How to Get Your Rig Unstuck: Off-Road Recovery Trail Tips and Tools

Whether it is a bog, sand, snow, rock-strewn river bed, massive mountain of mud and muck, or something in-between, it is just a matter of time until you and your rig gets stuck. It doesn’t matter what kind of gnarly off-road tire compound you rock, or tricked-out differential gearing you have on board, Mother Nature does not hold back when it comes to immobilizing automobiles. If you are on the trail, you will eventually find yourself in a tricky off-road recovery situation.

Fortunately, the team over at Anvil Off-Road have released a helpful tutorial video on how to get out of a “stuck situation,” which when combined with the info below, should be enough to get you (and your 4×4) back in action.

While having something like Anvil Off-Road’s Winch Accessory Kit will definitely help get you out of your garden variety bind, you are going to pack a few additional tools in order to guarantee that you can get your rear back in gear in any situation.

Despite their substantial curb weight, having an off-road jack on your rig is never a bad move. Photo Credit: Micah Wright

Despite their substantial curb weight, having an off-road jack on your rig is never a bad move. Photo Credit: Micah Wright

Anvil recommends always having an extra ratchet strap or two on board, which we wholeheartedly agree with, especially when you consider the infinite number of uses these types of tie downs offer. While holding gear in place is definitely their primary purpose in life, ratchet straps are an excellent tool for providing tension when needed, without marring the ever-loving hell out of a surface.

Just make sure that you opt for something with at least a 5,000lb rating, and do not use your ratchet straps for things like towing or if the recovery distance is more than a meter or so. Ratchet straps serve as a great form of secondary tension and as a failsafe, and should not lead the charge when it is recovery time.

Know What Is In Your Off-Road Recovery Kit And How To Use The Equipment

Anvil Off-Road offers a ton of trail-ready recovery products for a wide array of vehicles. Photo Credit: Holley/YouTube

Anvil Off-Road offers a ton of trail-ready recovery products for a wide array of vehicles.

Having a short recovery strap (or two) on hand is another useful tool, as it can give your rig that extra “tug” it needs during an extraction. Another must-have piece of recovery gear is a trail jack, which in rocky situations, can serve as a clamp, winch, lift, and/or spreader tool. Combining this useful piece of gear with a multi-use ramp, like TRED’s solo recovering devices, will make both slippery and tight situations all the more manageable.

For as convenient as it may be, looping a tree-saver strap around the trunk of a sturdy yew and affixing both ends to a D-ring or a winch hook is not always an option. This is when those ratchet straps come into play, as they will act as an additional form of tension once you’ve looped your tree-saver strap back onto itself, and attached one end to the winch. Just be sure that the tree you are using as your anchor is healthy and girthy enough to support your recovery attempt.

A successful vehicle off-road recovery requires determination, tools, patience, preparedness, and persistence.

While using a snatch block can alter the winch’s directional pull, you can also use it to double your pulling power. Commonly referred to as a “double-line pull,” this method halves winch movement, and can even be augmented with two inline snatch blocks, which will in turn triple your recovery pulling power.

Just be sure to stand back, because if something fails to hold fast, you are going to want to have either some distance, or some form of shield between you and that recovery cable. You’ll also want to make sure that you have a solid pair of leather gloves to wear at all times(just say no to metal cable shards), and a tool chest that’s been loaded with some DIY repair necessities.

Heavy-duty work gloves are one of those things you never think you'd need when off-roading, until a winch cable decides to eat your hand. Photo Credit: Anvil Off-Road

Heavy-duty work gloves are one of those things you never think you’d need when off-roading, until a winch cable decides to eat your hand.

Winching Power Changes The Game In Any Off-Road Recovery Situation

Finally, there’s the winch itself, which in Anvil Off-Road’s case, translates to four different pulling capacity options. A good rule of wrench for any off-road recovery situation is to have a winch that can pull double the weight of your vehicle once it has been loaded down with gear. 

Motor options vary depending upon the manufacturer, but for Anvil Off-Road’s automobile winches, you have the choice of either a 5.5-horsepower 12V option rated at 9,500-lbs, or a 6.6-horsepower motor with 12,000-lbs of pulling capacity. There’s also a smaller 3.5-horsepower version, which is rated at 4,500-lbs, which makes it ideal for ATVs and car trailers.

A close look at one of the winch's offered by Anvil Off-Road. Photo Credit: Holley/YouTube

A close look at one of the winch’s offered by Anvil Off-Road.

Whether you opt for a synthetic or a metal winch cable really boils down to personal preference. Just make sure that your winch comes with a remote control, as this makes it possible for you to activate the winch in virtually any scenario, and keeps you well away from the action if your pull suddenly goes to pot.

Be sure to pack off-road recovery equipment in case someone gets in a pickle.

Regardless of what size winch you decide to slap on your rig, when it comes time to tug, always be sure that there are no fewer than 5 wraps of cable around the winch’s drum. Winch cables are typically attached to the drum via a lock-pin of some sort, which is meant more for keeping the initial coil point of the cable in place, and guarantee even spooling. Tug hard enough on that little guy, and you’ll have a lot bigger problems on your hands than just a stuck truck.

Article Sources

About the author

Micah Wright

Raised on LEGOs by grandfathers who insisted on fixing everything themselves, Micah has been a petrolhead in training since age four. His favorite past times include craft beer, strong cigars, fast cars, and culinary creativity in all of its forms.
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