Extreme Off-Road Vehicles

These are the most extreme off-road vehicles in the world!


Lots of people love driving, but in a world of rush hour traffic and speeding tickets, a relaxing drive can often turn into a complete nightmare. In the world of off-roading, however, drivers leave all these worries behind, swapping stoplights for snow, and parallel parking for mud pits, as they drive insane customized vehicles through the varied landscapes of the wilderness.

Let's fire up our engines and head off the beaten path, checking out military machines, acrobatic automobiles, and DIY tanks, as we explore the most extreme off-road vehicles in the world!

Swincar E-Spider

When you think of an off-roader, you might picture a giant tank, dune buggy, or gas-guzzling monster truck, but we’re going to kick off this article with a vehicle that’s named after an arachnid: the Swincar E-spider.


At first glance, the E-Spider might look like a bog-standard go-kart, but the vehicle has one incredibly unique feature: it has arms. The E-Spider can’t juggle, but the vehicle’s wheels sit on the end of these long, articulated suspension arms.

These each have a dedicated electric motor, allowing each wheel to move independently, and with the arms being mounted above the rider’s center of mass, it makes it easier for each wheel to constantly stay in contact with the ground.

This means that when the vehicle encounters a bump or hill, the wheels smoothly drive over it, while the driver in the pivoting cockpit stays reasonably level. This futuristic technology takes off-roading to a whole new level, allowing the vehicle to take on rocks and hills without getting stuck.

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Unfortunately, the E-Spider only has a top speed of 18mph, and it isn’t yet road legal, forcing you to drive the $15,000 vehicle on private land only. Despite this, the E-Spider is one of the most inventive off-road vehicles on the market, and although this spider can’t shoot any webs, it’s still a ton of fun to drive.

Chainlink 4x4

The E-Spider is pretty incredible, but it is kind of small, so let’s move on to its bigger, beefier cousin, the Chainlink 4x4. The Chainlink 4X4 is the passion project of Cameron Carlson, an engineer who literally built the vehicle in his own backyard.


The Chainlink boasts a similar design to the E-Spider, each wheel sitting on an arm that can independently move above or below the car’s chassis. This unique suspension allows the driver to take on boulders and mountains, as the wheels stretch up to 7 feet away from the car, twisting and contorting to keep the cockpit level.

Even if the car does roll over, the driver can use a set of levers to manually control the suspension; physically moving the wheels to find a surface, placing the high grip tires against a rock, and accelerating to correct the vehicle. This backyard creation is as extreme as it gets, and at the risk of sounding like a rapper from the 90s, the Chainlink is definitely off the chain.

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DIY Tracked All Terrain Vehicles

Let’s move from Cameron’s incredible piece of home engineering to some slightly less neat-and-tidy-looking backyard off-roaders. A group of friends in Russia has managed to create the least resilient tank in the world, placing an old, Lada Samara on top of 2 tracks.

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The vehicle might look one speedbump away from total collapse, but there is some method to the madness. Tracks make more contact with the ground than regular tires, spreading the vehicle’s weight over a larger surface area. This larger surface area prevents the vehicles from sinking and getting stuck in soft ground like mud or snow.

This technology is a necessity for heavy vehicles like tanks, however, it also works on smaller cars like the Lada. As a result, when these Russian Frankencars are taken outside into the snow, they’re able to get up some speed and perform some pretty sharp turns.

American off-roaders have conducted similar experiments, attaching tracks to their pickup trucks.

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Trucks are already pretty good at off-roading, but the tracks take it up a notch, allowing this custom Dodge Ram in the clip below to blast through deep mud pits and bogs.

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The tracks are able to gain traction through surprisingly deep water, and the owners raise their trucks high above the tracks to keep the chassis dry. This ensures air can always be pulled through the engine to ignite the fuel, while also keeping the chassis a little cleaner. Though, cleanliness is most likely not a high priority for these mud-loving motorists!

Hyundai Elevate

Most off-roaders are built to be as loud and muddy, AKA, fun as possible, but this next vehicle concept from Hyundai has a more altruistic purpose; responding to natural disasters. According to Hyundai, the first 72 hours after a natural disaster are the most crucial to saving lives, but first responders are often forced to navigate through collapsed buildings and rubble before they can reach any survivors.

