Going off-road often means getting stuck. There are entire catalogs of country music dedicated to getting stuck in your 4WD. Today’s list is going to focus on gear to get you unstuck.
My personal recovery kit:
My recovery kit varies based on where I am off-roading, but the core items that I always bring are a recovery strap, a tree strap, a snatch block, and multiple shackles. These items are what I would consider the bare essential accessories, in conjunction with a winch, to assist in recovery operations. Gloves are universally included in recovery kits and I think everyone should have a few sets lying around.
Additional recovery tools:
There is a vast amount of recovery tools available on the market. Some of these tools include various shovels, jacks, traction boards, and even anchors. While there are a lot of great recovery items out there (we review many here at 4WAAM), this list will focus on pre-packaged recovery kits that are geared towards the base essentials used in conjunction with a winch.
WARN produces two Epic Recovery Kits in available in heavy duty (for winches 18,000 lbs. and under) and medium duty (for winches 12,000 lbs and under). When you purchase a WARN product you know you are getting a high level of quality and reliability which are especially important when you consider the dangers of self-recovery. One of the unique and innovative things I really appreciate about this kit is their backpack carrying case that is designed to double as a line damper. This level of quality comes at a steep price and you can expect to pay between $450-$600 for these kits. While it is hard to put a price on safety, I consider this kit overkill for the average off-road enthusiast and I would generally recommend looking at more budget friendly alternatives.
TeraFlex produces a Trail Recovery Kit which is one of the most basic kits on the market at a low price of approximately $130. I feel like this kit is missing one key component, a snatch block, but that does not mean that this kit should be dismissed. The inclusion of an air deflator key chain, and the lack of a snatch block makes this decent and low-cost option for those that wheel in the sand. This is because whether you are in the dunes or on a beach, you are going to have a need to air-down and will rarely have anchor points for snatch block. This kit has room for improvement, but the components included are well-made and the price-point is hard to beat.
Gear America offers an Off-Road Winching and Recovery Mega Kit and an Ultimate Winching & Rigging Off-Road Recovery kit. You may not be familiar with Gear America, but not considering their kits would be a mistake. These kits provide everything you for a safe recovery, offer multiple color options, and have a reasonable price range of $140-$230. I am a fan of the storage bag/line dampener, and the strength ratings of the items in their kits are impressive. Overall, I would consider these kits some of the best bang for your buck.
Mile Marker offers an Off-Road Recovery Kit with an optional upgrade that they refer to as the Ultimate Kit. For $150-$185 this is a reasonably priced option. The base model kit is one of the few on the market that does not include a tree saver strap which, for environmental reasons, would keep me from recommending it. However, the Ultimate Kit adds a tree saver strap plus a hitch receiver which is a great option for vehicles that may not have tow-points on the rear of their vehicles.
ARB offers a premium recovery kit, an essentials recovery kit, and a weekender recovery kit. Ranging in price from $135-$430 makes these kits above average in cost, but this is also attributable to the quality of the materials. The weekender recovery kit lacks a snatch block and a tree saver strap which would prevent me for purchasing this kit. The essentials recovery kit does contain everything you need, and the premium recovery kit is unique in that it contains a winch extension strap. There are two things that draw me to these kits, one is the ability of the straps to stretch, and the other is the aesthetics. Unlike most tow straps, ARB’s snatch straps are designed to stretch under load and help with multi-vehicle extraction when a hearty (kinetic) tug may be required. As far as aesthetics the straps appear to have top-notch craftsmanship, but it is the look of their snatch block that I really enjoy. It may seem silly, but the style reminds me of the cylinder of a revolver and is just cool. The one thing I would like to see from these kits is to make the abrasion sleeve adjustable so that it can slide along the length of the strap, rather than being stitched in a fixed position.
Bulldog Winch Co:
Bulldog Winch offers one of the widest selections of recovery kits out there. Excluding kits designed for ATVs/UTVs/SXSs, there are six available kits on their website which means you can probably find one that suits your needs. Ranging from $130-$460 you can tailor these kits to your budget and your vehicle application. Because there are so many options, I will not go over each one individually, but I would recommend looking at their products to see if one of them is right for you.
Rugged Ridge offers two versions of their XHD Recovery Gear Kit; one is rated for 20,000 pounds and the other is rated for 30,000 pounds. For $140-$220 these kits are competitively priced and have all the essentials plus a line damper.
SmittyBilt offers their Premium Winch Accessory Bag which includes all the essentials plus a recovery chain. I generally do not recommend the use of chains during recovery operations, but I have often found them useful for dragging and removing obstacles such as trees that have fallen across trails. Priced between $130-$150 this kit is easy on the wallet and does offer significant bang for the buck. It is not the highest quality kit on this list, but that does not mean I would not recommend it. I feel that this is a good option for someone who occasionally goes off-road and sticks to easy to moderate difficulty trails. I personally purchased this kit for an overland build where I have the comfort of knowing I have everything I need for recovery, but I do not anticipate heavy and repeated usage.
ComeUp has a heavy duty and a medium duty winch accessory kit priced from $250 to $324. I do not have a lot of exposure to this company or their products, but I do not see anything that would prevent me from purchasing their kits and I always encourage supporting US Companies.
TrailFX offers a Winch Rigging Kit for $232 that covers all the essentials. I have not encountered any TrailFX products in the wild, but I have seen them for several years at the SEMA offering a robust line of vehicle products and accessories. TrailFX is also part of the LKQ Corporation which is a large distributor of automotive parts. Given this association, I doubt you would encounter any quality concerns from this kit.
TJM offers a heavy duty and a large recovery kit. Prices range from $250-$400 and these quality kits have a lot to offer. Founded in the early 70’s in Australia TJM has a long history in the off-road world and in recent years has been rapidly expanding its presence in the United States. If you are not intimidated by the metric system or bright colors these kits are worth looking into.
Speedmaster offers a 4WD Winch Recovery Kit Plus and a 4WD Winch Recovery Kit. Prices range from $63-$170 and are made for lovers of the color black. The base recovery kit is seriously lacking, so I will focus on the Plus Kit which offers all the essentials and is the only kit on this list to include a collapsible shovel, a winch extension strap, and a line dampener. If you want a well-priced kit that includes a shovel, this is a good option (also the only option).
Ironman 4×4 offers a Large Recovery Kit and a Small Recovery Kit. The price for these kits cost between $150-$250 and come from a company with its roots in Australia. The small recovery kit does not contain all the essentials for winch recovery operations, but the recovery hitch receiver that it comes with does make it a decent option for vehicles without a rear tow point. Focusing on the Large Recovery Kit, this product contains all the essentials, plus a winch extension strap, and a drag chain. The kit appears to be composed of high-quality materials and reviews are overwhelmingly positive.
While this list was in no particular order, I do hope it has helped you explore your options when it comes to winch recovery kits. If you have personally used any of these products give us your opinions because we would love to hear them. If you think we missed a good kit that people should know about, please let us know so we can make sure to add it to next years list!