8 Best RC Cars For Sand Dunes (Most Durable Picks)

The 8 Best RC Cars For Sand Dunes

In this guide, we’ll look at which brands and models you should invest in for driving on sand dunes. Which models are able to conquer the dunes without breaking a sweat?

Here are our top picks:

  1. Best Overall Pick: Traxxas Rustler 4×4 VXL – Wide chassis and extreme speed make it perfect for racing up and down sand dunes.
  2. Best Waterproof RC Car for Wet Sand: Redcat Racing Kaiju – Waterproof and dustproof components allow driving even through wet sand without issues.
  3. Most Durable RC Car for Sandy Terrain: ARRMA Notorious 6S BLX – Tough aluminum chassis and large footprint tires can withstand rough sandy conditions.
  4. Best RC Car for High Speed Sand Dune Runs: Traxxas X-Maxx – Massive power from the 8S system provides incredible speed and acceleration to jump sand dunes.
  5. Best Value RC Car for Sand: ARRMA Big Rock 4×4 – Affordable price but still offers good speed and durability for sandy terrain.
  6. Best RC Car for Beach Driving: LOSI Tenacity Desert Buggy – Low ride height and waterproof design make it perfect for cruising on the beach.
  7. Best RC Car For Sand With Better Suspension: LOSI Ford Raptor Baja Rey – Advanced suspension soaks up bumps and special off-road tires provide traction in loose sand.
  8. Best Big-Sized Desert Truck: ARRMA 1/7 Mojave – If you want a desert truck capable of giant airs and 60+ mph speed, then look no further than this pick!

Before we dive into the detailed review of each of these best RC cars for sand, it’s essential to understand what qualifies an RC to be one of the best to drive on sand dunes. There are a few factors, we’ll cover them below and then show you our favorite RCs after that.

We also have some helpful advice regarding driving through sand and how to clean your vehicle easily afterwards. Let’s dig in!

What Does An RC Car Need To Perform Well On Sand Dunes?

Driving in sand differs vastly from any other hard terrain. It’s most similar to driving through mud though, so the type of vehicle that does well in mud will usually also do well in deep sand.

Here’s what your RC needs to blast through sand dunes with ease.

4-Wheel Drive

The more wheels that are being turned by the motor, the more traction you’ll achieve on the dunes. Some 2-wheel drive RCs with strong motors and paddle wheels can get around in the sand, but the chance of getting stuck and needing to push start the car is high.


For an RC car to perform well on sand dunes, it needs to be big enough to make it over all the humps and bumps. Anything smaller than 1/10 is going to struggle with minor deformities in the sand like footprints.

You might be interested in reading my article: Best 1/8 scale RC truck

Powerful Motor

It takes a lot of energy to drive on sand because as the tires rotate, the sand moves below them. Most of the energy from your motor to your wheels is wasted on moving sand downwards instead of pushing the car forward. Therefore, you need a powerful motor to drive easily on sand, especially if you want to get moving from a stationary position. You’ll need to give your RC a nudge with your foot to get going if the motor is weak. But you won’t need to push start any of the models on this list.

Related post: Fastest Brushless RC Truck: The Three You Must Check Out

Metal gears

Nylon and plastic gears get chewed up real quick when there’s so much sand flying around. Metal gears will last way longer. Some of the RCs below have metal gears straight out of the box, for those that don’t, you can purchase them separately.

Here’s an example of some metal gears on Amazon.


Waterproofing for sand dunes? Yes, as you may have already guessed, if your vehicle is waterproofed, less sand will get inside of it. That’s why our list of best RCs for dunes consists of only RCs that feature a minimum of electrical waterproofing.

High Ride Height

You need a high ride height to clear the humps and bumps in the sand, off-road RCs are ideal for deep sand as they’re already a bit higher than short course RCs. But monster trucks have the best height advantage and huge wheels, perfect for the dunes.

Paddle Wheels (Optional)

Your wheels need to be very chunky to dig into the sand. That’s why there are paddle wheels available, like these on Amazon. These are for a 1/8 scale RC, but you can get paddle wheels for any scale RC.

The longer the paddles, the better they’ll do in the soft, deep sand. Most are foam filled to keep sand out, which would otherwise add weight to the vehicle and wear the tires down quicker.

