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Technical help, driving tips, recovery info and more…

Here you will find information and links to helpful sites to help you while offroading. Our goal is to prepare the first-time and inform the regular offroader with everything they need to get through the trail safely. Please read through these topics and contact us with any questions that you may have. Use the menu on the left or scroll down to find your topic.

Data Card

Tracklogs and waypoints for Garmin, Lowrance and other GPS units.

Simply plug the card into your GPS unit and see your exact position on a topographic background as you move along the trail. The card is NOT designed to be used by itself. You’ll still need the book to see photos of the trail, custom map annotations, trail overview, trail rating, vehicle recommendations, trail stats, contact information and driving tips.

The card is compatible with Garmin Drive Series and Garmin Overlander (not TREAD Overland Edition).  New Garmin devices using the Garmin TREAD app will not be able to use this card.

What is on the data card?

Start of Trail & Points of Interest (POIs) 
Each FunTreks data card includes the start of each trail from the corresponding book as a custom Point of Interest. Once the card has been inserted, some GARMIN devices will ask to import the POIs from the FunTreks data card. We do not recommend importing the POIs to the receiver due to the limited amount of internal memory in most units.

Tracks / Breadcrumb Trails 
Tracks that correspond to the complete trail in the book are included on the topographic maps on the data card. Your unit will also show the waypoints that correspond to the waypoints in the book.

Files in GPX Format 
All FunTreks Data Cards include GPS Exchange Format (GPX) files that will work with nearly every GPS unit and computer program that supports GPX files. Some tablet devices may be able to read these files as well.

Other Non-Supported Uses for GPX Format

Consult the user manual for your software/device on how to use GPX data with these applications

More information


Mobile devices


FunTreks Tracks with GAIA

FunTreks trails on GAIA!

FunTreks website offers free tracklog downloads for personal use.
This video demonstrates how to download a trail and use it in GAIA GPS. To learn how to use GAIA GPS offline click here.


Backcountry Driving Tips

I have never driven offroad, what do I need to know?

In all or guidebooks we offer driving tips and etiquette.

Stay on the trail: Always stay on marked trails. Never go off trail even to avoid an obstacle such as rough terrain, mud or rocks. If your vehicle is not capable of driving these things or you are just too lazy, then you will need a better vehicle or a different hobby. Turn around sooner than later if things start looking bad. Do not make new trails. Join organizations that promote correct trail use such as Tread Lightly and Stay the Trail.

Start slow. Practice on easy trails first to learn how to operate your off-road vehicle. As your confidence builds, you’ll want to try harder trails.

4-wheel-drive. Shift into 4-wheel drive or low range before it is needed. Stay in low gear as much as possible for maximum power. With standard transmissions, minimize use of your clutch. As you encounter resistance on an obstacle or an uphill grade, apply a little gas. As you start downhill, allow the engine’s resistance to act as a brake. If the engine alone will not slow you enough, help with light brake pressure. When you need more power but not more speed, press on the gas and feather the brake a little at the same time. 

Rocks and other high points. Don’t straddle rocks. Instead, drive over the highest point with your tire. This will help lift your undercarriage. If the point is too high, stack rocks on either side to create a ramp. IMPORTANT! Remove stacked rocks when done and leave the trail as you found it. As you enter a rocky area, look ahead to identify the high points. Learn the low and vulnerable spots of your undercarriage. In difficult situations, it may be necessary to get out of your vehicle for a better look or use a “spotter” outside the vehicle to direct you.

If high centered. If you get lodged on an object, first have passengers get out to lighten the load. Reinflate your tires if aired down. Try rocking the vehicle. If this doesn’t work, jack up your vehicle and place something under the tires. Try going forwards and backward. Repeat if necessary. 

Scout ahead. When unsure of what’s ahead, get out of your vehicle and walk the trail ahead of you. This gives you an opportunity to turn around at a wide spot of your choosing. Back up if necessary. Don’t try to turn in a narrow confined area.

