This article was produced in partnership with Dometic
At some point in your overlanding life, even if you don’t live near the beach or desert, you’ll encounter sand. It can be intimidating for a newbie, and even a little anxiety-inducing for the seasoned off-roader, but if you follow some simple rules and tips—along with carrying the right gear—ripping through sand can be a fun, rewarding, and welcome change from slogging through mud or traversing rocky trails.
How to Drive on Sand
So you’ve decided to brave some sandy “roads” way out there, either at the beach or in desert dunes. What do you need to know about those swiftly shifting conditions that await you—and how do you deftly navigate this soft, potentially unforgiving terrain safely? Thankfully it’s more straightforward than it looks. First things first, don’t even think about it without a 4×4 vehicle—whether an all-wheel-drive SUV/CUV or a legitimate off-roading truck.
Once you have your rig parked where the pavement ends and the sand begins, air down your tires before rolling any farther. This measured deflation, usually down to around 15 or 20 psi, increases the amount of surface area for your treads and provides essential traction in unstable terrain, like sand, mud, or even slippery surfaces like ice or rock.
After airing down, it’s time to hit the sand. Some modern trucks and SUVs/CUVs now feature a special “Sand” or equivalent setting on their fancy drive mode selectors. If you have that, engage it. Beforehand, take the time to specifically look at how the manufacturer suggests you drive your modern vehicle on sand before heading out. Most suggest turning off traction and stability control, which hold back wheelspin, for added momentum on sand. If you’re an old-school overlander rocking a body-on-frame truck or SUV, just put it in four high on the 4×4 selector (whether a knob, stick, or good ol’ locking hubs) and you’re good to go.