Home Boot Camp Threshold Braking 101: When Rubber Meets Ice on the Trail
Threshold Braking 101: When Rubber Meets Ice on the Trail

Threshold Braking 101: When Rubber Meets Ice on the Trail


This article is a starting point to learn more about threshold braking. We hope it helps keep you rubber side down on the trails!

As many of you know, Michael and I had an ‘interesting’ experience in Moab recently that involved our rig hitting a patch of ice on a downward sloping trail at night.

Spoiler Alert: We were instantly transformed from overlanders to bobsledders for about 10 seconds, and the experience left our ‘California climate’ nerves on edge.

Right after we (safely) returned home, Bruce Robertson (Overland Bound Member #4045), reached out and asked to share some basic info on threshold braking. He worked for years as a driving instructor for Young Drivers of Canada, and his feedback was greatly appreciated.

And because Bruce is an above and beyond kind of guy, he shared a few links with us, AND created a short YouTube video demonstrating the technique in his Land Cruiser outside his shop in Canada. Read on to learn more!

Threshold Braking 101

From Bruce:

“I learned this back when I became a driving instructor for Young Drivers of Canada and taught it to many new drivers.

For your reference: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threshold_braking

First of all, when your tires lose grip they won’t steer or stop. If you can keep your tires rolling, you can use the grip you do have to steer. Once you are pointed away from the cliff, tree (or granny crossing the road), you can use the small amount of grip to try stopping again.

Another factor while skidding is that you are asking your front tires to do two things at once – stop and turn. If you give up the stopping, you should regain the steering. This article below is mainly for the racing world, but applies the same at low speeds on slippery surfaces. It’s all about friction anyway!


And don’t forget to look where you want to go! It’s surprising what your hands and feet do automatically. Never look towards what you don’t want to go towards – you’ll end up there!

I hope it comes in handy! Try it out on some flat ground with lots of space around to get a feel for it. It’s easy to lose this skill in a world of ABS, but as you have found, ABS isn’t always there to save you!

Safe travels, enjoy the great outdoors – I’m waiting for spring!”

Introduction to Threshold Braking

Thanks again to Bruce for putting all of this together!

Been there? Done that? Let us know your experiences driving in snow and ice in the comments below!

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Corrie Co-Founder, Marketing and Editor @ Overland Bound. Often found behind the camera, keyboard or steering wheel. (But not all at once.)