Blind curves. When approaching blind curves, assume that there is a speeding vehicle in your lane coming from the opposite direction. This will prepare you for the worst.

Driving uphill. Use extreme caution when attempting to climb a steep hill. Shift into low range first.
Four factors determine difficulty:
1. Length of the hill. Momentum will help carry you over short hills, but not necessarily long hills.
2. Traction. A rock surface is usually easier to climb than soft dirt.
3. Bumpiness. Big bumps on steep grades may lift your tires off the ground and stop your progress, especially if your vehicle has poor articulation. Temporarily disconnecting your front sway bar will improve your articulation; however, this is difficult to do on some vehicles.
4. Steepness. This can be difficult to judge, so examine the hill carefully by walking up it first. Abort if you are not sure. If you proceed, approach it straight on and stay that way all the way to the top. Do not turn sideways or try to drive across the hill. Keep moving at a steady pace. Make sure no one is coming up the other side. Try not to spin your tires. If you lose traction, jiggle your steering wheel back and forth. This may give you additional grip in soft soil. If you stall, use your foot brake, and if necessary, your emergency brake, while you restart your engine. If you start to slide backward even with your brake on, you may have to ease up on the brake enough to regain steering control. Don’t allow your wheels to lock up. If you don’t make it to the top of the hill, shift into reverse and back down slowly in a straight line. Try the hill again, but only if you think you learned enough to make a difference. Ease off the gas as you approach top of hill.

Driving downhill. Make sure you are in 4-wheel drive. Air down your tires to improve traction. Go straight down the hill; do not turn sideways. In low gear, allow the engine’s compression to hold you back. Do not ride the clutch. Feather the brakes slightly if additional slowing is needed. Do not allow the wheels to lock up. If you start to slide sideways, ease up on the brake and accelerate slightly to maintain steering control. Turn in the direction of the slide as you would on ice or snow.

Parking on a steep hill. Put your vehicle in low-range reverse gear if pointing downhill or in low-range forward gear if pointing uphill. For automatic transmissions, set your emergency brake hard and then shift to park. Do not rely on “Park” to hold your vehicle. Always block your wheels to avoid vehicle creep.

Side hills and tippy situations. Side hills can be very dangerous, so try to avoid them if possible. No one can tell you how far your vehicle can safely lean. Travel in a group and watch similar vehicles. Although SUVs have a high center of gravity, don’t get paranoid; your vehicle will likely lean more than you think. Drive slowly to avoid bouncing. Use extreme caution if the road surface is slippery. Try to keep the vehicle as level as possible and avoid turning while on a side hill. Turn around if necessary.

Passing on narrow shelf roads. When possible, wait for road to clear. If surprised by an oncoming vehicle, don’t panic. By law, the vehicle going uphill has the right-of-way, but in the real world common sense should apply. It might make more sense for the uphill vehicle to back up if a wide spot is closer. Often one vehicle can back up easier than a large group. Don’t be forced too close to the outer edge or to tip your vehicle excessively on a high inside bank. Both situations are dangerous. If necessary, talk to the other driver.

Crossing streams and water holes. You must know the depth of the water and what your vehicle can go through. Fast flowing deep water can float you downstream. You don’t want water in your air intake or to cover your engine computer module. If you don’t know where these things are, consult your owner’s manual or talk to your dealer. You can learn much by traveling with vehicles similar to yours. Low cooling fans can throw water on your engine and cause it to stall; you may have to briefly disconnect your fan belt. I’ve seen people cover their grill with cardboard or canvas to push water to the side. This only works if you keep moving at a steady pace. Check differentials later for possible water contamination.

Always cross streams at designated water crossings. Don’t drive upstream or downstream except in areas where it is allowed.

