OFFROADSUBARUS.COM

Go Back   OFFROADSUBARUS.COM > Offroad and Touring Central > Recovery Gear and Offroad Driving Tips

Notices

Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Unread 29th July 2018, 02:35 AM
Beachworm Beachworm is offline
Forum Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Brisbane Australia
Year: 2010
Model: Forester X Luxury, sump guard, bigger AT tyres and 50mm Subieliftoz lift, breather extensions
Transmission: Auto
Posts: 283
Beachworm is on a distinguished road
Default Track Classification

Quote:
Originally Posted by MiddleAgeSubie View Post


One of the interesting questions in the latter area concerns the main classification criterion. The most successful 4x4 guide books here, those of Charlie Wells, get it right, I think, by rating a trail in terms of its most difficult spot. If you have 10 miles of smooth sailing and 1 moderate spot, it is a moderate trail. And so on. This way people with less capable vehicles do not get nasty surprises.
I like the idea of a rating scale but I would like to see it an inclusive one. I know people who like to cruise unsealed (gravel) roads and do an occasional excursion through a creek and down a rocky track to a camp site or a secret fishing spot and I know others who like to challenge themselves and their vehicles with deep mud and water crossings, rocky hill climbs and so forth, with no particular destination in mind. The point is not to complete a trail or go somewhere in particular but simply to complete the climb or crossing etc.

I think it would be unfortunate to exclude the less adventurous by defining "off road" in a way that makes them feel as though they don't belong in the off road community, much the same way as Subaru owners are sometimes made to feel as though they don't belong in the 4X4 community.


I've mentioned in other posts that I am a member of the Subaru 4WD Club of Qld and we have a mix of members, ranging from those whose main interest is in restoring and maintaining what are fast becoming historic motor vehicles, to those who look forward to outings where the mud and dust is thick, the hills are steep and rocky and the water crossings make you stop and wonder whether it's worth the risk. Our outings are generally designed to appeal to most people so we have some country gravel roads, forestry trails and obscure, difficult bush tracks which are usually a side excursion from the main route so those concerned about scratching paintwork can take an easier way. The routes are graded easy, moderate and difficult by the group leader who runs a recce prior to the event. Easy is able to be done by unmodified Subaru vehicles. Moderate requires AT tyres, a lift and a recovery kit (contents specified). Difficult requires the same as moderate but with a dash of skill, courage and adventure added.

In Australia it is still possible to go cross country (I think Europeans call it overlanding) but not in many places other than private property. Australian 4X4 owners used to have a reputation for destroying vegetation by a process called "bush bashing" where the main tools to make a track through virgin bush were a big bull bar and a chainsaw. This is discouraged now, even within the 4X4 community where drivers are encouraged to stick to the track and minimise their footprint. Even spinning wheels is frowned upon by some as degrading the environment and contributing to erosion.

Beach driving is generally regarded as off road but most Australian beaches are now gazetted roads with posted speed limits and police speed monitoring. There are not many places close to civilisation where you can take off into the countryside of over the sand dunes and drive where nobody has been before. A trip to the Northern Territory is pretty much mandatory for anyone who sees this as the only way to go off roading.

The Subaru Forester, Outback and XV are classified here as off road vehicles but I am pretty certain that the people who put the Australian Design Rules together didn't have in mind that this would only refer to driving where there is no road at all.

I propose that we should try to agree on some kind of standard to rate off road driving, accepting that off road does not only apply to the trackless wilderness. Would it be generally accepted that the "easy, moderate and difficult" approach is suitable, perhaps with the addition of "extreme". If the trail goes from one point to another or in a circuit then the idea of classifying it by its most difficult part seems a safe way to proceed. When there is a network of tracks as often happens with forestry trails, this approach may be a little more difficult.

I'm keen to hear your responses. give me heaps if you like.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Unread 29th July 2018, 05:20 AM
Kevin's Avatar
Kevin Kevin is offline
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Sydney, Oz
Year: MY'03
Model: Forester
Transmission: A/T
Posts: 4,552
Kevin is on a distinguished road
Default

Without researching, I think you'll find that the 4WD Association https://4wda.org.au may have defined track rating standards.

