Screenshot: Ronny Dahl (YouTube)
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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.

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.

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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.