In the last post on winter wheeling rules recovery gear was briefly mentioned, and in an older article I included vehicle recovery items in my list of survival gear that I carry in my rig. But, I’ve added a couple things since then and I thought it would be handy to post a dedicated listing of items specific to vehicle recovery on trail runs.
First, if you’re new to off-roading you might be wondering what recovery gear is. In short, it’s the items and tools that allow you and other wheelers in your group to A. get yourselves unstuck, B. move safely through mud, deep snow, or steep rocky areas, C. complete necessary vehicle repairs to hopefully get off the trail without rescue, and D. remove obstacles from the trail if needed (such as a large fallen tree covering the trail).
Here’s what I have installed on my rig, and carry on trail runs, for recovery purposes. Veteran off-roaders – am I forgetting anything? Comment below if so!
Winch – 10,000 lb WARN synthetic
D-ring shackles (2 count)
Soft shackle (1 count)
Leather gloves (for use during winching)
Winch damper or a heavy blanket (if you have steel winch line instead of synthetic)
Tree Saver strap
Ground anchor (for use if there are no anchor points - trees or spots for another rig – I’ve never had to use this but I’d hate to need it and not have it)
Recovery points front and rear (this means you need secure places to attach shackles for winching/towing on both your front and rear bumpers)
Spill kit (here’s a DIY option) and extra rags
ARB Air Compressor
Air compressor hose and inflator
Tire pressure gauge (I use the inflator gauge)
4-way tire iron
Tire repair kit
Spare tire!!! (I know some people wheel without a spare tire which I think is unwise – pay for the extra tire because you very well might need it!)
ARB Air Lockers (not specifically for recovery but in my opinion lockers help with not getting stuck in the first place!)
Silky Saw Katanaboy (large folding saw, instead of taking a chainsaw)
KLAX ax (ax plus multitool)
Shovel (I have a small foldable Army Surplus shovel with a pick on one side)
Tools specific to my rig, including wrenches, sockets, pliers, screwdriver, etc.
Vehicle fluids as needed
Tie-downs / bungee cords
Rope and paracord
Flashlights / headlamp
Solar charger for phone/GPS
Fire starting supplies
Extra water, snacks, and dehydrated food
Friends (having the assistance of fellow off-roaders is imperative in recovery situations. Never wheel alone!)
Update Feb. 2017: Snow shovel - bungee a full-size shovel to your spare tire, or pack a small aluminum collapsible shovel.
Update Feb. 2017: Consider bringing chains, tarp to lay on to put chains on, sleeping bag, change of clothes (just in case you get wet or sweaty), extra shoes too, backpacking camp stove and pot to cook dehydrated food.
There you have it! As I’ve done more trails I’ve tried to determine what I’ve needed, haven’t needed, or might use in the future so this list is always a work in progress. Also I realize this is a lot of stuff to carry so I try to minimize where possible or go with multi-use items (for example, the KLAX and tire inflator/pressure gauge are multi-use, and the Katanaboy is more portable than a chainsaw).
Lastly, as you can see from this list, winching requires a good deal of supplies – see my post on winching basics for more specific info on winches and how to use them safely. Update Nov. 2017: to learn first-hand how to winch safely and effectively, if you're in Colorado, consider attending one of Colorado 4x4 Rescue and Recovery's training sessions. Guaranteed you'll learn top-notch skills to help yourself or others out of a pinch!
Be safe out there, and Happy Trails!