Hi-Lift Safe & Secure
Utility jacks can be lifesavers in the boonies, but if you’ve ever seen an unsecured jack bouncing around the bed of a truck off-road, you know they can be dangerous too. Securing your utility jack is easy, but finding a quality mount that allows quick access to the jack is not as easy. With Trail-Gear’s Hi-Lift Jack Mount you can be sure that your utility jack will stay put. The weld-on bracket uses a radius coped to fit on 13⁄4-inch tubing. Once welded in place, the 3⁄16-inch bracket and 1⁄2-inch bolt combine with rubber pads, steel washers, wing nuts, and cotter pins to ensure that your Hi-Lift stays in place and does not make noise. A Velcro strap keeps the jack’s handle from rattling, and those cotter pins through the bolt prevent the wing nut from fully loosening if vibrations do spin them back.
Why we like it: The mount is so simple it’s kooky. We love simple parts that do what they are supposed to do. Once fixed to your rig, this mount securely holds the all-important Hi-lift jack. Integrated holes in the Trail-Gear bracket also allow the use of a padlock to secure your jack.
Synthetic Snatch Block
You would have to be living under a rock for the past 15 years to have missed out on the phenomenon that is synthetic winch rope. Master Pull has been at the forefront of the synthetic winch line market for years, and the new Master Pull SBO30000 (we’re guessing that’s a part number) Snatch Block is designed for use with synthetic winch rope. An oil-impregnated nylon sheave reduces weight and provides a smooth contact surface for synthetic rope. The sheave is self-lubricating and does not require a bearing, making the snatch block not only lighter but also maintenance-free. Shrink-fitted nylon protector plates prevent the rope from contacting any sharp metal edges of the block, and the side plates are powdercoated in a durable hammered red finish for extra visibility.
Why we like it: Like synthetic winch rope, the Master Pull SBO30000 Snatch Block is lightweight, tipping the scales at a mere 3.7 pounds. We like strong, lightweight parts, especially when winching, and this part extends the usage of any synthetic-rope winch. Now you can pull around corners and double your synthetic-rope winch’s tug rating. This block is also made in the USA!
Source: Master Pull
Zeon, I Am Your Father
With the release of the Zeon winch a few years back, Warn winches set the benchmark for truck and SUV winches. The Zeon, with its Darth Vader looks, has so many trend-setting upgrades that it could only be one-upped by the recently announced Zeon Platinum. The Platinum is built for those who push the limits and is said to double the durability, run 20 percent faster line speed, and feature extreme IP68-rated waterproofing. That means a fast, strong winch with a long life. Other features include the world’s first remote-controlled clutch and an all-new Advanced Wireless Remote. The Zeon 10 Platinum and 12 Platinum winches deliver 10,000 and 12,000 pounds, respectively. Both winches come with a steel rope and roller fairlead. The Zeon 10-S Platinum features Warn’s proprietary Spydura Synthetic rope and a polished aluminum hawse fairlead.
Why we like it: If we had a dime for every time we, or one of our pals, forgot to engage the clutch after free-spool we’d have enough money for a few more beers each year. A remote-controlled clutch is a great idea. We’ve abused and bashed enough Warn winches to know they are amazingly durable.
Source: Warn Industries
A Secure Hiding Place
The Ford Hidden Winch Mounting Plate from Rough Country is a subtle yet innovative way to use the space behind the front bumper of your ’09-’13 Ford F150. The plate is made from 1⁄4-inch steel and mounts into the frame horns without any cutting or drilling. A unique roller fairlead bracket mounts into the front license plate area of the truck for a flush fit, leaving only the chrome fairlead and winch hook exposed. The kit also includes a solenoid relocation bracket and Grade 8 hardware to keep the winch and mount in place.
Why we like it: It’s easy to install, doesn’t require cutting or drilling, looks trick once in place, and keeps your truck’s factory good looks. The sturdy mounting plate also features durable black carbon powdercoating.
Source: Rough Country
Black Magic Rope
We’re kidding! The Voodoo Offroad rope doesn’t have anything unholy about it (in fact, quite the opposite). It’s a great way to get a stuck truck unstuck. Voodoo Offroad has all your rope needs covered with both a 7⁄8-inch rope rated at 38,000 pounds and a 1 1⁄4-inch recovery rope rated at 60,000 pounds. Both ropes have a 38 percent stretch, which is good for fullsize 4x4s and even larger rigs up to 20,000 pounds! Also, the Voodoo Offroad rope comes with a convenient carrying bag.
