Recovery Gear

Hi All,
Off to the caravan and camping show next week for last minute items before we go on our big lap. Just wanting some advice about recovery gear that is a must pack! We are going to Cape York on our way round and travelling by ourselves (along with everyone else doing Cape York when we do) and do not as yet have a winch as many readers recommended not to bother with one. We are going to get a snatch strap and maybe a high lift jack. Any other necessary items we should include? What about maxtraxs?
Thanks, Carreen
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Reply By: Member - Boo Boo (NSW) - Sunday, Feb 19, 2012 at 19:47

Sunday, Feb 19, 2012 at 19:47
G'day Carreen

Unless you have done or intend to do a recovery course and get someone to show you how to use the equipment properly, then in the hands of an inexperienced person you could quite easily severely hurt or kill someone.

Maxtraxs have also been discussed fairly recently and appear to be a handy little product, but make sure you tie a lenght of rope to each one or they may disappear into the sand or mud.

Have a great trip.

AnswerID: 478159

Reply By: Ian T2 - Sunday, Feb 19, 2012 at 20:45

Sunday, Feb 19, 2012 at 20:45
I’ve been involved the engineering of a vehicle recovery plate based on the Marsden Matting (or Sand Ladder) used successfully during the Second World War. They provide an effective alternative (in some situations) to using a snatch strap or a winch.
I hope mentioning does not contravene the forum rules.

Have a Safe trip
Ian T2
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Follow Up By: pop2jocem - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 10:39

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 10:39

Please accept this in the spirit that it is given.
The Maxtrax have protrusions (knobs) that give the tyres something to bite on whereas your product appears to be flat. How would it go when bogged in wet slimey clay and trying to climb out of a hole?

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Follow Up By: Ian T2 - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 11:34

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 11:34
Hi Pop
Thanks for your question.
We considered a number of different ways of engaging the tire. They all had their limitations; anything fixed on, ripped off, anything sticking up risked damaging the tire (if the driver let the wheel slip). We also found that anything sticking above the surface of the plate formed a place for mud (more so than sand), to accumulate, compounding the traction problem.
We found the simplest approach was the best with a simple hole; mud/sand pushes through as the tire rolls over it. The tire deforms into the hole and grips the plate around the internal edge of the hole. This works even if the tire is inflated to ‘road pressures’.
The key to this working was to get the hole size correct, if the hole is too small, tread on the tire doesn’t engage enough, if the hole was too big, the plate could easily deform.
We settled on a round hole because other shapes (anything with corners) form stress points as the plate flexes. (The same reason portholes on ships are round, no corners to focus stress cracks).
By using a form that did not stick up above the plate, also meant that the plates would nest (stack) into a very compact space.
Being travelers ourselves we saw it as important to make the plates so they occupied the being minimum of space in or on a vehicle.

Oh my goodness, I have been waffling on again, time to go.

Thank you once again for your comment.

Ian T2
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Follow Up By: Member - Howard (ACT) - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 13:38

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 13:38
from the looks of your product the hole is larger than that in the traditional steel marsden matting. dont know if that makes a difference but we have found that marsden matting is pretty usless if placed smooth side up in muddy conditions as the tyres just slip and dont grip and you slide sideways off the panel
however flip it over so that the protruding section (resulting from the holes being punched into the metal not laser cut) provide excellent grip as the tyres then have something to grap onto.
wonderful stuff we would have many vehicles and tractors still bogged if not for the 4or 5 lenghts we have up the farm.
One of my uncles used to tell about landing bombers on airstrips made out of marsden matting in mud up to a foot deep in Italy during ww2.
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Follow Up By: Ian T2 - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 15:33

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 15:33
Hi Howard
Thanks for your note. The reason the tyre would not have gripped conventional Marsden matting from the top it that the holes were radius downwards, so there was no distinct edge to the hole. As you rightly state it was a punching process (that is why it is some times referred to as Pierced Steel Planking [PSP]). This radius gave it more rigidity, but as you have said there was nothing for the tire to grip, as the edge curved downwards.
With this product the tyre can grip on to the edge of the hole, whilst at the same time forcing any mud or sand out of the hole.
The great rigidity in Marsden matting was probably needed if you were landing Halifaxs and B29s on them.
It is very cool that there are some planks in use!
Ian T2
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Reply By: 4X4Treker - Sunday, Feb 19, 2012 at 20:45

