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ThatsMe

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Hello everyone,
I am a newbie here and like all of them starting with a stupid question that was answered probably a 1000 of times.

Since I don't have a significant experience the chances are will get stuck in the middle of nowhere.
What type of plan do you have for yourself if self-recovery tools cannot help, i.e. winch, boards, anything else - all failed.

My impression there's at least a couple of mitigation strategies, but would be interesting to hear other options:
1. Should not drive alone on trails
2. Use radio to communicate to people around ?
3. Winch + other recovery gear

Any other recommendations?
 
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dblack

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Don’t wear rubber boots.

Hiking 20 miles to find some help in rubber boots sucks.

But let’s be serious for a moment. If you’re in a spot you can’t get out of, chances are that you’re on a road or trail, and chances are someone will come along to lend a helping hand eventually.

My advice:
1. Have some simple rations with you. A person can live for a week or so off a bag of nuts if you have some water.
2. If you’re lost stay with your vehicle and make sure someone knows where you’re supposed to be back.
3. If you know where you are and are confident of walking out... that’s a tough call. Smart money says stay with your vehicle and settle in. But don’t cut cross country if you do decide to walk. Search and rescue will have a dilly of a time finding you if you’re off the beaten path.
 

systemdelete

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Hello everyone,
I am a newbie here and like all of them starting with a stupid question that was answered probably a 1000 of times.

Since I don't have a significant experience the chances are will get stuck in the middle of nowhere.
What type of plan do you have for yourself if self-recovery tools cannot help, i.e. winch, boards, anything else - all failed.

My impression there's at least a couple of mitigation strategies, but would be interesting to hear other options:
1. Should not drive alone on trails
2. Use radio to communicate to people around ?
3. Winch + other recovery gear

Any other recommendations?

Are you comfortable alone in the woods? What is your skill level camping, orienteering, and hiking. If you educate yourself first on the basics of being outdoors, getting the vehicle stuck becomes far less of a worry, as does getting lost.

Most "stucks" can be mitigated fairly easily, IF they are recognized in time. This is why it is important to know the limits of your vehicle, your equipment, and your skills. Most of my exploring is solo, but I'm never really anywhere I can't hike out of in a day or two if I get really stuck, and I have comms on board that can communicate from the most remote of places I travel if need be. I don't have a winch on my current truck, but I often use my stacked traction boards to improve approach angles, or cover large gaps to AVOID getting stuck for example. The interesting thing is that my current stock truck is incredibly capable, at least in my hands. I yet to have to call for recovery or hike out with my current rig. My previous bronco was a beast when running, but from time to time the 30 year old V8, even though it was very well maintained for it's age, would let me down somewhere along the way.

As you add recovery gear, remember to use it BEFORE you need it. Using a traction board as a shovel sounds great in marketing and might work in some situations, but there are times when you need an actual shovel.

A shovel, axe, and a traction aid can get you a VERY long way in most areas under many conditions with a reliable vehicle and some common sense.

If your goal is to travel alone at first, you'll be equipping differently from the get go IMHO. First things I put in for a solo trip are my backpack, map of the area, compass, and good hiking boots packed for a few days travel on foot. That is my backup plan.
 

britz

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Bob Wohlers has a great book you may want to check out, Live Long to Wander. I have no association with him, but do live offgrid in the woods and travel a lot solo in the Idaho Rockies. Even with my experience, I found a few gems and am recommending it to my friends. I can't agree more with his recommendation of taking a backcountry first aid course. Every other time I go in the backcountry I find someone is various states of vehicle or personal distress. In winter we average 2 recoveries a week.

Wohler has another book on raising vehicles and one coming out on self recovery, anxious to see the latter.

We live by the mantra that "Knowledge without mileage is useless" so practice, practice, practice.
 
