Recovery Gear. How much do I really need?

Submitted: Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 08:07
ThreadID: 3459 Views:2389 Replies:10 FollowUps:18
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The 4wd drive distributers will tell you, "you will need this and use that", but what do I really need?

I have a Td5 Diso, I currently do a lot of touring, and a few weekend trips along fire trails, beaches etc. I plan to go up to Cape York in Jun/Jul, where I am possibly going as a single vehicle.

Can anyone give me any feedback on the minimum amount of recovery gear I should take (as insurance), that will get me out of trouble if I get into it.

I'm not an extreme offroader and only ever plan to follow the standard trails.
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Reply By: Tony - Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 08:34

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 08:34
On the "standard trails" up the Cape you can travel without any recovery gear at all. Its only if you want to do the OTL or Frenchmans track that you may/ will need recovery gear.

For a vehicle on its own a winch, ext straps, block, stree protector and a couple of rated shackles are the bare minimun.

Then where do you go after the Cape, places like Maytown, Cape Melville just to name a few.

AnswerID: 13554

Follow Up By: Dolfn - Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 08:43

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 08:43
Iam planning to do the OTL, so I will need some gear does anyone have any ideas on a budjet approach to rocovery gear?

FollowupID: 7935

Follow Up By: Peter S - Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 09:04

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 09:04
We usually travel alone as well
I know the purists will Bag me for this But it works for us.

I usaually carry Snach strap and 2large and 3 small rated shackles.
A length of chain with shortning hooks.See the local chain person. they are a bit cheaper.
2 length of steel wire cable 10 m.
shovel, axe

also a 4 ton pull along
This we got from repco cost about 80 dollars.
IT has pulled us out a number of times. It is a bit harder to use than others but for the cost and weight is good.

ALso I have a high lift jack But with new cars probably a no no
So get a 4 ton hydraulic jack and a timber base plate.

An air pump and some patches are also necessary
We use one from super cheap and it works well.
Prior to this had a $20 cheepy which although slow stilled worked.

Most of this i have gathered in time Started with nothing and as things were on special got them
Alot of equipment is available from auto wharehouses alot cheaper than 4wd shops. The quality is still ok for 1/2 the price you get 80-90% of the use.

FollowupID: 7937

Reply By: desert - Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 09:09

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 09:09
Dolfn. Based on your premise of travelling alone, you will need the following items of useful kit for self help: Spade or shovel, small bow saw and/or axe. Winch and as it's is your first time out and going to the Cape, I would suggest a hand winch like a Tirfor. Having this winch means you need bow shackles, tree protector and a snatch block to ease the load by yourself. If another vehcile comes along, then a snatch-em strap can be invaluable. A winch extension strap is also handy. From this lot of basic gear you can build from there and add extra gear as your quest for new country and your confidence grows.
AnswerID: 13555

Reply By: Voxson - Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 10:49

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 10:49
My next door neighbour which i am going with in July this year says the most important recovery gear is two planks of wood and some good lashing......
I say that in jest,, but you will see why when get to a certain crossing....
AnswerID: 13562

Follow Up By: Dolfn - Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 11:53

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 11:53
Thanks but please elobarate
FollowupID: 7949

Follow Up By: Voxson - Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 14:36

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 14:36
There is a sometimes hairy crossing on the otl which can require a deep breath.... It is made by logs going across which may have to be adjusted a little before you cross sometimes........
FollowupID: 7959

Reply By: Member - Melissa - Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 11:57

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 11:57
Hi Dolfn,

We usually travel alone too and this is what we carry:

2 x snatch straps
2 x large rated bow shackles
2 x small rated bow shackles
Tuff pull hand winch with 20m cable
Snatch block
Tree trunk protector
Winch extention strap
4T hydraulic jack
Jacking base (piece of timber about 30x45x3cm)
2 x air compressors (incl. el cheapo spare)
Long handled shovel

For Cape York sticking to the main tracks, I think your absolute minimum should be a snatch strap, axe, shovel, air compressor, jack and jacking base. It gets pretty busy up there during the dry season so you would probably get a snatch from a passing vehicle if needed BUT these items will give you a degree of self-sufficiency.

:o) Melissa
AnswerID: 13566

Follow Up By: Truckster - Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 16:08

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 16:08
As Melissa said PLUS rags!!! and a winch blanket...

Remember if your on your own, you want to be able to get out on your own, nobody may come past for days, and if your out of radio range... Well.......

Id throw a car mounted winch on that too.... But thats not really min, its a must!
FollowupID: 7970

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 16:34

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 16:34
A car mounted winch, a MUST??? We've never had one and never needed one. Sure the hand winch is hard work but it gets used so rarely it's impossible for us to justify the cost of a car mounted one. Bottom line is if you get stuck and a snatch from another vehicle is not available, jacking/digging and packing under the wheels doesn't help, a hand winch will get you out of trouble just as surely as a power winch, albiet with a lot more effort.