Why we like it: The bright green of the Voodoo Offroad rope makes it easy to find. The large loops are easy to hook on or can be used to loop the rope around something solid (like a crossmember) and then back through itself. This rope comes with a two-year warranty and is all American made!
Source: Voodoo Offroad
That’s Not a Knife
Knives are one of the tools that separate man from beast. When you are in the throes of vehicle repair and recovery there are times when a good pocket knife makes all the difference. With tremendous versatility in any setting, the Double Duty Quick Fix knife from 511 Tactical offers you quick access to the tools you need. Featuring strengthened folding blades that offer high cutting performance along with a built-in web or cord cutter, an integrated screwdriver with bit driver heads, and assorted wrench slots, this knife is more than just another sharp blade. These tools offer superior utility for a wide range of tasks
Why we like it: We feel naked without a pocket knife, and extra tools always come in handy. We are fans of this knife’s looks and utility. It has a reversible pocket clip for convenient and customizable carrying, so you can keep it where you want it whether you’re left- or right-handed.
Source: 511 Tactical
Oh, We Comin’ on Up
The Seal 9.5rs is the latest addition to the Seal series of winches from ComeUp. It has the same 9,500-pound line pull capacity as the other winches but is now available as a low-profile version with a separate control box. A good winch for applications where space is limited, such as the popular plate-style bumpers that fully enclose the winch. The Seal 9.5rs, like all of the Seal winches, is fully submersible and meets IP68 specifications to keep muck, dust, sand, and dirt out of the Seal’s guts.
Why we like it: The Seal 9.5rs, like its mammalian namesake, has several well thought out features to ensure that it’s watertight, including a waterproof controller and a wireless remote control that is certified by the FCC and CE.
Source: ComeUp USA
Coyote, the Song Dog
Losing a bead on your tire while aired down and off-road is a real pain in the stinker. With the Coyote Boltless Beadlock System, your beads are secure and your tires are much more versatile. Acting like a tire in a tire, the inner tube and bead lock case fit inside your tire to secure not only the outer bead but also the inner bead against the rim of the wheel. By inflating the tube (through a secondary valve stem) the case forces the tire to stay in place despite the pressure in the tire (that’s pressure outside the tube and case). This tire pressure is adjusted via another valve stem, and you adjust this pressure like you would a normal tire, airing up or down depending on what you want to do.
Why we like it: No major wheel modifications are necessary, and you don’t ruin the wheel’s DOT compliance. Also, there are no bolts to torque. The Coyote secures both inner and outer bead and can function in a limp function if all goes wrong. The system is also made in the USA.
Source: Coyote Enterprises
Bumper? Damn Near Killed ’er!
TrailReady manufactures Extreme-Duty bumpers for trucks, vans, and SUVs. With a recent move to a new location, TrailReady has put all aspects of manufacturing under one roof. The new plant has double the capacity and more responsive production, quicker lead times, and more flexibility. TrailReady products are built with a 1⁄4-inch steel box-type winch centersection, fully welded seams inside and out, and a two-coat powdercoat finish. The bumpers are designed for many types of winches with capacity up to 16,500 pounds. Ample access to the winch is provided through a large opening above the winch. Other features include universal built-in light mounts for 6- and 4-inch round lights or rectangular openings and attachment points for 7⁄8-inch D-shackles.
Why we like it: Big beefy winch bumpers keep our trucks and Jeeps straight come what may. The manufacturing process maximizes strength while minimizing weight for fullsize trucks and Jeeps.
One Fast Bull Dog
When it comes to a light weight compact winch that pumps out power and speed, it’s hard to beat the Bull Dog 8288 Comp Winch. With a no-load line speed of 55 fpm, a short drum with 75 feet of premium synthetic rope and a CrMo chromoly sling hook, an 6.8hp Series wound motor, and 500A contactor, a thermal limiter for motor overheat protection, and an LED feedback light, the 8288 comes with the guts to withstand the rigors of Ultra 4 racing. Add in Bull Dog Winch’s limited lifetime warranty and this is one winch that should be as reliable as your old trail dog.