Sunday, Feb 19, 2012 at 20:45
High lift jack is only good if you have jacking points on your 4X4 to put the jack under I have a Nissan Patrol and have had to install lift points to enable to use a high lift jack safely. I carry a couple of long wide boards that I use for base plates under the high lift jack and I have also used these under the wheels like maxtrax
Snatch strap is only useful if you have shackles and safety straps to go with it and also the knowledge of how to use one and where to attach it snatch straps can be very dangerous if used incorrectly.
Good quality compressor and tyre repair kit should be on ya list and a second spare for ya 4X4, the list can get very big but a good start asking question on here.
The winch is not a big ticket item anymore as there are plenty of good quality ones on the market these days at reasonable prices.
I have had a winch now for over 15 years and it has paid for itself many times over by being able to self recover in remote areas

AnswerID: 478164

Follow Up By: Member - Longtooth (SA) - Sunday, Feb 19, 2012 at 21:22

Sunday, Feb 19, 2012 at 21:22
Have a look on the HiLift website. You will find a picture of this accessory - it fits in the wheel spokes/cut outs/vent holes and is the most useful thing if you do not have dedicated hi lift jacking points. Had one for years and would never be without it.

Hi-Lift Lift-Mate (LM-100)
Lift Directly from the Wheel - Plastic Bumpers and Extreme Lift-Kits Are No Longer a Problem.
Many trucks and SUV's 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 wheel to be lifted directly from the wheel, greatly reducing the amount of travel up the jack bar needed to lift the wheel in an adequate and safe height.

Lift-Mate Features & Specifications:
•Lift Capacity: 5000 lbs. (2273 kg)
•Rubber-Coated hooks to protect the wheel
•Rubber pad for protecting the tire and wheel
Hi-Lift Product Testimonials
"Another great item to have with you. It will help you re-position the vehicle when stuck on an obstacle."

Works perfectly on my Patrol.
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Follow Up By: Carreen - Sunday, Feb 19, 2012 at 22:04

Sunday, Feb 19, 2012 at 22:04
Thanks all! Some ideas worth considering-I will definitely take a look at some of these.
Cheers, Carreen
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Follow Up By: Carreen - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 13:48

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 13:48
Hi Longtooth,
Can you please post that hilift website, I did a quick search but don't think I got the correct one?
Thanks, Carreen
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Follow Up By: Member - Longtooth (SA) - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 21:38

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 21:38
Hi Carreen, Have a look here.
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Follow Up By: Carreen - Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012 at 13:52

Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012 at 13:52
Thanks so much!!
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Reply By: 1533rl - Sunday, Feb 19, 2012 at 23:10

Sunday, Feb 19, 2012 at 23:10
Hi Carreen, lots of good advice for you on here already. Just some other thoughts for you to consider;
Good points already re safety on the snatch strap (and shackles). Should not be used by people who have no experience, however, as you may be in situations where you will need recovering, I would recommend you get a decent set up anyway. Nothing more frustrating for an experienced 4Wdriver than to find someone who requires assistance and then finding they have to use their own gear because the people stuck don't have any !! It takes two to do a snatch recovery, and if you at least have your own gear, any helpers would be more than willing to pass on some advice and training.
Talk to people at the show to work out what you specifically need as a minimum, but do shop around as quality and prices can vary greatly.
Main piece of recovery equipment I can recommend - a long handle shovel (it has many uses !!!)
Don't forget there will be places along the way where you can add gear as you gain experience too.
Have a great trip.
AnswerID: 478173

Follow Up By: Carreen - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 13:45

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 13:45
Thanks Peter, We have the long handle shovel, and will get a snatch strap and dragging chains, just not sure whether to get a high lift jack also. Carreen
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Reply By: Wayne's 60 - Sunday, Feb 19, 2012 at 23:14

Sunday, Feb 19, 2012 at 23:14
Hi Carreen,

Two pieces of information have not been included in your enquiry .... and may be important.

1. What part of Australia are you in?

2. What vehicle do you drive

& OH, How stuck are you planning on getting?

Anyways, to answer your question and as indicated above ........... do a 4WD Training Course.

Your instructor will advise the best equipment for you to carry and they should be able to qualify their recomendation.

