Track difficulty is something I was aware before starting to venture out into the forests, though not something that is easily obtained with any accuracy. There are apps that mark tracks as easy (circle), medium (square), difficult (diamond) and very difficult (double diamond), yet here I am driving tracks marked as difficult with a factory Dmax.
The small amount of tracks I’ve driven so far in the Toolangi area, track difficulty from apps seems fairly inaccurate. I have driven tracks marked as difficult in the dry and I would rate them as easy. Difficult in the wet, no doubt about it. But how is an app rating a track? From what I can ascertain, user input.
I downloaded Newtracs which works on inputting your vehicle specs, then the app takes those specs and the time it takes you to drive a track to ascertain a rating. Far from a perfect system based on my experience to date.
I drove some tracks the past weekend in the wet. Yep, it was raining in Toolangi and surrounding area. I went out to see how bad tracks would be. Some I ventured into and turned around, I would rate as difficult in the wet. There was no way I was getting down them with HT tyres and no lift. Then I was driving tracks marked as medium with HT tyres and no lift, a designation which uses AT / MT tyres and a 2″ lift in some apps, being a modification away from the 4WD Victoria specifications. I drove them without any fuss. No sliding about, the tracks had a nice hard base. The small amounts of clay I hit where passable with HT tyres.
It seems app developers and websites are deviating a little from the standard specifications outlined by 4WD Victoria: https://www.4wdvictoria.org.au/iconic4wd/index.php/safety-information/track-classification
4WD Victoria specs state you should be able to do a difficult track with HT / AT (preferred) tyres, no lift or other special modifications. Just a 4WD with low range.
Don’t Be Scared To Investigate Tracks
Any track you see marked as easy to difficult, you should take a look at, as you could probably drive them all with no issue in the dry using HT tyres and no lift. In the wet, you would likely drive them all with a good set of aggressive AT tyres. The double diamond tracks, those are a different story. I have watched some double diamond tracks on Youtube and unless you have 37″ tyres and a 4″ lift, I wouldn’t go near them dry or wet. Basically, clowns have trenched them with 35’s, screwed the tracks entirely to diff out, are now fitting 37’s to repeat the process in order to do the tracks. Worse, they’re diffing out using 37’s. This is why tracks get closed.
Some of these double diamond tracks wouldn’t be marked that if it wasn’t for the clowns who think fun is digging trenches with their tyres. The tracks are mostly not otherwise technical (obstacles). Then you have technical double diamond tracks, wet or dry, which clowns haven’t dug trenches and are purely designated based on technicality. You should be able to do a double diamond track with a 2″ lift, MT tyres and a winch. Instead, you have to walk the tracks to see whether its a clown based track or technical track.
Go see tracks for yourself, walk them / drive slowly, and determine whether you can drive them or turn around and try another. I haven’t found anything yet where I can’t change my mind and get out of based on my vehicle specs. Obviously I wouldn’t try something where my vehicle was unstable and sliding around. That to me is not fun, and how to damage a vehicle.
I have entered a couple of tracks and could immediately see mud that cannot be gotten around, so I stopped, walked further up the track, then turned around / reversed out. I will come back to those tracks when I have MT tyres, a lift and bash plates.
My View Deviates
I guess this is the issue, even my view deviates from 4WD Victoria. They say easy is just an unsealed road, no obstacles. Honestly, most of these you drive in 2WD, as 4WD is often overkill. Low Range seems to be the factor they use with difficulty. I don’t see things that way. Four wheel driving is just that, high and low range use. I don’t see needing these for any period of time in rating difficulty. Low range on a simple hill climb is just good sense. Least stress on the vehicle. Add rear diff lock for stability. There can be nothing hard about the hill itself, open and easy track, just steep. Steep is not a difficulty IMHO in a 4WD. They’re made for that. Obstacles and clay are often the issue in my view.
Honestly, stock four wheel drives with low range are very capable vehicles. They will take you further than you may think. Don’t let the modified vehicles and clowns with big tyres make you think you can’t get out and explore the Victorian bush. HT tyres will take you more places than you think. The negative is that they have little puncture resistance compared to AT / MT tyres. You can safely drop your HT tyres to 28 PSI and drive tracks, then find a servo on your way out and pump up to highway pressures, without tyre damage.
I would estimate you could drive 50% of tracks with a stock 4WD. In the wet, if you were running HT tyres, add snow chains, you will get further with those in clay than any MT tyre. Most MT’s will not get up the clay based hills in the Vic high country and surrounding forestry. They would still need snow / mud chains. Without chains they just dig trenches and go nowhere.
Just my two cents. I’m not claiming to be some expert. Just a guy driving tracks, and as we all have arseholes, we all have opinions. This is mine.