Why we like it: It’s fast, small, and just about perfect for hardcore rock buggies, crawlers, and rock racers alike. Woof.
Source: Bull Dog Winch
Utility jacks can be unstable off-road. Why not eliminate dangerous situations and cut down chances of operator injury or vehicle damage? The JakJaw creates a much wider and deeper cradle to provide a safer way to join jack and vehicle. The JakJaw grabs and cradles your rig’s bumper or rocker guards. It also relocates the jack itself farther away from the body of the vehicle, preventing potential damage to the sheetmetal. Engineered from heavy-duty, laser-cut steel that is machine-formed, the JakJaw can withstand more force than your jack. When not in use, the compact unit fits into your nearest bag.
Why we like it: Another part made in the USA, the JakJaw represents American ingenuity that we love to see. Anything that helps secure a Hi-lift jack or a utility jack to a vehicle in the dirt is a great upgrade.
Deflated? Get Compressed
Using compressed CO2 to fill your tires after a run is a great idea. It’s convenient and quick, and a good tank can last you for years. Power Tank is a name that is synonymous with CO2 tanks and off-road. The company’s products have often been imitated but never duplicated. The power of a Power Tank will reseat a blown bead in seconds. A Power Tank can also be used to run an impact wrench or die grinder. You can also inflate all four of your tires in under four minutes.
Why we like it: One PT10 Power Tank is like having 400 gallons of compressed air. We’ve used them to inflate tires, run air tools, seat blown beads, and more. Plus we can pay to have our Power Tank refilled at our local beer brewing specialty shop.
Source: Power Tank
Keeping It Legal Like
We love Daystar’s polyurethane roller fairlead isolator because it helps locate our winch’s hook and acts as a winch weight when the cable is under load. Improving on a good idea and cool product is always a bonus, and that’s just what Daystar has done. Daystar’s license plate bracket mounts with the company’s roller fairlead isolator to provide a secure and simple place to mount your license plate, keeping your rig “all legal like” despite the winch-hogging front end real estate. Daystar’s roller fairlead isolater license plate bracket is available in either red or black, installs easily, and is constructed of durable polyurethane.
Why we like it: Although we love chatting with Johnny Law at every given opportunity about how fast we were going or how far our tires stick out from under the fenders anything that might help keep the fuzz off our tail is great. This is another innovative product proudly made in the USA.
What Else You Need
When you buy and mount your first winch you don’t always have everything you may need to use it. The ARB Essentials Recovery Kit is a great way to get started. Available as a complete boxed kit, the RK11 Essentials Recovery Kit contains a small recovery bag, a recovery strap rated to 17,600 pounds, a 10-foot tree-saver, two 19mm Bow Shackles rated at 43⁄4 tons, and an ultralight snatch block rated to 20,000 pounds. These parts from ARB allow you to use your winch in many more ways than simple straight line pulls.
Why we like it: ARB quality all in one convenient and bag. Tote it between your different rigs or up to that guy clogging up the trail. These tools are all handy and easily accessible no matter what the recovery job entails.
Source: ARB 4x4 Accessories
Lockjaw—the Good Kind
Maybe one of the most revolutionary new products we’ve seen in recent years is the Gator-Jaw from Bubba Rope. This rope-based “soft shackle” uses a self-tightening loop that slips over a specially designed knot to complete a continuous closed ring. You can use it like a traditional steel shackle or D-ring when connecting tow ropes, straps, winch lines, hooks, and the like. The Gator-Jaw is made out of Plasma rope, the strongest synthetic rope available, yielding a shackle that weighs less than 7 ounces yet is stronger than commonly used steel shackles. The Gator-Jaw won SEMA’s Best New Off-Road Product Award for 2014 and has a tensile strength higher than steel.
Why we like it: It’s a cool alternative to fiddling with heavy steel shackles that store kinetic energy (and can quickly release it upon failure) and have stubborn threaded pins that you occasionally have to fight. Plus the Gator-Jaw is light and compactable. The best part is it’s made right here in the USA.
