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Recovery Gear

Posted in Product Reviews on November 30, 2006
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As with anything we do in life, we must be prepared for unexpected emergencies when off-roading. While you or members of your group may be prepared for whatever comes your way, sometimes others out on the trail are not. In the event that either you or someone else requires extrication, winching, or recovery efforts, a few of these items featured herein may just be what the doctor ordered. Not only will they prove to be beneficial to the efforts, but having the right tool for the right situation will save time, require less manual labor, and minimize the strain on vehicles and other equipment.

With price ranges to fit virtually every budget, we hope you'll be able to find at least one item that you can add to your recovery kit. Remember: It's better to have the tool and not use it than to not have the tool and need it.

When it's getting dark and you're still stuck with no chance of getting out before nightfall, you'd better have a set of these 8-inch Baja Designs HID lights at your disposal. Each light and its ballast is prewired and rubber-mounted to a portable or permanently mounted TIG-welded 4130 chrome-moly frame. The frame mounts to your vehicle using easy-to-mount billet clamps, or the weld-on tabs and Heim-joint strut rods can be utilized. The light systems are available in a multitude of configurations ranging from three to six lights.

Having the correct recovery gear is important, but just as important is knowing where your equipment is and having the ability to access it fast. Stewart's Race Works fabricates a secure mounting platform for the ever-popular Sears Craftsman vehicle jack. A self-latching, spring-loaded, quick-release mechanism locks the jack into the chassis to minimize any unwanted movement of the device, yet releases it quickly when every second counts. The kit also includes a mount to secure the jack handle. For added stability in adverse terrains, the mount's flat base increases the jack's footprint and prevents the jack from sinking in sand or silt. Best of all, the mount only weighs 7 pounds.

Pro Comp's newest line of batteries has been designed to support auxiliary equipment such as winches and lights. Given the uneven terrain encountered while off-roading, Pro Comp's batteries have been designed with high-tech proprietary grids made of high-purity lead-tin alloy. When combined with the advanced spiral-wound cell design, these durable, corrosion-resistant grids deliver superior performance. Each battery contains two sets of terminals. The centered top terminal location enables installation in normal and reverse-terminal applications, while the side terminals can be used for attaching auxiliary equipment. Each battery contains 770 CCA and over 100 minutes of reserve capacity for even the hardest of recovery situations.

When using a winch, usually the farther away from it you are the safer you are. With MileMarker's wireless winch-control interface unit, you are able to operate your winch from as far away as 12 feet. A retractable antenna delivers the signal to the unit and provides optimum performance. The remote-control works with a multitude of winches, and its easy installation and numerous built-in safety features make this unit a quality product.

Hi-Lift jacks are a part of many an off-roader's arsenal of recovery items; however, many trucks and SUVs have larger tires and/or lift kits that require extensive lifting-height ability from the bumper jack. The Lift-Mate is designed to operate in a manner that allows the vehicle to be lifted directly from the wheel, greatly reducing the amount of travel up the jack bar needed to lift the wheel to an adequate and safe height. The Lift-Mate can raise 5,000 pounds and has rubber-coated hooks and rubber pads to protect the tires and wheels.

When it comes to legendary off-road equipment, it doesn't get any better - or any faster - than the Warn M8274-50. A winch that is sure to outlive us all, this tried-and-true performer features a no-load retrieval speed of just 73.4 feet per minute. The standard-issue 150 feet of 5/16-inch cable has a very long line capacity which makes it an ideal contender for those times when you need all the cable you can get. Powered by a unique spur-gear drivetrain, the upright design and smooth braking system provide for optimum performance. A roller fairlead, 12-foot-lead remote control, free-spooling clutch, and power cables are included with each unit.

In some situations, you may not have the ability to use electric winches or other powered devices for extrication. When all else fails, ARB's heavy-duty Magnum hand winch provides the same amount of pulling power as some of today's popular electric winches. With a pulling capacity of 6,000 pounds, this item is a must-have for those "just-in-case" situations. The unit is easy to set up, requires no permanent vehicle installation, and may be easily adapted to fit any recovery effort in any terrain.

Sometimes even if your vehicle can be driven, you may still be stuck as far as knowing which way to go. That's when having a GlobalMap 6600C HD GPS comes in very handy. Each unit contains a 7-inch, 256-color, 480x640-pixel LCD screen for excellent, glare-free viewing. The built-in, shock-resistant 20GB hard drive is preloaded with millions of points-of-interest and allows you to track your progress on a trail by plotting waypoints which may then be reversed to get you back home. Reception is achieved via an external LGC-2000 Baja receiver/antenna for super-fast satellite lock-ons and enhanced position accuracy to 3 meters.

After many years of rigorous field-testing by the U.S. military, MileMarker's 12,000-pound winch seems to have passed all of the trials with flying colors. By utilizing a directional solenoid control valve, the vehicle's power steering pump redirects the power steering fluid to rotate the winch prior to the fluid being distributed to the steering system's gearbox. The end result is an unstoppable ability to pull 12,000 pounds with pure ease.

The easiest method of deflating tires is to invest in a set of quality tire deflators such as these nifty units manufactured by Staun Products. Fully adjustable to the desired deflation level, these high-quality units are accurate to within 0.05 psi of the preset pressure. Weighing only 32 grams each, the tire deflators are crafted from solid brass and come backed by a 5-year guarantee.

