Recovery & Storage Holiday Gift Guide
The Best Products for Getting Unstuck & Staying Organized
We don't need to rattle off our credentials for you to know that the staff of 4WOR spends a lot of time not only wheeling but also traveling, camping, and yes, even getting stuck. Just as the best skiers still fall down from time to time, we manage to get mired in mud, break in the rocks, and buried in sand and snow. When the proverbial feces hits the fan, it is critical to have the knowledge to overcome the issues and the right gear to get out of trouble. Knowledge comes with experience, so learn from our mistakes when it comes to having the right recovery gear.
Equally important as having the proper equipment is keeping it stored safely and efficiently. A pile of parts and pieces isn't going to do you any good when you need a needle and have a haystack in the bed of your rig. And if you are enjoying some spirited driving and a D-ring shackle or fire extinguisher thumps you on the back of the head, you are going to have a bad day. The way to avoid that is by properly stowing and securing your equipment. Specifics regarding how to do this varies between pickups with separate beds and SUVs with enclosed cargo areas, but the basic premise is the same for both. We like to keep heavy items like tools and spare parts low in the vehicle and grouped together. Those items are usually in our vehicles all the time, unlike camping gear or coolers. Recovery gear that we need to access quickly is next, and light items such as duffle bags and sleeping bags or tents go on top.
Smittybilt Gen3 XRC Winch
What it does: Once you have a winch you wonder how you lived without it. Not only can they pull you and your friends out of stuck situations, but they can also be used to drag a project vehicle onto a trailer, pull stumps out of your yard, and more.
Why we love it: The new Gen3 XRC has a 7hp motor for super-fast line speeds, but our favorite part is the new controller, which features a load indicator, a flashlight, and a magnetic base.
What it costs (retail): Starting at $429.00
What it does: You have probably seen Maxtrax recovery boards strapped to the side of an overland vehicle. They offer floatation in soft terrain such as sand and snow, allowing for self-recovery when there's nothing to winch to or no one else around with a snatch strap. The Xtreme model is the strongest yet, with alloy teeth that are replaceable with a T-50 Torx bit.
Why we love it: There are a lot of knockoff products on the market, but in our experience none of them comes close to the durability of actual Maxtrax products. The company discourages wheel spin on its traction boards, but understands that this is unavoidable in situations such as active war zones and off-road competition, which is how the new Xtreme recovery boards came to fruition.
What it costs (retail): $499.99
Viair Ultra Duty Onboard Air
What it does: We regularly preach the benefit of airing down your tires for increased traction and ride compliance off-road. What we don't always tell you is that you need to air your tires back up when you return to the pavement or risk overheating the tires to the point of failure. Onboard air is the solution, and can also be used for other tasks as varied as running air tools and inflating your air mattress.
Why we love it: Viair's Ultra Duty Air System comes with everything you need to install onboard air on your vehicle in one kit. The heart of the system is the 480C air compressor, which has a 100 percent duty cycle. A 2 1/2-gallon air tank, hoses, wiring, and more are all included in the kit. The Ultra Duty Air System can air up a 37-inch tire from 15 to 30 psi in under four minutes.
What it costs (retail): $499.00
Summit Racing Equipment Jump Start Pack
What it does: Ever find yourself stuck with a dead battery? Jumper cables are great if you are in a parking lot, but even with other vehicles around on the trail you don't always have the space necessary to use them. Summit Racing Equipment's Jump Start Pack uses a lithium ion battery that only weighs 1 1/2 pounds and hardly takes up any space when not in use, yet offers 600 cranking amps to start your gas or diesel engine.
Why we love it: In addition to jump-starting your rig, the Summit Jump Pack has USB outlets and comes with cables and connectors to charge smartphones or laptops. It even has a built-in LED flashlight. These features are super-handy when we are out camping in the middle of nowhere.
What it costs (retail): $167.00
Summit Racing Equipment
Bubba Rope Gator Jaw Pro
What it does: Soft shackles are to traditional D-ring shackles what synthetic winch line is to steel cable. Bubba Rope's Gator Jaw is rated at a 52,300-pound breaking strength but is so light that it floats. The Gator Jaws are lighter, stronger, and easier to work with than D-rings when you have to attach a snatch strap or winch line to a recovery point.
Why we love it: The new Gator Jaw Pro replaces the standard eye found in most soft shackles with a small choker that make it both simpler and stronger than the competition. What we love most about Gator Jaw shackles is how tight and dense the knot is on them; unlike with cheaper soft shackles, you never have to worry about them unraveling. And they are made in the USA!
What it costs (retail): $49.99
DMOS Collective Stealth Shovel
What it does: Shovels are a valuable tool on the trail, particularly if you find yourself in the sand or snow. A little e-tool isn't going to do you much good though, and a fullsize shovel takes up a bunch of space and results in people flagging you down on the street to do their landscaping.
Why we love it: DMOS Collective's roots are in snow sports, but the company has a full line of new products aimed at the off-road market. The Stealth uses an extendable handle that mounts through the 6061-T6 aluminum blade, so it is super-strong but hardly takes up any space when not in use. And it's made in the USA!
What it costs (retail): $119.00
Mac's Utility Mat
What it does: Mac's Utility Mat is 4-foot-long foam pad that folds in half when not in use but is easy to toss under your rig when you're making repairs. The 3/4-inch-thick mat is made from polypropylene (essentially plastic) fibers. As a result, it resists stains, oil, and chemicals, and it won't retain water and can't mold or mildew.