Even though paddle wheels are the best for driving in sand, the RC cars on this list all have enough tire tread, stock standard, to dig through the dunes. But if you can get paddle wheels for them, all the better.

Pro Tip: If you buy paddle tires, make sure all the tread patterns are facing the correct way. Sometimes you might get one wheel tread in a certain direction and three wheels with tread going the other way. Remove the rubber from the rim and replace it in the right direction on the rim before you glue the tires down.

You can see a huge range of RC paddle wheels for any scale RC by clicking here, on Amazon

Gearing Down For Sand Dunes

We suggest buying a metal gear that has less teeth than your current gear. This is called “gearing down” and what it will do is reduce your top speed while increasing your acceleration. It makes it easier for the motor to turn which results in less overheating in the motor.

Sand causes a lot of resistance and your motor can quickly overheat if you push it too hard or too long in the sand. Gearing down will give you more low end power which is ideal for thick sand.

A metal gear can also chew up sand and spit it out without getting destroyed like the plastic ones.

1. Traxxas Rustler 4×4 VXL

Last update on 2024-03-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is a stadium truck, very similar to the monster trucks except that these are usually a bit lighter and more agile. This model is extremely stable with a wide wheel base for stability. It also has the huge tires you need to plough through sand.

This is one of the fastest RCs on the market so if you want to do some actual racing over sand dunes, this one will probably even beat the Traxxas Maxx in terms of speed.

Specification highlights:

  • Top Speed 65+MPH with 3S LiPo Battery
  • 4-Wheel Drive
  • Waterproofing for the electronics
  • Wide wheel base to reduce rolling
  • Reinforced inner cage

Pros And Cons:

Wide chassis that ensures better stability and controlBattery and charger needed separately
Extremely fast top speed of over 65 mph – perfect for racing
Waterproof components means you can drive even on wet sand
Suitable for bashing and usage on all types of terrain

Check the Rustler VXL out on Amazon right here

2. Redcat Racing Kaiju 1/8

Last update on 2024-03-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is a powerful machine. It’s nice and big as well to handle sudden dips or ramps. The Kaiju is considerably cheaper than the Traxxas monster trucks but aren’t quite as durable. The stock spur gear is plastic and will wear down pretty quickly in the sand, but we recommend buying a metal spur gear for sand dunes anyway, it’s just a pity it’s not standard. You can find one online for around $10 to $20 depending on the seller.

Other than that, we love this truck! It’s massively powerful and digs through dirt with no strain.

So just replace some of the parts with metal ones and this RC should last you a long time, even in the sand.

Specification highlights:

  • 2100kv Brushless motor
  • 1/8  scale to get over obstacles easier
  • Massive wheels suitable for sand
  • Steel CVA drive shafts
  • Internal differential gears made of 17mm aluminum

Pros And Cons:

Huge ground clearance and 1/8 size makes it perfect for off-road sandy terrainNeeds a few upgrades for optimal performance
Big tires allow plenty of surface area for better traction in loose sand
Components are waterproof and dustproof
Powerful brushless motor provides ample of torque to power through loose sand

For specs and other info, here’s the Redcat Racing Kaiju monster truck on Amazon.

You can also see the Kaiju on Redcat Racings official site here

3. ARRMA 4WD Notorious 6S V5 BLX 

Last update on 2024-03-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Here’s a 1/8 scale stunt truck with plenty of power. Just like all the other RCs on this list, it reaches speeds of around 60mph. You won’t get that speed in thick sand but you will blast through it pretty easily. I’ve seen people flipping this RC over dunes with precision.

Related post: What Is The Best RC Car Out Right Now? Each Style Covered

The waterproof receiver box and digital servo will keep sand out. It also has incredible steering and control in general and comes with a 6S LiPo battery.

There’s another pinion gear in the box if you want higher top speeds but don’t put that in for the sand dunes, you need low speed power for the sand. Leave the smaller gear in.

Specification highlights:

  • Max Speed 60MPH
  • 4-Wheel Drive
  • Outrageous stunt capability, even on sand.

