If you travel off-road long enough, it’s not a matter of if you get stuck it’s a matter of when.
Regardless of how capable your Overlanding vehicle is, part of an off-roader’s learning curve is overcoming a trail or barrier that is definitely a little too challenging for their rig. Sometimes we intentionally do it, and other times it just happens. Despite fine-tuning our suspension, adding a lift kit, and upgrading our tires, there are times when we simply need to let up on the pedal, give up, and exit our truck or SUV.
To ensure that you perform with your dignity in tact in these scenarios, it’s crucial to have the proper off-road recovery gear. Overlanded has put together a selection of the equipment you should consider adding to your list of “things to bring” before your next time on the trail.
The choices we made below are obviously recognizable to the seasoned off-roader, but for the influx of new Overlanders joining our favorite activity, it’s a good place to start.
In our experience, seasoned off-roaders are a nice and supportive group. They take great pleasure in using their skills and tools to free the stuck. However, relying solely on help from others is a risky strategy, especially if you are by yourself. Being self-sufficient is the best plan when traveling on your own.
We have written a complete article that is focused on just this recovery device alone. So, rather than summarizing everything that has been mentioned before, we recommend reading our earlier article to make sure you have the optimal winch for your vehicle: The Winch Buying Guide
Kinetic Recovery Straps or Ropes
Kinetic recovery straps, as opposed to rigid winch lines or stiff tow straps, have the capacity to stretch and store energy to help free a stuck vehicle. Imagine it as an enhanced rubber band. The strap extends when it reaches its maximum length, then shrinks or snatches back to shape, employing its kinetic energy—named for its ability to move—to assist in pulling out the vehicle. The majority of kinetic recovery straps can stretch by up to 30%.
Kinetic recovery straps, which normally come in 20 to 30 feet lengths, are excellent for quick pulls when winching isn’t optimal or even possible. The straps normally have a braided nylon construction and resemble synthetic winch ropes. They are coated with a polymer/UV coating to protect them from moisture, sunlight, and excessive fraying. The breaking strength is most important when comparing between 2 options, the rope/strap diameter needed will typically be around 1″ for most off-road recovery situations.
Make sure the strap being used has a rating of at least twice the weight of the pulled vehicle—and that’s just the basic minimum—to assure the best performance.
Make sure to conduct some research on both the best practices and the strap that would work the best for you. Use the optimum recovery point available on the two involved vehicles—choose carefully before each use—to ensure the best results.
Even though recovery straps have a coating that increases their endurance, it’s still important to store them carefully, keeping them away from excessive UV exposure and away from any potential abrasion spots.
We suggest taking a look at this Bubba Rope 30-foot Power Stretch recovery rope. It has a breaking strength of more than 52,300 pounds, is ideal for full-size trucks and large SUVs, and was specifically designed for mud bogging. If you don’t require nearly that much pulling strength, you could take a look at this Voodoo Offroad kinetic recovery rope. It has a 38,000-lb capacity and is also 30 feet long. Plus, the green nylon makes it look pretty cool too.
Jacks may be the most adaptable and important piece of equipment an off-roader can own, second only to the super-effective winch. It is large, hefty, and possesses some operating risk, much like the winch.
Veteran Overlanders are aware of the benefits that a recovery jack can have, but it hasn’t quite attained the winch’s degree of popularity, especially among new off-roaders. But don’t be intimidated by its cost, footprint, and possible risks. Even when used sparingly, a recovery jack can and will save your behind. And let’s face it, a Hi-Lift jack attached to an off-road bumper, roof rack, or spare tire carrier emits a bit of expertise and swagger.
You will break a few things when you push your rig to its limit. A flat tire will happen. Tie rods will break. Gears will grind. Even if you had the essential off-road trail tools and spare parts available, you wouldn’t be able to fix it because of the difficulty of access to those parts. With a recovery jack, that big, heavy vehicle can be raised into the air. That ability greatly simplifies spotting and fixing problems.
Additionally, a recovery jack is there for you if you need a little more height to free yourself from that rock or stump. Just keep in mind to include some jack stands for safety. For use off-road, we recommend the Hi-Lift jack, and for level ground afterward, a floor or bottle jack.
The only all-cast jack produced in the world today is offered by the Hi-Lift Jack Company, which also boasts a century of manufacturing experience. ARB is another reputable brand, and their aptly named JACK model features some useful advances like hydraulic technology, an ergonomic design, and 360° adjustability.
Recovery boards are excellent for helping you navigate difficult terrain. They are adaptable, dependable, and simple to use and transport. Recovery boards are unlike the other tools on our list in that they are straightforward and rather unintimidating to use, even if there are undoubtedly correct and incorrect ways to use them.
Recovery boards are designed to be placed in front of or behind tires to significantly improve a vehicle’s traction in mud, sand, snow, and other difficult terrains. Recovery boards can also prevent a vehicle from sinking too deeply into the ground on softer terrain which makes escape less likely. Additionally, they’re wonderful for giving your car a little extra height when you need it to get over that giant boulder or dead tree.
Recovery boards typically have weight ratings of a few thousand to many tens of thousands of pounds per board and are constructed from a mixture of nylon, plastic, and fiberglass. Additionally, when installed on a vehicle’s rack, recovery boards simply look fantastic, much like a shovel or a high lift jack.
Check out Rugged Ridge’s Traction Recovery Kit, which contains two recovery tracks and a tiny shovel, if you’re looking for something affordable.
Element Ramps from Smittybilt are also a great choice. They are made of sturdy nylon-reinforced plastic and have a weight capacity of 7,700 lbs. per board.
A third option is ARBs TRED Pro recovery boards. These are the first recovery boards to ever have a lifetime warranty. The engineers at ARB collected the tread pattern of the most popular off-road tires and then designed the TRED recovery boards to optimize their teeth/nodule design giving them the ultimate traction available.
You probably understand the significance of a good knot if you’re a former Scout or have dabbled in the nautical culture. When sailing was at its peak, sailors connected different parts of a ship using rope and a variety of knots. But as steel gained popularity, the soft shackle was abandoned in both light-duty and heavy-duty applications.
But things have changed again. Synthetic soft shackles have regained popularity since the introduction of synthetic winch rope. These, however, are not the shackles of old; instead, modern soft shackles are made of high-molecular-weight polyethylene. They have a diameter of roughly a half-inch, are often certified for 30,000–40,000 lb. and frequently have a UV coating to prevent fraying and fading.
However, there are a few more compelling arguments to replace, or at the very least supplement, your conventional steel rings with soft shackles. Because of the extra flex when pulling, they are lighter and simpler to store. Most importantly, no innocent bystanders or vehicles will be hit by a mass of steel if a pull goes wrong and the line fails.
The Spydura Soft Shackle from WARN is a tough yet portable addition to your recovery gear. It also comes with a 3M light-activated luminous strand for increased visibility. Synthetic shackles made by Bubba’s Gator-Jaw are a very popular and reasonably priced alternative. They are available in a range of sizes, colors, and breaking strengths.