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ThatsMe

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Charlotte, NC
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Bob Wohlers has a great book you may want to check out, Live Long and Wander. I have no association with him, but do live offgrid in the woods and travel a lot solo in the Idaho Rockies. Even with my experience, I found a few gems and am recommending it to my friends. I can't agree more with his recommendation of taking a backcountry first aid course. Every other time I go in the backcountry I find someone is various states of vehicle or personal distress. In winter we average 2 recoveries a week.

Wohler has another book on raising vehicles and one coming out on self recovery, anxious to see the latter.

We live by the mantra that "Knowledge without mileage is useless" so practice, practice, practice.
Thank you, great advice!
 

RedRob

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All good advice so far, but, not to be critical, I don’t like your premise. “Chances are” you’ll get stuck? I’ve been off-roading for 30 years and it’s never happened to me. I’ve gotten stuck with friends around because I tried something I or my rig wasn’t capable of, but I’ve never gotten stuck out alone. But I’m ready anyway.

Start with recovery gear.
Maintain your vehicle.
Let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
Don’t do stupid stuff.
Be ready to hunker down.

I also carry a ResQLink+ in case I need rescuing due to injury.
 
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ThatsMe

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All good advice so far, but, not to be critical, I don’t like your premise. “Chances are” you’ll get stuck? I’ve been off-roading for 30 years and it’s never happened to me. I’ve gotten stuck with friends around because I tried something I or my rig wasn’t capable of, but I’ve never gotten stuck out alone. But I’m ready anyway.

Start with recovery gear.
Maintain your vehicle.
Let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
Don’t do stupid stuff.
Be ready to hunker down.

I also carry a ResQLink+ in case I need rescuing due to injury.
Thank you for your response.
Will take a look at the device, was thinking about a secondary GPS receiver as a backup for navigation as well.

"Chances are" because we're all humans and we all make mistakes. Like don't check the depth of a creek for instance or did not notice some mud.
S. happens.
 

MoreGone

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There are also SPOT gps locator dilly-majigs

https://www.rei.com/product/860469/spot-gen3-satellite-gps-messenger?

  • Send SOS messages to emergency responders via GEOS
  • Check in with home and send custom messages
  • Customize tracking rates to 2 1/2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 minutes
  • Twice the battery life of SPOT 2
  • Motion-activated and continuous tracking options
  • 100% satellite technology

This one has mixed reviews but there are others. Garmin has a new one coming in 2019 that sounds promising
 

Pathfinder I

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Or the DeLorme (now Garmin) InReach. Lots of locator type devices for an emergency and the newer ones (InReach and Spot X) allow for two way communication via satellite so there's basically nowhere that you will be where you can't get in touch with someone in a pinch.

Best advice I would have is reflected throughout -- when in doubt, don't. You will find that is not a static position. What I mean by that is over time you will get more experience and confidence in yourself and your equipment.

Having basic recovery gear is critical, but knowing how to use it more-so. You can turn a 'Help I'm stuck' into a medical emergency very quickly if you misuse your recovery gear. Don't just buy the gear, learn to use it safely.

I'd also suggest that when you are stuck, the first thing to do is STOP and go for a quick walk, grab a bottle of water and a snack, or whatever and just think about your situation. Make a plan. I've seen LOTs of situations escalate and get worse because people got too into the moment and didn't take a few seconds to sit back and assess the situation with a calm and clear mind. I'd suggest get pretty detailed and discuss the plan with your partners, with the most important part being an agreement of when you will abandon the current plan and try something else. Otherwise, you keep trying and abusing your vehicle and then stuff breaks and you are REALLY in a pickle.

"Okay, we're bogged in. I'm going to put it in low range, hit up the third gear, engage my lockers, and then I'm going to try to crawl out. If I get wheel spin with no forward momentum or if you see the wheel spin starts burying my wheels deeper, shout through the window and let me know -- we'll stop and figure out a different plan".

