MaxTrax, are they worth it?

Lovetheworld

Active member
In this case you are really better off with bridging ladders vice traction matting of any form.
Much depends on the size of the gap you need to cross of course.

Ironically, however, in this case if you used Maxtrax vice Alum sand ladders, the MT will go back to shape (without a hammer) after some time in the sun.
With vice you mean versus?

I used to have Maxtraxx on our Landcruiser. Sold everything.
Now we have a 4x4 van (still with low-gearing and everything) and we have the bridging ladders, the waffle board type.
However, ours are cut out from some huge waffle board which was used in a ship. It is probably strong enough, but I never tested it.

But just being stuck in the sand, I'm wondering if the Maxtrax or sand ladder work better than the waffle board or that the waffle board also offer enough help.
I've seen the Maxtrax work, how they get pulled in and then provide traction. Sand ladders could be better if they also stay strong and flat when it comes to gaps, but they don't.

I am curious about the size of hole folks want to span. If it just a hole, go around it if it is a crack in the rock perhaps your tires are not big enough. If you are going up or down a shelf perhaps your arrival and departure angle of your vehicle is not made for that shelf or the power and traction of your vehicle is not going to do it for you anyway. I have seen some situations that the vehicle is just not made for every and all extremes in the out back.
It is difficult to carry everything that one might possibly need to get far away and it might be more prudent to turn around, if possible, but the irresistible urge to push to the max is often what gets folks in over their heads.
Basically, we always drive around on our own on holiday or long overland journey. Two long overland journeys now.
Always without a winch. We always drive around the big holes or mud pits. Or turn around on time.
So in all that time on the road on our own we never got stuck by taking precaution.
Only once we got a bit stuck on a sand dune, and airing down further let me easily reverse out.

I carried Maxtrax around for one year, it looked really cool but only used them at a 4x4 event at home haha

I usually try to find a compromise. It is very likely that we will go for an AWD automatic van now, of which I'm wondering how much we will modify it.
After these years, I have more experience, so I know where the limits are, and also, how far you can come with a basic vehicle. Maybe we will just raise it a bit, perhaps add a rear difflock but thats it.

Anyway, it is another step down in having a less capable 4x4 again. And I also want to take less stuff. So just one type of wheel thingy. Maxtrax/sandladders/waffle board, whatever is the best compromise for all kinds of terrain.
But with a lower vehicle with smaller wheels, I feel that I will at some point have much more use for bridging gaps.
And a good set of waffle boards is cheaper than modifiying the van (which is all custom work) to increase ground clearance. Raising and bigger tyres is a lot of work unlike a regular 4x4.

By the way (or: In addition), I carry this funny wheel whinch system from Australia. Not this big steel add on wheels called bush whinch, but the BOG OUT recovery kit. It is just a bag of ropes, it weighs almost nothing, but can get us out in both directions.
Of course, if there is a winch point. (in the sand you could burry your spare wheel or buy this dead man anchor point bag)
Another compromise haha. A normal winch would be easier to use, but I didn't feel like adding 50kg and then still only be able to be helpful in forward direction.
Haven't needed it yet, so cannot comment on how good it works. This is not my photo:



So the above + one set of waffle board + a shovel = a nice kit that should get me out of most places and is still pretty lightweight.
 

Ducky's Dad

Explorer
Depends on what you drive and where you go. My Power Wagon spends most of its time in the desert, so sand stucks are the most common deployment opportunity, but we sometimes encounter mud. I have a set of OK OffRoad aluminum mats and a set of four MaxTrax. I don't usually carry the aluminum mats any more because the MaxTrax work so well in my situation. And because I have four of them on the roof, I can deploy after the truck is bogged, and can also stack the MaxTrax on top of each other if I need bridging. YMMV
 

Ray_G

Explorer
With vice you mean versus?

I used to have Maxtraxx on our Landcruiser. Sold everything.
Now we have a 4x4 van (still with low-gearing and everything) and we have the bridging ladders, the waffle board type.
However, ours are cut out from some huge waffle board which was used in a ship. It is probably strong enough, but I never tested it.

But just being stuck in the sand, I'm wondering if the Maxtrax or sand ladder work better than the waffle board or that the waffle board also offer enough help.
I've seen the Maxtrax work, how they get pulled in and then provide traction. Sand ladders could be better if they also stay strong and flat when it comes to gaps, but they don't.
With vice, as used, I meant it in the preposition application meaning in the place of (sand ladders). While versus would also be appropriate, to be pedantic, I meant vice as used.
(I hate grammar...)