Pros And Cons:

Massive power from the 6S capable brushless systemMaintenance and parts replacement is required, especially for rough and tough usage
Tough aluminum chassis, oil-filled shocks, and large footprint tires make it very durable
Waterproof electronics allow driving through wet sand without issues
Spektrum radio gear for excellent control range and reliability

See the awesome Arrma Notorious here on Amazon

4. Traxxas X-Maxx 4×4 Brushless Monster Truck

Last update on 2024-03-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is a beast and many may argue that this bad boy should be top of the list. With its 8S power, it rips though any terrain like a beast. This is the truck to get if you wanna rip up the sand.

This is second on my list simply because the X-Maxx comes at a very high price. The X-Maxx is more durable and has better customer service and parts availability.

Read my detailed article about the Traxxas X-Maxx

Specification highlights:

  • 50Mph Speeds
  • Velineon VXL– 8S Brushlesspower system
  • All steel drivetrain gears
  • Strong driveshafts
  • 1200XL Big Block motor
  • Torque-Biasing Center Drive for improved driveline durability
  • Top design and quality parts that have evolved and been improved compared to older versions

Pros And Cons:

The 8S brushless system offers impressive speed and accelerationCostly than other models offering similar features
Durable build quality and solid designQuite big in size making transport a bit challenging
Long wheelbase and stability management system makes it perfect for high jumps
Easy parts availability for repair and upgrades

Check out the Traxxas X-Maxx here on Amazon

5. ARRMA 1/10 Big Rock 4×4 – Best Value For Money Pick

Last update on 2024-03-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Are you looking for a budget friendly RC car for sand dunes? Then the ARRMA 1/10 scale Big Rock is the best pick.

You can drive it on the beach, sand, or even streets, and get a good experience on all terrains. It has a sturdy chassis with tough composite shocks that provides durability for extreme bashing on sand.

But not just with build quality, you also can’t go wrong with speed. With a powerful brushless system, the ARRMA Big Rock is made to deliver 50 mph speed easily.

Do note that although tires are great, you won’t get best results with the stock tires. For better stability, you will have to purchase high-quality tires. Also, you have to buy the battery and charger separately. But all in all, it’s a great ready to run RC monster truck available at an affordable price, offering great value for money with its features.

Specification highlights:

  • 1/10 scale 4WD monster truck
  • Waterproof components with BLX100 Brushless ESC
  • Durable composite chassis and body
  • Modular design for easy maintenance

Pros And Cons:

Durable and suitable to drive on all terrains including sandThe stock tires are not ideal for high speed runs
It comes with waterproof componentsSome parts may need upgrading for extreme use
Easy to work on and replace parts if neededBattery and charger not included
Offers great value for money

6. LOSI 1/10 Tenacity 4WD Desert Buggy – Best RC Car For Beach

Last update on 2024-03-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The LOSI Tenacity is a 1/10 scale 4WD desert Buggy that’s ready for high speed runs across sandy dunes right out of the box.

The Tenacity has a powerful brushless motor and smart speed control. This gives it a very fast speed for jumping sand dunes. It can go over 50 miles per hour!

The LOSI Tenacity is built very tough. It has metal parts like aluminum shocks and sway bars. Its strong chassis can handle medium jumps and crashes. Keep in mind that the design is more suitable for racing than bashing. It’s perfect for riding on the beach or smooth sand.

The only negatives are you have to buy batteries and a charger separately. Also it sits low which could cause issues on big jumps.

Overall the Losi Tenacity DB Pro is great for sand dunes for both beginners as well as experts. Its durability, waterproofing, and brushless power make it a top choice. It looks cool and drives fast.

Specification highlights:

  • 12mm aluminum shocks absorb jumps and gives perfect experience even in rough terrain
  • Falken Wildpeak MT tires provide traction on loose surfaces
  • 3150KV motor and smart 130A brushless ESC for speeds over 50mph
  • Adjustable sway bars and turnbuckles for tuning handling

Pros And Cons:

Waterproof parts allow running in wet sandDoesn’t include batteries or charger so you’ll need to buy those separately
Tunable suspension lets you dial in handlingLow ride height may cause issues bottoming out on big jumps
Handles jumps and rough terrain easily thanks to long travel suspension
Fast speeds and acceleration from brushless power system

7. LOSI Ford Raptor Baja Rey 1/10 – RC Car With Best Suspension

Last update on 2024-03-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This LOSI Ford 1/10 Ford Raptor Baja Rey brings true scale crawling action to the sand dunes. The tires are specifically designed for off-road action and driving.

