Track Rating System | OVERLAND BOUND COMMUNITY

Track Rating System

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Ulysses

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1,883
Berowra Heights, NSW, Australia
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carl
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tunstall
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I know "do your planning", "be prepared" and "keep it simple" are all good mantra's in 4wd'ing but how can you tell from a map the degree of difficulty a track is? Also, someone's "easy" maybe someone else's extremely difficult - what do we measure this by?

Here's a track grading classification scale from Australia that has been developed to assist in advising people on 4WD trips of the type of tracks that they can expect to encounter.

upload_2018-3-13_10-17-48.png

Qns: Do we have a similar Trip Rating or Classification System used to determine the degree of difficulty that could be encountered on routes published by OB members?
If not, then maybe this is something worth considering?
 

Phil Preston

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I like the Ideal, and I could see where this would help people plan their routes and journeys. Some of the offroad parks I have visited have colored trails and guide maps for such a thing as well.
 

Ulysses

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Berowra Heights, NSW, Australia
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carl
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tunstall
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Yes I’m thinking if OB take this up as some sort of de facto standard and with OB’s growth and international reach, especially with other national 4x4 associations, it could possibly become an international 4x4 standard and eventually make its way to a standard key on maps.... mwahaha
 

NotGumby

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Overlandjournal.com (search “trail rating”) has a good primer on this.
 

Ulysses

Rank V
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Influencer II

1,883
Berowra Heights, NSW, Australia
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carl
Last Name
tunstall
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10408

Thanks NotGumby and yes I think there are a few out there - point I was trying to make was should OB members should using some standard to show the difficulty.... personally I like the idea of symbols rather than numbers and that a “double black diamond” even sounds really hard

FYI here’s the rating at overlandjournal - but let’s Ken said there’s a few out there

(1) IMPROVED/GRADED DIRT ROAD
Passable by most standard vehicles, excluding those with low hanging body panels or that are designed for on-road sport driving with ultra low ride and tire section height.


(1.5 )
GRADED DIRT ROAD

Still passable by most 2WD vehicles. However, caution is required and lower speeds may be necessary for vehicles with less clearance. Small rocks (less than 5") may be embedded in road surface. Sufficient room for passing on most of the road. Some steep grades possible. AWD required if road is wet or icy.


(2 )
FORMED TRACK

Not passable by standard passenger vehicles. High clearance preferred, AWD preferred. Steep grades present, larger rocks embedded in trail (less than 7"). Some loose trail surfaces and shallow water crossings possible. A spotter may be required on the most challenging portions to prevent body damage on vehicles with less clearance. Sand and dry washes may challenge available traction requiring lower air pressure on some vehicles. Trail may be narrow and require backing to allow other vehicles to pass.


(2.5)
RUGGED TRACK

Not suitable for 2WD vehicles, or low clearance cross over vehicles. AWD required, low range gearing preferred. Rutted, crossed axle terrain possible, with loose, steep climbs required. Deep sand possible. Some rock crawling possible on loose rocks up to 8" in diameter. Some larger rocks may be present, possibly requiring a spotter to negotiate. Small ledges possible, with larger embedded rocks present. Water crossing to 12" possible. Loose surfaces will be present, with tight clearance, smaller margin for error, and the possibility of body damage. Within the capability of any high clearance stock SUV or truck. AWD cross-over vehicles will struggle and may suffer damage due to lack of low range gearing.


(3)
FORMED TRAIL

High Clearance SUV or Truck required with low range gearing. Trail will be very rough and heavily eroded, with large, loose rocks present and steep, loose climbs requiring good traction and driver skill to negotiate. Wheel placement critical. Skid plates required, along with larger tires (31"+) necessary to prevent damage. Deeper water and mud crossings possible. Parts of the trail may be entirely in a wash, with loose sand and large rocks present. Possibility of rock ledges, and severe crossed axle obstacles. Good suspension articulation required to maintain traction. Rear limited slip differential or traction control system recommended to limit trail and vehicle damage.