In my experience the waffle boards work, but are heavy as all get out and tend to atrophy over use (i.e. tires will create splinters in the fiber glass-if that's what you are talking about).

Ultimately your experience is basically why I use Maxtrax now. As noted just prior to your post, Actiontrax are a good substitute these days and have fared well after some initial teething issues.
r-
Ray
 
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Lovetheworld

Active member
@Ducky's Dad Yes that's a fair point. With our holidays limited around Europe for now, there isn't usually a lot of desert involved :)
But once we set our mind to it and drive to Dakar, I will probably prefer Maxtrax (or copycat) to waffle boards and probably sand ladders.

With vice, as used, I meant it in the preposition application meaning in the place of (sand ladders). While versus would also be appropriate, to be pedantic, I meant vice as used.
(I hate grammar...)
That's okay, I was just asking because this is not my native language :p and I don't see the usage of vice much, but I get it now.
 

Ray_G

Explorer
That's okay, I was just asking because this is not my native language :p and I don't see the usage of vice much, but I get it now.
All good; and to your point my language is likely morphed by my profession, versus would be a normal usage for most.

If I were going to the Dakar...I'd spend the $ on something I trusted.
 

Lovetheworld

Active member
Our first trip was Europe to India, with only Maxtrax and a shovel as the recovery tool. Nothing else. Didn't use it.
Our second trip was Europe to Japan, with waffle boards, shovel, exhaust bag jack, bug out wheel winch. Didn't use it.

But yeah, that will probably be different some day. I think I will keep the bug out wheel winch and waffle boards. When we ever head to dakar, replace the waffle boards with maxtrax or copy, and go.
 

Ray_G

Explorer
The phrase I apply, from a different facet of my life, is that you never need it till you need it badly.

Mind you, when you need it badly something ad hoc may work-but lets face it, half the reason we add this stuff on is b/c of the desire to achieve some type of perfection in terms of balancing capability, application, requirements, etc. Meaning it is as much a hobby to outfit the trucks as it is to use them since sadly most of us don't get the chance to just use them day on/stay on.
 

ScottPC

New member
I'm a little late to this party! I've read through most of the comments and watched some of the comparison videos. It appears that Maxtrax use a more pliable material than the other less expensive brands. Maxtrax appears to be UV resistant / protected so they retain their pliability longer. Also, I would assume and would love for someone to confirm that they remain pliable even in sustained cold conditions, too? It would seem that pliability is the key to preventing cracks or failure at inopportune times. Also it looks like Maxtrax are a bit thinner and stack neater. Are those fair summaries of the material differences?
 

Ray_G

Explorer
Yes. MT do fine in all the cold we have thrown at them, nest better, etc


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

SnowedIn

Observer
I've had Maxtrax since 2014; currently have 2 pairs (4 ramps total). They are one of the single most important pieces of recovery equipment I carry, and if I could pick one single non-OEM piece of recovery gear to bring, it would be Maxtrax.

I do not have a winch, but I do have a locking rear diff. I don't seek out mud but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

Some observations:

- They are relatively expensive, to the point of being a large fraction of the cost of a winch. But they're still cheaper, lighter, nearly invulnerable to failure, have a number of extra uses, and much simpler and faster to use for a casual recovery, especially with no suitable natural winch anchors.

- They are a force multiplier for a locking diff. Get one wheel on a ramp and you are in business.

- Any sort of jack that can be safely and effectively used offroad to lift a tire, in turn, is a massive force multiplier when used in conjunction with the Maxtrax, because the main obstacle to using them is getting them under the tire in the first place.

- When you do get them under a tire, they help alleviate high-centering problems.

- For serious recovery, 4+ works worlds better than two.

- The factory mounting pin system becomes a giant pain in the ass at your moment of triumph after a muddy recovery, because the full number of ramps can't nest properly when they're muddy. They also make a horrible mess of your roof if they're up in a rack. Prepare a plan for stowing muddy ramps if you carry them up there.

- The factory ramp leashes are not, IMHO, visible enough. Something like a neon foam key float (boating type equipment) would be a good addition. I have spent a couple of hours poking in mud pits looking for lost ramps.


.

A few days ago I ended up high centered with the back end of my truck in a couple of feet of muddy water. I made the mistake of (1) using that track in that weather and compounded it by (2) leaving my Hi-Lift, Lift Mate, and winching kit/chains at home. In the end I had to use the factory scissor jack on top of an AEV jack base in a foot of mud, off camber, to lift up the front wheels (extra work with IFS) to place ramps under them. At one point I had to use the AEV base on top of one of the ramps.

