How To Choose Recovery & Towing Essentials?


Whether you're towing a caravan, boat or trailer or going off-roading, there's a few things you'll need to stay safe and get you out of any sticky situations. Taking care when towing is easier with the right gear, and anyone can get bogged any time, so it's best to have the right recovery essentials to get yourself out of strife. No one wants to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere! Being prepared for the unexpected and minimising danger should always be top priority to keep everyone safe.

What should you take when towing or off-roading?


What's an essential for one person may not be needed by someone else, because it depends on:

  • What you're driving or towing (and the weight of everything when it's packed with gear)
  • The conditions you'll be driving in (now and in the future - sand, mud, snow, rocky terrain?)
  • Whether it'll just be your vehicle travelling alone (or you'll have another 4WD with you too)
  • Whether you'll be in the middle of nowhere (and out of phone range so relying on yourself)
  • How long you'll be away from civilisation for (the longer it is the more essentials you'll need)
  • How often you'll be going caravanning or off-roading (for a few days or for weeks at a time?)
  • How long you want your gear to last (will you want to use these essentials for years to come?)

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Which essentials should you buy?


Choosing the right essentials is easier when you break it down into these six steps:

1. The Basics


The best place to start is with the basics you'll need to avoid getting stuck in the first place.


What can you do to prevent getting bogged?


Your tyres are the key:

  • Tyre pressure - the air in tyres needs to be adjusted to suit the terrain (critical for safety):
    • Decrease it for off-roading to lengthen the amount of tyre contacting the ground.
    • Increase it again after off-roading before you drive on sealed roads again.
  • Tyre tread - must be in good condition so:
    • Replace tyres if the tread's worn or cracked (at least every five years).
    • Regularly check tyres (1-2 weeks before off-roading so there's time to get new ones).

Also, don't overload your 4WD or caravan! Stick to the maximum weight (called the payload in the manual) which includes the weight of the vehicle plus all the people and gear in it.


What you need to know before you go?


Look up the recommended tyre pressure and driving speeds for terrains you'll be off-roading in.

If you feel bogged stop immediately and reverse back along your tracks - if you keep going you'll dig yourself in further and make it harder to get yourself out!


What recovery basics do you need?


Even if you're only doing basic or beginner off-roading on fairly friendly terrain, you'll still need:

  • A tyre pressure deflator with a gauge to reduce the air in your tyres for off-roading.
  • An air compressor to inflate tyres again after off-roading before driving on sealed roads.
  • Recovery tracks to create tyre traction and get a vehicle out of sand, snow, mud and water fast.
  • A jack weight rated to lift your 4WD or caravan so recovery tracks can be put under stuck tyres.
  • A shovel to dig sand, mud and snow from around tyres (some recovery tracks also double as shovels). You'll need a longer handle shovel to be able to dig right under the vehicle.
  • Gloves to protect your hands from being injured when you're doing a recovery.

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Recovery & Towing Buying Guide

2. Trickier Terrain Essentials


If you're off-roading in trickier terrain you'll a few extras (in addition to the basics above).

What you'll need to take depends on whether there'll be:


Before detailing what you'll need for both of these situations, it's important to first understand:

  • Working Load Limits (W.L.L) - this is the maximum weight the equipment can handle.
  • Load-rated recovery points and shackles:
    • You can't just attach any old rope to any part of a car and pull it out.
    • You must use your 4WD's load-rated recovery points (in the manual) and special recovery straps.
    • The shackles used to attach the recovery straps to the 4WD must be load-rated too.
    • The load rating tells you the maximum weight something can withstand.
    • Choosing a heavier load rating than needed is wise (so you can help heavier 4WDs).

To ensure your safety and the lives of your loved ones:

  • NEVER go over the W.L.L.
  • NEVER use straps and shackles that aren't load-rated.
    • They're not strong enough and could kill someone.
    • Only use load-rated shackles and straps.
    • Make sure the straps, shackles and pulley blocks can handle your vehicle's weight.
  • NEVER attach recovery straps to the tow bar, tow ball or any other random car part.
    • It's dangerous and can break your chassis.
    • Only use your 4WD's load-rated recovery points.
Recovery & Towing Buying Guide

3. Self-recovery with a winch strap


If you're going off-roading solo on trickier terrain and you get bogged or stuck, you won't have another 4WD to help pull you out, so getting out will be a bit trickier.

You'll need to be able to:

  • Attach a winch strap to a tree.
  • Then winch yourself out.

These are the essentials you'll need to do a self-recovery successfully and safely:


Winch Strap


A strong, reinforced strap:

  • Goes from the load-rated recovery points on your stuck vehicle to an anchor (e.g. a tree).
  • Must be load-rated to suit your vehicle's weight and connected with load-rated shackles.

Tree Trunk Protector


A wide strap that goes around the tree you're using as an anchor:

  • To create a protective barrier between your recovery gear and the tree.
  • Attach the winch strap to the tree protector with a load-rated shackle.
  • So you can winch yourself free without damaging or killing the tree.
  • A snatch block can also be attached to a tree truck protector for tricky angles.

Winch


To create pulling power on the winch strap between the tree and your vehicle using either a:

  • Manual winch you hand wind using the handle (it's physical and takes a while).
  • Self-winding electric winch that's powered by your car battery.