Unfortunately, most all-terrain vehicles can’t actually go everywhere, and obstacles usually force the responders to travel by foot. Hyundai has attempted to solve that problem, by developing a car with legs, in an even more literal sense than the previous cars we've seen.

The Hyundai Elevate has four legs that are inspired by the multi-jointed legs of grasshoppers, allowing the car to walk up steps, tiptoe across rocks and leap over gaps. These cars can hop, skip and jump to a disaster area, able to climb 5-foot walls, and straddle 5-foot holes.

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With first responders able to reach survivors far more quickly, once they’ve collected their patients, the car can lower into a ‘normal driving mode,’ and speed to a hospital. At the moment, Elevate is still just a concept. However, Hyundai is making great strides to make the vehicle becoming a full-scale reality in the near future.

Futuristic Off-Road Concepts

The future of off-roading might look totally different, with new concept cars and trucks appearing online every day. In 2017, some netizens claimed that the US military paid $1 Billion to develop technology responsible for this military truck with a giant spherical wheel.


As cool as that looks, in reality, the vehicle is just a piece of concept art by digital artist Camille Kuo that got swept up in viral misinformation. However, spherical wheels like this could become a reality in the near future.

Back in 2012, a group of engineering students at San Jose University created the futuristic motorbike in the image below, running on a real spherical drive system. The prototype vehicle is able to drive around on these spherical wheels, thanks to 6 motors in the chassis, moving around in any direction without having to turn.

© Spherical Drive System

However, the smooth spheres would certainly need some redesigning to suit the grip requirements of off-roading. So, it’s safe to say the technology has a ways to go before trucks like Camille Kuo’s turn war into a very spherical affair.

Screw-Propelled Vehicle

The idea of a truck with spherical wheels might seem a little far-fetched, but in the world of off-roading, even whackier wheels actually do exist. Screw-propelled vehicles are amphibious off-roaders that sit on top of two giant screws that push the vehicle forward by pulling against either mud or water.

The first screw-propelled vehicle was built way back in 1907 by James and Ira Peavey in Maine, in an effort to create a vehicle that could easily drive through the deep snow, reaching areas that horses couldn’t get to.

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The resulting vehicle far surpassed this original purpose, engineers later discovering that the screw-propelled vehicles could drive through almost anything, including water.

In most cases, if you drive your car into a lake, you’ll have to make a panicked call to your insurance company. However, a screw-propelled vehicle’s screws can act like propellors, pushing water backward and so generating a forward force for the vehicle, allowing water-based locomotion.

This only works if the vehicle is lightweight, and the screws are hollow and hence buoyant; but if a screw-propelled vehicle is light enough to float, it can cut through the water just like a boat!

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So, if screw-propelled vehicles are so versatile, then why aren’t they more commonly used? Well, the vehicles have one fatal flaw: their speed.

Screw-propelled vehicles can travel at an impressive 30 mph in deep snow and swampland; however, the vehicles are far slower on solid ground, reaching just 4mph before getting stuck with screws spinning aimlessly. But for their very specific range of usefulness, especially in snow, these whacky-wheeled little oddities remain incredibly useful to have around.


Tracked Cuthbertson Land Rover

They say trying to reinvent the wheel is a pointless task, but in the 1950s, a man called James A. Cuthbertson did it successfully, swapping out the wheels on his Land Rover for four giant triangles.

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Driving on triangles might not sound like a comfortable ride, however, these triangular ‘wheels’ are actually versions of the tank tracks that we explored earlier. These tracks gave Cuthbertson’s Land Rover the off-road capabilities of a tank, spreading the vehicle’s weight over a larger surface area.

Cuthbertson originally created the system to drive around the hills and marshes of the Scottish countryside, however, it wasn’t long before the British Army decided to take Cuthbertson’s vehicles for a spin.


Like a tank, Cuthbertson’s car could easily traverse a muddy battlefield, while being far lighter than its heavily armored counterparts, making it less likely to trigger enemy anti-tank mines. This allowed the British army to drive across the battlefield, spot the anti-tank mines, and blow them up from a safe distance, allowing tanks and other heavy vehicles to follow behind without issue.