The ramps were positioned to reverse onto them with the front wheels, then place a ramp in front of the one accessible rear wheel, then use the front to pull the (locked) rear wheel onto that ramp. Each action gave a small amount of clearance from the hump I was stuck on. From there it was about 15 yards of playing front-rear ramp leapfrog to get to passable ground.

A winch mounted up front would have not been much help without a suitable tree to anchor to fairly high up. A Hi-lift would have cut the recovery time by about two thirds.

Other lessons learned: I need an offroad usable jack, a change of clean clothes, and footwear suitable for wading in a place they're easily accessible. Some of the recovery was done in water up to my waist and it was nearly freezing.
 
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rnArmy

Adventurer
I helped a lady get unstuck the other day. She had her little Ford stuck in some loose sand a couple hundred yards from pavement in the middle of nowhere. She was buried. I dug out under her well worn front tires and placed an X-Bull under each one. Then had her gently drive out while I gave her a tug with my Jeep. Not a problem. Picture was of her car before I started. I was hot from digging, so I didn't take any more pictures (didn't think of it at the time). MaxTrax would have worked just as well, but my X-Bulls did the job. The car would not have noticed which brand I used.Stuck car.jpg
 

Wilbah

Adventurer
I've had Maxtrax since 2014; currently have 2 pairs (4 ramps total). They are one of the single most important pieces of recovery equipment I carry, and if I could pick one single non-OEM piece of recovery gear to bring, it would be Maxtrax.

I do not have a winch, but I do have a locking rear diff. I don't seek out mud but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

Some observations:

- They are relatively expensive, to the point of being a large fraction of the cost of a winch. But they're still cheaper, lighter, nearly invulnerable to failure, have a number of extra uses, and much simpler and faster to use for a casual recovery, especially with no suitable natural winch anchors.

- They are a force multiplier for a locking diff. Get one wheel on a ramp and you are in business.

- Any sort of jack that can be safely and effectively used offroad to lift a tire, in turn, is a massive force multiplier when used in conjunction with the Maxtrax, because the main obstacle to using them is getting them under the tire in the first place.

- When you do get them under a tire, they help alleviate high-centering problems.

- For serious recovery, 4+ works worlds better than two.

- The factory mounting pin system becomes a giant pain in the ass at your moment of triumph after a muddy recovery, because the full number of ramps can't nest properly when they're muddy. They also make a horrible mess of your roof if they're up in a rack. Prepare a plan for stowing muddy ramps if you carry them up there.

- The factory ramp leashes are not, IMHO, visible enough. Something like a neon foam key float (boating type equipment) would be a good addition. I have spent a couple of hours poking in mud pits looking for lost ramps.


.

A few days ago I ended up high centered with the back end of my truck in a couple of feet of muddy water. I made the mistake of (1) using that track in that weather and compounded it by (2) leaving my Hi-Lift, Lift Mate, and winching kit/chains at home. In the end I had to use the factory scissor jack on top of an AEV jack base in a foot of mud, off camber, to lift up the front wheels (extra work with IFS) to place ramps under them. At one point I had to use the AEV base on top of one of the ramps.

The ramps were positioned to reverse onto them with the front wheels, then place a ramp in front of the one accessible rear wheel, then use the front to pull the (locked) rear wheel onto that ramp. Each action gave a small amount of clearance from the hump I was stuck on. From there it was about 15 yards of playing front-rear ramp leapfrog to get to passable ground.

A winch mounted up front would have not been much help without a suitable tree to anchor to fairly high up. A Hi-lift would have cut the recovery time by about two thirds.

Other lessons learned: I need an offroad usable jack, a change of clean clothes, and footwear suitable for wading in a place they're easily accessible. Some of the recovery was done in water up to my waist and it was nearly freezing.
What a great "real world" post, thank you. What it really identifies is that tools (as well all know), have limitations. And while they may work, there may be another tool that works better for the circumstance at the time. Your comment about a winch not being the solution, and you wished you had a hi-lift (2/3 cut in recovery time) are significant. So often we want that 1 tool that does "everything", but it never does. We have to make sacrifices.

Thanks for posting this. The idea of being waste deep in water during a recovery suggests just how bad it was! Yeesh! :)
 

Metcalf

Expedition Leader
I always liked this little jack setup by Tom Sheppard. It seemed like a VERY efficient way to use mats/ladders.

129_0502_09_zmercedes_gwagen_sahara_desertsand_mats_zps756ecfd8.jpg
 
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