The NSW Subie Club define trips as:

Social/Scenic Sealed roads and smooth unsealed surfaces or tracks.
Easy Dirt trails with possible loose surfaces, potholes, corrugations, shallow mud or puddles. Moderate inclines and declines.
Medium un-maintained trails, moderate to steep terrain, with loose rocky and rutted surfaces.
Advanced Un-maintained trails, steep terrain with loose, rocky and rutted surfaces
Hard Expect steep terrain, large ruts, rock steps, deep water crossings and mud for majority of trip.

(The descriptions are just extracts of the full descriptions to give you an idea. There are various levels of driver training completion required for some trips.)
__________________
MY'03 Foz AT XS with centre lock-up
MY'10 Triton AT GLX-R 2.5 DiD
www.subaruclub.com.au
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Unread 29th July 2018, 06:59 AM
Beachworm Beachworm is offline
Forum Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Brisbane Australia
Year: 2010
Model: Forester X Luxury, sump guard, bigger AT tyres and 50mm Subieliftoz lift, breather extensions
Transmission: Auto
Posts: 283
Beachworm is on a distinguished road
Default

I like the classifications you have summarised. Where can I get a copy of the full text?

I searched the 4WD association site you referenced but there isn't anything on it about track classification unless it's in with the training material that I didn't open. I did notice, however that the site looks like it hasn't been updated for years. It was a bit disappointing.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Unread 29th July 2018, 07:20 AM
Kevin's Avatar
Kevin Kevin is offline
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Sydney, Oz
Year: MY'03
Model: Forester
Transmission: A/T
Posts: 4,552
Kevin is on a distinguished road
Default

I'll ask if it can be published.
__________________
MY'03 Foz AT XS with centre lock-up
MY'10 Triton AT GLX-R 2.5 DiD
www.subaruclub.com.au
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Unread 29th July 2018, 02:27 PM
MiddleAgeSubie MiddleAgeSubie is offline
Forum Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: AZ
Year: 2013 / 2008
Model: H6 5EAT OB with SubieLiftOZ kit / Tribeca
Transmission: 5EAT
Posts: 876
MiddleAgeSubie is on a distinguished road
Default

That 5-point scale seems similar to one that exists in the US as well. I am not sure whether it should be called "traditional" or what, but few use it.

The most popular guides are for the Southwest, which is the premier area for 4x4 in the US: CO, UT, AZ, and parts of California.

Of these, Charlie Wells goes by easy, moderate, and difficult. He uses a modified 2dr Rubicon, a stock 4dr Rubicon, and a stock less capable Jeep that sticks to the easy trails and a few moderates. This makes his guides rather high end in terms of difficulty. By necessity, his categories are very elastic with easy ranging from a smooth dirt road to a trail that will be at the very limits of a stock Subaru (and in some cases beyond, depending on condition). Difficult ranges from a trail with a single big ledge/step to extreme terrain. He has icons, though, that signify whether he thinks a difficult trail is suitable for a "normal" vehicle as opposed to a highly modified rig. With the Subaru, my biggest worry was the moderate category because trails there range from doable in stock Subarus to not really suitable for any but the most modified Subarus, if that.

The Peter Massey guides use a 1-10 rating system with 8-10 being too hard and thus beyond the scope of his guides. So, you find 1-5 rated trails there with a sprinkle of 6s and 7s. He is from Australia, actually, and he pitched his books at a much broader audience, in principle, than Wells. So his baseline vehicles were a stock Discovery and a stock Suburban. However, Wells got the pulse of the US offroad community better and his guides prevailed over time. Specifically, US "offroading" is mostly about the challenges, so harder trails, or about getting to hunting and fishing spots, so local knowledge more than guides.