The above conversation takes 10 seconds, and then of course you have to stick to it. You can always say "lets try that again" after you quit and re-assess, but if you don't stick to it, you'll have the joy of being stuck AND have a burned out clutch or a wheel slip off the rim or you rig will shimmy sideways into a tree or a gully or get bogged down even further which can limit your ability to use Plan B, C, D, etc.
 

ovrlndr

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I have a 9,500 lb winch on the front bumper along with two recovery points (tow hooks) on the front, and 2 recovery points (tow hook, Factor55 HitchLink2.0 plus hitch pin) on the rear of the Jeep. I keep 2 snatch straps, a tree saver, a winch line extension strap, 4 D-rings, a 25,000 lb snatch block, winch line dampener, multiple pairs of gloves, a Factor55 shorty strap, an impact driver, bottle jack, and a 268-piece mechanics socket/box wrench set in the Jeep at all times. I also have a shovel on the tire carrier, and Maxtrax.

If it's not an easy trail, I do not wheel alone, and I'm usually wheeling with people that also have shovels, hi-lift jacks, and additional sets of Maxtrax, and also have 10,000+ lb winches and Jeeps equipped similarly to mine.

Also, it is beyond important to carry a personal GPS device with you if you are going alone, or if in a group, at least one person should have a personal GPS device in their rig (e.g. Garmin InReach, SPOT, etc.)

If you are going out alone often, it is a good idea to study for, and obtain a HAM operator's license and put a HAM in the rig.

There are many places that offer off-road recovery training as well. I would look into this in your local area so that you can get some practice with your gear before you have to use it, if you are new to the hobby and to recoveries.
 
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slomatt

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A lot of the risks involved in offroading can be minimized by using common sense.

1. It is always a good idea to go with at least one other rig. This gives you another set of eyes and hands, a way to get pulled out of a bad spot, and at worst another running vehicle to drive into town to get help.

2. Always let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back. Let them know who they should contact if you don't show up. For example, tell them something like "If I'm not back by 10am on Monday call the El Dorado National Forest ranger office at xxx-xxx-xxxx and tell them I am driving a white F150 and am planning to camp near Utica Resevoir.".

3. Error on the side of caution. If an obstacle looks like it might be a problem, then don't try to drive over it. Part of offroading is learning how much risk you can reasonably take, and when starting out it helps to be overly cautious.

4. Avoid very remote or very dangerous areas. It's one thing to be stuck 50 miles down a little-traveled dirt road in the snow or in the middle of the summer in Death Valley. It's another thing to be stuck on a more difficult trail like Deer Valley, but where you can hike to a major road within 5 miles.


Beyond the above you can start looking into mitigation strategies like you mentioned in your post.
- Self recovery tools such as a winch and the associated rigging gear.
- First aid training, ideally focusing on wilderness and remote situations.
- Communications gear. A SPOT or similar device is good insurance.
- Knowledge of how to repair your vehicles and the tools to do so.
- Supplies (water, food, clothes) so that you can safely spend an extended amount of time with your vehicle if need be.
 
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Lone-Wolfin'

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For someone who does wheel alone, has gotten stuck, and who has made the choice to hike out, literally everything everyone on this thread is really great and solid advice.

1. Don't be afraid to wheel alone, but my first advice is to be comfortable with the outdoors if you are going to do that. If you don't know how to read a topo map, know how long it takes you to traverse the area, haven't camped alone before, etc, I would say try to avoid going alone just because a bad situation is goin to be harder to think clearly through.

2. If you do wheel alone, you will need to set yourself up with as much gear that can help you avoid getting stuck and get you unstuck. I did not have a winch at the time, but will get one at some point. Maybe some more skilled people could have gotten my rig out with no winch, but that was the way we were able to get the truck out. Sometimes, it is the only way. So a winch is more peace of mind for solo travelling. But super important here... Know how to use ALL your gear with hands on experience. All that stuff might look cool hanging off your rig, but is totally pointless if you have never physically used it.

