What basic equipment do I need in my vehicle when venturing off-road? This month, we provide a list of the essentials you will need to keep you moving when the going gets rough, and help get you out of trouble when you do get stuck.
A good old-fashioned garden spade to remove sand or mud from behind or in front of the wheels. Makes for a great griddle for that steak braai as well!
ARB deflator (analog or digital)
The only thing connecting you to terra firma is four pieces of rubber more or less the size of the palm of your hand. Tyres play an extremely important role when venturing off-road. In order to get the best traction possible, we need to adjust certain things to help us. By deflating the tyres to the right pressure for the terrain, we increase the footprint of it by making it LONGER, not wider. You cannot make a tyre any wider, even though the sidewall bulges.
ARB puncture repair kit
Having made the tyre softer, remember that your sidewall (which is the most vulnerable part of a tyre) is now more exposed. To limit damage and possible puncture, you need to be more vigilant about where you are driving and how you place the vehicle over obstacles. Should you suffer a puncture, the repair kit will allow you to perform an emergency repair. This will allow you to get back to civilisation and to have a proper repair done. (This example shows what happens if you suffer sidewall damage. Not safe.)
Once you have repaired your tyre (or deflated it to get through a section of sand, for example), you need to re-inflate it to the desired pressure. The ARB compressor offers you the solution. ARB also manufacture a vehicle-mounted twin compressor with a separate receiver tank that supplies enough air to operate some air tools. With minor adaptations, the ARB compressor can also be used to operate ARB’s air-actuated diff locks.
Kinetic snatch strap
Kinetic straps offer an easy way to recover vehicles that are bogged. However, this is a violent kind of recovery and extra caution needs to be taken during such a recovery. Always make sure that you buy a rated kinetic strap that has its ‘birth certificate’ attached, showing rated breaking strength and length. As an extra safety measure when doing a kinetic recovery, it is advised that you use a safety lanyard (which links the kinetic strap to another recovery point on the vehicle) as well.
Rated Bow Shackles
Never use a ‘D’ shackle to attach your recovery straps to a vehicle. A ‘D’ shackle is designed to only take weight in one direction – a straight line only. The moment you apply force at an angle it deforms and there is a huge risk of it failing completely. Make sure you use rated bow shackles to attach any recovery straps to your recovery points. NEVER EVER use a bow shackle to join two straps together. For that purpose you must rather use a ‘soft shackle’. In upcoming episodes we will cover the correct and incorrect way of joining straps.
Always wear gloves when you do any recoveries, whether you’re working with a kinetic strap, winch or hi-lift jack. You need to protect your hands at all times. There is nothing worse than sitting with a wound on your hands in the bush. Leather gloves (or gloves as manufactured by T-Max) offer plenty of protection.
This is the second in a series on 4×4 vehicle recovery techniques and equipment, brought to you by 4×4 Mega World, and written by 4×4 guide and overlanding specialist Bernie Williams. Each month’s content will be accompanied by a short video. Find it on SA4x4’s Facebook.