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4WD off road recovery gear


  • if you drive off-road without recovery gear, you may not get much sympathy or help from others!
  • the cardinal rule for off-roading is never go alone - you will eventually get stuck and need help from another vehicle
  • it then also means having a two way radio to enable a spotter or a recovery vehicle to communicate with the driver to safely manage the recovery.

Recovery gear

absolute bare bones basic kit - no offroad sand or mud experiences

  • shovel
  • gloves
  • bottle jack with support base plate (but this will not be of use in sand!)
  • ?chain saw for fallen trees on tracks

bare bones basic kit if some sandy tracks but unlikely to be bogged

  • add tyre deflator and inflater
  • consider a bush winch as these work well in soft sand (you also need rope and an anchor)

next level for going on sand or muddy tracks

  • 1 pair of MaxTrax (avoid the many cheap and inferior quality options as they are more likely to let you down when you most need it)
  • consider an exhaust jack or perhaps a high-lift jack
    • bottle jacks do NOT work on sand or when bogged in mud!
  • consider tyre traction devices
    • Truck-claws
      • metal blocks and ratchet tie down straps with optional extender bars for the rear wheels
      • various sizes
    • Trak-Grabbers
      • rubber blocks with velcro straps - enure you get the right size for your vehicle - some cars will not have enough room between tyre and mudguard - small size has 1“ thick blocks so should fit most cars
      • easy install (don't put them near the valve stem else it may tear it off) but require patience - will only move you a couple of inches per SLOW tyre rotation, going too fast may result in digging deeper holes
      • can be hard to remove once they slip and tighten up unless you reverse the tyre rotation and loosen up the tension, or, beat them back to the original position.

rated recovery point level with snatch strap

  • even if you don't have a winch, at least having rated recovery points will allow others to help you out more safely
    • after market recovery points
    • the recovery points on most vehicles are not adequate
    • you probably need to buy 3rd party recovery points rated at least to 4.75t shackles and 8000kg, ideally two on the front to divide the load - although these are not available for all vehicles
  • tree trunk protector to use as a equalising bridle x 1-2 to attach to both your recovery points to spread the load or as a short extension
  • solid block rear hitch receiver if you have a tow bar such as a Factor 55 which can use either soft or hard shackles
  • bow shackles x 2 rated to 4.75t
  • 2x soft shackles these are usually rated at 13-14t
  • 1x fuse soft shackle rated to 7t to act as a weakest link
  • dampener(s)
  • a snatch strap - a kinetic elastic strap which should be rated for 2-3x the weight of your loaded vehicle
    • kinetic snatch straps are more compact and cheaper than kinetic synthetic ropes!
    • most recovery points on vehicles are not rated high enough for the rating of the snatch straps and risks damage to the chassis or the recovery point as they may break before the strap!
    • this is useful when other methods have failed and the lethal risks of a snapped snatch strap are accepted
    • BEFORE resorting to a snatch strap which should be your Last Resort:
      • ensure tires are at correct inflation for surface to give optimum traction
      • use a shovel to remove excess soil/sand in front of the wheels
      • place a MaxTrax under the wheels
      • try a slow controlled tow or winch unless the recovery vehicle is likely to become bogged in the process
      • Do NOT use a snatch strap if the force needed is likely to be too high such as:
        • you are bogged in sand or mud beyond axle height on at least three wheels (mud is worse as it sucks the vehicle down)
      • If you must use a snatch strap after all of the above then:
        • NEVER attach to a tow ball as it may break off and become a lethal projectory!
        • NEVER attach it to a recovery point unless it is rated and your chassis is in good condition
        • where possible use BOTH rated recovery points via an equaliser bridle strap to spread the forces
        • use the correct rated strap and check it is in good condition
        • place at least one strap damper on the strap either in the middle or equally spaced apart
        • ensure spectators are WELL out of the way and at least 1.5x the length f the snatch strap away and not in line with a potential missile
        • 1st pull should be as if you are towing it out
        • if that fails then use a bit of a run up with perhaps just enough so the strap can form a S shape on the ground - not 10m!
        • after 3 attempts, give up
    • an extension strap with a soft shackle to join

winch level without an electric winch

electric winch level

Convoy of five or more 4WDs

  • EACH vehicle should have:
    • shovel
    • tyre deflator and inflator (otherwise you will slow down the whole convoy)
    • snatch strap
    • rear tow hitch with D shackle
    • front recovery point
    • soft shackle
    • 1x recovery blanket / dampener
  • To be shared amongst the convoy:
    • 1 bottle jack
    • 1 high jack
    • 1 exhaust jack if going on sand or mud
    • 2 extension snatch straps
    • 2 tree trunk protectors
    • selection of bow shackles
    • 2 pairs of MaxTrax
    • 1x Deadman
    • the winch 4WD should also carry soft shackle, winch pully, Dyneema rope for winch


scissor jack

  • the usual type supplied with cars
  • not rated as strong as a bottle jack
  • not as stable as a bottle jack

hydraulic bottle jacks

  • compact, often weigh around 4kg for a 4t, but many 4WDers prefer an 8t rated version which also goes higher
  • safest for changing tyres
  • requires a base plate
  • will not work well on sand even if you do shovel sand away
  • will work in some mud but not if bogged down in mud
  • not the best for salt lakes or swamps
  • best jack for hard ground and rocky ground as not only is it the most stable but you can drive off with it jacked up and the jack will just roll over
  • can also be used to bend metal or pry things apart
  • dirt, mud or sand does not effect them as it does a high lift jack
  • you will need to get under the vehicle to place it
  • need to have two different sizes for when you can't get the larger size under, you can start with the smaller one (but the smaller one may not get enough height by itself)

highlift jacks

  • usually rated at 1.5t lift
  • requires a base plate
  • requires jack mounting points on the vehicle
  • can't be used where there are side steps on the vehicle unless they are rock sliders
  • eg. on a stock Ford Ranger, can only be used on the rear hitch
  • very versatile can also be used for manual winching
  • quick and easy to use
  • don't need to get under vehicle to insert it
  • very unstable
  • can be dangerous to use especially when letting it down as they need to lift the vehicle higher than is needed for other jacks as the suspension needs to be fully stretched
    • risk of serious hand damage or broken teeth
  • long and heavy
  • reasonable on sand and mud with a good base plate or a MaxTrax Jaxbase board and you may need to dig a bit
  • need to be covered and kept clean from dirt otherwise the mechanics will not work and you may also need WD40
  • not supposed to be used for changing tyres
  • by itself does NOT work as a sand anchor buried in sand - this will also bend it! - see

exhaust jacks

  • large heavy bag with protective blanket and a long hose that fits on the exhaust pipe
  • requires 2 people, not easy to use
  • only works with a single exhaust system - will not work on twin exhaust vehicles
  • the best jack for sand, mud, salt lakes and swamps
  • not great as a general purpose jack
  • you end up breathing in a lot of exhaust fumes
  • bag may need repair if pierced

tow ropes / winch ropes

sand anchors

  • Deadman
  • Buried tyre
    • will NOT work if tow rope is angled upwards - tyre will pull out of the hole
    • rope must be pulling through the centre of the wheel
      • consider using your tyre lever behind the hole in the wheel to attach your strap to rather than wrapping strap around tyre which may damage the tyre
  • Bush winch sand anchors
australia/4wd_recovery_gear.txt · Last modified: 2024/01/17 19:35 by gary1

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