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Here's a Solid Primer on Essential Off-Road Recovery Gear

Illustration for article titled Heres a Solid Primer on Essential Off-Road Recovery Gear
Screenshot: Ronny Dahl (YouTube)
Truck YeahThe trucks are good!

You could spend the MSRP of your truck all over again buying off-road accessories and recovery gear. Some of the stuff is superfluous, some just sucks, and some is really useful on the trail. 4Wheeling Australia’s Ronny Dahl has a pretty good introductory video here breaking down some basics.

Dahl’s one of my favorite off-road YouTubers; he’s straightforward, he does a lot of earnest real-world equipment testing, and he knows his shit. This video doesn’t go into recovery techniques or specific loadouts, but it’s a really good cursory overview of some of the most common pieces of recovery equipment you might want to use to get a vehicle un-stuck from sand or mud.

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There’s more to off-roading than recovery of course; you can’t go wheeling without flag decals and a Yeti cooler. Kidding, but, there are other useful tools to pack that aren’t mentioned here, like maybe tire plugs and extra air filters, but we can run through that another time.

Recovery is high-stakes, though–if you use equipment incorrectly, or have the wrong gear for your situation, you could seriously hurt somebody or damage your rig. So it pays to read the instructions, twice, and watch plenty of educational videos before going out into the bush.

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If you’re a little new to off-roading or are just thinking about revisiting your recovery setup, I’d recommend watching Dahl’s whole video here, especially since it touches on the differences between older versions of common tools and new hotness.

But if you don’t have time to soak it all up, I’ll share some of the highlights: a shovel and a tire deflator make a decent bare-minimum off-road recovery kit. You can get yourself out of a lot with low tire pressure and digging. I might recommend packing an inflator too, you know, so you don’t have to hobble back to the highway on ultra-low pressure because of one bog spot.

After that, a set of traction boards like Maxtracks that you can put under your wheels are useful for getting your truck out of slop if you don’t have any winches or straps or another solid option to be towed out.

As for what you can cheap out on, I would tell you to cry once and get the good stuff first, but Dahl says that if you are buying cheap recovery equipment, make sure it’s certified by some sanctioning body to safety standards. The U.S. might have different labels than what’s in Australia, but the principle still applies.

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Stay safe out there, and have fun! And educate yourself before you buy stuff and strap it to your truck.

Jalopnik Staffer from 2013 to 2020, now Editor-In-Chief at Car Bibles

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DISCUSSION

2wheelaggie
2WheelAggie

I 4x4 quite a bit in Colorado and I have mixed feelings about what overlanders bring to the community.

I’m all about anyone who preaches safety, preparedness, and consideration for nature - lots of offroaders are trailer trash that drink and drive, liter everywhere they go, and destroy landscapes by driving off trail - so there’s definitely room for improvement overall.

But overlanders on Youtube do tend to create this idea that you need tons of expensive gear to drive down a forest road to a neat camping spot. Sometimes I think it’s because there’s a pressure to continually create content.

That’s OK if you’ve got money, but it also dissuades the people from trying out the hobby because they think it costs $50k or $60k to get a decent vehicle (Rubicon Wrangler or Toyota TRD PRO) and all the equipment.

I chose not to drink the coolaid, and I’ve been wheeling all over Utah and Colorado in my Cherokee (31s, open diffs, winch/bumper) and it’s been an absolute blast. I’m into the Cherokee for less than what most Rubicon guys will spend on mods. Sure, it can’t do as much as one of those, but it still is VERY capable. I’d never have done these adventures if I was trying to justify $60k to build out a vehicle.