Recovery Gear - A Primer

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Recovery Gear - A Primer

Post by Kevin on Thu Nov 07, 2013 5:54 am

This has been on my mind of late Smile, so I thought some of our new guys might get some use out of this.  Feel free to make suggestions.

No truck should be out and about without basic recovery equipment, especially if you frequently explore alone or like to get yourself into sticky situations.  The following is a list of recovery gear that should be considered essential in every truck, along with another list of stuff that it's really really nice to have.


  1. Spare tire, jack, and tire tools.  Probably the number one cause of getting stranded in the back country is losing a tire and not carrying a correctly sized spare or the tools to change it.  If you've upgraded your tire size, don't forget the spare - an undersized or P-rated spare is frequently not sufficient to get you off the trail.  If you just shredded the sidewall on your e-rated MTs, what's that trail going to do to the stock all-season you've got slung under your truck?  Carry a full size spare that at least approximates the capability of the rest of your tires.  It's ok to buy a used tire with lowish tread, that's better than the stock spare.  Better yet, buy five new tires instead of four and include the spare in your rotation sequence.  Don't forget that if your truck is higher than stock, the OEM jack might not be high enough.  Pack a crib of 2x6's to get yourself by until you can afford a better jack (these will also help you jack in sand or muddy terrain).
  2. Along with a good spare, carry a portable source of air, a tire repair kit, and a can of Slime or Fix-A-Flat or something similiar.  You may not have to change that tire - punctures and pinch flats can frequently be fixed with a couple tire plugs or a can of puncture sealant.  12v compressors are not expensive, you can find emergency compressors on Amazon for as little as $15.  They won't be suitable for airing up at the end of the trail, but they can save your bacon in the middle of nowhere, so be sure to carry one until you can find a better air source.
  3. Recovery strap.  There's really three kinds of straps - there's the cheap nylon ropes or tow straps that you'll find in an auto parts store (these are generally the ones with hooks on both ends), there's your proper recovery strap (which will probably cost more and will have loops sewn in each end), and then there's your snatch strap (which will cost the most).  The tow ropes or tow straps are fine for pulling a disabled car down the road, but not ideal for actual recovery situations, and should NEVER be used to "snatch" or yank a truck out of a bad spot.  Recovery straps are stronger and more reliable, but are still rated only for static, low-speed pulls.  Snatch straps are designed for kinetic recovery, meaning you can "yank" another truck without as much fear that you'll snap the rope or do structural damage to either rig.  Be wary, because many off-brands use tow rope, recovery strap, and snatch strap interchangeably - make sure you know what you have, and what it's load rating is (you want 1.5 to 2 times the weight of your truck, at least).
  4. Recovery points.  A good strap will have loops sewn in each end, not hooks.  So you're going to want to make sure your truck has good recovery points front and rear, and sturdy bow shackles to attach them.  Looping or hooking a strap around a bumper or control arm is a good way to mess your truck and not get unstuck at the same time.  Rated recovery points are important.
  5. Hand tools are handy.  I carry a shovel and a pulaski (a combination axe/digging tool), and I've used them both to recovery myself and recover others.  Don't forget them.
  6. Basic tools.  In addition to a jack and lugnut wrench, you should have a full kit of basic tools - metric sockets and wrenches, drivers, extensions, vise grips, hammer and breaker bar, etc.  You'll need these, because you're also going to want to carry...
  7. Spare parts and fluids.  At a minimum, 5 quarts of motor oil, and enough gear oil (or ATF, depending) to refill a differential or transmission/transfer case in case of disaster.  Brake fluid and power steering fluid can be nice to have too.  Carry a full set of replacement fuses, and some lengths of various gages of wire for jury rigging.  A burst radiator hose can strand you, so can a broken tie rod end, ball joint, or CV shaft.  When you're servicing your truck, toss the old parts in a plastic grocery sack and stash them in your truck - better to carry them and not ever need them.  Zip ties, JBWeld, battery cables, hose repair tape, bailing wire, electrical wire, duct tape or gorilla tape, all handy stuff. 
  8. Bug out bag.  Last but not least, it's important to understand that you may end up having to spend the night with your truck, or even away from your truck if it's a really long hike out.  Every truck should have a backpack with map and compass, dry clothes, emergency shelter and food, three ways to make fire, maybe a wool blanket or two, and at least a gallon of water per person per day. 


