Mike Hecht has been driving off-highway since he was a kid, what started with go-karts quickly turned into 2 Suburbans, 2 Jeep Cherokees, and then 1 Jeep Wrangler. The Wrangler is where things came undone and his true passion for Off-Highway/Off-Road driving took hold. Mike’s off-road driving experience includes:

  • Member & Officer of Vermont Jeep Association (2005 – 2010)
  • Baltimore 4Wheelers Member (2005 – 2010)
  • Killington Jeep Jamboree Trail Guide & Trail Leader (2015 – present)
  • Off-Road Driving Instructor for The 4×4 Training Center (2018 – present)

We start with an introduction, a walk around the vehicle, and a discussion of your experience and goals. Goals are all taken down and those formulate the agenda for the day and any future classes. Here is what you can expect to learn when taking an off-road driving class with Mike:

Respectful Recreation

What seems like the most basic thing is the single toughest challenge that faces our community of Off-Roaders. And when Mike says “off-roaders” he refers to ATV, UTV, SUV, Truck, and in many cases Snow Mobile travelers too. It’s important to understand the current state of Off-Roading before getting out there. Truth be told, there are hundreds if not thousands of people driving local trails every month and while the majority are recreating legally there’s a significant portion of people driving illegally. By illegally, Mike refers to Trespassing, Drinking, and Littering. As a visitor and user of our trail networks Mike will train you to become a steward of the trails who will be respectful and respected while driving. You can get a jump start on learning what being a steward means by visiting www.treadlightly.org.

Driving Skill Development

Mike will get you connected to your senses and the vehicle through proper use of tires, steering, transmission, transfer case, and locker usage. We’ll explore trails together where we’ll discuss strategies and tactics for negotiating tough terrain that includes hill assent, hill decent, cross hill travel, rock, mud, and the drive home on the pavement.

When you drive off-road, you’re likely to get stuck and your recovery gear is all you have, to get you back home. We’ll review the minimal tools and equipment necessary to have on hand before you leave home, and we’ll create a plan for which investments should come next. Out on the trail we’ll get stuck, and get you out. You’ll learn how to use different straps and winch recovery methods. Off-road recovery is dangerous you’ll learn how to protect yourself and those around you.

Available Off-Road Classes:

Off-Road Driving 101

The goal of this class is to prepare you and your vehicle for an expedition, one in which will test the limitations and capabilities of you and your vehicle. We’ll travel the trails and learn on the go. Stopping to review and discuss important details. In this class you will learn:

  • TreadLightly & Trail Etiquette.
  • How to receive feedback from the vehicle.
  • Driving skills including hills assent, hill decent, and off camber travel.
  • Traction advise that includes tires, sway bar disconnects, tools and techniques.
  • How to prepare for Off-Road travel. This includes a list of required and suggested tools and equipment. When and how to use 4Low vs 4High, gear selection, usage of decent controls and other in cab luxuries.

Off-Road Driving Intermediate

This class builds on the predecessor, picking up where we left off to continue building the skills. In this session we’ll push your vehicle a bit further to purposely or theoretically, get stuck.

  • Drivers will learn the basic fundamentals of vehicle recovery including how to use straps, ropes, chains, and the winch.
  • How to create and affect traction on different surfaces using tires, braking techniques, and lockers.
  • High Lift fundamentals and safe  High Lift operation.

Off-Road Driving Advanced
 * Requires completion of intermediate class

We continue to increase the challenge to a level with which you’re comfortable. More than anything, this class assumes completion of the previous classes and builds on your skills and goals. Travel to off-road parks or other states to sample different terrain is possible.


Important Insurance Info & Disclaimers

  • Participation in these classes is at your own risk. Mike will do his best to keep you and your vehicle safe however, OFF-ROAD DRIVING IS AN INHERENTLY DANGEROUS SPORT THAT PRESENTS A SERIOUS RISK OF VEHICLE DAMAGE OR INJURY/DEATH RESULTING. In some cases, damage cannot be anticipated, controlled, or avoided. Therefor we do not assume any liability of personal injury or property injury from participation in these classes. Due to the every present danger associated with off-road travel we cannot guarantee the safety of participants or their vehicles.
  • Do not being pets with you. While this is fine on your own time, pets provide a distraction from the course of instruction which can cause accidents to occur.

Required Preparations

  • Securely mounted tow points, front and rear. Front tow points may be hooks properly mounted to the frame with Grade 8 Bolts, use of manufacturer installed bumper mounted tow points with clevis or D-rings. Rear tow points can be the same as the front and may also include a 2″ receiver with pin.
  • 1 Tow strap with no metal
  • Tree straps are required for winch training

Suggested Preparations

  • Working CB Radio
  • Winch with accessory kit
  • Basic tool kit

Questions? Contact Mike