Aug 02, 2018

How to Tow on soft sand

For those who are unfamiliar with off-road and soft sand towing, it may seem like you’re tempting fate to tackle these conditions with your caravan or camper. But so long as you take the appropriate care and caution, it can often be a holiday highlight and open the door to discovering a hidden gem.

Getting bogged when towing on the beach is virtually an inevitable part of overlanding, it’s not something to be scared of but it is something you should be prepared for. Nothing beats experience and it’s by getting out there and doing it for yourself…

We look at 5 tips that may just help you avoid getting bogged down and slowed down on your next adventure.


Tire pressure


We’ve all heard this before, but why do you need to lower tire pressures for driving on sand? Essentially you want to float over the surface, to avoid getting bogged and reduce the chance that your tires will dig in. Lowering your tire pressures means that you lengthen the tire’s footprint on the surface, ultimately displacing less sand as you travel across it. It will also provide you with nice, smooth and soft driving conditions, making it far more enjoyable. And letting down the tire pressures in your caravan or camper is all part of the process too.

There are many varying opinions on exactly what PSI you should drop down to, but 16 psi depending on the weight of your tow vehicle should offer you a comfortable range to find what suits the conditions and your driving preferences.


Matt from Explore 4x4's quick guide to tire pressures


Momentum, not pace, so you maintain control


Momentum is key to get through soft spots, not all out speed because you want to maintain a steady pace so when you come across those ridges or holes you’ll essentially skim over the surface.

By keeping your speed down, you’re also ensuring there are fewer changes in compaction in the sand which is what could occur if you’re not careful. By lining up your vehicle and caravan or camper in the same wheel tracks, you’re also utilizing the already compacted surface which will allow for a much smoother ride.


Take control of what you’re towing


Having an easily adjustable electric brake controller like the REDARC Tow-Pro Elite allows you to utilize a lower brake setting, meaning you can take greater control of what you’re towing to follow that same line as your tow vehicle.

You also want to know that if you brake too hard or suddenly that your trailer won’t do the same and anchor you in the sand as the tires bite in. Lowering the braking force of the caravan or camper brakes allows your setup to move in tandem and account for the differences in braking methods better.


The Blonde Nomads don't let a little sand get in the way of a memorable family experience


Don’t corner too sharply


Staying steady with your steering and not taking corners too sharply, especially at speed, reduces the likelihood of your tires digging in, your vehicle and caravan/camper rolling over or at the very least, resulting in you getting bogged.

Steady adjustments in cornering will maintain the compactness of the sand beneath and provide fewer opportunities for your wheels to become caught and tires to sink in.


Know what’s next


It’s very important to always check the other side of dunes before going over too fast, as sand tends to drift which can affect the steepness and structure as you travel over. Surveying the sand, checking for any changes in the firmness and composition, allows you to approach differing surface types and ranges in the appropriate manner. 


Worth it for the views


There’s no hard and fast rule to towing on sand or across beaches, and it’s not just about what you do it’s also about what you have on board.

Equipment is obviously crucial when you’re travelling and towing across different terrains. Ensuring you have things like shovels, tire recovery tracks, an accurate tire pressure gauge and an air compressor to deflate and pump tires up again before heading back onto the road are all invaluable.

So remember, next time you and your family are headed off-road with your camper or caravan in-tow, don’t be frightened of getting out there and doing as the locals do. So long as you’re prepared to learn as you go and adjust your approach from location to location, you could soon find yourself looking out for those trickier terrains to test out those towing skills.

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