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Eventually, the military developed their own vehicles to fit the task, and today, the few remaining Cuthbertson models can be found among collectors, tearing up rural lanes in the British countryside.

Steam-Powered Lombard Log Hauler

There’s nothing more relaxing than going for a long drive through the countryside, but this next vehicle takes blowing off steam to a whole new level, allowing drivers to go off-roading in an actual steam train.

The vehicle was designed in 1901, when a blacksmith called Alvin Orlando Lombard tried to develop a new way to transport logs, other than horse and cart, without needing to be restricted to a set path of railroad tracks. Alvin’s solution was to take a steam train and attach a track-wheel system in the rear like the tracks used on tanks and a set of giant skis or wheels up front.


Alvin’s invention was actually the first commercially successful example of a ‘continuous track’ system, the blacksmith paving the way for half of the off-roaders that we’ve explored in this article.

After a ton of trial and error, the off-the-rails log hauler that Alvin eventually created was able to easily carve through icy paths that were previously inaccessible by horse and cart. Obviously, as we’ve already learned, nowadays we can navigate tricky terrain without a cumbersome steam-power system, but if you want to haul logs in style, you'll need Alvin’s invention.

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Toyo Tires Ferret

Let’s move from an old off-roader to a more modern vehicle, namely, the Toyo Tires Ferret. This vehicular Ferret might not feast on small rodents, but it isn’t too dissimilar from its mammalian counterpart, being able to dig through the dirt and launch itself into the air.

The one-of-a-kind vehicle was built in 2016 when the team at Toyo decided to create a promotional video that proved their off-road tires were the best on the market. The team decided to customize a 1959 Ferret armored car, a scout vehicle used by the British military.

They fitted the car with a V8 engine, an upgraded chassis, and of course, 6 off-road Toyo Tires for grip, stability, and support. They even swapped the Ferret’s light machine gun for a grappling hook launcher, allowing the driver to pull the vehicle out of a hole if it ever gets stuck.

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With tires that could probably absorb the shock of a right hook from One Punch Man himself, it’s fair to say this ferret has considerably more bite than its furry namesake.

Ultra Heavy-Lift Amphibious Connector (UHAC)

The Ultra Heavy-lift Amphibious Connector, or UHAC, is currently being developed as an amphibious beach-landing craft, designed to transport soldiers, equipment, and vehicles from large ships to the land.

The vehicle weighs around 38 tons, but each of its tracks is composed of dense, air-filled blocks of foam, that are both buoyant enough to float, and sturdy enough to carry the giant vehicle over concrete, marshes, and sea walls up to 10 feet high.


The current test version of the vehicle is 42 feet long and 26 feet wide, but the military has stated that the final version could be up to 2 times the size of this prototype. To put that into perspective, the 84-foot-long UHAC would be roughly the same size as an 8-story building, traveling at a top speed of 23mph.

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Overland Trains

The UHAC is pretty huge, but there’s always a bigger fish in the sea, and this next off-roader makes the sea tank look more like an RC car. The TC-497 looks somewhat like a train that’s been taken off the rails, though there’s no steam power this time: just a 570-foot long truck that stands at over 30 feet tall.

The truck is an incredible piece of engineering, and its origins are rooted in an even cooler story.


In 1954, at peak Cold-war tension, America was genuinely worried about a full-scale Russian invasion. So, they teamed up with Canada to build some radar stations deep in the Canadian wilderness, an early warning system that could detect Russian planes long before they reached the States.

These radar stations were to be built around 200 miles North of the Arctic Circle, requiring the government to transport a huge amount of equipment to one of the most inhospitable regions on Earth.

They achieved this task by developing a series of overland trains, vehicles composed of several giant trailers, with giant wheels to match, led by a huge cab that could drive over almost any terrain.

After years of development, the longest Overland Train built was the TC-497, a vehicle type that stretched up to 570 feet long, with each variation supporting 12 individual carriages running behind the 30-foot cab.


