Both a snatch strap and a kinetic rope are used for a so-called “kinetic” recovery. This is a recovery in which you use a bit of momentum from the front/ towing vehicle to “pop” the stuck vehicle out of whatever it’s stuck in. This technique is incredibly effective at retrieving stuck vehicles if used correctly; if not, it can be extremely dangerous!
Just to be clear about the difference: a snatch strap is similar to a kinetic rope, but usually a snatch strap is made from flat webbing, while a kinetic rope is just that – a round rope. Both are made from 100% nylon, but the difference is that the strap can be used only 2-3 times, while the rope can be used time and again. This is largely due to the manufacturing process: webbing is woven using few primary strands on its length, while kinetic rope is a traditional braided rope using yarn twisted into strands which are then twisted into rope – many strands need to break for the rope to fail.
*NB: Make sure that the recovery strap or rope is tagged with a data label.
Rules for safe snatching
• NEVER use a towball to snatch a vehicle. It can shear off and become a heavy piece of metal flying through the air at a speed similar to a bullet’s.
• Don’t mistake your vehicle’s tie-down points for its proper recovery points. Refer to the manufacturer’s manual or enquire at a 4×4 specialist.
• Ensure that all passengers are out of the vehicle and far away from possible harm. The rule of thumb is TWO times the length of the strap/rope. There are NO ifs, buts or exceptions.
• Older vehicles, especially those used near the coast, may have rusty towing hardware or bolts. Check these before hitching the strap/rope.
• It is always advisable to feed a bridle through the end of the strap, and to attach the bridle to two recovery points.
• Always use a safety dampener on the strap/rope. If there is no purpose-made one available to use, substitute a blanket (or something similar, such as a heavy jacket) as an air-brake in case of failure.
• Before accelerating off in the tow vehicle, ensure that the strap has approximately 1/3 of its length left in slack. If the first tug doesn’t work, re-set, and try to clear the wheels of the stuck vehicle as much as possible before repeating with a little more momentum and effort from the tow vehicle.
• Remember, don’t stop until the vehicle is pulled completely out of the bog and on to solid ground; in some cases, this could be several metres.
• When the stuck vehicle is safely on solid ground where it can drive forwards under its own power, the towing vehicle should slowly brake, with the recovered vehicle allowing the snatch strap to fall loose before coming to a stop.
This series of articles is written by vehicle recovery specialist Jacques Coetzee, co-owner of Wild Dog 4×4, and a manufacturer of a variety of recovery equipment.