Why we love it: The beauty here is in the simplicity. The Mac's Utility Mat is way better than lying on the ground, and in a pinch we have even used it to sleep on when we forgot our air mattress. When the mat is folded up it makes a great divider between storage boxes to keep them from rubbing together or rattling.
What it costs (retail): $29.95
Mac's Custom Tie Downs
More Power Puller
What it does: The design of The More Power Puller hasn't changed much in over 80 years. Why would anyone want to change a good thing? This isn't your average come-along! The More Power Puller is made from iron and steel and can lift up to 6,000 pounds or drag up to 12,000. Available in 2-ton and 3-ton models, both with the option of 5/16-inch steel cable or AmSteel Blue synthetic rope.
Why we love it: We don't necessarily see this as a replacement for a winch, but rather a useful addition. Sometimes you need to pull backwards and don't have a rear winch, or you need to pull a rig with a dead battery onto a trailer, or pull from the side after a rollover. The More Power Puller does all that and more. And it's made in the USA!
What it costs (retail): Starting at $286.00
The Wyeth-Scott Co.
Pro Eagle Kratos Jack
What it does: This 3-ton floor jack was designed from the ground up for off-road use. The Pro Eagle Kratos uses huge composite wheels with sealed bearings to allow it to roll over terrain and has a full-length skidplate to keep it from sinking in sand and other soft terrain. It even comes with an extension for the foot that is adjustable up to 8 inches, making it perfect for lifted rigs, portal axles, and moving trailers around.
Why we love it: The big wheels mean that this jack doesn't have to stay in the garage, and Pro Eagle even makes an aluminum mount to store it safely inside your vehicle when not in use. The jack is kind of bulky, but with aluminum construction it is light enough for use in camp and on the trails.
What it costs (retail): $469.99
MasterCraft Safety Tool Tote
What it does: These water-repellant totes are padded to protect your tools and prevent rattles. The diagonal zipper provides easy access, and straps are even included to securely lash the bags in place. They are available in three sizes to fit not only tools but spare parts and camping gear as well.
Why we love it: These tool totes do a great job of protecting our tools from everything from dust to rain with their rugged rubberized coating. Bigger tool bags get heavy in a hurry, so we carry multiple totes dedicated to electrical parts and tools, ratchets and sockets, and screwdrivers and pliers to keep them from getting too heavy or bulky.
What it costs (retail): Starting at $29.95
What it does: Used to transport everything from electronics to rockets, Hardigg cases use multiple latches and a thick seal to be airtight, protecting the contents in even the harshest conditions. They are available in an overwhelming variety of sizes and shapes and can be purchased with foam inserts for even more protection.
Why we love it: These waterproof cases are a lifesaver when we have our camera gear and laptop computers on the trail. They are expensive if bought new, but you can find used cases at military surplus stores and online for a fraction of the price. They might have a few scratches, but the savings is worth it to us.
What it costs (retail): Starting at $10.99
Warn Epic Tool Roll Organizer
What it does: The new Epic Tool Roll from Warn has different-sized pockets not only to store but also organize your tools and small parts like zip ties, electrical tape, and bailing wire. The rolls are made from rugged 600D Cordura and use heavy-duty YKK zippers.
Why we love it: Warn's new line of Epic gear is designed specifically for wheeling rigs and made to attach to rollcages and fit snugly in cubby holes. They hold a lot of gear, only take up a little space, and are tough as nails. They are MOLLE compatible and use D-rings and straps to be lashed to nearly anything.
What it costs (retail): $89.99
Smittybilt G.E.A.R. Tailgate Cover
What it does: Need More Space? The Smittybilt G.E.A.R. Tailgate Covers feature interchangeable PAL/MOLLE storage pouches. Designed to match the G.E.A.R. Seat Covers, all are manufactured from 600 denier polyester. They are available in black, tan, drab green, or camouflage and are easy to install with handtools. |
Why we love it: The cover comes with MOLLE pouches, which we used to store our first aid kit, fluids, and recovery gear. This way we always have those items close at hand. The only downside is that you have to remember to leave extra space to close the tailgate or risk smashing your gear.
What it costs (retail): Starting at $75.99
Front Runner Wolf Packs
What it does: Rather than messing around with temporary cargo carrying solutions, these clip-to-close, stackable, and durable storage containers are lightweight and rattle-free. The square shape and vertical sides maximize storage space compared to other options. Front Runner Wolf Packs can be used alone or as components for Front Runner Wolf Pack Drawer Systems, Front Runner Transit Bags, and Front Runner Flat Packs.
Why we love it: These containers are inexpensive and easy to stack. We use them for our camping gear and food prep on the trail. We put labels on the boxes to tell them apart and just leave our stove and camp kitchen in one fulltime—that way it's easy to load up when it's time to hit the trail.
What it costs (retail): $39.95
What it does: Mac's VersaTie is made from extruded aluminum and has a minimum breaking strength of 3,000 pounds in a vertical pull. There is an attachment point every inch, allowing you to find the perfect position to secure your load no matter what you are hauling. VersaTie is available in surface mount, flush mount, or recessed to fit any situation when you need to lash down your gear safely.
Why we love it: We use VersaTie on the inside of our truck's bed rail and in the back of our Jeep. With the tie-down rings removed, the track takes up virtually no space and is smooth enough to slide heavy objects over. Then we just add the rings to lash down our cooler, tools, and camping gear when we pack for the trail. And they are made in the USA!
What it costs (retail): Starting at $8.95
Mac's Custom Tie Downs