Source: Bubba Rope
Kit for Winch
The Winching Accessory Kit from our friends at Quadratec incorporates all the basic recovery gear necessary to perform common tasks. The heavy-duty ballistic nylon bag has four large pockets to organize and store all of the included tools. The kit includes a 2x8-foot-long tree protector rated at 30,000 pounds, a 2-inch by 30-foot recovery strap rated at 20,000 pounds, a pair of galvanized 3⁄4-inch D-ring shackles with a working load limit of 9500 pounds, a 20,000-pound-capacity snatch block, a heavy-duty vinyl winch line damper, and a pair of size-large mechanic’s gloves.
Why we like it: With a convenient carrying bag, the kit has the parts that you need when there’s nothing left to do but winch. Affordable pricing is also a nice bonus, and the winch weight helps keep things safe.
Ramsey Winch is not new to the winch building game. With recreational and industrial winches and hoists around for decades, Ramsey is a name you should recognize. Recently Ramsey introduced a lighter, stronger, faster Sierra family of winches featuring heavy-duty electric planetary-geared drivetrains, cooling fins, an in-gear housed brake (for better heat dissipation), a patented remote-activated semiautomatic clutch, a cool-running ductile iron drum with oil-impregnated bronze bushings, and many more new features. The Sierra 15,000- and 18,000-pound winches are available with a remote-mounted solenoid or with an integrated solenoid and are outfitted with either wire cable or synthetic rope and the appropriate integrated fairlead.
Why we like it: It’s big, bad, and Ramsey. The O-ring sealed solenoid, fully-sealed contacts, and Buna-N O-ring sealed internal cavity ought to keep this winch turning for years despite the weather. Ramsey products are durable and up to any task.
Source: Ramsey Winch, 800.777.2760, ramsey.com
Who Is This Smitty Anyways?
Smittybilt has gone back to the drawing board and outdone itself to create the top-of-the-line X20 winch. By upgrading the waterproof, series-wound motor and taking it from 5.5 hp to 6.6, Smittybilt has provided the highest torque output in the industry. These powerful motors then spin three-stage planetary gears engineered to maximize pulling power and provide excellent line speed. New options include different mounting locations for the IP68-rated waterproof 500-amp solenoid and a winch controller that can be plugged into the winch or operated remotely. These are both standard features. Also, a larger clutch lever is easy to operate with gloves and adds a level of safety.
Why we like it: Available with 10,000, 12,000, 15,500, or 17,500 pounds of pulling power, the Smittybilt X20 winch is a great match for all sizes of rigs. The X20 is also available as a Comp Edition with lightweight synthetic winch line and a low-profile hawse fairlead. Nice!
A winch is only as good as what it’s attached to. Hook your winch up to a spindly bush or half-dead tree and you’ll learn what we mean. Sometimes you may get stuck in a place that lacks even a spindly bush to wrap your tree-saver around. You better hope you packed your Pull-Pal. This foldable plowlike land anchor works in mud, sand, snow, and loose dirt to bite onto Mother Earth and provide a secure winching point. The Pull Pal folds for easy storage. New to the market is the miniature Pull Pal RW60, perfect for your 1:10-scale, remote-control 4x4. Now your R/C can also carry this iconic and indispensable tool.
Why we like it: Another great recovery tool built in the USA. Trust us when we say that the Pull-Pal is worth its weight in gold when you need it. This classic off-road tool is something anyone who plays alone in sand, snow, or mud should have.
We Dig It, Man
Sometimes it’s the simple things that help you get out of a tight squeeze—or a deep hole. We’ve used shovels, seashells, scoop-shaped rocks— heck, even our bare hands—to try to dig a vehicle out when it’s stuck in loose sand, dirt, or mud. With the Ultimate Shovel from Extreme Outback Products, you don’t have to compromise and use a tiny shovel just because you’re the middle of nowhere. The shovel features a three-piece, multicore, steel-reinforced fiberglass shaft that offers fullsize shoveling when it’s not broken down for storage. In fact, Extreme Outback Products is so sure this shovel is what you’d want to dig yourself out of a hole that the company even says the tool is ideal for everything from overlanding to fulltime field service.
Why we like it: We like shovels, files, and hacksaws, especially in the field where a full set of shop tools, compressed air, and electricity are not available. The idea of a fullsize shovel that is durable yet stowable is one that we can, uh, dig. And because it has been engineered and tested in the outback, you know this shovel will hold up to extreme use.
Source: Extreme Outback Products