10 4X4 Recovery Equipment You Should Add to Your Recovery Gear List

There are many 4X4 owners who do not have a single piece of recovery equipment in their vehicle. Well, depending on the type of travelling you do, some will never find the need for a recovery. If you are using your 4X4 vehicle for light trails, the most you would need are All Terrain tires and someone in your group with a winch or tow strap.

But if you are planning to do some serious off-road driving, there are some items you just need to have. The first piece of gear that the serious off roader would think is a must, would be a winch. Winches are great at getting you out of most situations, but a winch alone will not get you out of all situations. This article will cover some of the equipment you should think of adding to your recovery arsenal.

We are going to assume that most of you already have a winch and a high-lift jack or a bottle jack in your vehicle.

Having a high-lift jack is great for lifting up 4WD vehicles that have had a suspension lift. Normal jacks will not be able to lift the vehicle high enough to have the wheels raised off the ground. But there are some places where the ground is too soft and cause the jack to sink in the ground. In this case, having a jack base will help prevent the jack from sinking by increasing the surface area of the jack’s base. This base plate can even be used for bottle jacks. Just make sure the ground is level to keep the jack stable.

There are still many winches that are using the wire cables. Wire cables usually fray and have kinks in them. When handling these cables, there is a chance of wire strands piercing the skin or cause cuts. Wire cables also have lots of stored potential energy when winching. When these cables snap, the stored energy causes the cable to act like a whip. The unleashed potential energy can also cause the wire cable to rip off limbs and cause serious injury and even death, as well as damage to vehicles. This is why everyone should stand clear of the space between the winch and the anchor point for the winch hook.

Replacing the wire cable for a synthetic winch rope is a better option. They may cost more, but they are safer. Synthetic winch ropes also store energy while winching, but they do not cause damage to people or vehicles. Synthetic ropes are lighter but 1.5 times stronger than wire cables. They do not develop wire burrs and will not cut your hands while handling them.

The downside to synthetic ropes is that they require more maintenance. Synthetic ropes should be removed and washed after a trip to get rid of the mud and sand between the strands. Then they need to be dried in an area shaded from direct sunlight. A good practice would be to reattach your rope to the winch just before your next trip to prevent excessive damage from ultra violet rays of the sun. Even considering the extra care, winch ropes are still the better choice for strength and safety.

The next piece of equipment we would recommend is a tire deflator. Traction is an important factor when it comes to off-road driving. One way to get traction is by deflating your tires so that you get a longer footprint. A longer footprint means more contact with the ground and more traction. It also helps your tires get a better grip when moving over rocks and sand. Releasing air from 4 tires can take some time. Also, if you are just pressing the valve down with a sharp object to release the air, you will not be able to tell exactly what pressure is left inside the tire. Having a tire deflator kit makes the task not only faster, but the meter helps you get accurate pressures as well. We have found this tool very helpful in our trips.

When you get out to the roads, you will want to have your air pressures back up again for better control on the asphalt. Sometimes, you may experience the tire coming of the rim. When you get the tire seated back onto the rim, you will need to inflate the tire. A good compressor will come in handy here. Get one that is meant for your vehicle. The models meant for cars will not be suitable here. It will take too long and will cut-off the power when the compressor gets too hot. You will need a heavy-duty compressor that is meant for SUVs and trucks. A good compressor will take just minutes to inflate all 4 tires.

Another way to get traction on the tracks is by using traction boards. Traction boards have special ridges on them to give tires a good grip when placed on mud, sand or snow. The large surface area prevents the vehicle from sinking in as well as helps it move by providing the tires with a good grip. Traction boards can also be used as a bridge over large gaps as well as be used as shovels for sand and snow.

Snatch blocks have been used to perform double-line winch recoveries. A snatch block is attached to the recovery point of one vehicle while the winch line of the other vehicle runs round the snatch block and back to anchor on a recovery point. A double-line pull doubles the force of the pull to get the stuck vehicle out. Snatch blocks are also used to change the angle of the pull in cases when two vehicles are not directly facing each other. In this case, the snatch block is rigged to a tree in front of the vehicle needing to be recovered. These days, snatch blocks are being replaced with the lighter and less bulky snatch recovery ring. These rings are of a special alloy that makes them very strong. The snatch ring is attached to a recovery point using a soft shackle. The best part is that the ring does not have any moving parts or bearings that can give way. Also, being made of an alloy, it does not rust or require maintenance.

D-shackle have been an important part of 4×4 recoveries. They are strong and do what they were meant to do well. However, if there is a failure in the recovery point these shackles are attached to, a breakage would cause the heavy shackle to act as a dangerous projectile and can cause damage to man and/or vehicle. The introduction of soft shackles has caused more off-road vehicle owners to switch to the lighter alternative. However, D-shackles will still be needed if the recovery points have sharp edges that can cut the soft shackle.

While we are on the subject of flying projectiles, we should bring up the practice of using tow balls as recovery points. This is a very dangerous thing to do as there have been cases of tow balls breaking off and flying in the direction of the pulling vehicle, sometimes causing injuries and even death. If you are using, tow balls for towing campers and trailers, then there is no problem as that’s what they were designed to do. But if the tow balls are used for recoveries using tow straps, winch lines or snatch straps or ropes, it’s time to get a shackle receiver mount. You can replace your tow ball with the shackle receiver when you are not towing. The shackle receiver will allow you to attach a D-shackle for recovery operations.

The next item is a nice to have recovery equipment. Kinetic ropes are beginning to replace snatch straps as they are stronger and do a better job at recovering vehicles. Unfortunately, they also take up more space due to their design. I have had snatch straps break, especially when wet and after a few uses. I have yet to hear of kinetic ropes breaking.

There are some suppliers that offer recovery kits with a range of items you will need if you are just starting out. If you are running on a budget, you may decide to get each item separately as and when you can afford them. But if you want to make some savings, these packages are what you are looking for. Just check if the offered items are what you can use for your vehicle.