Adventure lurks in every corner of the world but will you successfully heed its call, when the stuck monster gets in your way?
In this article, we give you the top 5 4×4 recovery kits to take with you. So wherever you go, you know what to do if the mud, sand or snow comes biting at your wheels.
Top 5 4×4 Recovery Kits
Motormic 4×4 Recovery Kit
When safety and strength are both on the line, the motormic Tow Strap Recovery Kit has the words, “BUCKLE UP” proudly written all over it.
What makes this 4×4 recovery kit great is the fact that its strap certainly packs a punch at 41,455 lbs that’s enough to pull huge trucks and other off-road vehicles and save lives, when you least expect it.
Surprisingly, it may also be used as a winch extension that’s also extremely helpful, when performing careful yet quick pulling strategies.
ALL-TOP 4×4 Recovery Kit
If you’re looking for a strap that’s more elastic than the ordinary, the ALL-TOP Heavy-duty Tow Strap Recovery Kit has one.
This 4×4 recovery kit’s strap is made from pure nylon material, with a stretching capacity that’s 22% greater than one which’s made from polyester. This way, you no longer need an extension in pulling your vehicle from a farther distance. See Polyester vs Nylon for an in-depth comparison.
It also has a very high breaking strength of 42,500 lbs that lets you pull large vehicles, without the fear of accidentally snapping it in half.
GearAmerica 4×4 Recovery Kit
Every winch line can become a deadly projectile. So make sure you have GearAmerica Off-road Recovery Kit by your side.
What sets this 4×4 recovery kit apart from its other counterparts is you can conveniently use its storage bag as a winch line dampener. While both synthetic rope and wire cable are lethal as they create a large amount of force once they break, the bag reduces such force by consuming a portion of it.
Moreover, this 4×4 recovery kit comes with a snatch block that lets you lessen the amount of pressure on your winch, to extend its lifespan.
WARN 4×4 Recovery Kit
If you’re worried that your 4×4 recovery kit strap’s safety integrity has been compromised due to consistent use, it won’t be a problem with WARN 97565 Medium Recovery Kit.
What makes this 4×4 recovery kit notable is that both its tow and tree straps are embedded with a red thread. When the tow and tree straps are frequently stretched at a certain point, the red thread shows as an indicator that they need to be replaced.
Plus, the storage bag that goes with them contains loops where you can put small items such as; keys, bug spray and other camping essentials.
Offroading Gear 4×4 Recovery Kit
When an actual recovery scenario hits you by surprise and requires you to use various tools intended for such, Offroading Gear’s 9-piece 4×4 Recovery Kit’s what you need.
Of all the 4×4 recovery kits on the list, this one holds the crown in terms of comprehensiveness. It’s complete with everything; from snatch straps, extensions, to real snatch blocks.
And one thing about it that you won’t find in its other counterparts is it has its own deflator gauge that’ll keep your tires’ pressure at a recommended level.
Common Items in a 4×4 Recovery Kit
Will your winch be enough to get your vehicle unstuck or will you still need an extension to get it to an even ground? Here are the common items you’ll discover in a 4×4 recovery kit that’ll help you stay safe in various situations, whether you’re alone or with someone else.
A winch hook’s function is basically what its name suggests – it’s where you attach your winch through a chain, to pull out your stuck vehicle. However, you can’t just simply put any size or kind of chain on a winch hook because a standard winch hook has a Clevis Slip design. This means a chain’s proper attachment to it requires clevis and cotter pins. Furthermore, the term “slip” in it implies a particular chain thickness (that’s usually 3/8”) which it can only accommodate.
Winch hooks are your ideal option if you’re using chains to pull your vehicle because they don’t damage them and reduce sliding issues. If chains accidentally slide through them, they simply fall on the ground, unlike ropes or cables that come with a snapping and whipping effect. That’s why, a handful of off-roaders still use winch hooks and chains together.