Finally, I am on a website that uses a 1-10 system based on the TJ Wrangler because of when the site started. While there are a couple exceptions, a lifted Subaru there tops at 3 and even my stock 4Runner TRD can only handle 5 with time and attention, maybe a few 6s with lots of spotting and some road building. 10 is the most extreme, essentially no street legal vehicles, with the experienced members having done 9s on street legal Wranglers with 37" tires. Everything 4 and up on that website would be difficult in Wells, so you get an idea.

At the end, the problem is that few people bother to stick with one system and just judge everything only in terms of themselves.


There is absolutely nothing easily applicable for Subarus. I have my own Subaru rating system covering 130-150 trails but I then moved on. I now play with my own stock 4R rating system and some trails are now ranked very differently than in the Subaru system while others not so differently at all. The hardest trail I have done in the 4R, rated difficult by Wells and 7 by Massey, I only rate 5 because it is short and easy to access and the 4Runner has no issues with ledges, of which there are only a few on the trail. But it would have been beyond capability for any Outbacks and Crosstreks and a 10/10 for a Forester with lift and aftermarket bumpers. Conversely, I rate a 7/10 for my 4R a trail that is doable in any lifted Subaru, maybe 8/10, but that is extremely remote and that takes a long time with constant braking down to crawling speed. So fatigue is real issue and the trail is rough enough to make mistakes very costly. I bent my front 3/16 steel skid plate there because I did not expect big rocks on the opposite side of a perfectly smooth hill. This is what you get on the consistently "moderate" trails: some faster moments, some crawling moments, impossible to set in a rhythm as you never know what to expect next.
__________________
18 4R TRDOP, 08 Tribeca
(13H6OB 2" SLOz, 06 B9)
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Unread 29th July 2018, 03:37 PM
MiddleAgeSubie MiddleAgeSubie is offline
Forum Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: AZ
Year: 2013 / 2008
Model: H6 5EAT OB with SubieLiftOZ kit / Tribeca
Transmission: 5EAT
Posts: 876
MiddleAgeSubie is on a distinguished road
Default

By the way, I do exclude from my list of trails completed big dirt roads in agricultural areas that have no recreational purpose/value as well as short spurs (under 3 miles) off forest dirt roads that lead nowhere in particular. I group those with the main forest road into "networks" to avoid inflating the number of trails seen.


That said, distances per se cannot be a factor because some of the extreme trails are 1-2 miles long and there are many short trails (like 5-7 mile roundtrip mileage) that lead to lakes or other very scenic and worthwhile spots. Thus, an element of discretion is inevitable.
__________________
18 4R TRDOP, 08 Tribeca
(13H6OB 2" SLOz, 06 B9)
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Unread 29th July 2018, 09:26 PM
Kevin's Avatar
Kevin Kevin is offline
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Sydney, Oz
Year: MY'03
Model: Forester
Transmission: A/T
Posts: 4,552
Kevin is on a distinguished road
Default

The NSW ACT Association are working on track classification: https://www.4wdnow.com/pages/track-classification

I have received permission to publish the NSW Subie Club's classifications:



Social/Scenic Sealed roads and smooth unsealed surfaces or tracks. Suitable for all types of vehicles. No previous 4WD experience necessary. Road types are acceptable. Suitable for all camper trailers and small caravans.

Easy Dirt trails with possible loose surfaces, potholes, corrugations, shallow mud or puddles. Moderate inclines and declines. 4WD may be required. Low range not required. Some previous 4WD experience or completion of a driver awareness course preferred but not essential. Road tyres are acceptable. Suitable for camper trailers.

Medium un-maintained trails, moderate to steep terrain, with loose rocky and rutted surfaces. Sand, water crossings or mud may be encountered. Low range may be required with recoveries possible. Previous off-road experience necessary. Completion of driver awareness course expected. A/T tyres preferred. Suitable for high clearance, heavy duty camper trailers with off-road hitches.

Advanced Un-maintained trails, steep terrain with loose, rocky and rutted surfaces. Sand, water crossings or mud may be encountered. Low range, high clearance and A/T required, with recoveries probable. Previous off-road experience and completion of a driver awareness course essential, suitable for purpose built, high clearance, heavy duty camper trailers with brakes and off-road hitches.

