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Buying Guide for RC Rock Crawlers

Buying Guide for RC ( Radio Control) Rock Crawlers

RC Rock Crawling is a relatively newer RC Hobby that has gathered many enthusiasts and has led to special competitions just focused on rock crawling in the USA, Canada, Australia and Europe.

RC Rock Crawlers presents an entirely new set of challenges and skills for RC hobbyists, in learning how to drive over difficult rocky terrain such as rock formations, dry river beds, steep trails or hills, or indoor / outdoor obstacle courses. This is something that regular RC Trucks cannot handle. Many crawler enthusiasts or clubs build their own indoor or outdoor obstacle course using readily available objects and materials.

RC Rock Crawling does not focus on speed;  -- RC Rock Crawlers involve problem solving and using the truck’s power, torque, and maneuverability to drive over and through  difficult terrain and obstacles. This is where RC Rock Crawlers demonstrate their defining features. With 4 wheel drive, high torque and ground clearance, a very flexible suspension system, and rock crawling optimized tires and electronic speed controls ( ESC);- RC enthusiasts try to conquer varying levels of difficult terrain in the shortest amount of time. This type of competition can be done against other enthusiast such as family or friends, as well as yourself, to constantly improve your time.

Key Distinct Features of RC Crawlers:

Torque: A RC crawler needs a lot of torque to drive over steep and uneven rough surfaces. For this, they have one or two electric motors and low gear ratios to deliver steady power at lower speeds.

High ground clearance: RC Crawlers need a lot more ground clearance in order to able to drive over obstacle without getting stuck or damaged. This is provided by large tires and high clearance special suspension systems. At the same time, the center of gravity must be as low as possible so that the RC crawler is not easily tipped/ rolled over.

Suspension: RC Crawlers require very flexible, articulating suspension systems with fairly quick response shocks, in order to maximize the probability that you will have all the wheels on the ground propelling you forward, when you are climbing over obstacles

Steering: As this hobby involves a lot of steering around obstacles, RC crawlers require high torque steering servos (with metal gears) in order to be able to turn the large wheels in confined spaces.  For better rock crawling performance, they should also have four wheel steering (4WS). Four wheel steering provides a number of modes to steer both the front and rear wheels for executing more challenging turns and maneuvers around obstacles.

Locked differentials: RC rock crawlers require 4 wheel drive, and locked differentials to stop power from being diverted to wheels that are off the ground or just spinning.  This provides for much better traction in crawling over obstacles

Wheels: RC crawlers come with large soft wheels with treads that extend to the side of the tires to maximize traction when pulling the RC crawler over and around obstacles. The tires are usually bead locked to the rim so that the tire does not come loose from the rim when subjected to the stress of crawling.

As with other RC vehicles, RC rock crawlers come in various scale sizes.  The most popular sizes are 1/10 scale and 1/8 scale, although they are also available in 1/16 scale and 1/5 scale. 1/16 scale are fairly small and are more suited for indoor obstacle courses, as they do not have enough ground clearance to crawl over typical outdoor obstacles.

As mentioned above, some rock crawlers are available with 4 wheel steering (4WS) . Four wheel steering offers the RC Crawler driver a range of new tactics and methods for getting over especially challenging obstacles. Models with 4 wheels steering come with a high torque steering servo for both the front and rear wheels and a special 3 channel Radio system.  There is a LCD display on the Radio controller that allows you to select and switch between 4 different steering modes.  These modes are:

  • Mode 1 – Just the front wheels turn
  • Mode 2  - The front and rear wheels turn in the same direction, so you can sort of crab-walk over an obstacle
  • Mode 3 - the front wheels and the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction . This is useful for providing a very tight turning radius in tight spaces
  • Mode 4   -- just the rear wheels turn

RC rock crawlers also offer an advantage for the mechanically challenged. As they move slowly, they are not subject to collision damage as is the case for fast moving RC vehicles, so there is a much lower probability that you will need to do repairs on these vehicles.


RC rock crawlers are normally electric and slow moving, and therefore they are suitable for almost any age. Due to the large size of 1/8 scale rock crawlers, they are more suitable for someone 14 or over. You can see examples of RC rock crawlers on our website here.

The 1/10 scale rock crawler can be used indoors and outdoors. If your budget allows, you may want to consider a 1/10 scale crawler with 4 wheel steering, due to the additional capabilities it provides.

Our 1/8 scale Rock crawlers are fairly large and come with twin motors and 4 wheels steering, that will enable some serious outdoor rock crawling.

If your budget allows, we would recommend you purchase an additional battery, as your play time is limited by the battery capacity you have. Additional batteries are available in the NIMH RC battery category, and you will want a battery with a white connector for the 1/10 scale, and a battery with a red connector for the 1/8 scale

Depending on your budget, you may also want a faster charger than the charger that comes with the RC Truck. This would be the IMAX A3 charger in the RC charger category, -- if it is for a 1/8 scale crawler, you will also need the 61027 adapter cable. 


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