There's been a lot said about just how difficult hand winches are to operate...yes, they do require a lot of effort but used correctly and with the aid of a snatch block (or two), they are quite manageable. Having said that, someone with your injuries Truckster or similiar or an elderley person may have trouble with the physical aspect of operating a hand winch and might be well advised to look at a car mounted winch.

As far as Cape York, you definitely don't need to go to the expense of a car mounted winch or in fact, any winch at all.

:o) Melissa
FollowupID: 7977

Follow Up By: Mikeys - Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 17:35

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 17:35
Melissa, I agree about not needing the car mounted winch but beg to differ about having no winch at all up the Cape. We ended up needing to use a hand winch (only once) up the Cape to get a vehicle up and out of a very boggy exit on the last creek on the OTL before the Jardine after about a dozen unsuccessful tries. There were two vehicles but snatching wasn't an option. I would recommend carrying a hand winch to be self-recoverable, particularly if travelling alone. Then again, there's probably so much traffic up there these days, just pack an extra tea bag (lighter than a hand winch) and someone else will come along before you've finished your cuppa.


FollowupID: 7981

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 17:44

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 17:44
Hi Mikey,

Only time any of group used a winch on the Cape was when one party attempted a crossing of the Jardine R at the old OLT crossing (a fruitless exercise from north or south BTW). I recall that we also saw some people using a winch at Gunshot but of course, this has now been graded and is not the challenge it once was.

I'd be confident that with the amount of traffic, you'd get a snatch or some other form of assistance before long, BUT only if sticking to the main tracks.

Totally agree with your comment about self-recovery...this is exactly why we carry a hand winch.

In the end, it comes down to personal choice and of course your budget. If you can afford a winch and you plan on doing more solo travel, buy one. If you can't, you should still feel confident tackling the Cape without.

:o) Melissa
FollowupID: 7982

Follow Up By: Mikeys - Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 18:21

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 18:21
And the crocs on the Jardine were probably thinking to themselves, do I wait until that person tugging on the winch handle has nicely tenderized themselves through all that effort, or is the wincher probably going to be the toughest, sinewy unappetising meal and not worth bothering with.
FollowupID: 7985

Follow Up By: Truckster - Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 22:25

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 22:25
When you ahve spent 4 hours on the end of a Turfor in 45 degree heat, you will know why a elec winch is a must...
FollowupID: 8004

Follow Up By: Cj - Friday, Feb 21, 2003 at 15:00

Friday, Feb 21, 2003 at 15:00
If you're going on the one trip and not likely to do another one for a few years it's not worth the $1800 - $2000 or whatever for an electric winch. The wife would appreciate the money spent on a flash resort. I've got one and the only real time i've had to use it is in bogholes on weekend warrior tagalong trips. Truckster's got a good point, you work at it bloody hard sometimes (handwinch) but it's a good option to start out with especially if you only intend to do 10% 4WDing a year.
FollowupID: 8040

Follow Up By: Suzuki Viagra - Sunday, Feb 23, 2003 at 10:10

Sunday, Feb 23, 2003 at 10:10
Having a hand winch is better - it encourages you to be more careful. After all it costs you something to get the car out..... a bit of sweat.

Using the had winch makes it a lesson you wont want to repeat.

Not so with the electric just hook up the cable, get back in your comfy chair and press the button!

Seriously I reckon if you're going by yourself you should have some way of getting out of any scenario and a second hand tirfor/tuff pull $200-300 isn't too much expense for a trip like this. You can always sell it when you get back home if you don't think you will need it again.
FollowupID: 8173

Reply By: Member - Willem- Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 12:00

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 12:00
I knew a bloke once who had a complete rope and pulley system. It was cheap, effective, cumbersome and slow. But it worked!
Acquire your recovery gear over time. If you are going to do exploring especially in wetland areas then a winch of some sort is a must. Shackles, tree trunk protector, snatchstrap and Wallaby-jack are all part and parcel of recovery gear. I recently acquired a bullbag as an extra. Used it once in sand and it works OK. Absolute minimum recovery gear is a long handled shovel, a 4-5ton jack and a snatch strap plus all the necessary anchor points and shackles. By todays prices your budget for a full set of recovery gear should be around $2000. If you are travelling alone off the beaten track, then buy a winch. Cheers,W
AnswerID: 13567

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 16:42

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 16:42

Did you ever see "Northern Safari" about Keith Adam's epic crossing from Perth to the Gulf of Carpenteria in a Buick, back in the '50's? The guy was crazy but he lived to tell the tale. Anyway, he bottomed out in the middle of a river crossing in a very isolated spot with no hope of help. He had a wire fishing cable but no winch so he lay a log across the creek exit and wired another to it at a 90 degree angle, then wrapped one end of the cable around the log with the other end attached to the car. Then he proceeded to winch the car free by heaving on the cross-piece, thus winding the cable around the log. Anyway, took him hours and super-human effort but it got him out of serious trouble.

