OB15: Getting Stuck and Performing Recovery
Much like breaking down, getting stuck and performing recovery is going to happen at some point. Having the correct equipment to safely recover means you don’t have to pay the huge amounts of money to have a tow truck come to you. While most of this equipment may be overland and off-road specific, it can also be used day-to-day for example if you find yourself stuck in a snow bank in the middle of winter.
You want to stock the correct gear in your rig that suits and fits the environments you are traveling in. Most recovery gear is pretty universal and can be used across all types of conditions and weather. However, consider keeping a baseline set of recovery gear and supplementing it with seasonal based items as needed.
The tools only go so far and proper training on how to safely recover a vehicle. Knowing what to use in certain situations, the limitations of equipment, and the dangers associated with recovery keeps everyone safe and equipment undamaged. Read the product manuals that come with your equipment and schedule training classes to learn the correct techniques for vehicle recovery.
Much like everything else overland related, there is gear that is needed to perform recovery successfully. This is not the gear you want to cheap out on either. Having high-quality recovery gear keeps people safe and allows you to get out easily. Throw in some training, so you know and understand how to use your recovery equipment, and you’ve set yourself up in a good way.
At the most basic level, you should have the listed below on your rig. All of them are good tools to carry even on regular roads in the event yourself, or someone else, stuck in uncertain conditions. As you begin to make modifications certain things can be replaced, for example, the come-along can be replaced by a bumper mounted winch. Ensure everything is rated for your vehicle or better, making sure to take into account all the gear and bodies that may add additional weight.
A hi-lift jack serves multiple purposes. It can be used for recovery situations in place of a come-along. The jack and baseplate are essential for performing field repairs as well.
Traction boards come in various shapes and sizes. Their primary purpose is to give your vehicle traction in stuck conditions by placing them underneath the wheels.
A snatch strap allows another vehicle to recover a stuck vehicle by attaching the strap between the vehicles on recovery points. The idea is to tug or pull the stuck vehicle out, however, using a snatch strap puts considerable strain on both vehicles and may even cause damage.
A tree saver works in conjunction with winch recovery and usage and does what the name implies. Attaching a winch line up to a tree bare can cause serious amounts of damage to the tree itself. Most tree savers are made of materials that will not cause damage and are even safer to use than just using a winch line.
Snatch blocks serve two purposes; the first is to allow for redirection of a winch line and the second is to increase the pulling power.
Shackles are used on mounting points on the vehicle to offset some of the stresses of recovery. These small but extremely useful tools are an essential item to keep in a recovery kit.
Short of calling in a wrecker to get you unstuck (which can be really expensive) there are many different ways to get yourself recovered. The gear you carry, or someone with you carries, and how stuck you are will determine how you end up performing recovery actions. There are two categories that recovery can fall into. Self-recovery means you are using the tools you have on your rig to get yourself unstuck. Assisted recovery means you have another vehicle helping to get you unstuck.
Either way, knowing the gear you have and how to use it is very important. Training goes a long way in helping you understand how to recover your vehicle safely. This means you learn how not to damage a vehicle or cause harm to anyone involved.
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