A D Shackle or also known as a “Screw Pin Shackle,” is a common component of modern-day winches intended to accommodate synthetic ropes and wire cables. This is because it doesn’t produce much abrasion that can damage ropes and cables, which can shorten their lifespan.
Plus, many off-roaders prefer using it than a winch hook because it has a maximum breaking strength of 50,000 to 60,000 pounds, unlike the latter which can only sustain up to 7,000 pounds. As a result, it won’t easily crack or get damaged that will eventually send the ropes and cables flying. But is it really worth taking sides between the two? Find out here.
Tree Trunk Protector
In some 4×4 recovery scenarios, you need a recovery point where you can attach your rope or cable, and winch altogether, to make sure that your vehicle’s up and running again. One basic example of such a recovery point is a tree trunk. But for it to serve its purpose, you have to put a tree trunk protector around it.
This is because a tree trunk protector ensures the tree itself doesn’t bend, crack, or snap, which can cause fatal injuries, as you pull your vehicle to safety. It is also a way to prevent accidentally killing the tree.
Winch Extension Strap
When the distance between your anchor point and winch rope is out of reach, that’s when a winch extension strap comes in. It extends the length of your winch rope and makes it enough to attach to your anchor point, so you can properly perform a 4×4 recovery.
A serious warning though, never use a winch extension strap as a substitute to a snatch strap. This is because a winch extension strap doesn’t have to capacity to further stretch and too much tension on it can damage or break it. If it isn’t long enough for the job, you may use a winch rope extension instead, which is also present in some 4×4 recovery kits.
A snatch strap helps in pulling out your vehicle from mud and other awkward settings. It’s made from a material that makes it flexible to about 20%. The amazing part about this is the fact that the moment it’s stretched, it gradually builds stored energy that it uses to pull out stuck 4x4s.
It’s placed on the ground in such a way that it faces the direction of where the vehicle is meant to be recovered; either front or back. Moreover, it ranges from 20-50 ft in size.
6. Winch Dampener
A winch dampener as the name itself means, suppresses excess stored energy build up on the snatch strap. So by the time it goes beyond its stretch limit and break, it’ll simply fall on the ground.
A snatch strap can be just as dangerous as a winch rope and wire due to its whipping force when snapped. By using a winch dampener, you’re already sparing yourself from fatalities.
A snatch block is popular for enhancing the pulling capacity of winch ropes and if you’ll be pulling your vehicle from an angular position, it easily guides the winch rope to the intended path, in a way that offsets the anchor point that makes movement of your vehicle possible, even from a short distance.
A snatch block can be used with a hook or shackle but its other variant, the swing block, is extremely useful for off-road enthusiasts.
A tire deflator can also be found in a 4×4 recovery kit. It’s very important because it lets you air down your tire pressure to the recommended PSI level to boost your tires’ traction on uneven surfaces. Usual types of tire deflator are the simple bolts as shown above and gauge-included.
If you normally go rock crawling, using a tire deflator prevents your ride from being bouncy. If you’re into dune racing, it prevents your tires from sinking in sand.
Optional Items to Bring When 4x4ing
There are things that you need to bring wherever you go but there are also those just sitting in your vehicle, until time calls for you to use them. As the saying goes, “Always be prepared” by having these items with you, if something bad turns into something worse on the trail.
During 4×4 recovery, winching can be literally a handful. Wire cable can sting your hands in the long-run while synthetic rope can be bitingly cold in winter season.
Since winch lines can be unforgiving on the hands, your best bet to protect them is by wearing gloves. Gloves vary from material but the commonly used ones are made of leather, with ergonomic grip for proper handling.
Off-road Fire Extinguisher
An off-road fire extinguisher may be one of the least likely items you’d want to bring on your trip but fire can happen even when you’re in the middle of an adventure.