3. I pack and "oh crap bag" and an "oh shit bag". Both are packed ready to go all the time so I can spend more time if need be recovering my vehicle instead of wasting time packing a day or overnight bag. Also, a prepacked bag means you do not have to think about what you have to pack. If you are in a bad position and are having to make a decision to hike out, you are probably not in the best place mentally to pack a bag with EVERYTHING you need. In my situation I was able to work up until the last minute. I knew how far I had to hike, what the topo was like, and very important... When sundown is! This meant I had a hard stop and could just grab my bag and go. Also, don't forget water. I keep a jug in the truck all the time.

4. Some might disagree with me, but maybe try to get your vehicle stuck (with others around). This will let you know what both YOU and your vehicle are capable of. But don't try and damage your rig.

5. I can't stress this point enough.... if you pass other rigs, ASK what the conditions are ahead. I was on a road that was not super easy but nothing crazy, but there had been a ton of rain recently. I came across a convoy of 5 Jeeps and we all said hi to each other. I assumed they would tell me what was up ahead and I failed to ask because I assumed. Don't assume! Go ahead and ask "what's up ahead?" Turns out these guys all had to winch out of the situation I was in, they saw I didn't have a winch, they let me continue on. Out of all the decisions I made that day, this is the one I beat myself up about.

6. How comfortable are you with "abandoning" your vehicle. All my friends said I should have stayed with my truck. You make decisions in the moment because you are in that moment, no one else is. I to this day do not regret leaving my vehicle in that washout. It was getting late, storms were coming, there was a really good chance no one was behind me, and I had no service, I was in the boonies in N. GA and I'm a girl. I definitely didn't want to look "helpless" by my truck.

7. No service brings me to my last point... I have hiked and camped alone for years. Never used a Garmin. Guess what? I now have a Garmin with 2-way communication. Just good peace of mind.

Anyway, enjoy adventuring!
 

Pathfinder I

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For someone who does wheel alone, has gotten stuck, and who has made the choice to hike out, literally everything everyone on this thread is really great and solid advice.

.....

3. I pack and "oh crap bag" and an "oh shit bag". Both are packed ready to go all the time so I can spend more time if need be recovering my vehicle instead of wasting time packing a day or overnight bag. Also, a prepacked bag means you do not have to think about what you have to pack. If you are in a bad position and are having to make a decision to hike out, you are probably not in the best place mentally to pack a bag with EVERYTHING you need. In my situation I was able to work up until the last minute. I knew how far I had to hike, what the topo was like, and very important... When sundown is! This meant I had a hard stop and could just grab my bag and go. Also, don't forget water. I keep a jug in the truck all the time.

4. Some might disagree with me, but maybe try to get your vehicle stuck (with others around). This will let you know what both YOU and your vehicle are capable of. But don't try and damage your rig.

....

Anyway, enjoy adventuring!
I actually think both of these points are great advice. Be prepared (the bag) and part of that is practice (if you can). Experience is often the best teacher. Going on a few shorter runs with other experienced folks is a great way to learn, and I'd even go so far as to suggest tell the more experienced folks why you want to go on a shorter run.

Choose a person's adventuring partners carefully though -- some folks break their rigs every weekend by making poor decisions, and so relying on learning from their 'experience' is a bit like learning how to not get bit by a dog by someone who breaks up dog fights for a living. Sure, they get bit a lot and have 'experience'....but I'd much rather learn from a Veterinarian who knows how to not get bit to begin with!

Sorry you had to walk out from your rig, but I'm absolutely not in the camp that you should 'never leave your vehicle'. Obviously most of the time it's best to stay with the rig, but that's not all the time, and context matters.

A lot of the risks involved in offroading can be minimized by using common sense.

1. It is always a good idea to go with at least one other rig. This gives you another set of eyes and hands, a way to get pulled out of a bad spot, and at worst another running vehicle to drive into town to get help.