(3.5)
RUGGED TRAIL

High clearance SUV or truck required, taller suspension and tires recommended. Few stock vehicles capable of completing the trail without damage. Very large rocks exceeding 12" present throughout trail requiring a spotter or heavily modified vehicle to traverse. Very loose and cambered climbs present, also heavily rutted requiring good suspension travel. Tall ledges present requiring good clearance or rocker panel protection. Little margin for error, and possibility of body damage. Tires must be 31"+ with aggressive tread and strong sidewalls. Lower tire pressure, skid plates, and limited slip or traction control required to prevent vehicle or trail damage. Rear locking differential and 32"+ tires recommended.


(4)
CHALLENGING TRAIL

High clearance modified vehicle required. Not within the capability of a stock vehicle without damage. Trail likely in river or wash bottom with very large rocks present. Deep mud possible requiring aggressive tires and higher speeds. Water crossings in excess of 24" possible. Heavily rutted and crossed axle terrain present, with large ledges and very steep hills with embedded and loose rocks. Body protection required to prevent damage, with good skid plates and stronger (or spare) steering components necessary. Winching and extraction possible. 32" tires, rear locking differential and flexible suspension required. 33" tires and front locking differential recommended.


outside the scope of this website

( 4.5)
EXTREME TRAIL

Heavily modified vehicle required. Extreme rock crawling, with very large ledges present requiring winching for shorter wheelbase (SWB) vehicles. Body and drivetrain damage likely. Very cambered terrain may cause rollovers. Water crossings may be hood high, and mud will be very deep and heavily rutted. Vehicles will require heavy modifications. 33"+ tires required, along with front and rear locking differentials in upgraded axles. 35-37" tires recommended. Winch required on SWB vehicles. Roll cages or full metal roof required. Driver must be experienced.

( 5)
NO TRAIL!

Custom vehicle, very experienced driver required. Competition-level vehicles on insane terrain with frequent rollovers and drivetrain damage. Full custom vehicles with massive axles, 37"+ tires, cutting brakes, very low gears, 1-ton drivetrain, and custom chassis.
 

Terex

Rank IV

Pathfinder I

893
Taos, NM
The Wells series of Backroads and 4-Wheel Drive Trails books covers this more than adequately. Time is better spent compiling a reference of online and print resources which overlanders can access.
 
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Charlie W2YBX

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Off-Road Ranger I

827
Long Island, New York, USA
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11933

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W2YBX
I know "do your planning", "be prepared" and "keep it simple" are all good mantra's in 4wd'ing but how can you tell from a map the degree of difficulty a track is? Also, someone's "easy" maybe someone else's extremely difficult - what do we measure this by?

Here's a track grading classification scale from Australia that has been developed to assist in advising people on 4WD trips of the type of tracks that they can expect to encounter.

View attachment 50693

Qns: Do we have a similar Trip Rating or Classification System used to determine the degree of difficulty that could be encountered on routes published by OB members?
If not, then maybe this is something worth considering?


I like this and I have a few thoughts.


Regarding "Expected Terrain and Track Conditions", should there be any differentiation between fresh and salt water? Fresh water is one thing but salt water, even if shallow, is a different hazard altogether.

I would suggest adding recovery gear to "medium". If there's sand involved, or even one steep/slippery area, you can easily get stuck.

Add "Airing Down Required/No Airing Down Required".

Add different levels of recovery gear "Basic", "Intermediate", "Advanced". This of course opens a different can of worms, making a chart with different levels of recovery gear from basic (snatch strap), to advanced (winch).
 

Terry Pickens

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I like Trails Off Roads rating system:

Technical Ratings
Today each public land authority, corporate guide service, and individual clubs have their own rating system to rate the difficulty of the trail. Here at Trailsoffroad we have adopted the Colorado 4 Wheel Drive Association rating system as we believe it best explains the degrees of difficulty.

Warning: All rating is subjective. Never go on a trail alone and never be afraid to turn around if it gets to difficult. Trail ratings can change as a result of a simple rain storm, heavy winter, or a big gnarly trail rig with 42” tires tearing it up on a wet day. Conditions change daily. Trailsoffroad is not responsible for the accuracy of the ratings listed here on this site and are only considered approximations.

