way to pull your truck back to more solid ground so you can continue off-roading. Unless you're Superman or a bonafide strongman, you won't be able to get the vehicle out by yourself, and you'll likely need another truck or SUV to help rescue your ride. recommends packing a few recovery straps, which are typically 2 to 3 inches wide and upwards of 30 feet long. They're designed to be able to haul up to 20,000 pounds without breaking, which makes then a great alternative to heavy, bulky chains. You can also find ropes that serve the same purpose, but straps are typically less expensive and just as effective. The news source indicates that ropes have less stretch to them - roughly between 10 and 15 percent, while straps can have up to 30 percent stretch. You'll also need two D-rings, two hitch pins and a shackle block to secure the straps or ropes between the two vehicles. Make sure to inspect all of these items for signs of wear or damage before you hit the trails to ensure they'll work properly if you need them.

      Keep everything easily accessible
      It's important to store all of these supplies in spots that are easy to reach, as you will want quick access in the event of an emergency, especially if your vehicle is in a precarious situation. Keeping a bag or box of these helpful tools underneath one of the seats or in a designated spot where no other supplies will wind up on top is ideal to allow you to act fast. Whether you need help getting your off-road vehicle out of the mud or you're coming to the rescue of a friend, being able to help quickly and easily is key to success.

    • Cadillac Escalade is ready to 'XPLORE'

      Cadillac made a name for itself as a producer of luxury cars, but that doesn't mean its vehicles can't pack a punch. The Cadillac Escalade has plenty of features that help to make it a heavy-duty SUV, but a new expansion of the brand could catapult the luxury vehicle into the world of off-roading. 

      Aria Group and XPLORE Great Outdoors recently teamed up to offer a revamped XPLORE-series Cadillac Escalade, outfitting the car with everything it needs to be an off-road vehicle. A few key changes to the exterior of the model bring this luxury SUV to the trails. 

      About the model
      Both the standard and custom versions of the Escalade come with full-time all-wheel drive. They also have specially built suspension packages, all-terrain tires, aluminum wheels and a stainless steel exhaust system designed to provide enough power to keep the machine cruising across any type of land. This even includes water, as there is a fender-height aluminum snorkel option. 

      The exterior is designed to be just as rugged as the rest of the vehicle. With a matte black paint job complete with chrome trim, as well as a new roof rack system and power running boards, the Cadillac looks every inch the off-road machine. 

      Other accessories, such as storage compartments, all-weather floor and cargo mats, bike racks, and camping gear are also available to enhance all aspects of off-road driving. 

      "The XPLORE Cadillac Escalade delivers much more than an accessorized, meticulously designed and integrated impressive machine," said Ron Flint, program director of XPLORE. "This is a transporter of a different sort; one that can deliver you and your family to the outdoors and a life experience that you will talk about for the rest of your life." 

      Get the effect
      All versions of this SUV are built to order at Aria's facilities in California. Despite the limited availability, off-roading enthusiasts don't have to break the bank for these top-of-the-line off-road vehicles. Plenty of truck modifications can be done in a home garage, and even if the machine isn't a luxury car, you can still get a high level of performance. 

      The Cadillac Escalade is a one-of-a-kind car, but truck mods or other alterations can be done on almost any vehicle. With the help of the right materials and tools, you can easily outfit your ride with the best possible gear designed to handle any off-road scenario. 

    • 'Tread' lightly when on off-roading adventures

      It doesn't matter if you're having afternoon tea with the Queen of England or playing a round of golf with your buddies - etiquette makes a difference. The same is true of off-roading. Although traversing diverse terrain usually requires you to put in a lot of effort and get your hands dirty, it still has a level of decorum that you are expected to meet. Regardless of how much experience you have with off-road driving, it's always a good idea to brush up on basic etiquette to make sure you're handling yourself well out in nature. 

      The most essential parts of off-roading can be remembered through a simple phrase: tread. While this term is undoubtedly well known to drivers, you may have to familiarize yourself with an alternate meaning for the word. Instead of focusing solely on the tires of your off-road vehicle, use "tread" as an acronym to remember a few key parts of outdoor etiquette, as promoted by the organization Tread Lightly, which aims to educate recreational enthusiasts about the impact they make on the environment. 

