Recovery Guide: What to get and how to use it!


Buying recovery gear is always fun, checking out all the new gear available and imagining all the interesting places it could get you out of... But it is important not to go overboard, buying gear you don't need.

Let's start with the basics and go to the more complicated items.

Recovery Boards
There's a fair few recovery boards on the market, and debate is rampant about which brand is best etc. At the end of the day, you could make your own with zip-tied milk crate sides and it will work just as well as a pair of maxtrax or treds... It just might not last as long.

Recovery Boards are important for those who are just starting out. They are one of the easiest and safest recovery tools you can use, just place them under your vehicle nice cosy with the tyre and crawl your way out of the bog. There's nothing that can break and fly through your windscreen, the worst that can happen is you might spin your wheels and burn some lugs off the board.

*If you are in mud, they can be a bit difficult to remove if you bury them.

Snatch Straps
Snatch Straps are a fantastic invention that has been around for decades, which use kinetic energy to pull a vehicle out of a bog. There's a few different weight ratings you can get when buying a snatch strap and it is important to choose the one right for your vehicle.

The best advise I have ever been given is to get a snatch strap 2.5 times the weight of my vehicle. Why? Because if you have a 1.5T vehicle and use a 11T Snatch Strap to recover it, you are likely going to damage something, whether you can see it or not. The higher the rating of strap, the more energy is is going to absorb when stretched, and then output when it retracts... sort of like a big rubber band.

I have had the debate with many a 'professional' who swear black and blue that bigger is always better, but when I speak to the actual product developers they can't believe it.

Equaliser Straps
These are a great bit of kit for vehicles with dual recovery points. An Equaliser strap provides a straighter pull when recovering as it pulls from the centre between the 2 recovery points, rather than from just 1 side. Equaliser Straps also spread the load on each recovery point, providing a safer and more controlled recovery.

Recovery Points
Recovery Points are essential for any 4x4. Before you get yourself a pair of recovery boards, get some recovery points!

Too many vehicles get around on the tracks, particularly near the city, with all the kit and gear but no recovery points. This is a matter of preparedness, one that should not be taken lightly. Rated recovery points should be fitted to the front and rear, pairs are best but singles will do the job if your vehicle does not allow a pair. If your vehicle does not have a recovery point for the rear, you can use a hitch receiver and bow shackle.

Vehicles come with small hooks or plate steel on them which many confuse for recovery points, these are only chain down points and can become deadly projectiles if used as a recovery point.

Towballs should never be used for recovering or towing any vehicles or objects, there have been many instances where they have snapped off and killed bystanders and other drivers.

If you get your vehicle stuck (particularly on the beach), recovery boards may not get you out in time. Recovery points allow another vehicle to use a winch or snatch strap to pull you to freedom, quickly and safely. 


A winch is an optional upgrade, not everyone has the ability to have a winch fitted to their vehicles, be it from incompatible bullbars, weight limitations and sometimes even room behind the bullbar.

Winches come in different ratings again just like snatch straps, but unlike a snatch strap, here the bigger the better (but don't go overboard for no reason). The same rules apply, 2.5 times your vehicle weight is the winch size you should buy, ie a 9T winch for a 3T vehicle will be absolutely fine. If you are towing a trailer as well, you might want to go up to an 11T  winch.

Winching requires training to be done safely and I would say should be mandatory. A winch recovery is the most dangerous kind of recovery in my opinion. You can get dyneema rope these days to make it safer, but there are definitely still risks involved.

When you have a winch you gain a lot more ability when solo touring, as you can recovery yourself quickly in sticky situations. While they are an expensive investment, they will pay for themselves after the first recovery.  

There are 4x4 courses all around the country that will teach you the basics of recoveries and how to perform them safely. You can watch all the youtube videos available and know a lot, but nothing replaces actually getting your hands dirty and performing some recoveries in person.

Everyone makes mistakes, so it is best to make them in training so that you learn from them and do a stellar job on the tracks when your mate needs to be pulled out of the bog.

A training course does not cost a great deal and you can make a day of it by going with a couple of mates!

The most important thing to remember is to keep your gear well maintained. Always check your gear before and after trips for any sign of damage or wear. A crack in a recovery point or a loose bolt could end with a fatality. A frayed snatch strap could snap, a bow shackle could break and fly like a bullet.

It is a scary thought, but while Overlanding is fun, it can also be quite serious. A quick gear check might take 5-10 minutes, but it could save you thousands in repairs and even someones life.