2. Always let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back. Let them know who they should contact if you don't show up. For example, tell them something like "If I'm not back by 10am on Monday call the El Dorado National Forest ranger office at xxx-xxx-xxxx and tell them I am driving a white F150 and am planning to camp near Utica Resevoir.".

.....

4. Avoid very remote or very dangerous areas. It's one thing to be stuck 50 miles down a little-traveled dirt road in the snow or in the middle of the summer in Death Valley. It's another thing to be stuck on a more difficult trail like Deer Valley, but where you can hike to a major road within 5 miles.
I think that this can be good advice but it depends on the kind of trips you are taking. I think it applies to 95% of folks who do this kind of travel, but not everyone.

I'm thinking of times where it's not always possible to go with multiple rigs and it's not always possible for a person to tell people where they will be each day, like in multi-week trips. On our run to Deadhorse, we were away for a month living out of our vehicle (Well, vehicles -- we did use the 'two rig' system in this case with the Jeep and a bike). Where we camped each day was very much a product of where we ended up, and the nature of the trip meant our specific plan was very fluid. But, we mitigated this by bringing a spot device, having two vehicles, and our work, family, and friends knew what day the following month where we'd be checking back in to let them know we were alive and in one piece.

For the last point, part of the adventure is the remote to us -- we like to go places well off the beaten path just to see what is there. I would suggest a friendly amendment -- "Do not go to remote or dangerous areas without an awareness of the risks and a decent plan in place, including tools, to mitigate that risk to your acceptable comfort level".

My two cents -- there's almost nowhere in CONUS where, barring a medical emergency, you can get in so much trouble that having a weeks' worth of food, water, and a reliable way to signal help won't see you rescued as long as you have a vehicle. Shelter is the most important part of wilderness survival and the vehicle provides that in spades. You occasionally hear of people led astray by their GPS who end up dying on a dirt road, but those people are always woefully under prepared. But, lots of folks outside CONUS can and do face risks that need to be mitigated and by virtue of where they are they are in a remote and dangerous area.

Again, though, I think your advice is very sound and correct for the majority of people, including myself on most of our trips.
 
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Horse Soldier

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Hello everyone,
I am a newbie here and like all of them starting with a stupid question that was answered probably a 1000 of times.

Since I don't have a significant experience the chances are will get stuck in the middle of nowhere.
What type of plan do you have for yourself if self-recovery tools cannot help, i.e. winch, boards, anything else - all failed.

My impression there's at least a couple of mitigation strategies, but would be interesting to hear other options:
1. Should not drive alone on trails
2. Use radio to communicate to people around ?
3. Winch + other recovery gear

Any other recommendations?
Everyone has hit on a lot of great ideas. I have used truck claws more than winch and I have set in my semi. Google and YouTube them.
 

slomatt

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Bay Area, CA
I think that this can be good advice but it depends on the kind of trips you are taking. I think it applies to 95% of folks who do this kind of travel, but not everyone.
...
For the last point, part of the adventure is the remote to us -- we like to go places well off the beaten path just to see what is there. I would suggest a friendly amendment -- "Do not go to remote or dangerous areas without an awareness of the risks and a decent plan in place, including tools, to mitigate that risk to your acceptable comfort level".
...
Again, though, I think your advice is very sound and correct for the majority of people, including myself on most of our trips.
I absolutely agree with your points. My post was focused on the original question in this thread and I intentionally aimed to error on the side of caution. After the original poster has more experience then they can adjust the level of risk they are willing to take.
 
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jordan04gx

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If I'm alone or have my young kids with me (just us), I never try to expand my skills by taking new risks or pushing my personal/vehicle limits. I save that for when I am with friends that can help undo bad situations, or augment my lack of experience, and get us out in a working vehicle if need be. Some of it is safety, but it is also because my kids are still fairly young and I don't want to turn exploring into a terrible experience for them by being stuck somewhere overnight unplanned. I have the gear for hunkering down/walking, but it would be tough on the kids regardless. When pushing my skills further, it is also very nice to be able to see someone with more experience handle an obstacle before I jump in.