      Travel responsibly
      At the forefront of "tread" is traveling responsibly, which includes everything from acknowledging other vehicles to making sure your own machine is in top condition. Obey any signs you see during your drive, respect the environment and follow the rest of the basic off-road etiquette to ensure you have a safe and fun time during your adventures. 

      Respect the rights of others
      Respecting others in the off-roading community is easy to do for most drivers. At its most basic level, this includes respecting other enthusiasts you meet on the trails, but it can also extend to animals you encounter along the way and residential areas you pass by. Common sense usually dictates the best course of action in these situations, but you need to be aware of what may come into play as you are off-roading. 

      Educate yourself
      There is always something more to learn in the world of truck mods and off-roading. With new models and technologies constantly being introduced and unknown lands waiting to be explored, you can easily find ways to enhance your knowledge. Before you head out on your latest adventure, catch up on local laws or regulations, learn about nature in the area and check out your vehicle. Having truck mods fail in the middle of off-roading can cause major problems for you and others, so taking the time to go over your machine and examine all of its gear can save a lot of frustration. 

      Avoid sensitive areas
      You may be tempted to test out your truck or Jeep modifications in the most extreme of areas, but you must remain cognizant of certain issues. Private property and protected lands are off-limits for drivers. With all of the designated trails available to the public, as well as the numerous parks and open spaces located around the nation, it shouldn't be too difficult to find a region where you can enjoy all of the thrills of off-roading without encroaching on others. 

      No matter where you are mudding, you should do your best to stay away from wetlands or lakeshores that are home to wildlife. If you find yourself in these areas, at least proceed with caution, as you never know when an animal could jump out in front of your vehicle or if an unintended swerve could disturb a habitat. 

      Do your part
      Being able to say you "do your part" when off-roading means you embrace all aspects of "tread." However, fulfilling these duties is only step one. You also need to make preparations for your journey, but these other issues can be easily addressed. For example, carry a trash bag with you and be sure to pick up any litter you see along the way and contain your own trash. Using your resources efficiently and minimizing your impact is another essential aspect of the pastime you should keep in mind. 

    • Summer is the perfect time to check out a mud bogging event

      Putting the finishing touches on a round of truck mods can be thrilling. You've invested plenty of time and money into the off-road vehicle in an attempt to outfit the truck with the latest and greatest tools, and now you want to show it off - but where do you go? For many, the answer may be their local off-roading trails, but other fans of mudding make the decision to seek out a slightly more festive atmosphere. 

      Competitive mudding
      Mud bogging is a popular pastime across North America, and many drivers make time to test out their truck modifications in the challenging setting. That's exactly what happens at mud bogging events, as drivers essentially do whatever they can to navigate their truck or jeep through a course, with the help of off-road driving techniques and vehicle modifications. It's a race against the clock - and each other - but it's also a personal challenge that drivers take very seriously. 

      For some, mug bogging is all about proving you have what it takes to outfit your truck with all the right tools and have some fun in the process. 

      "Mostly it's a badge of honor," Ron Pare, president of the Maine Mud Bog Association, told The Franklin Sun Journal. "My theory is that there are those of us who are grown adults who weren't allowed to play in the mud as children and we're acting out." 

      The Maine event
      Summer is a great time to enjoy mudding, as you can revel in the nice weather and take in the party atmosphere of many mud bogging events. These competitions typically take place all around the country, but a great spot to check out the action is in Livermore, Maine, where a series of great events fills the calendar each summer. 

      People from all over New England head to Livermore for the Barnyard All Terrain mudding competition. What started in the early 2000s as the efforts of one family to revamp their farm has quickly turned into a top mud bogging event. With the mud kept at about 18 inches thick, the space is ideal for testing out truck mods while also reaching high speeds - even in the tough conditions. 

      This year's event is scheduled for Aug. 2 to 4, but there are several other off-roading events that take place in the area throughout the summer. 

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