Our Top 5 Must Have Recovery Gear List
There is such a huge variety of recovery gear available and its hard to know what is essential basic kit and what is a luxury you can slowly add to your recovery kit with time.
So, to help you get sorted and get out on the tracks and not get caught short we’ve created this Top 5 List to help you select the must have recovery gear to get you started.
1) Snatch Strap
Every good recovery kit MUST have a good quality snatch strap.
If you are unfamiliar with the function of a snatch strap, in short, it is a large elastic band. One end is secured to the bogged vehicle and the other to the recovery vehicle. A small amount of slack is left in the middle and the recovery vehicle moves forward at a reasonable speed (not to fast), as the recovery vehicle takes up the tension on the strap it stretches, once it reaches full stretch the recoil of the strap returning to its original length ‘snatches’ the stuck vehicle out.
It is also important that you spend money on a good quality snatch strap from a reputable brand. There are huge forces at play during a snatch recovery and if things break serious injury or damage to vehicles can occur. The 4wd Zone stocks VRS (Vehicle Recovery Systems), Outback Armour and Opposite Lock’s Mean Green recovery products, all of which are manufactured and tested to meet Australian Standards. $30-40 snatch straps are a no go and we don’t recommend them at all.
2) Shovel (preferably with a long handle)
Any recovery kit needs a good shovel, we recommend a long handled post hole type shovel, the long handle allows you to reach right in under the vehicle when required.
A shovel is particularly useful in beach recoveries because getting unstuck will often require moving sand from in front of the wheels to help forward movement. In the bush a shovel is handy for track building and track modifications and in mud the same applies as the beach.
The are also handy back at camp for the essential work of fire building and that call of nature.
A shovel can be bought from any hardware store however The 4wd Zone sells a handy piece of kit, which is a Combo Shovel that can be pulled apart to save space and can be used as a long handled post hole shovel or a short D-handled spade.
3) Bow Shackles
Safe recoveries will nearly always require a shackle, unless you have rated recovery hooks.
Always purchase rated bow shackles, NEVER buy D-shackles from your local hardware store. Bow shackles are rated for the rigors of 4wd vehicle recovery.
It is always a good idea to have at least two of them and if they aren’t brightly coloured spray some bright paint on them so they are easy to find on the ground if you drop them or sit them down.
As can be seen in the picture the steel bow shackle has some writing stamped into it. Of particular note is ‘MLL 4 3/4T’ on the left. MLL stands for ‘Maximum Load Limit’ and the 4 3/4T means it’s MLL is 4750kg or 4.75 tons. If you have a shackle that does not have a rating stamped on it then do not use it for recoveries and buy rated shackles.
Ideally you should have at least 2 shackles in your kit as a minimum, if you don’t have a winch and only carry a snatch strap then 2 will be more than enough.
When using a shackle they should never be done up tight, if you do them up tight the forces exerted during a recovery can tighten the shackle more and make it impossible to undo. Instead tighten it all the way up and back it off half a turn.
Bow shackles are strong and have been used in vehicle recovery since the dawn of time however if a recovery point fails a heavy shackle becomes a nasty projectile. New to the market are soft shackles, made from the same material used to make winch ropes, they are strong and light weight so in the event of a failure they don’t become a weighted projectile flying towards a vehicle or person.
The 4wd Zone stocks quality, rated, bow and soft shackles.
4) Rated Recovery Points
If you use your vehicle off road then rated recovery points are vital. Attempting a recovery without them is likely to end up with damaged property and injury to people.
Front mounted recovery points can be located on some winch rated bullbars, whilst others can be purchased and fixed to the chassis of your vehicle (as pictured). Be mindful of hooks and loops already on your vehicle because many are tie down points used to secure the vehicle during transport and are not rated for use in recovery situations. If you are unsure consult your vehicles manufacturer.
When it comes to rear mounted recovery points a perfect tool is your vehicles towbar (if fitted). Having said this don’t break rule number one of attaching a strap to a vehicle for a recovery and be tempted to dropping the eye of the strap over the towball. NEVER use a towball as a recovery point. The ideal product is a hitch receiver recovery point (pictured) which slides into your towbar receiver and is held in by the same pin that secures your towball receiver. If you don’t have a hitch receiver recovery point take your towball out and feed the eye of the strap into the receiver and put the locking pin through the eye of the strap.
Another handy tip is to make sure your recovery points are painted a nice bright colour. Many will come already painted bright yellow, red another bright colour however some are black. This might not seem like much but when your vehicle is stuck in mud looking under the car trying to find a point the same colour as the chassis is difficult. If it stands out it is easier for others to find if you cant get out of the vehicle to hook a strap up.
5) Air Compressor and Tyre Pressure Gauge
What does a compressor have to do with vehicle recoveries you might ask? More than you think would be an accurate answer.
Tyre pressures play a vital role in off-roading, especially beach driving. If you go onto the beach with highway pressures (35psi give or take) you will almost certainly get bogged, if you don’t your vehicle will have to work much harder. Lower your pressures considerably, sometimes as low as 12-14psi depending on how soft the sand is, and your tyres footprint is dramatically increased giving you more flotation and grip.
The same applies in mud and lose gravel, increased traction from a bigger footprint means you are less likely to get stuck. When driving in areas with sharp rocks lower tyre pressures allow your tyres to flex and mould around sharp edges as opposed to being punctured. Getting out of a slightly sticky situation might be as simple as letting a bit more air out of the tyres, if you go lower than usual be sure to re-inflate them back to where you had them. On bush trails pressure need not be lowered as much as the beach and 20-25psi is generally sufficient.
Pressures can be dependent on your tyres, their size and their construction. Tyres with stiffer and thicker sidewall will need lower pressures to get the same effect as a thinner side walled tyre such as a highway terrain tyre.
I haven’t mentioned a tyre deflator as being essential because a stick or a screwdriver is enough to push the valve in and lower the pressures however they do make life easier and something I highly recommend if you go bush regularly.
When you’ve finished your fun and it is time to head home on the black top you need to re-inflate your tyres back to highway pressures (each vehicle is different and there should be a sticker inside the front door frame of the vehicle with recommended pressures) and that is where the compressor comes in. Driving on road at highway speeds with low pressures in your tyres can cause the carcass of the tyre to head up considerably can cause premature wear, damage to the side walls and tyre failures. Always take the time to ‘air up’.
Check out our range of quality air compressors here.
If you conducted a survey of people around a campfire everyone you asked would tell you something different when it comes to what recovery gear you should always have with you.
The list above is our guide based on experience over the last 15 years of four wheel driving.
We’ll be doing some more regular blog entries and we’ll cover a different topic each time, if there is a topic you’d like covered feel free to shoot us an email and we’ll work on featuring the topic in an entry.
Next time we’ll be looking at winches.