Mud. Plan ahead, equip your vehicle with proper tires and carry tire chains. Install tow points and, if possible, differential lockers. Go around mud if it doesn’t widen the trail. Make sure you are in 4-wheel-drive. Low range may or may not help. If you enter mud, use momentum and keep moving at a steady pace. Try not to spin your tires. Follow existing ruts. If you get stuck, try backing out. If that doesn’t work, dig around tires to break the suction. Borrow tire chains if you don’t have any. If tire is spinning on one side only, try feathering your brakes while accelerating gently. If all else fails, ask a friend or passerby to strap you out.

Ruts or washouts. If a rut runs parallel to the road, you might be able to straddle it or drive in the bottom. The goal is to center your vehicle to remain level. Cross ruts at a 45-degree angle using momentum. However, without differential lockers or good articulation, one wheel may spin in the air while the other does nothing.

Sand. Dry sand is more difficult to cross than wet sand. Make sure you are in 4-wheel drive. Airing down will improve traction. Keep moving using momentum as much as possible. Stay in high gear and try to power through without spinning your tires. Be aware of the Leeward side where the sand is soft.

Snow and ice. The best advice is to avoid snow and ice completely. Call ahead for trail conditions. Have proper tires and carry tire chains. Make sure you are in 4-wheel drive. Ice or snow on a shelf road is extremely dangerous especially when going uphill or downhill. Remember that gravity will always win when there is no traction available. If you are returning over the same route, remember that water can freeze later in the day. Abort if necessary.

Washboard roads. Washboard roads are annoying to everyone and can’t be avoided in the backcountry.  Air down your tires to improve traction and soften the ride. Experiment with different speeds to find the smoothest ride. Slowing down is usually best, but some conditions may be improved by speeding up a little. Be careful around curves where you could lose traction and slide. Check your tires to make sure they are not over-inflated. 

Tires. The tires that your vehicle came with from the manufacturer should be replaced if you are wanting to really go out on the trails. We have used stock vehicle tires for light offroading successfully but we do not recommend it. Look for good sidewall traction and protection typically in the “all-terrain” category. More info about tire can be found here.


Safe Traveling

How to avoid a bad day on the trail.

• Wear your seatbelt and use child restraints. Your vehicle can unexpectedly slide, lurch or stop abruptly. Serious injuries can occur even at slow speeds.

• Keep heads, arms, and legs inside moving vehicle. Many trails are narrow. Brush, tree limbs and rock overhangs may come very close or even touch your vehicle. Enforce this rule with your children. Don’t let your dog stick its head out the window when moving.

• Stay away from mines and mine structures. Besides the fact that most are on private land, these areas are extremely dangerous. Don’t enter mine adits or shafts. They can collapse, contain poisonous gases, or have open shafts in the floor. Be especially careful with children and pets.

• Carry detailed paper topographic maps regardless of whether you have a GPS unit or laptop computer. Electronic devices can fail at any time. We recommend map atlases, like the DeLorme Gazetteer or Benchmark Road & Recreation Atlas and a good compass. Don’t rely much on MVUMs to help with navigation.   

• Travel with another vehicle whenever possible. If you must go alone, stay on easier, more traveled routes. Never travel alone on difficult trails. Make sure you tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. Report to them when you return.

• Join a 4-wheel-drive club. It’s fun and you’ll learn a great deal. Pick a club with similar interests and vehicles.

• If you get lost or stuck, stay with your vehicle unless you are very close to help. Your vehicle will provide shelter and is easier to see by search parties.

• Inspect your vehicle and maintain it properly. Pay particular attention to fluids, hoses, belts, battery, brakes, steering linkage, suspension system, driveline, and anything exposed under the vehicle. Tighten anything that may be loose. Inspect your tires carefully for potential weak spots and tread wear. If you have a mechanic do the work, make sure he understands 4-wheeling.


Be prepared

Better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have.
Franz Kafka

Here is a list of things to consider taking in your vehicle.

Make sure everything is secured and locked into place.

