If you don’t want to get stuck, then stay off the dirt. Some of us venture far from pavement into sand, silt beds, mud, water, snow, and slush. And when our tires tread on those unstable surfaces, we’re bound to get stuck, stalled, or maybe even flopped over. It’s then that some good, basic recovery gear can get you righted and back on the move.
It may seem simple enough to grab a rope, strap, or chain to pull or winch a stricken vehicle. However, you’re dealing with the movement of thousands of pounds of weight, and even more force required when you consider the suction or resistance of any material you may be mired in. This relatively simple task of recovery can be dangerous.
In most cases, you’re going to want to reach for a snatch strap or recovery rope, but there are some different products for specific uses. A snatch strap is designed to stretch under tension by about 20 percent. This elastic action allows kinetic energy to be stored in the strap once it’s stretched. The momentum of the pulling vehicle is used to “snatch” a stuck vehicle from sand, mud, or other dirt obstacle.
In general, a 2-inch-wide strap works well for lighter vehicles and a 3-inch-wide strap works best for fullsize rigs. Bubba Rope recovery rope is another option. It’s a double-braided nylon rope available in several strengths to cover use on ATVs up to very heavy trucks.
Two other strap products that look quite similar to a snatch strap are winch extension straps and tree straps. The former is used to add length to your winch line to allow you to access a far-away anchor point, and the latter is used to wrap around a tree trunk or large boulder where attaching a winch cable or rope would harm it or a tree. However, unlike a snatch strap, the winch and tree straps are not designed to stretch under load.
Straps and recovery ropes are best stored out of sunlight. As they age, they can fade in color and the fiber strands will become more brittle and less flexible. Straps should be cleaned with plain water only, spraying it down the length of the strap to free up any trapped dirt or debris that could act as an abrasive that will slowly abrade the fibers. Leave the strap out to air dry. Also note, straps have also been found to lose 15 to 20 percent of their working capacity when wet.
Overall, there’s a bit more involved than meets the eye when it comes to just pulling or tugging on a troubled rig. Fortunately, a number of fine manufacturers offer quality recovery gear to address a variety of stuck scenarios to get us out of trouble and back on our way. OR