  1. Easy
    Graded dirt road. Dry, or less than 3" water crossing depth. Gentle grades. 2WD under all conditions except snow. No width problems, two vehicles wide.

  2. Easy
    Dirt road. Dry, or less than 3" water crossing depth. Some ruts. Slight grades, up to 10 degrees. 2WD under most conditions. Rain or snow may make 4WD necessary. Usually one and a half to two vehicles wide.

  3. Easy
    Dirt road. Rutted, washes, or gulches. Water crossings up to 6" depth. Passable mud. Grades up to 10 degrees. Small rocks or holes. 4WD recommended but 2WD possible under good conditions and with adequate ground clearance and skill. No width problems for any normal vehicle. Vehicle passing spots frequently available if less than two vehicles wide.

  4. Easy
    Rutted and/or rocky road. No shelves but rocks to 9". Water crossings usually less than hub deep. Passable mud. Grades moderate, up to 15 degrees. Side hill moderate up to 15 degrees. 4WD under most conditions. No width problems, vehicle passing spots frequently available if less than two vehicles wide.

  5. Moderate
    Rutted and/or rocky road. No shelves. Rocks up to 12" and water crossings up to 12" with possible currents. Passable mud. Moderate grades to 15 degrees. 6" holes. Side hill to 20 degrees. 4WD required. No width problems.

  6. Moderate
    Quite rocky or deep ruts. Rocks to 12" and frequent. Water crossings may exceed hub depth with strong currents. Shelves to 6". Mud may require checking before proceeding. Moderate grades to 20 degrees. Sidehill may approach 30 degrees. 4WD necessary and second attempts may be required with stock vehicles. Caution may be required with wider vehicles.

  7. Moderate
    Rocks frequent and large, 12" and may exceed hub height. Holes frequent or deep (12"). Shelves to 9". Mud 8" deep and may be present on uphill sections. Grades to 25 degrees and sidehill to 30 degrees. Water crossings to 18" and may have strong currents. 1-1/2 vehicles wide. 4WD required. Driver experience helpful.

  8. Difficult
    Heavy rock and/or severe ruts. Rocks exceeding hub height frequent. Shelves to 12". Deep mud or uphill mud sections. Steep grades to 25 degrees and can be loose or rocky. Water crossings may exceed 30" in depth. Side hill to 30 degrees. One vehicle wide. Body damage possible. Experience needed. Vehicle Modifications helpful.

  9. Difficult
    Severe rock over 15". Frequent deep holes over 15". Shelves over 15". Mud bog conditions (long, deep, no form bottom). Over 30" water crossings with strong currents. Steep grades over 30 degrees. Sidehill over 30 degrees. May not be passable by stock vehicles. Experience essential. Body damage, mechanical breakdown, rollover probable. Extreme caution required.

  10. Extreme
    Severe conditions. Extreme caution recommended. Impassable by stock vehicles. Winching required. Trail building necessary. May be impassable. Impassable under anything but ideal conditions. Vehicle damage probable. Personal injury possible. Extreme caution necessary.
 

HIGH Maintenance

Rank II
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Traveler II

309
Honolulu, Hawaii
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12705

I know "do your planning", "be prepared" and "keep it simple" are all good mantra's in 4wd'ing but how can you tell from a map the degree of difficulty a track is? Also, someone's "easy" maybe someone else's extremely difficult - what do we measure this by?

Here's a track grading classification scale from Australia that has been developed to assist in advising people on 4WD trips of the type of tracks that they can expect to encounter.

View attachment 50693

Qns: Do we have a similar Trip Rating or Classification System used to determine the degree of difficulty that could be encountered on routes published by OB members?
If not, then maybe this is something worth considering?

Ulysses,

This is a great idea!

Adopting a well established international standard is a great idea. Not everyone can read a TOPO map and evaluate the level of difficulty and even those whoo have vast experience don't always get it correct.
 
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