• Plenty of food and drinking water. Consider water purification tablets or a water filter.
• Rain gear plus warm clothing.
• Sleeping bags in case you get stuck overnight even if you are not planning to camp.
• A good first aid kit including sunscreen and insect repellent.
• Candle, matches, lighter, fire starter.
• An extra set of keys, glasses, watch.
• Toilet paper, paper towels, wet wipes and trash bags.
• A large plastic sheet or tarp.
Detailed topographic maps, map atlas.
• GPS unit or compass. (Learn how to use a compass.)
• Sharp knife or Multi-use tool.
• Items to make a fire.
• Work gloves.
• Fire extinguisher.
• Jumper cables.
• Fuses and electrical tape.
• Flashlight.
• A full tank of gas. Extra gas for long trips.
• A good set of tools including specialized tools for UTVs, ATVs and dirt bikes.
• Baling wire and duct tape.
• An assortment of hose clamps, nuts, bolts and washers.
• A full-size spare tire.
Tire repair kit.
• A tire pressure gauge, electric tire pump that will plug into your cigarette lighter.
• A jack that will lift your vehicle fairly high off the ground. Carry a High-Lift jack, it can be used for winching, lifting, clamping, and spreading. Test your jack before you leave. Carry something to clean the jack mechanism in order to help it operate smoothly.
• Shovel, tree saw, axe. Folding shovels work great.
• Tire chains.
• CB radio, cellular phone or HAM radio.
• Emergency beacon. SPOT, INREACH or a satellite phone
Trash bag. Leave the trail better than you found it.
• Tent.

Store items in tote bags or large plastic containers so they can be easily loaded when it is time to go.


Motor Vehicle Use Maps

Free maps provided by the National Forest Service. For a list of published MVUMs, click here

MVUM maps are produced by the U.S. Forest Service, and everyone who travels in the backcountry needs to know what they are. These black-and-white maps are free and available at ranger districts and other forest offices. Some maps have already been published and much more are in the pipeline. The maps are intended to be legal documents to assist law enforcement and are not necessarily easy to use. Several maps are often needed to cover an area since roads stop at forest or ranger districts boundaries. The maps identify road usage by vehicle type. If a road is not shown on the map it is considered closed. Presence or absence of signs in the field is no longer relevant. Violations are subject to fines up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment up to 6 months.

FunTreks has made every effort to update trails based on the maps that were issued at the time of this writing. New MVUMs are nearing publication and existing maps are updated every year. It is impractical for any published guidebook to keep up with the changes. Published MVUMs supersede anything in this book. Get a copy of your local MVUM and follow it carefully.

Avenza PDF has a good deal of these maps for free that you can use while in the field. The MVUM maps are however to run the app you will need to pay for a subscription. They offer other maps for purchase.

For a list of published MVUMs, go to:



What to do in certain weather conditions.

Lightning. Thunderstorms, hail, and lightning are very common, especially in the late afternoon at high altitudes. If possible, get below timberline if you see a storm approaching.

Fires and floods. Be aware of the possibility of forest fires and flash floods. Fires can move quickly, so watch for the smoke when you are at higher elevation. At certain times of the year, fire danger can be extremely high and the Forest Service will post-fire danger warnings. During these times, campfires may be prohibited. Heavy rainstorms can cause flash floods at any time during the spring and summer. The danger is particularly acute if you are in a narrow canyon. If you have reason to believe a flash flood is imminent, do not try to outrun it. Abandon your vehicle and climb to higher ground.

Altitude sickness. Some people experience nausea, dizziness, headaches or weakness the first time at high altitude. This condition usually improves over time. To minimize symptoms, give yourself time to acclimate, drink plenty of fluids, decrease salt intake, reduce alcohol and caffeine, eat foods high in carbohydrates, and try not to exert yourself. If symptoms become severe, the only sure remedy is to return to a lower altitude.

