Whether you’re new to offroading or your pants are permanently stained from years of dirt and grease, you probably recognize the importance of a functioning winch. This may not be the first upgrade you make to your 4x4, but it is something on everyone’s short list - and for good reason. When out on the trails, getting stuck is not just a potential hazard, it is an eventual truth and it is going to happen.
Winches are not just a staple of offroading because they look cool. They are one of the most effective tools owners use to get themselves and fellow trailmates back in motion. It is the responsibility of owners to familiarize themselves with the capabilities of their winch and the hazards it presents. Practice using winches should be done before they are needed.
List of Winching Necessities
Like so many other tools, winches can be extremely dangerous when used improperly. There are a number of steps every driver should take to ensure a safe and effective rescue. Simple precautions, such as keeping the area clear of Instagram photographers, can be the difference between being able to return to the trek and making a trip to the ER. The following things should be packed anytime a winch may be needed:
D ring shackles
Cable blankets, designed or improvised
Once winching techniques are mastered, a person can add, edit, or remove items from this basic list. Even immaculately clean, brand-spanking new lines have snapped, so adding unnecessary and heavy metal components to a potential slingshot should be avoided. It goes without saying that the line should be kept clean to ensure structural longevity; any lines with signs of tearing or fraying should be replaced.
Using Trees To Help
The use of trees is the most common form of self-recovery. Offroaders need to pick a large, strong, and healthy-looking tree as an anchor point. Dead, weak, or hollow trees can snap, slamming onto the hood and/or newly-added steel truck bumper of your pride and joy.
Like so many others, part of many offroaders passion for offroading comes from their love of the outdoors. Using a tree-protector strap helps to keep a person from wearing down or damaging the tree enlisted to free themseves. In this way, trees can be “hugged” with a winch, rather than being debarked or otherwise damaged. For a single line pull, the hook at the end of the cable should be connected straight to the tree protector and one or two cable blankets laid on the line between the vehicle and the tree to absorb shock in the event of a mishap.
This is perhaps the most basic form of self-recovery and should be mastered before any complicated snatch block or pulley system heavy recovery processes.
Keep It Simple!
When considering recovery options when an offroader is stuck, a person should always start with the most simple option and turn to the more complicated methods as necessary. Simple recovery winching methods tend to be more smooth and safe because there are fewer things to go wrong.
There will be times where the trail doesn’t allow for a simple recovery. In cases where there is not enough space for a straight recovery, offroaders will need the snatch blocks. This is why it is important to do some research and become familiar with recovery techniques for a variety of scenarios. A person will not always need their winch, but will always need to know how to use it!
When that prized Ford Truck with Super duty bumpers gets stuck when offroading - do't panic! If you've come properly prepared for that offroading adventure with the above items, getting out of a jam can be easily handled - and you'll be back on the offroading trail again!