What do slope, snow, mud, dirt, sand, and rocks all have in common? They make it possible to turn a Sunday cruise into a Monday morning thrash. Getting a vehicle stuck is just part of the deal when one decides to take their vehicle on the road less traveled. Parents of all kinds caution younger generations that having kids is hard work, but worth it. This mindset is adopted in a different sense by those of us who choose to get off the beaten path; this path is challenging and potentially treacherous, but worth it. So rather than denying the possibility of daunting obstacles ahead, consider the proper preparation and expect to need it one day.
Lighting is an important consideration when venturing beyond the street lights. High output lighting is often called upon when a trail run or camping adventure run behind schedule or beyond expectations. Slapping light bars on everything with a gas pedal was popular for a time, but for most people, some mild and well thought out lighting choices can be the right move. Extreme terrain has some useful guides for understanding the pros and cons of lighting types such as Halogen, HID, or LED lights.
Choosing the right lights for the job is more than picking the brightest option. The power draw of off-road lights can vary tremendously. Picking some lights for your vehicle with lesser power demands will come in handy, if light is needed while the vehicle is not running. Our team “Grocery Getter” Rock Racing Jeep TJ has massive off-road HID lights used for night racing duty, however we added a 14-inch Raxium LED light down on the bumper.
This small light bar is not going to shine its way through Baja, but it has a low power draw, good light spread pattern, and will be perfect for late night trail adventure or even light the way if the Jeep is stuck and recovery is underway.
With visibility handled for night recoveries, attention can move toward the recovery itself. When expecting to get stuck, a solid plan to get unstuck is your ticket home. Every recovery situation is different, but remembering the basics is a good place to start. Extreme Terrain details the basic trail essentials in their guide and we picked some good products to fortify our recovery abilities.
A winch, such as our Warn 8274, is an off-roaders best friend and keeping the winch in good shape is vital when duty calls. Winch cable has largely gone out of style as it is heavy and tough to work with. We switched over to winch rope which is safer to be around should it fail, than steel cable. Winch rope is lighter in weight than its metal counterpart, however winch rope is susceptible to UV damage and should be inspected regularly for wear. On a vehicle that sees a lot of sunlight and infrequent use, steel cable is likely the better choice. Our Jeep sees frequent use so we opted for a ⅜-inch winch rope.
A winch is only as useful as the objects it anchors to and having a good tow strap, D-rings, gloves, and snatch block are essential for safe and effective winching. A good recovery kit, such as the Recovery Kit from Barricade, will have these items compiled and ready when the need arises.
Getting stuck is just part of the adventure for those brave enough to challenge the norm, their vehicles, and themselves. Rather than dreading the day the trail takes a turn for the worse, expect the unexpected. Plan on getting stuck in unruly terrain and prepare for the recovery with the right training and equipment.