I believe the short "MUST" list is;

Driver Training Course.
Tyre Pressure Gauge.
Jacking Plate - 30 cm x 30 cm x 3 cm piece of wood that goes under your jack to spread the weight.
Long Handled TRENCHING Shovel - to clear sand from under the vehicle ... like a pelican pick used in mining.
Suitable compressor - to reinflate tyres after sand driving or tyre repair.
Plugger Tyre Repair Kit - to repair some damage to tyres and keep you mobile.
2x1.3 metre tarp - use on the ground when tyre changing or as a blind for river crossings.
TOW strap, Bridle and four rated shackles.

I believe the Short "Nice to Have" List is;

Tyre deflation device - Ferret or Stauns.
The bl**die Good idea - look for it on the Mitsubishi 4WD Club website ..... utilised with your bottle jack.
Electric Winch ......... needs dual batteries to power it ........ also needs TOW Strap, Rated Shackles, Ground Anchor, Tree Trunk protector.

With a great deal of respect .....I believe it is far better to know how to set up and drive your vehicle properly ........... than it is to purchase and carry a lot of gear that you may not be able to use.

I'm sure that there are many who are more qualified than us, and will also offer their advice.

Exhaust Jacks ..... I have been advised that Modern Turbo Diesels DO NOT like the extra back pressure, any damage caused may not be covered by warranty.
Maxtrax...... $400 a pair ....... and what do you do when you have driven off the end of the two of them?
Hi Lift Jacks .... can't be used on modern vehicles without special mounting/lifting points, and you need a secure place to store your 30 kg paperweight.

A little toungue in cheek at the end, though both of us wish you well and we hope that you all have a great time on your trip.

Wayne & Sally.
AnswerID: 478175

Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 08:39

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 08:39
Hi Carreen,

Excellent post by Wayne and Sally and I strongly endorse the points made. Without wishing to sound offensive, recovery items aren't "last minute" items to add to the packing list - they are something that should be planned and factored in well in advance. Ask yourself where are you going that you think you may need a recovery, and then ask "Do I really need to go there - or do that?" That question is part of any good 4WD training.

Recovery gear is potentially lethal and requires practice to use safely and successfully. A shovel is safe, and maxtrax are probably OK on safety too. If you do get a snatch strap make sure you have rated shackles and know how to attach the strap safely to rated snatching points. And keep the kids well away from any snatching operations.

Have a great trip


J and V
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Follow Up By: Member -Grundle (WA) - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 18:24

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 18:24
Hi wayne,most people would'nt know what a pelican pick was, ah memories

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Follow Up By: Member - Duncs - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 22:33

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 22:33
Another endorsement for Wayne and Sally's advice.

The things I won't leave home without are:

Shovel, the type has varied from time to time but any is better than a bare hand.
Compressor - mine is mounted in the vehicle but they don't have to be.
Pressure gauge one that is easy to read.
Tyre repair gear including bead breaker. You should practice this before you go. Take a tyre off a rim in the back yard. You'll be surprised how much fun it is.

Ohh! Last but certainly not least; that special little roll of paper

But the most important of all is a bucket full of common sense, I think it is still leagal in most states.

When I started out 4wding I knew nothing but I was prepared to learn. I often jumped in too quick and made things worse. Then a wise man said to me "When you get stuck, boil the billy and have a cup of tea." It gives you time to properly assess the situation and develop an escape plan. If your real lucky someone comes along and helps you out. You share a cuppa and make a friend at the same time. I met a Danish couple that way up on the Cape in 99.

He also suggested the above list of goodies. All the rest are luxuries.

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Follow Up By: Wayne's 60 - Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012 at 02:03

Tuesday, Feb 21, 2012 at 02:03
P.S. I should have said .... "Rated TOW Strap and Bridle"

Hi Val,
Thanks for your comments, they are greatly appreciated.

I hope they are fond memories of the pelican pick .......... I hope ... lol

Many thanks for your comments also...... and trying not to get busted under the chit chat rule ........... I'm trying to recall if we have bumped into each other.
If not, I hope we do soon.

Wayne & Sally.
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Reply By: splits - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 09:27

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 09:27

When you are travelling on your own, the old saying "prevention is better than cure" is the key to it. In other words don't get yourself into situations where you are likely to get stuck. Recovery can be strenuous, dirty, dangerous and not always successful.