Unlike a regular train, the cab didn’t have to do all of the work. Each of these carriages had its own power supply, connected to four, 1,170 horsepower engines that were intermittently placed along the train, allowing the gigantic vehicle to run with a full-blown 54-wheel drive.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, the train was technically engineered to accept an infinite number of carriages, as long as more fuel cars and engines were intermittently placed in the chain, meaning that the vehicle could theoretically stretch on forever. This technology allowed the US to transport their equipment directly to the Arctic, though today, the Overland Train’s role has largely been replaced with faster, more efficient cargo helicopters.

Despite this, the TC497’s limitless maximum length means that it has the potential to be the largest land vehicle ever, arguably making it the coolest thing to come out of the cold war. Well, other than Rocky 4, of course.

Ripsaw Luxury Super Tank

Vehicles like the TC497 and UHAC are pretty incredible, and when it comes to climbing up hills, running over cars, and blowing stuff up, military vehicles are generally the best of the best. However, they aren’t exactly luxurious.

These Military vehicles are usually pretty cramped, and not always stylish, but the team at Howe & Howe Technologies is trying to change that, with the release of the Ripsaw EV2, a fully electric, armored vehicle that’s marketed as a luxury tank for civilians.

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The Ripsaw may not be able to shoot at the enemy, but it might outrun them. The 4.5-ton vehicle has a top speed of 60mph, making it the fastest dual-track vehicle in the world when it was released in 2016. All this power is clear to see when the Ripsaw takes on mud, sand, and snow, easily leaping over steep slopes and mountains with bursts of speed.

The Ripsaw EV2 was wildly popular upon its release, and in 2021, Howe and Howe released the Ripsaw F4, a second civilian tank with four seats, two more than the EV2, and can cruise around at 55mph.


Overall, Howe and Howe’s Ripsaws give civilians the opportunity to own a tank of their own, for between $200,000 and $400,000, that is. They don’t come with the champagne, chauffeurs, and flat-screen TVs of ordinary luxury vehicles. But can a limo blast through thick mud with style?

Torsus Praetorian

If the Ripsaw F4’s four seats aren’t enough for you, don’t worry, the Torsus Praetorian has you covered. This 28-foot luxury off-roading bus comes fitted with a tv, a coffee machine, a fridge, and air conditioning. The Praetorian is fit for a king, but make no mistake, the vehicle is still an incredible off-roader, designed to drive in muddy creeks and mountains, not Beverly Hills.

The bus is able to drive through mud, snow, and shallow water, and its powerful 4x4 transmission allows the vehicle to easily climb hills at a 65 percent incline. The bus is also able to drive in inhospitable conditions, taking on the hottest deserts, and coldest mountains with ease.


Its air conditioning is so powerful, that it can lower the air inside the bus from 140 degrees Fahrenheit to 68 degrees in just 15 minutes. Similarly, the heating system and insulation can heat the bus up to above 68 degrees while it’s just 14 degrees outside.

This allows it to transport people and equipment through the world’s most extreme environments in comfort, and the vehicle is widely used by companies that work in mining, forestry, and emergency response.

All this will set you back between $170,000 and $330,000 depending on your customization choices, but there is a "school bus" variant of the vehicle that contains 35 seats. So, if 34 of you have $5,000 each to spare, we could buy this machine together and go on the greatest road trip of all time!


As a driver, there’s nothing more frustrating than a flat tire. However, deflated tires aren’t always a bad thing, and in 1951, an inventor called William Albee discovered that they can serve a very useful purpose.

William is the inventor of the Rolligon, a giant, low-pressure tire, that’s perfect for off-roading. When the functional flat tire encounters an obstacle, it absorbs the impact into the rubber, allowing the vehicle to essentially drive through bumps and obstacles, instead of clumsily pushing over them.

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The tires are made out of a nylon-and-rubber hybrid, a strong combination of materials that stops the Rolligons from tearing and popping, while operating at around 1/7th the pressure of ordinary car tires.

The size of the tires also means that the weight of the vehicle is spread out over a large surface area, exerting less pressure on the ground. This allows the vehicles to drive across soft surfaces like sand and loose gravel, and it also famously allows giant, heavy trucks to drive over people without hurting them, as their bone-crushing weight is spread evenly across the ground.

