by Justin Gray
I'm often asked, "What recovery gear do you keep in your truck" in one form or another.
This list is not only for the hard-core wheeler, but for those that prefer to explore the roads-less-traveled.
These are my top things that you should always have in your vehicle when venturing off-road!
Simple, Cheap, and effective. These take up very little space, are lightweight, and are easy to use. There is no reason that you shouldn't have a good set or two.
*Pro tip: make sure you get ones that are rated for use with your vehicle's weight. Your dollar store strap is not going to cut it!
A nice sturdy shovel is a great tool; digging out tires, moving rock and dirt around, putting out a fire, or digging a latrine - the shovel is a must have tool.
Traction Pads (Recovery Boards)
These work on snow, ice, mud, dirt, sand, gravel, and nearly any loose surface that creates a lack of tractions for your tires. To use, simply place in-front of the tire in the desired direction of travel and drive out. Get a set, and get un-stuck.
This is also known as a "farm jack" and is used to lift, drag, and otherwise move objects. Most of the time they are used to "jack-up" a vehicle for a tire change, or to put debris under the tire for traction (when stuck). You can also use these as a come-along (hand winch) to pull the vehicle out.
Recovery Shackles (D-Rings)
Another item that is very inexpensive, yet invaluable. Used as an anchor point, tow loop, and a connecting link, they have a multitude of uses and take up little real-estate. Now there are synthetic models that cost more, but are lighter and safer to use.
Gloves, what can I say? They keep your hands clean, help to avoid abrasions, and can help prevent you from getting hurt.
If the recovery happens during the day, it can often end up going well into the night. A good headlamp, area light, and flashlight are safe bets for your kit.
Winch Line Dampener
This is a simple flap of material that is used to "weigh" the winch line in-case it breaks. You can use nearly anything as a replacement (car floor mat, sweatshirt, etc.), but I like this style line dampener because they double as a tool mat when working on the ground.
First Aid Kit
Some sort of injury is nearly a guarantee during a recovery; from a small splinter, cut, to something major - Be prepared and trained with a proper kit.
I prefer a strong climbing rope that easily takes knots. Ropes can help support rolled vehicles, help to guide when climbing up hills, and of course you can tie stuff down with it.
Sometimes you need to jump start a vehicle, extend winch leads, or possibly weld a part back on to your rig - Jumper Cables can help you do all of that.
A good winch that is rated above your vehicle's weight can pull you or your friend out of a jam... plus they look cool too!
These are used as re-directs and to add leverage to your pull. Learn how to use them and they will come in handy, I promise!
Save a tree, use the tree strap to help protect the tree from damage! These are essentially short tow straps (around 8') that wrap around the base of a tree.
Fallen trees are common place where I roam; more than once (more like 10x) I've had to reopen the trail due to a tree blocking it. Both tools can be used at camp for gathering firewood too!
An Important Note
As with anything in the world, learn how to properly and safely use your gear. Where is the winch point on your vehicle? Where are the lifting points? Most of these items are not something you buy, toss in your rig, and figure out later - learn how to use and where to use them now!
Here's the thing with recovery gear; yes it does not get used often, but when you need it - YOU NEED IT. Don't skimp out and buy the cheapest thing you can find; you really don't want it to break at the most critical time.
Did I miss something?
Want to add what you use?
Leave a comment below!