:o) Melissa
FollowupID: 7978

Follow Up By: Member - Willem- Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 18:28

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 18:28
Hello Melissa, No did not see that one. There was a bloke going around the north about 15 years ago showing movies of his exploits ascross Aus in a Landrover. He winched the Landy up through a creek successfully with the old capstan winch and then proceeded to undo everthing forgetting to chock the wheels(as he was on a slope). The Landy ran back into the creek and he had to start again. Its a bit like that clip from the movie "The Gods must be Crazy" where the Landy gets winched up a tree!!
As you mention, recovery gear is important depending on where you are travelling. I had an ultimate bog on an exploratory trip in the NT where the Tojo settled on its belly in some ooze in a creekbed. Took two 8500lb Highmount Warns and a Ramsay PTO in unison all with snatchblocks to extricate the vehicle. Job took two hours. If we had not had the gear we might still have been there :-) Being an earlier model of homo sapiens I will stick with my electric winch as I do not have the energy for a Tirfor or such.
FollowupID: 7986

Reply By: ptcrowe - Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 17:00

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 17:00
First pieces of recovery gear i pack are good set of hand tools and a workshop manual for the car. If something breaks down you have at least a small chance of fixing it.
AnswerID: 13592

Reply By: Member - Rohan - Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 17:01

Thursday, Feb 20, 2003 at 17:01
Dolfn, an alternative (albeit a once only option) is to hire some gear, particularly the hand winch. This can be cost effective if you are unlikely to need the gear again. It also gives you an opportunity to see what items you do and don't really need. The major cost is a winch and you can get a very good basic kit (excl. the winch) for under $400. It would include everything Melissa has mentioned above (her list covers everything you'll need).

For more info/advice, this site and a few of the 4WD training/tag-along tour operator sites (,, etc) have some good tips.

AnswerID: 13593

Reply By: Suzuki Viagra - Friday, Feb 21, 2003 at 11:59

Friday, Feb 21, 2003 at 11:59
A box of matches is a perfect set of recovery gear.......
AnswerID: 13637

Follow Up By: Thepublican - Friday, Feb 21, 2003 at 22:41

Friday, Feb 21, 2003 at 22:41
In toy world to match the toy car.
FollowupID: 8109

Follow Up By: Suzuki Viagra - Saturday, Feb 22, 2003 at 00:24

Saturday, Feb 22, 2003 at 00:24
After looking at //
I know it's the only recovery gear needed for an explorer!

My Viagra woulda got thru there with the fron two wheels taken off......
FollowupID: 8121

Follow Up By: Thepublican - Saturday, Feb 22, 2003 at 01:01

Saturday, Feb 22, 2003 at 01:01
Little Suzi who needs Viagra,, good to see that on your " I,m a big tough tonka truck and only need a box of matches " web site you had a real truck to help you out,as in the hum vee.
FollowupID: 8125

Follow Up By: Suzuki Viagra - Sunday, Feb 23, 2003 at 10:04

Sunday, Feb 23, 2003 at 10:04
Actually last night with the QLD Suzuki club I had to tow a diesel Hilux that had blown it's motor up through the last few kilometres.

What was that Hilux - unbreakable? Hahahahaha.

Suzuki Power all the way!!!!!!!!!!

Ohh actually I did break something - One of the rubbers on my new back shockies is chewed up and I'll need to replace it......
FollowupID: 8172

Reply By: ThePublican - Friday, Feb 21, 2003 at 22:57

Friday, Feb 21, 2003 at 22:57
If you follow Melissa,s list your starting in the right direction, can,t see why 2 compressors + a cheepy though? As for Mikeys theory on just an extra tea bag, nah, the offer of a cold,cold beer works magic ,and of course be prepared to " pay " for any equipment bu-gerd that others loan you in recovery.
AnswerID: 13719

Reply By: dougie - Wednesday, Feb 26, 2003 at 01:03

Wednesday, Feb 26, 2003 at 01:03
There is nearly always someone coming or going up the track .
(First, be carfull of on coming cars) In some of the creeks early on in the season you won't have enough gear or energy.if you get stuck other travevellers will have to pull you out to get through themselves.
Take your time those little creeks are full of life and try to camp at at least 1 for a night or 2.
IT is God's country. Fish the Wenlock for barra and big black perch
AnswerID: 13960

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