Hard Expect steep terrain, large ruts, rock steps, deep water crossings and mud for majority of trip. Low-range gearing, high clearance and under body protection required. Completion of club driver awareness course required. Participation at trip leaderís discretion. A/T tyres minimum. Rated recovery points front and rear of vehicle essential. A hand or vehicle mounted winch must be available. Expect recoveries and very slow progress. No camper trailers. Due to the inherent danger of this type of trip, children must be closely supervised.

These gradings are to be used as a guide only and may change due to track and weather conditions.

Minimum recovery equipment:
A snatch trap
Two rated D shackles
A UHF radio.

Visitors can arrange with the trip leader to borrow a handheld UHF radio for the day. (please replace the batteries).

All vehicles should be in good mechanical condition and have the following basic equipment.

Spare wheel
Jack
Wheel brace
Basic tools
Shovel
First aid kit.

These items should be carried on all club trips.
__________________
MY'03 Foz AT XS with centre lock-up
MY'10 Triton AT GLX-R 2.5 DiD
www.subaruclub.com.au
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Unread 29th July 2018, 09:40 PM
Beachworm Beachworm is offline
Forum Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Brisbane Australia
Year: 2010
Model: Forester X Luxury, sump guard, bigger AT tyres and 50mm Subieliftoz lift, breather extensions
Transmission: Auto
Posts: 283
Beachworm is on a distinguished road
Default

Wow! Middle Aged Subie - you've put a lot of thought into this which is a credit to you as grading a trail, particularly in reference to the off road ability of Subaru vehicles is only really of benefit to others as you've already done it and know what to expect from experience.


I'm wondering how length of trail can be incorporated as some trails here, like crossing the Simpson Desert can take many days but the obstacles are similar and repetitive. Having said that, however, fatigue both on driver and vehicle is much more significant due to remoteness and critical issues like fuel and water availability making planning and preparation a key ingredient of a successful completion. In some ways, the off-road ability of the vehicle is much less important than the intelligence and resourcefulness of the operator but this is an important part of the recipe that is overlooked if the physical difficulty (micro geography) of the track is the only consideration.

On the other hand, a track like the Thousand Dollar Track in Tasmania is only a few Km long but took two experienced off roaders more than 2 days to complete, once again due, to a large extent, to resourcefulness and preparation along with driving and recovery skills. There were no rock ledges but lots of mud and fallen trees.

The systems of classification you have outlined seem to concentrate on dry, mountainous/rocky terrain. Is there much consideration given to factors such as remoteness, soft sand, mud or deep water?
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Unread 29th July 2018, 09:45 PM
Beachworm Beachworm is offline
Forum Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Brisbane Australia
Year: 2010
Model: Forester X Luxury, sump guard, bigger AT tyres and 50mm Subieliftoz lift, breather extensions
Transmission: Auto
Posts: 283
Beachworm is on a distinguished road
Default

Thanks Kevin. This is a step in the right direction as it is starting to include the human factor by expecting training and experience along with ancilliary equipment.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Unread 29th July 2018, 11:59 PM
MiddleAgeSubie MiddleAgeSubie is offline
Forum Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
Location: AZ
Year: 2013 / 2008
Model: H6 5EAT OB with SubieLiftOZ kit / Tribeca
Transmission: 5EAT
Posts: 876
MiddleAgeSubie is on a distinguished road
Default

Yeah, conditions in different countries and even within large countries vary too much to make an international grading system meaningful.



I did watch an episode of the Friday show about the Thousand Dollar track. The SW US equivalent would be all about rocks. There is one trail in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California that also features very serious creek crossings but in most places if we are lucky enough to see water, we are usually talking a foot or less.
__________________
18 4R TRDOP, 08 Tribeca
(13H6OB 2" SLOz, 06 B9)
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -3. The time now is 05:32 PM.


Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.