You may go wheeling 20 or 30 times and never ever need any of that, but it's all stuff that you should have in your truck anyway.  It may seem like a lot to carry, but most of it packs down very small and if you're organized it won't take up much space at all.  I've got a bag for tools, a milk crate for recovery gear and spares, and another bag with emergency essentials.  Everything else has it's place on the truck itself and doesn't take up cargo room at all.

But that's just the very basics.  The following is a list of stuff that it's really really nice to have, if you can.

  1. Hi Lift jack.  I debated putting this on the list above, but it won't do you any good unless you've got somewhere to jack from.  You need a hard point to jack from like armored bumpers or rock sliders to use a Hi Lift properly.  But once you've got sliders, the very next thing you buy should be a Hi Lift jack.  These things are dangerous if you mistreat or misuse them, but the bottom line is there's nothing else you can carry that is as versatile in a recovery situation.  You can lift, you can spread, you can winch (if you carry the right chains and hooks), every modified or lifted truck needs a Hi Lift.  Unless you have a couple other handy-but-expensive items, like an...
  2. Exhaust jack.  The Bushranger exhaust jack is one of the coolest recovery tools out there.  It'll lift your truck in sand, it'll lift your truck in mud, it'll prop your truck away from that tree or rock that's eating your quarterpanel, and it'll do those things much safer than the stock jack or a Hi Lift.  In my opinion it's the best jack you can carry when you're offroad.  Just make sure you have a good air compressor or can make a good seal on your exhaust pipe (no exhaust leaks!), because it's worthless without an air source.  Of course, you'll still want to carry the Hi Lift for winching, unless you have a...
  3. Winch.  Every truck travelling alone really should have a way to winch.  If you carry the right setup of chains and hooks, you can winch yourself with the Hi Lift in a pinch, but there are better ways to do it.  A comealong is handy to have, but nearly as big and heavy as the Hi Lift.  A hand winch (like the Magnum) is better than a comealong, but still heavy, and more expensive to boot.  Best of course is a vehicle-mounted electric or hydraulic winch, but make sure you're also carrying the right supplemental gear (snatch block, tree strap, shackles, winch extension, etc) and know how to use them.  Even with a vehicle mounted winch, you may still want to carry the comealong or Hi Lift just in case you need to winch in a direction other than forward.
  4. Trail comm.  It's nice to able to call for help.  Sometimes you can get signal with your cell phone.  Sometimes you can reach somebody on your CB.  If you really want to reach out and touch someone from the middle of nowhere, you want a HAM radio.  They require an operators license, which I'm told has become much easier to get, and they don't cost much more to set up than the CB you use for shortrange comm.


But the very best thing recovery tool you can have is another truck.  If you must wheel alone, don't push it - turn around well before you start to get nervous.  Be sure to tell somebody else where you're going and when you expect to be back, so they can organize a rescue when you don't show up the next morning.  But better if you don't wheel alone at all - have another truck with you when you're out and about, and everything gets much safer and more fun too.

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Re: Recovery Gear - A Primer

Post by Ty on Fri Nov 15, 2013 8:46 pm

Nice thread! I will be referring to this often asi build me Recovery kit!

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Re: Recovery Gear - A Primer

Post by Ty on Fri Nov 15, 2013 8:52 pm

Kevin wrote:
But the very best thing recovery tool you can have is another truck.  If you must wheel alone, don't push it - turn around well before you start to get nervous.  Be sure to tell somebody else where you're going and when you expect to be back, so they can organize a rescue when you don't show up the next morning.  But better if you don't wheel alone at all - have another truck with you when you're out and about, and everything gets much safer and more fun too.
Learn this from experience. A 6ish mile hike then a random Hunter f driving you to Goshen ring a bell?!

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Re: Recovery Gear - A Primer

Post by Kevin on Sat Nov 16, 2013 1:27 am

Thardy wrote:Nice thread! I will be referring to this often asi build me Recovery kit!
Feel free to add stuff if you think of it.

