Off-Roading 101: The basic recovery equipment

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A well-equipped 4X4 vehicle, like the one in this photo, makes it a lot easier to perform recovery operations

A well-equipped 4X4 vehicle, like the one in this photo, makes it a lot easier to perform recovery operations

BASIC recovery equipment is the minimal apparatus needed to be able to get your vehicle unstranded from off-road entanglements. Remember however that these equipment are only useful if you are on the trail together with a trail buddy (always remember and follow the rule that you never go into the trails alone) and that you have access to communication assets. Do keep in mind that the more difficult a recovery situation is; the more it will require radical recovery techniques, equipment and people.

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Strap20150210Tow Strap. Tow straps can come in many varieties, starting from the hilarious to the serious. I say hilarious because on a trail ride with a group of green horns, I saw a someone pull out a tow strap (the kind you find in auto accessory shops that are made of inferior braided nylon rope with a pair of non-rated pig steel hooks that costs around PhP 300. My jaw dropped upon seeing this recovery strap as this would be of no use in off-road recovery. A good basic recovery strap would be at least 20 feet long and rated with a 10-ton weight limit, has strong end-eyes for use with a good rated D-ring shackle. Ask you real off-road accessories store for these kind of straps.

Shackles20150210Shackles. Recovery shackles are also known as D-ring shackles and come in various load ratings. Remember, in choosing shackles: pick one with a load rating of at least four times the weight of your vehicle; are stamped or forged with its rating on it (if it does not have these walk away from it); and a size that will fit your vehicle’s factory towing eyes.

Pick. A good shovel will always come in handy for digging one’s self out of a high centered situation—this is good in theory but in practicality, a pick, or ‘piko’ in Tagalog, is more practical to use. The pick is used by just stabbing into the offending ground, under the part where your vehicle made contact with the ground, then softening and clearing the earth or rock out of the way for forward progress. It is much easier than shovelling.

Strap Dampener. When there is towing, that means there is a considerable length of cable or strap that would be under enormous amounts of tension and stored energy. Make sure to always have a dampener on the cable or strap when under tension to avoid the said strap or cable from whipping around and hitting someone should it breaks under tension while towing.

Traction20150210Traction Matt. Traction matts are readily available in a any real off-road accessory store that comes in various prices. The matt is a device that one places under a wheel that is off the ground, in order for the tire to have a biting surface or a high friction surface for the tire to gain traction. Some matts can be used for bridging small ground holes and ruts larger that the tire’s diameter. But then again, large rocks will also work when stuffed under a tire with little or no traction.

The laws of physics applies heavily on vehicle recovery. I’m sure most of us have forgoten it, but make sure you review it before performing vehicle recovery. Lastly nothing beats common sense. You might be surprised how much lack of common sense is out there when one is under stress during vehicle recovery.

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