Hypothermia. Hypothermia is possible even in the summer. If you get caught in a sudden shower at high altitude, your body temperature can drop suddenly. Always take rain gear and warm clothing.

Don’t drink from streams. No matter how cool, clear or refreshing a mountain stream may appear, never drink the water without boiling it, using a filter or iodine tablets. Best to carry your own water.



It only takes a careless second to get into trouble on the trail.

Recovery process. A good recovery is slow and thought through completely. Never panic while recovering a stuck vehicle. Only self-recover if you can safely extract your vehicle. Use a trusted service, we are seeing more Offroad specific recovery services (ex. Arizona and Colorado.)

Recovery points. A good recovery point on a vehicle is a must! We suggest you make sure your vehicle has front and rear recovery points before you go out on an adventure. A good recovery point will be attached to the frame of the vehicle. The tow ball on your bummper is NOT a recovery point! Do not rely on the manufacturers anchoring points alone, do some research and find out what options are available for your vehicle.

Tow straps, snatch straps and screw pin bow shackles. Understand that there are no safety standards on 4×4 recovery equipment. When using straps and screw pin bow shackles, make sure that they have identifying marks stating the breaking strength (Working Load Limits) and that it has been made from a well-known company. Avoid cheap recovery gear, don’t trust it!

Hi-Lift Jack. Purchase a Hi-Lift brand jack and stay away from cheaper no-name jacks. The jack is an essential tool for offroaders, it can be used for winching, lifting, spreading and clamping. This tool can be dangerous if improperly used! Read the manual, watch videos and get some proper training to use one safely and effectively.

Tires. Sometimes all you need is a little more traction to get yourself out of a pickle. A good set of tires and “Airing down” will help most situations. “Airing down” is a term offroaders use when they release air from the tires allowing for a smoother ride on the trail and better traction. It allows the tire to have more contact with the terrain. IMPORTANT! When airing down make sure that you can air up before driving highway speeds. Never drive on a tire with low-pressure while on a paved road at high -speeds. A typical SUV can usually be aired down to 18 to 20 lbs on the trail. The tire should bulge slightly.

Winching Winches are helpful but very dangerous if used incorrectly. Read the owners manual of your winch before using it! Carry work gloves, a tree strap, and a snatch block.

Winching tips:
• Your winch cable should be lined up straight with the pulling vehicle. If you can’t pull straight, attach a snatch block to a tree to form an angle.
• Unwind your winch line to the drum leaving 7 wraps still on the drum for steel cable and 11 wraps for synthetic line. The pulling power zone of the winch is on the first 2 layers of line, after that, you will lose 19% of the pulling power per layer. Click here for more info on winch use.
• Attach your winch line to the largest tree/rock possible using a tree strap. If no tree is large enough, wrap several smaller trees. The strap should be as low as possible. You may also use a land anchor like the Pull-Pal and Deadman Offroad.
• Keep your engine running while winching to maximize electrical power.
• Help the winch by driving the stuck vehicle slowly in low gear. Don’t ever allow slack in the winch cable while winching.
• Apply the brakes on the recovery vehicle while in neutral when winching. Don’t rely on “P” (park) to hold the recovery vehicle. You may have to strap to another vehicle or tree for an anchor. If another anchor is required, make sure the winching vehicle is attached to a good recovery point attached to the frame.
• Throw a blanket or heavy coat over the winch cable while pulling. If the cable breaks, it will dampen the line if it breaks under tension. CAUTION! The amount of tension on a winch line makes the cable/rope a danger even with a line dampener, move people out of the danger zone.
• Never hook the winch cable to itself or allow kinks in the cable.
• Never straddle or stand close to the winch cable while it is under stress. Always step on the line when it is on the ground.
• If tow points are not available on the stuck vehicle, attach the winch cable to the frame, not the bumper. If you are helping a stranger, make sure he understands that you are not responsible for damage to his vehicle.
• When finished winching, dress the line neatly for the next time you use it.


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