Training - Offroad 101 DNW Class

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  • Regular price $350.00

Please see our Covid-19 update, click here.

2021 Class Dates*

Summer - July 31st & August 1st 2021 (CLOSED)
Fall - (TENTATIVE) November 13th & 14th 2021

Regarding Covid-19:

The safety of our clients, instructors, staff, and all of their immediate families are of paramount importance to all of us at Defenders Northwest.  It is important to note 
the class dates may be subject to change due to any restrictions placed on business operations by the State of Washington or the Federal Government. 

Our basic offroad training program focuses on safe and capable operation on poor condition roads & trails, vehicle limitations / condition, self recovery, vehicle equipment preparation, emergency operation, trailside repair techniques, and navigational skills. This is not the advanced expedition course – the focus is on building a foundation of skills in reading terrain and conditions, knowing your vehicle capabilities and limits, risk assessment and its application. Our objective is to teach participants confident and skilled situational assessment skills – knowing what it would take to get through an obstacle, knowing what you and your vehicle can do, analyzing the risks and options in order to make prudent decisions – basic recovery skills are taught so that the planning can take into consideration what would be needed when things don’t go as planned.

Unlike recreational “wheeling” this course is not designed to encourage the driver push the vehicle to it’s limits – the training is geared toward learning both the drivers’ and vehicles capabilities and choosing to stay well within the capability zone of both – when traveling overland and an obstacle is encountered a skillful operator will be able to asses the risks in overcoming the obstacle and weigh those risks with the availability of other options. Where there is a low risk work around solution to a moderate or high risk obstacle the overland traveler will protect the integrity of the vehicle and choose the lower impact solution. As such we are teaching and practicing those skills of how to approach and pass-through obstacles one may encounter on a forest road or in areas serviced by non-paved roads of varying conditions.

The course runs over a two day period - including a classroom day and a field day - Breakfast and Lunch is provided both days and is included in the course fees.


9:30am - 4:00pm

The classroom day will consist of a half day of theory and practical considerations with the instructors in a group class setting to encourage cooperative problem solving and creative analysis.  Throughout the course we emphasize safety and situational awareness.  Following a lunch break the classroom session has the group perfoming some cone work to emphasize vehicle positioning and capabilities in a controlled setting. 


8:30am - 3:30pm

The field day will include basic off-pavement driving skills with an in-car instructor for each vehicle.

  • Approach angles
  • departure angles
  • break over angles
  • rough ground
  • soft ground
  • up-hill techniques & crossing a ridge
  • down-hill techniques
  • over-obstacle – axle and tire placement
  • sidehill techniques
  • gully or washout techniques
  • wading
  • basic recovery tools & techniques.

The course includes a full day of classroom/theory and a full day of applied activities to put the classroom training into practice. Classroom sessions take place in our Gig Harbor facility, and the practical application is in a regional off-road park. Breakfast and Lunch on both days is included in the class fee – the requirements are an approved vehicle (stock 4×4 in trail ready condition is sufficient), current automobile road insurance, a valid discovery pass ($12 for the day or $35 for the year), appropriate clothing, gloves, and a readiness to learn while having fun.

Participants will need to complete a liability waiver and provide proof of insurance.

Class reservation is per individual and space is very limited due to the hands-on nature of the class – additional participant spots are available if they will be passengering in the same vehicle.  (a couple for example)

If you are a solo or the primary driver in the course please select the Primary Driver option during registration

For a second driver sharing a vehicle please select the Passenger/Driver registration - you must identify your primary driver in order to register as a passenger.   For clarity in training and the most effective use of time we request that there be no more than two participants per vehicle.


We have received some excellent feedback from the previous courses!

What did you like most about the Basic Off-Pavement driving class?

"It's nice to talk to others who understand the vehicle. I had previously only taken it out on forest service roads, so getting it out on actual trails, with a bunch of knowledgeable people around, relieved the anxiety of going off road for the first time."

"EVERYTHING! I just loved it. I appreciate the approach - slow, deliberate, search for the solution. I appreciate how it was not meant to frighten, but to empower."

What do you think is the most important thing you learned in this course?

"The cone work really helped me tremendously on day 2. There was one group of trees that was exactly like the cone “tree” test and I just drove through it like nothing. I now have a much better understanding of where my “pumpkin” is and less fear of smashing it. I also understand that I have no real idea where the passenger side of my D90 is."

"I don't think it was one specific thing, but rather I gained the confidence to take my vehicle further off paved road"