A large bog hole on an outback road for example might take you half the day to get out of, particularly when you find there is nowhere to anchor your winch except by burying your spare wheel, and, as sure as can be there will be another hole a couple of ks down the road. You are then left with tons of mud grinding its way into your brakes, oil seals and countless other places for the rest of your trip unless you can find a hose somewhere and have the skills to dismantle some parts of your car to clean them.

A snatch strap is useless without another car and a suitable one might not come along in some areas for many days. Even then can you trust the condition of its recovery points? Look up snatch strap accidents and fatalities on the net. There are plenty of example of metal parts, fatigued due to many previous snatches, letting go or rusted threads on recovery hook bolts pulling out and sending hooks and shackles flying into other cars or even people at hundreds of ks per hour.

Fallen trees across mountain tracks is a common obstacle and can't be predicted..
Equipment to cut the tree and pull enough of it away to get by is essential.

I could go on all day with examples but there is no point in doing that. Take the advice of some of the others and get proper recovery training. Make sure your teachers know you are planning solo travel and in what areas so they can concentrate on that and advise you on what to buy. Plenty of recovery items are not cheap or light weight and weight is a vital point that has to be treated seriously when loading your car.

When travelling, get local advice all the time. I have asked locals, park rangers etc many times and have been told things like don't attempt this track in your type of car, these ones are ok, avoid down there if wet and so on.

It all helps and makes travelling a lot easier and safer.
AnswerID: 478187

Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 14:16

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 14:16
Hi Carreen

Max Trax are brilliant, but they are quite long to store in your rig. We choose them over a high lift jack. You will still need a good shovel. They advised us we would need two pairs, but we economised with one pair. With eight wheels and seven and half ton down in the loose stones at Carawine Gorge, and tyres a low as it was safe to go, just one pair saved the day for us. We then used them to help the next people who came and saw us out there thinking it was safe :O Only ever used one, but they were worth their weight in gold that day. Getting four would take little more packing room that two.

We have a winch but haven't used it, a snatch block, tree guard strap and rated shackles. We also carry a snatch strap. As we try and keep out of trouble, these have not been needed when touring. I considered Max Trax a safer option than a high lift jack. We carry two jacks, as if we need one, we often need a second to work in tandem to achieve the lift required.


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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 17:40

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 17:40
Not a note to you Motherhen, but a bit of general Maxtrax info.

I've also used them, and find that if you do get stuck on a beach, soft sand, for example, you can generally keep going once you are back 'on top' of the surface.

You have your momentum, and with already lowered pressures (or drop them further still before driving out) you should be ok in most cases.

Most people have one pair, so them under the front wheels and your momentum should see your back wheels carried onto them too for further range.

Of course you've tried backing out in your tracks already, but if you are obviously stuck, use Maxtrax early (not when your diffs are on or into the sand) and always dig some sand out in front and back to enable good forward movement.

Ensure no braking to stop for (any) trax recovery, just let the sand naturally stop you, don't build up that 'berm' of sand in front of the wheels or you might get stuck again.

I learned that you should be in low range to avoid burying Maxtrax deep and thereby not getting as much launch from them.
Also this negates possible tyre damage.

Oh, and they are usually under $300 retail, but sometimes BCF, Supercheap, and others will have them on special, got mine for $280, someone I know got theirs from BCF for $265 !
Great insurance for that or even the normal price, because they usually work so quick to get you out of potential danger (think incoming tides especially).

I have also made up some planks with a tek screw grid pattern, to drive out onto once the Max get you out, another 1.2m distance.
Haven't had to try these yet, but figure I'd put them out on the flat sand maybe 10 foot in front if it looked really soft.

You can also make the milk crate option, cutting out the base and 4 sides of 2 crates, and using heavy duty zip ties, make a track to do similar to Maxtrax.
Cable tie them with enough slack to enable them to fold up in a Z pattern for storage.

The good thing about this option, is you can tie the crates off to your tow bar with some cord, and keep going, just pull them along behind you to firm ground.
Maxtrax are sometimes a bit buried for that, and might be damaged if try to pull along behind.

I've heard people swear by hessian bags, filled with sand from the spot you're bogged (front digging out makes sense), then just empty them again after.

