Is this a decent recovery setup?


It seems to me after you buy the high lift, chain, straps, etc you could buy a Smittybilt 8K winch for $300. + tax and have something that will help you out further in the long run.

Jonathan Hanson

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It seems to me after you buy the high lift, chain, straps, etc you could buy a Smittybilt 8K winch for $300. + tax and have something that will help you out further in the long run.

Absolutely true, but let's not forget the proper bumper, synthetic line (mandatory these days as far as I'm concerned), and recovery kit.

Still, Camper101, it's worth considering the investment if you plan to travel solo a lot.


Crew Chief
Agree that a winch is going to be the cheaper solution long run, but with his needs, I wouldn't get a synthetic line. Go with steel. If you use your winch every time you go out, then yes, synthetic is a good choice. But I doubt camper would use his but once or twice a year, so steel would be the better choice, not because its cheaper, but because its more resistant to what I call "still rot" where a machine will just rot if its not used. Plus steel line is more forgiving than synthetic for the inexperienced off roader. I won't go into the whole argument of steel vs. synthetic. There are whole threads dedicated to that already. I'm just pointing out that synthetic isn't the only option. and that he needs to do his research.


Crew Chief
How long does synthetic last when its rubbed up against a rock or tree? Or left in the dirt and mud? Or just plain neglected?


A few thoughts to add:

1. Winches are not the end-all of recovery gadgets. They serve a distinct purpose, but they generally hard-mounted to the front of the vehicle and in that configuration can only fix certain problems. Some years back we were traveling solo and crossing ice, and the front end of the vehicle broke through not far from the shore. A front-mounted winch would not have done a bit of good. The hand-winch we had did no good. A hi-lift wouldn't have helped. Rustling up a second vehicle solved the problem in <20 seconds.

2. Conservative driving, walking a questionable track beforehand, judicious selection of tire tread pattern/size/pressure, and understanding the costs and benefits of momentum before setting into a tricky stretch, these are the things that will help out the most. Some of that requires intentional practice, other bits require experience.

3. Synthetic line > steel on a winch each and every time. It is small and light enough that you can carry a spare easily, if wear/abrasion is your fear. You can splice it in the field, too.

4. If I was going solo or 2 vehicle on a really remote trip, or around the world, my choice of kit would probably change. The cost/benefit calculation would be different than for backcountry travel CONUS. Match the gear to the use.

Jonathan Hanson

Supporting Sponsor
How long does synthetic last when its rubbed up against a rock or tree? Or left in the dirt and mud? Or just plain neglected?

Synthetic line is safer and easier to use. End of argument as far as I'm concerned, whether you're a beginner or an expert, and whether you use your winch every day or once a year.


Consequences of making a dumb move while using synthetic: you tear or break your $230 winch line.

Consequences of making a dumb move while using wire: you maim yourself!

I'm not a rich man, but I'll choose the former.


Expedition Leader
My advise....

Ditch the idea of a hi-lift. Sorry, I used them on and off for years, but after seeing too many incidents with them I just can't bring myself to use them anymore. Most vehicles these days don't have appropriate bumpers and/or rocker protection for using them as a jack, so you basically have to carry another jack to change a tire anyways....

#1. Learn how to properly air down your tires for the terrain you are in. This one change makes the NUMBER ONE difference in vehicle performance off road hands down. If your airing your tires down properly you should have the ability to air them back up. It doesn't have to be fast, but you need to be able to do that. Even a small $80 MV-50 compressor goes a LONG ways.

#2. Tow strap and good tow points. You might have to wait a while, but someone will probably come along eventually and tug you out. If you do give a tug to random stuck people you find on roads your karma goes up and you should have pretty good luck getting a tow when you need it :)

#3. The jack and stack. Being able to jack the vehicle up and stick something under the tires will get you out of a lot of bad situations. You need a quality jack with a lot of stroke. This isn't that common in a small light package. The stock Toyota mechanical screw bottle jack really isn't a bad design. Some Ford trucks and land rovers had a hydraulic dual stage bottle jack that is pretty nice. You don't see it that commonly in the US but a system like this could be very handy.....

Having a way to jack the tires up without having to be under the vehicle would be pretty nice. I have seen some hi-lift adapters to do the same thing, but they where clunky and the risk of having the top of the jack slip into the body is a big concern.

#3. Winch style recovery. Sometimes you just get yourself into a situation you really do need a winch. Most of these situations aren't planned or you probably wouldn't have benn there in the first place! Electric self-recovery winches have gotten REALLY affordable over the last few years. For a lot of mild self recovery use a winch in the BACK of the vehicle isn't a bad way to go. If you have a hitch already you can buy/make a mount that works pretty well. There are some compact short drum winches on the market now that would work really well for that purpose. The one thing I always hated with multi-mount winches was that they are generally HEAVY and hard to move around in bad conditions. Think about in the snow, ice, or mud.

Jonathan Hanson

Supporting Sponsor
That photo shows Tom Sheppard's (ex) G-Wagen, with his custom-made wheel claw for the bottle jack, and Barong articulated sand mats&#8212;sadly no longer made.


Crew Chief
There is one tool that I'm sure everyone can agree you should always carry, and that is a cell phone. Or at least, some sort of communications device appropriate to your area. Just some way to call for help when you get too deep, or find someone you can't recover.

You really do need to tailor your recovery kit to your area. For instance, where I live, we have raised roads that lead through flood zones and swamps with some steep embankments that can go anywhere from 10 - 100 down, so I always carry about 200 ft. of regular old rope, just to help climb up and down with in case I do see someone who needs help climbing out. I won't be able to recover the vehicle like that, but I can check on the driver and passengers and help them get to a tow truck or something, which is usually the best way to go around here. That being said, if you can't recover a vehicle safely, then don't do it. Tow truck drivers are specifically trained to recover vehicles safely in most conditions and have the equipment specifically designed to do the job, so calling them isn't a bad idea. (btw, when was the last time you saw a tow truck using synthetic line?)


Proffessional daydreamer.
Forgot to ask: what weight ratings do I want on the tow/tree straps and any shackles? The Tacoma GWVR is around 5500 lbs and the camper (dry) is around 700 lbs.

Thanks again.
I would just point out that it's not just the weight of the vehicle you need to think about.
You to take into account the 'force' required to extricate the vehicle from whatever it stuck in/on/under etc.

Say you have a truck that weighs 3ton. And it's up to its axles in thick mud ( think 'not so dried up riverbed') you then have to overcome the suction of the mud,the force required could add up to double,even triple the weight of the truck.

You need you gear rated to cope with this scenario
Believe me,you do not want to get in the way of a shackle letting go when it's capacity had been exceeded....



Just wanted to come back and say thanks again for all the info, suggestions, and advice - I really appreciate it. I've learned a lot and now have some more resources to learn even more. For now I'm not going to jump on buying equipment until I get a better understanding of what's the right fit (except I am going to get a better shovel and possibly a pick/sledge pronto).

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