The most dangerous time when operating a winch is when the cable is under load, as there is always the possibility that the cable will snap and cause bodily injury. To help minimize this risk, ARB offers a winch-cable damper that acts as an energy absorption pad in the event the cable snaps. Manufactured from heavy-duty vinyl, the damper is a good idea for anyone who owns a vehicle winch. Remember, safety should always come first.

What is essentially the equivalent of seven basic tools has been configured to only take up the space of one Hudson Bay-style ax. The Max Ax consists of an unbreakable 36-inch composite polyglass handle and a 3-1/2-pound ax head, and an assortment of tool attachments can be installed to reconfigure the ax into a shovel, rake, pick, spade, hoe, or mattock. When not in use, the ax is protected by a leather sheath, and the tool attachments are stored in a sturdy Cordura carrying case.

The key to lifting any vehicle on loose or unstable terrain is to do so with the right amount of finesse and a solid and stable jack with a large enough platform to reduce sinking. Designed especially for these types of conditions, the Bushranger X Jack is an unconventional jack inspired by the heavy-equipment industry where lifting bags of this type are the standard for moving heavy objects. The ultrathin profile of the X Jack allows it to be placed in areas where more conventional jacks cannot go. The jack's lifting capacity is 4,000 kg, and inflation is easily accomplished by placing the supplied inflation hose into the vehicle's tailpipe. When you start the engine, the bag inflates and you're unstuck in no time.

Weighing in at only 36 pounds, the Pull-Pal is designed to work in most types of terrain and can be used to both extract your vehicle without the use of another rig and serve as an anchoring point from the rear when winching another vehicle out of harm's way. When not in use, the Pull-Pal folds up compactly to the size of an ordinary bumper jack for easy storage. It is ruggedly constructed with a forged chrome-moly plow assembly and welded construction overall, and is assembled with Grade 8 bolts for strength and quality. Units are also available for heavy-duty vehicle applications.

Equally as important as the winch on your rig are the accessories that go along with it. Master-Pull's Ultimate Recovery Gear Winch Accessories Kit contains everything needed for virtually any extrication or recovery. Each kit contains: a 5/16-inch by 50-foot, 16,500-pound Superline winch extension cable with a heavy-duty sling hook; a swing block with built-in stainless steel ball-bearing rollers; a 7/8-inch by 20-foot, 28,500-pound yank strap; a 7/8-inch by 10-foot, 28,500-pound tree-saver strap; two 3/4-inch screw-pin shackles; and a waterproof bag to store everything.

Rovers North's Sand Tracks are worth their weight in gold in sandy and loose terrain. Mandatory equipment on the rigs of the Camel Trophy Expedition, these units are fabricated from lightweight aluminum and have been perforated to minimize their weight and allow them to settle into the terrain for better grip. Using the sand tracks is as simple as laying them in front of the vehicle and driving over them. When not in use, they can be mounted atop a roof rack or placed in a truck bed.

Fab Fours heavy-duty off-road bumpers are available in both front and rear configurations. Their stylish, hand-formed designs have been created to handle whatever punishment is dished out on the trail, and their steel platforms make for sturdy mounting locations for any type or size of winch. Each front-end unit retains the factory wiring locations and airbag sensors, while the rear units either retain the OE receiver hitch or allow for one to be integrated. Key mounting locations for the units feature 1/4-inch keyed and gusseted mounts. The bumpers are constructed of 3/16-inch solid steel with 10-gauge steel cosmetic pieces. For recovery efforts, 1-inch D-ring mounts have been installed. A textured black powdercoat finish is applied to each unit.

Having a solid and stable foundation on which to secure your winch is essential. ARB's Deluxe Bull Bars have been designed for many of today's trucks, including Chevrolet/GMC, Ford, Dodge, and Toyota. Their solid steel construction along with tapered-wing design provide optimum strength and approach angles. The continuous upright supports throughout the bumper section provide additional frame support. Besides the structural integrity of the bumpers, each is fitted with many unique features. Provisions for CB radio aerials, off-road lights, jacks, and towhook points make these bumpers some of the most versatile on the market. Each unit is finished in a hard-wearing powdercoat with color options available by special order.

Ramsey's Patriot 15000 winch features a powerful and efficient 5.5hp 12V DC series-wound electric reversible motor and a rated line pull of a whopping 15,000 pounds. The beefy unit also employs Ramsey's proven three-stage planetary gear system for fast line speed. Made in the USA, this winch is the quality muscle you need for those big jobs.

Whenever tires are aired down to below 10 psi, there is an inherent risk of slipping a tire bead. To help prevent such an occurrence, Staun has created a pneumatic internal beadlock that tightly secures the tire to the rim and keeps the tire's bead in place. Best of all, no special rims are required in order to use these beadlocks. Installation involves removing the tire, installing the deflated beadlock onto the rim, and drilling the rim to accommodate the beadlock's valve stem. Once the tire is remounted on the wheel and inflated, the beadlock is then inflated, locking the tire in place on the rim. Staun beadlocks are available in a variety of sizes for most of today's popular trucks.


Ramsey Winch
Tulsa, OH 74116
Pro Comp
Compton, CA 90220
Hi-Lift Jack Company
Bloomfield, IN 47424
Carbondale, CO 81623
Warn Industries
Clackamas, OR 97015
Baja Designs
San Marcos, CA 92069
Renton, WA 98057
Rovers North
Lowrance Electronics
Master-Pull Recovery Equipment
Ferndale, WA 98248
Staun Products
Forrest Tool Company
Stewart's Race Works

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