Also shadecloth strips folded over double, carpet strips (especially if you can use them in the camper annex etc, gotta love double use items !), even the car mats from the vehicle !!

Sorry for the long response, but I love sand driving : )


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Follow Up By: Member -Grundle (WA) - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 18:39

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 18:39
Hi Les,another option is to buy Versi leach drain panels.400x500,4 sides. Same as milk crate.cost $45 per mtr. Cable tie 2 panels together.$45 will give you 8 panels.I have just used them as leach drains and bought them at a cement product supply place.

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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 19:04

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 19:04
Hey there Grundle,

Just googled that (images), not a lot came up but think I found them, the pattern looks more even than milk crates.

There's probably a lot of other items out there that could be used too.

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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 19:09

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 19:09
Hi Les

We used them under the rear wheels, and it was in stones here not sand and much harder to dig. Believe it on not, the Max Trax were well and truly buried, even in the stones. The idea of a rope and a float for water wouldn't have helped either.

Getting a bit of momentum helped - that was when the other people arrived as said - "it's OK, there's another caravan there" - so they sunk and blocked our exit. Down again we went again :(.

After getting two lots of caravan off the stones, the rest of the day was spent pumping up tyres - we had two compressors and both overheated.

Image Could Not Be Found


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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 19:24

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 19:24
Ahhh, you don't forget those events do you ?
Those stones look as bad as sand, and probably worse becasue they'd move much easier !
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Reply By: Rockape - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 14:33

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 14:33
I have a bit of time on my hands due to a retarded ankle. Bugger can't go to work so I just had a look around for a video of what a highlift jack can do if not handled correctly. You will also find the same about snatch straps, drag chains and winching on youtube.

Don't be frightened by these videos. If the gear is fit for purpose and is used the right way you will have no trouble. I believe you will find instructional videos on these items that will show the correct method of using them.

Couple of things to remember is. If things go turn bad and you get yourselves in a bit of a bind. sit down, have a cuppa or a cool drink and have a good think about it. Also don't take short cuts as often they become hard cuts.

I have one thing that I stick to always and that is if my gut feeling says this is wrong then it probably is and I will take another tack.

Also listen to others and then sort out the BS from a good idea.

Another little thing about Hilift jacks is if the mechanism becomes seized with dirt and crud just pour water over them and they will work again.

Have a good one,
Hoppy Ape
AnswerID: 478209

Follow Up By: Carreen - Thursday, Feb 23, 2012 at 21:27

Thursday, Feb 23, 2012 at 21:27
Thanks Hoopy Ape,
I too trust my gut feelings or women's intuition I call it. Never lets me down!
Good luck with the ankle!
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Reply By: vk1dx - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 14:52

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 14:52
Hi Carreen

I know we talked about training before and it has been mentioned above that misuse of some 4WD stuff can lead to serious if not fatal injuries. My advise is to see what is available in the way of training.

Take care

AnswerID: 478214

Reply By: RobAck - Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 17:07

Monday, Feb 20, 2012 at 17:07
Carreen there's lots of good advice here and the most important is to get some training on how to use your recovery equipment safely. Snatch straps have killed five Australians over the last few years and in unskilled hands any recovery equipment can be lethal. As well you need rated recovery points front and rear. On some vehicles this is not possible. Maxtrax can be useful but are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and in some situations completely useless. A Hi-Lift can be an extremely flexible piece of recovery equipment but you need the wheel lifter and winch kit and base to get the best from it along with training. It's also heavy and needs to be carried somewhere.

I suggest you talk to either a 4WD club or commercial 4WD training company. The latter sometimes offer some form of introductory recovery program that introduces you to the various recovery items so you can understand the risks and benefits of each.

Depending on what part of the Cape you are travelling a water bra is mandatory along with extended diff breathers and of course a snorkel


AnswerID: 478225

Reply By: Wayne's 60 - Monday, Feb 27, 2012 at 02:57

Monday, Feb 27, 2012 at 02:57
Hi Carreen,

We are wondering how the shopping trip went ............. and the gear you purchased??

Wayne & Sally.
AnswerID: 478793

Follow Up By: Carreen - Monday, Feb 27, 2012 at 14:06

Monday, Feb 27, 2012 at 14:06
Hi Wayne and Sally,
Lol hubby didn't buy anything so he still needs to sort that one out but we don't think we will get a high lift jack.
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