It’s summertime and you’re traveling offroad in your 4×4, climbing rocks, crawling through mud and flexing your suspension seeing how far you can push your rig. You’re on a backcountry road with little to no traffic; you have the whole world to yourself! But then around the next corner, a questionable patch of mud blocks your path leaving you with the dilemma of whether to cross it, or find another way around. The friend who occupies your passenger seat insists that you go through it, yet you don’t know if it’s manageable. After continuing pestering you decide to shut him up by accepting the challenge. After all, you have a 4wheel drive beast, so nothing can stop your right? You put the rig in Lo-4, and start to creep through the mud. You’re halfway through and the light seems to be shining bright at the end of the tunnel! But then, disaster, it’s deeper than you anticipated and you’re stuck. In the middle of nowhere, you start to panic because you don’t have cell phone service or a radio. The only thing you can do is sit and wait for hours for another driver to help you out.
This is a very common occurrence that many offroad enthusiasts face and is a very likely reality. The obvious choice to try and avoid a situation like this would be to invest money in buying a large assortment of aftermarket parts like a winch or mud tires, but to many these items are too large of an investment for the average consumer. However if you decide to take your 4×4 offroad, there are three, inexpensive parts you should always carry with you to ensure if you get stuck or in trouble, you have a way out.
- Tow Hooks: Having proper tow hooks is an essential component to have before leaving on any offroad adventure. A lot of trucks and SUV’s will have tow hooks already built in, but sometimes they may be too small. It’s important to have front and rear-mounted hooks connected to the frame of your vehicle so if you do get stuck, you have an anchor point to mount on to. If you’re unsure whether or not the preexisting tow hooks on your vehicle are adequate, visit your local 4×4 mechanic and they will help give you some insight and share their opinions.
- Recovery Strap: It’s important to have a recovery strap at least 2” wide, and 25-40 feet long. Make sure it’s new and rated to pull out heavy vehicles otherwise it’s pointless cargo taking up space. Don’t use chains, standard rope or something that’s not designed for vehicle recovery. Recovery straps are designed with the intent to flex and absorb energy, allowing you to yank the stuck vehicle with power and finesse. Never tie a recovery strap around anything but a tow hook or something that is directly attached to the frame.. Attaching it to the bumper, axels, drivetrain or steering components can damage the vehicle.
- High Lift Jack: Another recovery tool that is a very good idea to have is a high-lift jack. When stuck in awkward locations, these can come in handy as they will allow you to raise the vehicle and properly attach the recovery strap in the appropriate location. You can also use a high lift jack as a winch by utilizing a tree as an anchor point.
In addition to having these parts, it may also be beneficial to carry a shovel to help dig your vehicle out from snow, mud or sand and cat litter or gravel to provide traction in muddy or snowy areas.
While we’re on the subject, it will be beneficial to take note of some other 4×4 accessories that can help prevent you from getting stuck. These will cost a little bit more than the other parts we mentioned earlier, but are equally as important if your budget will allow.
- Tires: We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again. A set of multi-terrain or offroad tires is one of the best investments you can make, as tires are where you will receive all the traction needed to take a car offroad. There are tires for mud, snow, sand and other specialty tires, so pick accordingly to terrain you will visit most frequently.
- Winch: If a budget will allow a winch, these are especially handy if you are going offroad by yourself. As long as you have an aftermarket bumper or bull-bar installed, you can anchor up to a tree or other large, fixed object and pull yourself out.
- CB Radio: In many instances, you will be traveling offroad in an area with no cell phone service. A CB radio will give you the opportunity to call out for help in case you get stuck or in an emergency. Any serious offroad enthusiast should have one.