Heading out on a off road adventure? Looking for what recovery gear you might need in case you get your 4×4 stuck. In this article I will explain some of the different equipment for off road 4×4 recovery.
One of the most important things you will need is a good spade shovel. So, if your bogged in the mud, sand or snow you can dig out under the vehicles chassis. You can also make ramps in front or back of tires, check out a this list of shovels.
Recovery Boards/Tractions Mats
Are runners (planks) that have teeth (cleats) on them to grip your tires. They are used for a self recovery situation when a vehicle is bogged in mud, sand, snow etc. Wedge them firmly under the tires providing traction to get out of the hole you dug yourself in. Check out more on the different styles brands (here)
Definitely on the top of the to do list. First, is to install quality and properly made recover points that are made for your vehicle makes recovery safer and easier. Some factory recovery points, if your vehicle does have some, they may not be strong enough for off road recovery.
D Ring Shackles/Bow Shackles
Are used to connect a recovery point to a winch line, snatch strap. Always use quality D Ring shackles (bow shackles) that are properly weight rated for your application. Only use load rated shackles that have WLL (working load limit) or SWL (safe working load) visibly stamped on the shackle. You also will need a rated recovery point or D shackle mount on your vehicle to connect the D shackle to.
Are made of links of synthetic rope that you wrap through a proper recovery point to connect a recovery line to. Soft shackles can be used where you would use a D ring (bow shackle). With it being rope it can be safer to use than a typical steel D ring or bow shackle in the event of a failure or break under load you don’t have a heavy steel projectile flying through the air (remember always use recovery line dampers to help prevent that) and another benefit of the soft shackle is they are lighter (can cut down on travel weight) easier to store away in your vehicle and you won’t have noisy metal clanking around in storage bags or bins.
This goes in your trailer hitch receiver and you can use either a proper weight rated D ring (bow shackle) or soft shackle to connect a snatch strap or winch line to the hitch link. (never hook to a tow ball to recover a vehicle)Factor55 hitch link 2.0, Factor55 hitch link 2.5, Factor55 hitch link 3.0
Is used when you have another vehicle to pull you out (Vehicle to vehicle recovery). A snatch strap can stretch up to about approximately 20% allowing it to generate kenetic energy (like a rubber band). This is to be able to pull your vehicle from being bogged. Typically a 30ft snatch strap is a common good length to start with. A snatch strap should have a MBS (minimum breaking strength) of 2 to 3 times the GVM (gross vehicle mass) or GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating).
Tree Trunk Protector Strap
Designed to wrap around the tree your going to be using as winch anchor point. This helps prevent damage to the tree.
Used to connect two recovery points on your vehicle making a loop to hook a winch cable or snatch strap to. Using a bridle strap helps divide the weight of the pull between two recovery points. By dividing the weight sometimes between two recovery points can help limit the recovery point stress on a heavy pull.
Winch Extension Straps
Made for extending your winch line when you don’t have enough winch cable to reach your winch anchor point (winch extension straps are for winch use only) not for snatch strap recovery they have no stretch for generating kenetic energy.
A very important self recovery option or even to be able to winch another vehicle or object out of the way. Winching is a good recovery solution to use in steep hills, uneven or rocky terrain. Having a more even steady pull, making it a more controllable and safer. There certainly is a lot of different winches out there you can check more on that (here).
Two types of winch lines, Steel braided cable and synthetic winch rope. The synthetic winch rope has become a very popular option for recovery. Due to it being more flexible, softer, lighter. It is easier to handle and safer if it were to break under load.
Attach a snatch block to a fixed object like a tree (anchor point) using a tree protector strap. A snatch block increases the pulling capacity of your winch by almost two times using a double line pull configuration. A snatch block also allows you to redirect your winch line. Giving you the ability to winch another vehicle or object around a turn or bend called a angle pull (directional pull).
Makes a anchor point to hook your winch line to. For example, your out on a beach in a open area nothing around to hook your winch to and your stuck. This is where a ground anchor could be very useful. There are different style ground anchors, some are like a steel plow digging into the ground and bite in. While others you have to dig a hole and bury them giving you a winching anchor point. An example is something like the Deadman earth anchor.
Recovery Line Dampers
Are a very important device to add to any recovery line before you apply load to it. Recovery line dampers are typically used in the center section of your winch line or snatch strap. Recovery line dampers are for that unfortunate break under load to reduce the recoil (kenetic energy) of a snatch strap, or winch line helping it go to the ground keeping it from flying through the air. You could add additional line dampers toward each end of the line as well for added safety, may help a winch hook or a shackle failure go to the ground quicker.
Different Types Of Jacks
Bottle Jack sure would be good to have with you to do repairs. You might need it to change a tire and or use it in a vehicle recovery. However, a bottle jack can be limited when it comes to recovery not having enough lift height, though there are bottle jack accessories to help with that.
High Lift Jack allows you to jack up high enough to back fill under a tire, push apart or clamp objects. It can be used as winch to pull your vehicle out or move a tree that is laying across the trail etc., certainly may not be the fastest way but it can get the job done with proper attachments, straps and high-lift jack accessories. Also you can take a look at different models of the high lift jacks here
Exhaust Air Jack deflates down so you can get it under the vehicle in a very bogged situation maybe without any or very little digging with a shovel (you still may have to level the spot where the exhaust jack sits). You either put the hose on the exhaust tail pipe or some exhaust jacks like the ARB bushranger x jack you have the option to fill it up with an air compressor. Just be mindful not to jack up on sharp objects you could puncture the bag. Always use caution where you are lifting up and put a barrier like a mat to insulate between surface and the exhaust jack to prevent that.
Wood Blocks and planks
If you have the room and can accommodate a little extra weight it can be good to have a few different size pieces of wood like 2×4, 2×6, 2×8, 2×10, 2×12, 4×4, 6×6 etc. Now you certainly don’t have to have all those sizes just choose what works for you. One to two feet long is usually a good length to be able to still store away in a cabinet. Wood can be very useful in a recovery or even to use it to stick under a jack to keep it from sinking in soft terrain. Just make sure they are knot free so they don’t crack or split as easy and are good solid boards with no rot.
Now off road recovery can be very taxing on the hands while handling those ropes, cables, jacks and straps and so on. A good quality pair or even pairs of gloves is always a essential item to have to protect those hands from cuts and scrapes from burrs and splinters sharp objects when handling tools and gear in a recovery situation. Warn winching gloves, ARB recovery glove glove mx.