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Today, Rolligons are predominantly used in the oil industry in Canada and Alaska. The tires are perfect for driving through the Arctic Tundra, allowing oil companies to transport equipment through the wilderness, and presumably, give stressed-out oil drillers back massages.

The Hamyak

Let’s move from Goliath to David, swapping out those big fat wheels for a vehicle that’s a little bit smaller: The Khomyak, or Hamyak. The Russian word Khomyak literally translates to hamster, but you won’t catch this off-roader trapped inside a cage.

The Khomyak can drive at up to 26mph, taking on snow, mud, and dirt in the process. It was invented by an engineer called Eduard Luzyanin, who used the engine from a Chinese Moped, the track of a Buran snowmobile, and a salvaged 12-volt battery to piece the vehicle together.


The patchwork off-roader might seem a bit sketchy, but the vehicle also comes with a hatchet, a saw, a compass, a lantern, a thermos, and a rope, all the tools you need to survive if the vehicle breaks down in the Russian wilderness. The Khomyak is pretty incredible, though Eduard did have to make some sacrifices when it came to the vehicle’s design.

Most significant, and this is quite a biggie: technically, the vehicle doesn’t have any steering. To turn the Hamster, the driver either has to jam their foot against the ground or treat the vehicle like a skateboard, shifting their weight to carve through the mud.

For an inexperienced driver, the lack of steering makes the Khomyak a bit of a deathtrap, however, Eduard shows that a little bit of practice makes perfect, able to drive around with ease. Just steer clear of tight corners.

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DT-30 Vityaz All-Terrain Articulated Tracked Carrier

Let’s stay in Russia, going for a spin in one of the Russian military’s most extreme vehicles; the Vityaz DT-30. The DT-30 is a ‘carrier,’ a type of vehicle that’s designed to transport heavy equipment and weaponry through difficult terrain and extreme weather conditions.

The vehicle can carry up to 30 tons of equipment through sand, snow, and swamps, its powerful 710 horsepower engine, and four-track system blasting through anything that stands in its way.


The Vityaz isn’t fully amphibious, but the vehicle can easily drive in deep water, its curved front and high ground clearance keeping the viewing window clear as the vehicle’s giant tracks churn across the riverbed. The Vityaz’s engine intake and exhaust also sit on top of the vehicle, stopping the engine from flooding with water, and keeping oxygen pouring in as it tears through waterlogged swamps.

The vehicle was first developed by the USSR during the cold war, but today, several DT-30s have been purchased by members of the public, and some civilians have taken to customizing them with extra features. Some owners have fitted the vehicles with small cranes, allowing them to manually dig their vehicle out of the ground if it gets trapped.

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The Burlak ORV

Let’s move away from the battlefield, checking out an off-roader that’s solely designed for expeditions to one of the world’s most inhospitable regions, the North Pole. The Burlak is a Russian expedition vehicle designed for use in the North Pole, boasting a number of features that allow a team of 8 people to travel through the Arctic.


The vehicle is carried by 6 giant wheels with enough grip to drag the vehicle over snowy hills and ice caps. Despite weighing in at over 4 tons, the Burlak’s sealed chassis is astoundingly buoyant enough to float, and the vehicle’s propellor allows it to travel through the water like a boat, easily moving from one sheet of ice to another.

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With winter temperatures plummeting to -40 degrees Fahrenheit, the North Pole isn’t exactly homely, but the Burlak is built like a full-blown house, containing a shower, a kitchen, and beds. Scientists can live inside the Burlak for months at a time, and if the vehicle breaks down, its parts are specifically designed for easy repair and maintenance.

The North Pole is usually too cold for a driver to hop out of the vehicle and make some repairs with a wrench, so the Burlak allows you to access the vehicle’s engine from the inside. All this results in a groundbreaking expedition vehicle that can make a deadly journey through the Arctic feel like a decked-out road trip. That’s not just cool, that’s ice cold.

I hope you were amazed at these extreme all-terrain vehicles that take off-road to the next level! Thanks for reading.

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