Off Road Recovery Gear
Driving off road is pretty routine, but things can get ugly quick. Having the proper recovery gear is critical. Sometimes, the only gear you have is your rig and a buddy. This can be acceptable for a novice trail, but what happens when you want to go up that epic mountain and you're unsure how the terrain is?
Be Prepared For Anything!
Keeping an array of essentials that we will list in this article will help you be prepared for just about anything. If you load your rig with these simple things, you will not only be prepared, but I promise you, you'll feel great knowing that you will be an asset to anyone in need.
Picture this: You're driving down a side street in the suburbs. It's snowing and there is already about 12 inches of snow on the unplowed road. Ahead, you see a white sedan barely visible with no lights on. It's dark and you are concerned for the driver's safety. The road has two lanes of travel but they are stuck in the right lane and again, barely visible.
You park your rig behind this car and contact the driver. The female driver has a three month old baby in a car seat behind her and she is completely stuck in the snow. She has called for a tow but because of the frequency of calls for service, they have a two hour ETA. She only has a little gas left and it is getting colder! What do you do? Do you have the right equipment to be an asset?
You go back to your vehicle and turn on yellow LED flashing lights that you have installed. You throw on a reflective vest so you are visible to passing traffic. You make a plan! You see that there is a side road into a development behind you. Your plan is to pull her backwards into that neighborhood where her car will be out of traffic. Then you can give her a ride to her house so she can get the kiddo home.
Having the right gear can be dependent on a lot of variables such as weather, location, time of day, and access to such equipment. But as the old adage suggests, its better to have and not need, than to need and not have. The scenario above is an example of how, even though you carry these items for off-road use, they can quickly become handy in your daily life. So lets put together a list of essentials that you can have in your rig that will make you an asset in just about any situation.
Tools: Pictured above is a tool kit I put together for around $50. These tools are to get me by in a pinch so I wasn't about to load my Snap On tool set into this box. I simply went to a local tool store and purchased the following.
- Plastic ammo box. This works great to hold your tools and it fits easily into your passenger compartment or truck bed.
- Allen wrenches. Again, cheap is OK because this is to get you by in a pinch. This kit was inexpensive and has worked great so far.
- Socket set (Metric and SAE). Maybe buy two 10mm's while you're at it!
I also purchased a cheap socket set (not pictured) that fits perfectly behind my seat.
Lights: Most people put ditch lights on their rig for off-roading at night. This is a great addition and can also assist you as, "Scene lighting" during an incident. Being visible on the side of the road is essential so if you are planning on helping someone, make sure you start by making sure you and the person you help don't get hit by a car or snow plow! Yellow flashing LED lights for safety are legal and can alert folks of a hazard ahead. This can also que Law Enforcement to assist which brings more tools to your scene such as requests for plows or sand in the area.
Tow rope: This is something that every rig should have in it if its ever taken off road. These ropes usually have a fixed loop on either end which couples nicely with my next item on the list.
Shackles: Coupled with a tow rope and a good bumper or tow hitch, these shackles are critical when using a tow rope. If you need to pull someone that is in front of you and your goal is to pull them backwards as mentioned in my scenario above, having a shackle system installed on the front and back of your rig will assist you in this task.
Winch: This may be the most expensive tool on this list but it isn't absolutely necessary. I have gotten out of many situations without one but this will make things a lot easier.
Shovel: Having a small shovel in your truck can help dig snow and ice out of a vehicles path or even be used to dig a hole to do your business in. This tool is versatile and a simple E Tool can dig you out of plenty of sticky situations... Pun intended!
Off Road Traction Boards: These come in a ton of different colors and at least as many different companies make them. I run Action Trax which are similar to Max Trax but in my opinion, more durable. The price is similar but with any good tool, when you're having to use it, the price is the last thing you're thinking about.
Some final thoughts and considerations: This list isn't completely comprehensive but as I mentioned above, be an asset! This will get you there. My rig isn't the biggest, baddest, meanist, bitchin thing on the road, but if someone needs help, you bet she'll be ready!