Venturing off the beaten trail can be exciting, but comes with its own set of challenges. If you’re a beginner off-roader, at one point or another, you’re bound to get stuck, especially if you take on difficult trails filled with mud or sand. Being stuck in the middle of nowhere with no help in sight is no fun, and it can make your trip annoying and uncomfortable. And if you have no cell phone reception, you’re in for a long few days until you find a way to get help. The best way to prevent all of this is by making sure you have at least two pieces of recovery equipment.
There are a few different types of recovery equipment you can use, depending on your preference and budget, including winches, high-lift jacks and recovery tracks.
Winches for 4×4
Winches are the most advanced piece of recovery equipment on this list. While they’re the most expensive option, they require little to no manual effort to pull your vehicle out of any situation. All you need is a fixed, static object to tie the rope around and you’re good to go. Winches come in a wide range of designs and capacities, so you have to make sure you choose one that’s capable of pulling the weight of your vehicle.
Moreover, you have to make sure you have a bull bar that’s winch-compatible in order to mount the winch, and make sure the bull bar can withstand the pulling stress that will come with using the winch. There are hydraulic and electric winches for 4×4, and if you decide to go for an electric one, you’ll need to have an auxiliary battery that can power it.
That being said, winches are the most expensive option on this list, but they require the least human intervention and effort to get the job done. You can expect to pay at least several hundred dollars or even more for a full setup.
The polar opposite of winches in the recovery equipment world are recovery tracks. Recovery tracks are affordable and straightforward to use. On the downside, you’ll have to get your hands dirty when recovering with them. There are different types of recovery tracks – from compact roll-out tracks to metre-long boards. Generally, larger recovery track boards are recommended as they’re the most effective for use in a wide range of conditions. You’ll have to buy at least two, although having even four won’t hurt.
These accessories are designed to slot in front of your stuck wheels and provide traction to drive onto. They come with a large surface area to spread the weight of your vehicle. Some recovery tracks can be used as shovels, allowing you to dig around your wheels before placing them. You can expect to pay a few hundred dollars for a pair of large recovery tracks. Look for MAXTRAX recovery tracks, as they’re considered the best in the business.
High Lift Jack
High lift jacks are mechanical pieces of recovery equipment useable in a wide range of scenarios. You can use them to lift a side of your vehicle off the ground to change tyres, or simply get yourself unstuck. However, as they’re completely mechanical, they are quite dangerous. You need to respect them and use them cautiously. They’re considered unstable, as they’re tall jacks with small bases. You can buy a wider base for extra stability, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re inherently unstable.
Moreover, the handle is subjected to a lot of energy when letting a load down. When the release lever is down and you’re lowering, you need to keep a firm grip on the handle, and make sure your body is out of the movement arc of the handle. If you let the handle go, it can drop, release the jack a notch and rebound with a lot of force.
Of course, you have to consider the jack’s lifting capacity. Also, make sure your vehicle has rated jack points to prevent damaging your vehicle in the process. A firm, even ground is necessary for recovery, which is why a flat jack base is recommended. Again, you might have to do some digging in order to ensure the jack is properly placed before using it.
It’s recommended you have at least two of the three aforementioned pieces of recovery equipment when venturing off the road. Generally, most people roll with recovery tracks and winches. Recovery tracks are affordable, while winches are reliable. Either way, having recovery equipment with you everywhere you go will give you peace of mind knowing that you can get yourself unstuck out of any situation you might find yourself in. It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when you’ll find yourself stuck when exploring the rough Australian off-roads, so it’s best you’re prepared for the occasion.