When exhaust pipes are blocked, your engine won’t be able to breathe resulting in an overheat that can instantly fry it. Electrical malfunctions can also occur due to tangled or misplaced wiring which can ignite a fire and an accessible off-road fire extinguisher is your only ticket to salvaging your vehicle.
Desperate times call for desperate measures as the famous saying goes. When you ran out of food in the middle of nowhere or when you’re stuck somewhere dangerous with hardly any potential for help, bringing out distress sheets is a good way to attract passers-by attention.
Distress sheets are typically created with striking colors. They’re usually in bright orange, yellow and green to make it easily noticeable, especially for search-and-rescue air crafts.
Utility Knife or Cutter
During 4x4ing, your vehicle door and seat belt can get jammed and there’s no better tool to use than a utility knife. Before, a utility knife is only used in workplaces like in construction and food industries.
Nowadays, a growing number of people are seeing its importance in emergency cases or in the brink of life-threatening circumstances. In fact, others even use it for self-defense as a slashing weapon.
Basic 4×4 Recovery Reminders
Knowledge on 4×4 recovery doesn’t just start and end with purchasing a 4×4 recovery kit.
So, here are the things you must keep in mind, to ensure that you know what your doing by the time you are faced with the tough decision of pulling your vehicle out of the mud, sand and snow.
A tow strap’s commonly used for vehicles that aren’t heavily stuck. This means the vehicles only need a little amount of pulling, to get them out of a tight spot. Why so? A snatch strap isn’t elastic that if you apply too much force in it, there’s a chance it’ll break and come flying back at you with a deadly punch.
On the contrary, a snatch strap’s meant for forceful pulling. This is because a snatch strap is elastic and has the capacity to absorb much of the tension. As a result, snapping force is reduced and it won’t also damage your vehicle’s attachment points.
Don’t use a tow ball in a real recovery situation.
Even though this is a recurring reminder across the 4×4 recovery nation, there are still those who are stubborn enough to do the unthinkable. If you’re planning on using a tow ball, use it for demonstrative purposes ONLY.
This is because tow balls aren’t made to withstand heavy pulling like the tow straps. The scary truth about tow balls is once their head breaks, it can directly smash your vehicle’s windscreen and kill you.
Use a shovel and an off-road jack when needed.
Sometimes, if you’re deeply stuck in mud, sand or snow, efforts of getting yourself out of it is futile. There are also instances when force winching can damage your vehicle.
As such, you should first use a shovel to dig through your vehicle because it evens out the surface a bit. Then, you can use a hi-lift jack to eventually raise your vehicle high enough for winching purposes.
You may also stack rocks on your wheels to improve ground clearance and get out of an obstacle.
Back up when stuck in sand.
Sand has a very soft surface that lets your vehicle sink deeper into it the more you move, especially in a forward motion.
So whenever you find yourself stuck in it, expert off-roaders advise that you drive backwards. Driving backwards helps because you’re moving in your own compressed tracks. If it doesn’t work, stop and find out where you need to go next.
Decrease the tire pressure.
Letting out a reasonable amount of air in your tires increases your tires’ footprint and gives way to a better grip.
Be careful not to decrease the pressure too much because you’re more likely to drive on the road when you’re done with the trails. A 12-15 PSI reduction is usually enough.
These are the top 5 4×4 recovery kits that can save your neck when stuck in the trails. By familiarizing yourself with their various components and learning how to properly use them, with the help of some pointers, you enhance your safety and knowledge on 4×4 recovery. Share us your thoughts by commenting below.
- Techniques to Get Unstuck
- 4WD Recovery Tips
- WARN Medium-duty Epic Recovery Kit
- GearAmerica Recovery Kit
- ALL-TOP Heavy-duty Recovery Kit
- Recovery Gear Explained
Tree Trunk Protector
- Why Use a Tree Trunk Protector
- ARB Winch Extension Strap by ARB 4×4
- Snatch Strap by The Audiopedia
- Snatch Strap by Mad Matt via Supercheap Auto