Everyone gets bogged, eventually. If you haven’t yet, then you just haven’t explored enough!
It’s important to plan for the inevitable by investing in quality recovery gear and considering how you are going to store it all. There’s no ‘best’ off-the-shelf recovery kit. Whatever you find pre-packaged should be considered as a starting point from which you will customise to suit your needs.
Before we get too caught up in straps and shackles, the team at The Australian Offroad Academy have put together some valuable information. Let's start with recovery points…
It’s a sad fact that just about every 4x4 manufacturer lets us down in this regard. I’m sure that it would only be a minor cost to Mr Toyota or Mr Holden to supply us with a pair of rated, engineered recovery points at the front and rear of our 4x4s. Fortunately for us, the Australian Aftermarket has stepped up and is creating engineered solutions for most modern 4x4s. Some of these are simple, vehicle specific, bolt on offerings, others are part of an integrated system for mounting bullbar and winch. Whichever path you take, be sure that you are not just using a generic product, but rather one that is built for your vehicle.
Straps and things
There’s a literal rainbow of recovery straps to choose from out there. Some made by trusted Australian companies who are here for the long haul, others are simply repackaged generic gear that can be purchased by the pallet from any of a number of Alibaba style market places. Considering that you will be committing the success, or otherwise, of recovering your pride and joy on this equipment, is saving $20 on a no-name brand, a sound choice?
Your rainbow of straps should comprise a handy collection of both dynamic (stretchy) and static straps. When you are out shopping at your favourite, reputable 4x4 accessory store you’ll see that there is a recommendation printed onto the packaging (and on the tag) of every Snatch Strap. It will bear the words “You should choose a strap that has a breaking strain between two to three times the vehicle’s Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM)”. It will go on to say, “You should choose the strap which suits the lighter of the two vehicles used in the recovery process.” What this is saying, in a long-winded kind of way, is that Bigger is NOT Better in the world of dynamic straps.
We should consider the strap to be the fuse in our recovery setup… It’s far better that if something is to let go, that it is the strap, rather than a vehicle component or recovery point. Almost everyone, unless you are in a Jimmy, Rav, Xtrail etc, or an F250 or GMC, should be purchasing the 8000kg strap. Please understand that putting a trailer on your Landcruiser does not magically increase the strength of your chassis or recovery points - with, or without a trailer, your LC200 requires an 8000kg strap. It’s no coincidence that this is a common size across all of the reputable manufacturers, as it is the size which suits the greatest range of vehicles.
Next to your Snatch strap, you’ll likely have an equaliser strap (and if you don’t, you should). There’s an amount of misinformation and partial truths out there regarding the use of an equaliser strap - which is a topic all of its own. Suffice to say, that so long as you use a 3-4 meter (at least) strap, you will not be putting undue side loading on your recovery points. Utilising a continuous loop strap is not suitable as an equaliser.
Somewhere in there you’ll also locate a winch extension strap. These come in a range of lengths and strengths for a variety of uses. It’s likely that the first time you are thoroughly stuck, and have used up all of your available gear, you’ll be going shopping for a few more of these very handy straps.
Of course, without something to attach your winch too, it’s little more than a decoration (if it’s a cheap winch, it’s probably just a decoration anyway). Wrapping your cable or rope around a tree will destroy your cable, and will ring bark and kill the tree - your recovery kit should include a Tree Trunk Protector. This is a wide, static strap which distributes the load over a greater surface area. I prefer to carry the longer version (6mt) to get around the base of those bigger trees comfortably.
Of course, it’s super important to keep all of this gear clean, dry and very importantly, away from any petrochemicals and UV. At the first sign of damage it’s time to discard the strap before it fails and costs you a windscreen.
Article written by The Australian Offroad Academy.
The Australian Offroad Academy has been offering accredited and recreational 4x4, side by side and quad bike training around Australia for 13 years. Dave, the Director, is a registered teacher with specialities in outdoor and environmental education and brings minimum impact driving practices to all terrain types. In recent times, you may have seen Dave on episodes of What’s Up Downunder, Great Australian Doorstep, The Offroad Adventure Show and Creek to Coast, in QLD. The Australian Offroad Academy builds and conducts education 4x4 demo tracks at Caravan and Camping shows throughout regional Queensland and interstate.