Its 4WD wheels enabled with traction control system ensures ample traction on loose terrain. Whereas, it’s 4-link rear suspension soaks up all the bumps common in sandy environments, giving you a great driving experience.

With a 3800Kv brushless power system, this LOSI RC Truck is packed with a lot of torque to tackle steep inclines. And the waterproof electronic components means, whether you’re driving it through wet sand, puddles, or beach, you’re sure to get a worry-free ride.

The long travel suspension paired with coil-over oil-filled shocks gives this truck unbeatable articulation. The front and rear diffs lock up nicely to drag you through deep ruts or over large obstacles. No matter how rough the terrain, the Baja Rey’s suspension flex keeps all 4 tires planted firmly on the ground.

Since this truck is specifically made for off-road, just note that you may not perform well on the street. For that, you have to reinforce the body properly to protect it from easy flip overs. Also, purchasing street-friendly tires would be a great decision, if you want to drive it on-road along with off-road.

But overall, considering the sandy environment, this RC car hits it out of the park in aspects like suspension and traction. Plus, you can’t go wrong with its true trick feel, thanks to its special design.

Specification highlights:

  • Waterproof components
  • 4WD Tires with Aluminum chassis
  • Well-sealed metal gear transmission with 3800Kv Brushless system
  • Long travel 4-link suspension for better control and traction

Pros And Cons:

Excellent traction in sandComplex suspension can require more maintenance
Waterproof electronics can handle wet sandMay need extra protection as it is prone to flip overs on specific terrains
Locking front and rear diffs provide traction in deep sand
Realistic scale details and styling

8. ARRMA RC Truck 1/7 Mojave – Best Big Sized Desert Truck

Last update on 2024-03-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The ARRMA Mojave brings extreme brushless power in a basher friendly package. With powerful 6S LiPo batteries and 150A smart Brushless ESC, you get the speed of more than 60 mph which is really impressive.

Its long range and pivot ball suspensions system soaks up big hits with ease, allowing you to catch up massive air without flipping over on harsh landings.

However, please note that this is a considerably big sized truck and requires careful handling. You might have to tune up the settings a bit to get your desired driving experience. But overall, it’s a great basher for sandy and desert terrains.

Specification highlights:

  • 60+ mph top speed with 6S LiPo battery
  • Large 1/7 scale size
  • Smart ESC with multiple adjustable settings
  • Waterproof components for worry-free riding on sand

Pros and Cons:

Massive 6S power output for huge jumps and top speedVery big in size which makes it a bit difficult to carry
Easy to work on with quick access to diffs and gearsNeeds a bit tuning for optimal performance
Solid Built for heavy bashingCan be tricky to control at full power especially, for beginner hobbyists
Long range suspensions system for smooth driving experience

How Do You Get Sand Out Of RC Tires?

Here are the easiest solutions along with preventative measures.

Create evacuation holes in the tires

Make two holes in the tires, one at the top and one at the bottom. (In between the tread pattern) These holes will allow the sand to be thrown out when the wheels spin. You need to make perfect holes so that they don’t tear open later, if you have a leather puncher that isn’t too big, that will work. The holes only need to be slightly bigger than the holes in your rims, that’s where the sand is getting in.

See my related post: Wondering Why We Punch Holes In RC Tires? Here’s Why

Compressed air

If you have an air compressor, put the nozzle against the hole you made in the tire and open up the air slowly. Be ready for sand to fly everywhere, wear safety goggles and don’t open up the air too much or you may pop the tire. No compressor? Buy compressed air in a can.

Close the rim holes

A good preventative method is closing any holes in the rim so that dirt doesn’t enter to begin with. It’s best to have specific sets of tires to do this with, as they won’t work well on other surfaces after plugging them.

Closing the holes in the rims will make the wheels more bouncy on hard surfaces. This is because the holes allow air to escape from the tires at a controlled speed to soften the blow of bumps and other obstacles.