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Re: Recovery Gear - A Primer

Post by Monsteryota on Sat Nov 16, 2013 12:42 pm

Good thought but also forgot you need a safe place to carry all this stuff. For example I hada good sturdy rubber made in the back o. Mine ratchet strapped down. Worked great tell I had my accident. 40 mph t bone broke the strap and sent the box that weighed over 50 lbs in to my back. A good way to mount boxes and such is if you can bolt them with a metal plate in the bottom of the box. Or if its metal weld it in. Also u want to make sure if a roll over happens the stuff u carry can't har. U or your passangers.
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Re: Recovery Gear - A Primer

Post by Kevin on Sat Nov 16, 2013 2:08 pm

That's a really good point, AJ.  My stuff isn't secure right now either, and it went everywhere when I flopped.

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Re: Recovery Gear - A Primer

Post by jlawrey on Sun Aug 31, 2014 4:28 pm

Hey guys,
It has been a long time since anyone updates this thread. I'm wondering if anyone has come up with any solid and proven storage ideas for their recovery kits.
Let's see pictures if you have them!

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Re: Recovery Gear - A Primer

Post by Kevin on Sun Aug 31, 2014 5:25 pm

I like the idea of bolting a hard case or sturdy tote through the floor. If you welded the nuts onto the underside of the truck it'd be pretty easy to take the case out when needed

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Re: Recovery Gear - A Primer

Post by jlawrey on Sun Aug 31, 2014 7:04 pm

Yes that sounds like a good idea. I spend a lot of nights sleeping in the back so a quick removal is key. Ever used ammo cans?

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Re: Recovery Gear - A Primer

Post by Kevin on Sun Aug 31, 2014 9:14 pm

I wouldn't want to be emptying a gear tote so I could unbolt it every time I wanted to sleep in back. Maybe you need one of those roof mounted storage pods, or a sleeping platform with storage drawers underneath?

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Re: Recovery Gear - A Primer

Post by jlawrey on Sun Aug 31, 2014 10:45 pm

Too heavy... The demon that haunts the 3.0.

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Re: Recovery Gear - A Primer

Post by Kevin on Mon Nov 17, 2014 5:55 am

High lift tech - http://expeditionportal.com/jack-of-all-trades/

It's a good read. He's got some stuff in there I'd never considered.

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Re: Recovery Gear - A Primer

Post by MacKay on Tue Mar 03, 2015 11:41 pm

I like to drive around in my tent... meaning it's important for me to be able to empty the bed reasonably quickly. I can also appreciate the need to secure tools and gear. Here are some pics from a thread on Pirate 4x4. I've wanted to do something like this to increase storage capacity.




Also, I feel like I have seen storage bins that mount to a surface with quick disconnects. Maybe I have only seen them in applications like this on a snowmobile, but something similar to this would be a good option:
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Re: Recovery Gear - A Primer

Post by Ty on Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:22 am

That is pretty sweet!! I love how you did that box!!

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Re: Recovery Gear - A Primer

Post by MacKay on Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:21 am

I would love to take credit for that box. Unfortunately, that's still an upgrade that I WANT to do, not one that I have done. It's from this thread on Pirate 4x4:
http://www.pirate4x4.com/forum/toyota-truck-4runner/262253-4runner-ideas-tool-box-parts-storage-cooler-rack-2.html
I was just trying to suggest some ideas to add storage space that is either out of the way (custom trunk), or is secured down and easily removable (like the snowmobile bag). The trunk mod would require some good fab skills, and is obviously only possible when that space is not being used by a spare tire, onboard air tank, relocated gas tank, etc.
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Re: Recovery Gear - A Primer

Post by dutchman on Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:34 am

That box is an awesome idea. I might have to look into that.

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Re: Recovery Gear - A Primer

Post by Bennamin on Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:07 pm

I've been watching one of the 2nd gen guys over on toyota-4Runner.org who has done some neat mods. He has designed a storage system for the rear of his ride. I'm seriously thinking of using some of his ideas. Check it out: http://www.toyota-4runner.org/classic-t4rs/169473-expo-dawg-project-2nd-gen-95-toyota-4runner-2.html#post1795502
You may have a bit of a mess inside the bins if you tip over, but at least it won't be flying through the air. Plus, there's still a good area (although you lose some headroom) to use for sleeping.


Last edited by Bennamin on Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:10 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Sorry... Bad link)
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