Don’t Get Stuck!
Getting stuck is part of ’wheeling. After all, what would a good trail story be without talking about who got stuck the worst and what it took to dig him out? While getting stuck can be a real pain in the rear, it also offers us a chance to practice necessary recovery techniques and better familiarize ourselves with our 4x4s. It also reminds us of what skills and tools we may be lacking. If you ’wheel it, you’ll eventually get it stuck. The better prepared you are for it the better both you and your 4x4 will fare.
What can you say about an always-on-the-ready tool that sits at the front of most trail-ready 4x4s? It is just about the most useful piece of recovery gear that you will ever purchase. Winches are easy to use and with practice can be utilized for many types of vehicle recovery. From simple pulls to being used as a hoist to remove a failed engine for repair in the middle of nowhere, a winch can help you get you and your vehicle back from most stuck situations.
Misusing a winch can hurt, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your winch and related equipment before reaching a situation in which you need to use it. Even if you’ve used your winch extensively and consider yourself skilled at extraction and recovery methods, take the time to perform a few practice pulls per year just to make sure the winch and equipment are still functioning properly.
Using a variety of available accessories a Hi-Lift Jack can be used for a lot more than just lifting. It clamps and spreads for repair needs and can even winch for recovery situations. The handle can be used to sleeve a bent tie-rod in many vehicles or even as a pry bar to complete repairs or move trail obstacles. The Hi-Lift Jack handle can also be used over a ratchet or breaker bar to create more leverage in order to remove stuck bolts. We’re certain that there are many other uses for a Hi-Lift Jack that we haven’t yet discovered; surely necessity will someday help us learn these uses.
Winching with a Hi-Lift is less like winching with an electric winch and more like raising and lowering a Hi-Lift Jack multiple times; your arms are the motor and it can get pretty darn tiring. The length of the jack dictates the length of the pull and you’ll typically have to reposition the jack and chain tensioner multiple times in order to fully extract a vehicle. It’s hard work but when your other option is staying stuck in the middle of nowhere, it’s well worth it. As with a winch, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to get out your Hi-Lift before you need it to familiarize yourself with the jacking and winching capabilities. It also pays to inspect your Hi-Lift for damage after use and before a trail run, so it will always be functioning properly when you need it.
It can keep a leaf spring or steering box attached to a frame rail. It can be a tow strap. There are so many uses for a length of metal chain; all you need is the situation to call it to duty. Most well-packaged winch accessory and recovery kits include a length of chain, but you can also pick up chain at most hardware stores, as well. You’ll want to carry about 8 to 10 feet of chain with hooks at each end. One safety issue that should be noted is that chain should never be used as a snatch strap. Though it can used to lash two vehicles together for emergency, low-speed, off-road towing situations, if utilized as a snatch strap to yank a stuck vehicle, the chain can break and result in vehicle damage or serious injury.
Tire Plug Kit
A true necessity on the trail, a tire plug kit can have a flat tire repaired in minutes. Most kits are packaged in a small plastic case that’s easy to fit aboard any 4x4. We’ve seen plugged tires last multiple trail runs (with air refill), meaning you can extend the life of damaged yet expensive large-diameter tires for a season or more of ’wheeling.