I carry a variety of comms, but in my area it is very likely they won't do much good if you are alone, due to the terrain. In this department, nothing really matches the satellite based stuff. Anything radio (including your cell phone) is a bit hit or miss, and around here, frequently a miss.
 
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Pathfinder I

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I absolutely agree with your points. My post was focused on the original question in this thread and I intentionally aimed to error on the side of caution. After the original poster has more experience then they can adjust the level of risk they are willing to take.
Totally understood! I hope I didn't come across as contrarian or anything and I apologize if I did as my language could have come across that way in text. I get easily distracted by the 'what if' scenarios sometimes in these chats and can go off topic. You hit the nail on the head for what the OP was looking for.

The only thing I like almost as much as adventuring is talking about adventuring on the internet with nice people! Thank you for the chat and engagement!
 
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Roam_CO85

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All of these answers are very good and very helpful. I happen to be a guy that learns from real life experiences. I travel alone alot and have had a few issues Ive had to work threw over the years. But you learn from your mistakes, I agree with practice.. if you have a winch play with it ... a high lift... carefully learn how to use it. Those are probably the spookiest things in the world.. but know all of it works before you go.

if your alone your first priority is safety and a fall back plan. The biggest push point is situational aware and common sense. Haha with that. We are all grown men and women and we have oh shit moments. The main jam is to prepare for those moments. Your already in the yellow mindset by asking what if. What if this happens. Play with that and make a plan. Keep ot wrote down on a back of a map book. So if something does happen. Even if its not you it someone else that needs help. Rule number one is always safety and self preservation. Medical water fire and food If you stay by your rig. Youve got shelter. If you HAVE to start your chevrolegs have a bag thats packed and you know its something it can last you with the medical water fire shelter food for how ever long you plan to be from where help is.

My self I never solo out more than a days hike from where I know theres help. I keep a get home bag in my truck 24/7 if I go with some else I take it with me.

I grew up with a bunch of uncles and a grand father that were huge outdoorsmen. There were things I was told I should never leave home with out. And to never go into the woods with out. Two logging chains a high lift jack a axe and a shovel and at least a set of tire chains.

I got stuck once when I was a teenager. Was a winter solo trip and was on a road that some folks had been through a day before ( wouldnt of gone in if no one had). The snow in a few places got to be hard and froze Got high centered on a drift. The biggest thing was the stress. Oh crap im stuck and no one is gonna be around. And the oh shoot moment kicked in and started thinking how am i going to get out of this!! The two twenty foot log chains reached perfectly to one tree and i was like snap.. i can use my high lift to make a come along. Well the tree wasnt big enough.. tree up rooted and that idea blew up. And grabbed the shovel and started to dig and that calmed me down enough to think of how id do this. Freezing by then I was like im gonna cut that tree n fours and jack each end up and put these logs under the wheels and use them for traction.

It worked enough to give me a 6 inches of movement I needed to get those chains on the back tires and back out. When I first learned about maxtracks. I was sold. And I carry 100 feet of a combo of chains and recover rope. Also carry a deadman anchor that I found a few years ago.

Safety first
Have quality equipment-know how to use it know your truck
Situation aware. Know where help is and how far help is and whats around you.
Make a plan and a fall back plan.
Recovery equipment that is just a bit over kill for the size of your rig. The wenches i did run on my stuff were always 10k plus. Put a 24k snatch block on that line you can pull anything out of a deadpull

I think practice in any situation makes a good hand. And good decisions. If your alone. Dont get cocky cus itll bit you
 

tims53777

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Traveler I

This is a great read. Keep em comin!
Partially posting to get a few posts in, partially a real question :) Never have done much off road driving, but i plan on it next season.

To add to this, where would you spend your money in terms of recovery gear? (not safety, medical, oh $hit!, etc)