When 4×4 driving, no matter where you are or what situation you’re in, there are a few items that you should never drive off-road without. Having these basic items in your four-wheel drive recovery kit could be the difference between making it out in the vehicle, or walking out to get help.
Whilst there’s a huge range of 4wd and off-road recovery equipment on the market, not all of it is needed. Check out the list below to see the essential bare minimum recovery gear that you must have to ensure you’re safe with your 4WD!
When it comes to your 4WD, it’s best to always be prepared. Image: Dave Leslie.
A Long Handled Shovel
A long-handled shovel is such a useful and vital tool for the off-road enthusiast. Many a bog can be left behind after some solid digging and packing with sticks and leaves if you can get them. The long handle makes life a bit easier by allowing you to get more leverage when you are digging. It also gives you a longer reach under the vehicle to get the diffs.
Jack and base plate
Jack and base plates are not only useful for changing a tyre, but also give you the ability to lift your vehicle out of a bog hole. This can sometimes make all the difference. If you have 1 or 2 wheels buried in deep holes, you may be able to jack up the vehicle, lift the wheel out of the hole, and pack sticks, leaves, sand, rocks or dirt into the hole for the vehicle to sit on and hopefully gain some traction.
A base plate is a must. It stops the jack from sinking into the mud or sand, and makes a good, solid and level jacking surface which makes the whole process much safer.
If you simply can’t get the vehicle to drive out under its own power, you may need some assistance to be pulled out of a bog by another vehicle. Even if you’re travelling on your own, another vehicle may come past so have your snatch strap ready!
By connecting a snatch strap to the rated recover points of both vehicles, you can pull the bogged vehicle forwards or backwards towards solid ground. Snatch straps act like big rubber bands and can sling shot the bogged vehicle out of the bog. This can be a dangerous task and so you must be very careful to make sure all spectators stand well clear.
The last things you want is for your vehicle to be caught in the mud! Image: Geordie Wright
So many situations can be overcome or avoided altogether by using the right tyre pressures. Lowering your tyre pressure will greatly increase your grip in all situations, including sand, mud, dirt, and rocks. By lowering your tyre pressures you increase the amount of tyre contact with the ground improving your grip. For more info on tyre pressures head here.
All 4wd vehicles should be fitted with a good quality UHF radio and antenna. If all attempts to rescue your vehicle from a bog fail, you can ask on the radio for help!
It’s always a good idea to check what station the repeater towers are on, in the area you are travelling, to maximise your call for help. When you’re not using your UHF to transmit, you can put it on SCAN which will allow you to pick up any talk on any station within range. This could be your last chance before strapping on your boots and heading for help!
One last thing before you go…
The most important thing you can do before going on any trip is to let someone know where you are going and when you are due back. The more details you leave with friends, family, police or local ranger the better chance you have of help coming to your aid.
Always stay with your vehicle for as long as you can. If you have to leave your vehicle, make sure you have adequate equipment to walk and take plenty of water. Also, leave a note in the vehicle explaining your situation and exactly where you are heading.
Now, get out there, have fun…but above all stay safe!What do you do to stay safe on the road?
About the writer...
G’day! My name is Dave and there is nothing I enjoy more than getting out in the bush and enjoying the challenge and serenity of travelling around this beautiful country of ours.
After 6 years working as an Outdoor Ed Instructor, I’ve joined the team down at Snowys to help others get geared up and head to the outback!
As an enthusiastic photographer and freelance writer for 4WD Action magazine, I love to get out and capture God’s stunning creation and share it with the world.
After getting married at the end of 2010 and having our first child January 2012, I’m looking forward to seeing more of this beautiful country with my family.