A good recovery kit is essential because you never know when things will turn sour.
Four-wheel drives become stuck for all manner of reasons: encounters with a big rock, lots of little rocks (on a slope), a log, a steep slope, deep mud, deeper water or any combination of the above. A good recovery kit, along with prior planning, knowledge and experience, will help get you out of most sticky situations.
Sturdy gloves, such as rigger’s gloves, are essential in performing safe recoveries. The gloves will protect your hands, especially while handling things like winch cables with broken strands can cause nasty cuts. They are also multi-purpose and are useful around fires and other camping activities.
A snatch strap is an elasticised webbed strap with a reinforced loop at each end. It allows a recovery vehicle to pull a stranded vehicle out from all kinds of problems. The strap should be attached to rated recovery points on each vehicle and laid along the ground between them. Then, the recovery vehicle drives away at a modest speed, creating a pull that’s stored within the elastic strap until there is enough force to free the bogged vehicle.
Extreme care should be taken when using snatch straps, as a broken strap or connecting hardware at either end can produce a missile that can seriously maim or kill.
A snatch strap should be only used in conjunction with designed rated shackles, connected only to designated winching points (not tow bars), when a damper blanket is placed over the strap near its mid-point and when all onlookers are out of both vehicles and are well clear.
TREE TRUNK PROTECTOR
A tree trunk protector allows you to use a tree trunk as an anchor point while minimising harm to the tree. It can also be used as a mounting point for a snatch block.
A drag chain is useful in pulling fallen timber out of the way or other situations where heavy hauling is necessary over the ground or rough surfaces.
A good jack is essential, either a hi-lift jack or an exhaust jack, which raises the vehicle using a heavy duty bag inflated from the vehicle’s exhaust. A flat, metal plate or sturdy ply about 300mm square helps support the jack on boggy or soft ground. Make sure you never raise the vehicle beyond its point of stability and never get beneath a vehicle that is not separately supported.
A winch is not a necessity but it sure is a handy accessory when proper care is taken.
While you can buy hand-winches for a few hundred dollars, they’re hard work and put the wincher at the point of greatest risk.
Electric or power take-off (mechanical or hydraulic operation) winches allow you to stand clear or operate the winch from the driver’s seat and are mounted to the bull bar or front of the chassis. Proven winches can cost up to a couple of thousand dollars from reputable retailers.
You may also find a winch extension strap useful. It looks similar to a snatch strap but doesn’t have the elastic characteristics. It should be used as a straight pulling medium. It can be used, as the name suggests, to extend the reach of a winch rope or cable or for straight towing situations.
Traction devices such as MaxTrax pads placed under the wheels provide grip on soft surfaces. Strips of old carpet or rubber or stacked branches of lengths of wood is an alternative fix, as is anything that will spread the load.
This article is courtesy of Camper Trailer Australia. For the full article, please visit: www.campertraileraustralia.com.au/features/technical/1504/the-essential-4wd-recovery-kit
MEET THE AUTHOR
David Cook has been a photojournalist in the magazine publishing world for 50 years, for 23 years of which he ran his own publishing business. As a keen camper he is now a well known contributor to several camping and travel journals.