Dampener


A weighted blanked that folds over the winch strap:

  • Keeps the winch strap weighted to the ground if it snaps.
  • Is critical for everyone's safety during a recovery.
  • Needs to be positioned in the middle of the winch strap.

Shackles


To connect your recovery gear to the tree and your vehicle:

  • They need to be right load rating for the vehicle weight.
  • Can be D or Bow shaped (use Bow for multi-directional recovery and larger straps).

You may also want to have these optional extras on hand too:


Extension strap


To give you extra length if the winch strap isn't long enough (in steep or rocky situations).


Snatch Block


To:

  • Reduce the load on the winch.
  • Double the winch strap back between the tree and vehicle for double the pulling power.
  • Redirect the winch strap around multiple trees so you can winch in any direction.

Equaliser Strap


To evenly distribute the snatch strap load on your vehicle across two rated recovery points.

To ensure your safety and the lives of your loved ones:

  • NEVER loop a winch strap around a tree when doing a self-recovery.
    • It's unsafe and can cause serious injury.
    • Always attach the winch strap to the tree protector strap with a load-rated shackle.
  • NEVER use an extension strap in place of a winch strap (it can't handle a shock load).
  • Always read and follow the instructions that comes with recovery equipment.
  • All bystanders should be a safe distance from the car during a recovery to avoid injury (2-3 times the length of the strap).
  • During the recovery communicate via phone, radio or hand signals so it all goes smoothly.

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Recovery & Towing Buying Guide

4. Assisted recovery with a snatch strap


When you're travelling with another vehicle it's easier to get out of a jam because they can use snatch-recovery gear and the momentum of their vehicle to pull yours free.

These are the essentials you'll need to do an assisted recovery successfully and safely:


Snatch


A super strong, elasticised nylon strap that connects the two vehicles:

  • Needs to be connected to their rated recovery points.
  • Laid on the ground between the vehicles with some slack.
  • The slack, elasticity and slow speed create momentum and free the vehicle.
  • Comes in different lengths (in trickier terrain you may need a longer strap).
  • Should only be used with load-rated shackles and your 4WD's load-rated recovery points.
  • Should only be used a few times and replaced if damaged (a strap that snaps could kill).

Dampener


A weighted blanked that folds over the snatch strap:

  • Keeps the snatch strap weighted to the ground if it snaps.
  • Is critical for everyone's safety during a recovery.
  • Needs to be positioned in the middle of the snatch strap.

Shackles


To connect your recovery gear to your vehicle and the other vehicle:

  • They need to be right load rating for the vehicle weights.
  • Can be D or Bow shaped (use Bow for multi-directional recovery and larger straps).

You may also want to have these optional extras on hand too:


Extension Strap


To give you extra length if the snatch strap isn't long enough (in steep or rocky situations).


Snatch blocks


To route the cable from a winch via a tree when two vehicles can't create a good snatch angle.


Equaliser Strap


To evenly distribute the snatch strap load on your vehicle across two rated recovery points.

To ensure your safety and the lives of your loved ones:

  • NEVER use an extension strap in place of a snatch strap (it can't handle a shock load).
  • Always read and follow the instructions that comes with recovery equipment.
  • All bystanders should be a safe distance from the car during a recovery to avoid injury (2-3 times the length of the strap).
  • During the recovery communicate via phone, radio or hand signals so it all goes smoothly.
Recovery & Towing Buying Guide

5. Towing Accessories


When you're towing a caravan, boat or trailer there are a few accessories you might want:

  • Towing mirror - that extends out to the right of your 4WD mirror for extra visibility.
  • A blind spot mirror - that sticks on to the side mirror to expand your field of vision.
  • Chocks or wheel clamp - to stop caravan/trailer wheels moving (and for security).
  • Levelling ramps - to stop rolling/keep the vehicle level when on uneven surfaces.
  • Shin protector - to prevent painful shin run-ins with the tow bar (ouch!)
  • Locks - to keep the trailer, boat or caravan locked to your vehicle or safe when left alone.

To ensure your safety and the lives of your loved ones:

  • Know your vehicle's maximum towing weight and make sure what you're towing is less.
  • Make sure the maximum towing weight of your tow bar or ball isn't exceeded either.
  • Be careful when towing a caravan, boat or trailer
    • The extra weight can make steering harder.
    • You may not be able to see the back.

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Recovery & Towing Buying Guide

6. Quality


When weighing up which recovery and towing gear to buy, think about quality versus cost:

  • Cheap gear may not last as long, so as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
  • You can choose to buy what you need individually or get a convenient recovery kit.

Recovery Kit


When it comes to how much you should spend:

  • If you're off-roading for a long time or frequently, invest in gear that's made to last.
  • Don't skimp of safety-it's something you don't want to regret.




    How much are four-wheel drive and caravan essentials?


    When you go to the Camping & Hiking section on the Anaconda website and select 4WD, you'll see tick box filters down the left hand side of the page. Using these filters makes working out which gear to buy simpler because you can choose to filter what you see by:

    • Category - so you can just see everything for recovery and/or towing.
    • Price - so you only see gear that's within your budget on the page.
    • Deal - so you only see gear that's on sale or at clearance prices.
    • Brand so you can see recovery and towing gear made by specific brands.


    Other Camping & Hiking Essentials


    Check out Anaconda's range of Camping & Hiking products available online or visit your local store.


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