The holes also make your landings much softer. Tires heat up quicker if there are no holes in the rims. However, hard tires won’t negatively affect driving on sand, so it’s well worth it to plug them up as a dedicated sand dune wheel set.

Glue the tires

Even if the tires are already glued onto the rims, go over it again with some glue to make sure it’s properly sealed.

See my related article on removing RC tires from rims

Also my related article on re glueing RC tires

How Sand Ruins Your RC

With the extra weight of the sand, your batteries die quicker, you lose power, handling, and it causes component failure as motors/engines fail and bearings seize.

Sand displaces the balance of your wheels, which leads to terrible handling.

The material and age of the tire are also important in terms of internal wear. Some tires have foam inside which should prevent the worst of dirt from entering, but the foam can shrink due to wear and tear. This opens up some space for sand to get in.

It is important to note that wheels should not be left uncleaned as they can be damaging to your RC car from unbalanced driving to extreme rattling, which eventually will fatigue other parts.

RC Maintenance After Driving In Sand (Nitro And Electric)

Wrap the RC up in a towel if you don’t want sand in your car. Take it back home and get to cleaning by following the instructions below.

Remove any parts that aren’t waterproof

Remove your batteries, fans, motor, and anything else that isn’t waterproof. You can blow these components off with air and brush them off with a dry paint brush.

Blow the sand off everything

Start by blowing out most of the sand with a compressor or compressed air can. Blow off all the surfaces, pay special attention to blowing out your motors or engines as sand easily sticks to these parts.

Foam it up

One of the quickest and easiest ways to clean your RC is with foam cleaners like this one on Amazon. Spray the foam over all the RC, let it sit on the RC for a few minutes to loosen the dirt. Use a water sprayer and paint brush to wash off the foam along with the dirt.

Clean up your bearings

Soaking your bearings in some petrol or spirits can help with cleaning out dirt. This isn’t something you need to do after every run but if you’re driving in sand, chances are your bearings could do with a cleaning.

  1. Remove the plastic or metal seals from the bearings.
  2. Drop the bearings into a container of spirits or alcohol.
  3. Leave the bearing to soak for a few hours.
  4. Remove the bearings and blow them out with air.
  5. Add one drop of this bearing oil and spin the bearing around for it to spread.
  6. Replace the bearing seals.

There are a few good quality lubricants available, our favorite is Zero-Friction. This is how it looks on Amazon.

RC Tires For Sand

Sand tires differ substantially from standard tires.

Sand tires are mostly affected by the paddles or different shapes of tread on the tires, the size and shape of these affect how they’ll perform. The paddles scoop and push the sand as the wheel turns, the more sand that is scooped and pushed, the more forward momentum you will achieve. It’s all about the law of equal and opposite reactions.

Big knobbly tread is beneficial for driving on sand dunes as well as grass and other off-road conditions. Harder, longer paddles are the most effective to use in deep soft sand like beach sands.

The broader the tire, the more surface it has to scoop and push sand but also increases the weight of the RC Car.

There are attachments to clamp onto your normal tires with scoops to allow better performance in sand. Different forms of these can be found to match the terrain you wish to drive in. You can even 3D print sand tires for your RC.

Not suitable for sand

  • Small, narrow tires.
  • Tires with shallow tread.
  • Slicks (obviously)


As long as your RC is big enough, 1/10 or larger, and you have big wheels with aggressive tread, you should be ready for the dunes. Together with a powerful motor, you could be flying over dunes in no time. Add some metal gears if they aren’t standard and you can drive through the sand every week without the parts wearing.

The RC models on this list are excellent for driving through sand because they already include everything you need to be “sand ready” However, if you own or buy a cheaper RC, you could upgrade the parts to turn it into a dune crushing beast. You just need to make sure to cover all the bases at the beginning of this article.

I hope that you found this article helpful. Here are some more articles that may be of interest;

Paul Good

This awesome hobby has something for everyone, whether you like to build your RC from scratch and keep modifying till you've got it to just how you want it, to track racing. You might be out with a boat, or perfecting your skills with a plane. Are you taking some cool pics with your drone? I'm sure my site will help you on your journey.

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