MaxTrax, are they worth it?


Just curious. Were the hydraulics hinky on the backhoe?

I have had similar stuck situations in the 2wd Cat 416b when working in the creek and ended up down to the frame in loose gravel and running water but have always been able to get myself out using the hoe, stabilizer legs, and the front loader. I thought I was going to die in a rollover once or twice but crabwalking the hoe end got me to Terra firma.
Great question. Nah.....more operator inexperience then equipment capability. The backhoe has the power to lift the entire machine, but I just didn't feel I have the "touch" with controls to pull off such a maneuver, so old school with MaxTrax.


Well I am not sure what the habits are in your neck of the woods, but many Europeans never consider letting the air out.
And, as I suggested, if you have 700km of soft sand to traverse, airing down is about the only option and if you do get stuck when aired down then you need to air down some more and maybe get the shovel out too? :)
OKA196 motorhome
I posted a lot of info regarding Tyre Gauges and Airing Down, here on the forum which covers from normal Airing down to airing down for extreme situations.

Box Rocket

Adventure Fan
IMO, there are a lot of ways to improve traction in stuck situations. Someone that has a fiberglass waffleboard and uses it to get unstuck is going to say how effective the waffleboard is at a fraction of the cost of Maxtrax. Different traction aids will be more effective than others in different scenarios. From lots and lots of comparisons that have been done, and from my personal experience, the Maxtrax are the most effective in the most scenarios. That comes at a cost, but in my experience it has been worth it. I've been in situations where the Maxtrax really was the difference maker. I don't think they should replace a quality winch but be an additional tool. Are there other tools that can also work? sure. But I look at it the same way I look at a winch. Can a cheap Smittybuilt winch pull me out of a mud hole? Sure. Reliably over a number of years? Mmmm..maybe, maybe not. That one time I really need it and it doesn't work am I going to care that I saved a $100? Nope, not one bit. I'd rather spend a bit more up front for a quality piece that has proven effectiveness and reliability that I know I can rely on...always. For me that's the Maxtrax when it comes to traction boards.


Some things I buy high quality (and more expensive) if I will have to really depend on it. Like a winch (have a Warn on the front of my Jeep). Or my camping stove and such. I like to buy tools from Harbor Freight, but I avoid their electric powered tools. But traction boards? I would like to see a side-by-side comparison between the Maxtrax and the X-Bulls. The Maxtrax are about four times as expensive as the X-Bulls ($300/pair vs. about $75/pair). Are they four times better? They're both plastic boards with nubs on them. If the price were the same (or close) I would get the Maxtrax. But they're not, and I'm not exactly flowing with money. So I have to choose which items I purchase on the high end, and which ones I can get an inexpensive version.


In my side by side experience the cheap boards break.
Pictures from said side-by-side experiences? Article write-ups? Links to articles or forum posts from your's (and Ray_G's) side-by-side experience (you both imply you were there experiencing these side-by-side experiences)? What brand were the "cheap" boards you used in your side-by-side experiences (and what were the not-cheap boards from these side-by-side experiences)? Not saying you two are wrong (after all - you use the word "my" so I'm assuming you were there). Just back it up with something - tell me "the rest of the story".
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If someone would be so kind as to donate to me a pair of Maxtrax (preferably in OD green but of course any color will do), I will replace one pair of my X-bulls (aka "cheap boards"?) with the pair of Maxtrax. I will be going on a snow run later in January. And if/when I am in a stuck situation (I will even try to get stuck, or find someone who is stuck), I will do my best to do a "side-by-side" comparison. I'll put the Maxtrax under the tires on one side of the vehicle, and I'll put my X-Bulls under the tires on the other side and we will try and get unstuck. Call it "Scientific inquiry". I will take pictures and post my experience. I am serious. I will be fair and objective (I'm not on anyone's payroll here). It would be fun, and definitely would be interesting to see the results.

Snow run:

Shovel and boards.2.jpg
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Pictures from said side-by-side experiences? Article write-ups? Links to articles or forum posts from your's (and Ray_G's) side-by-side experience (you both imply you were there experiencing these side-by-side experiences)? What brand were the "cheap" boards you used in your side-by-side experiences (and what were the not-cheap boards from these side-by-side experiences)? Not saying you two are wrong (after all - you use the word "my" so I'm assuming you were there). Just back it up with something - tell me "the rest of the story".
TRED 1100s and Maxtrax. Everytime I've used the TREDs, with one exception I can think of, I've broken one. It's not always a catastrophic failure that makes the recovery impossible though. I've broken six individual boards, two cracked lengthwise end to end, the rest just cracked chunks off. However, my original purchase of a set (two TREDs) has grown to having six usable boards through warranty replacements. Their process for warranty is simple, fast and they send out a new pair for every broken board.

By comparison I haven't broken a Maxtrax yet. Though TRED's warranty is great I dislike using it so often or the fact that I need to carry four of them to ensure I still have at least two to use after the first recovery.


Pictures from said side-by-side experiences? Article write-ups? Links to articles or forum posts from your's (and Ray_G's) side-by-side experience (you both imply you were there experiencing these side-by-side experiences)? What brand were the "cheap" boards you used in your side-by-side experiences (and what were the not-cheap boards from these side-by-side experiences)? Not saying you two are wrong (after all - you use the word "my" so I'm assuming you were there). Just back it up with something - tell me "the rest of the story".
Fair enough; I'll dig through my pics and see what I can find but to start with the list of experiences, side by side:
Maxtrax vs fiberglass waffle boards (mine) vs TREDS vs 1st Gen ActionTrax vs one of those cheap sets of folding mats (see pic to illustrate those)
2016-07-29 19.53.53.jpg
Ironically in that case (and we're talking over two years ago) I took very few photos b/c we were really focused on testing the actiontrax to confirm/deny durability. There's a backstory to that that I won't relate since it isn't my relationship, nor my money-I was just assisting.

The results were as expected and as this discussion has highlighted.
Maxtrax work, are durable, and bounce back from abuse the best.
Waffle boards work, are not all that durable, and don't bounce back well if you abuse them too much.
TREDS break. They work till the break, but they break, sometimes they don't break so bad that you can't keep using them but I don't consider them durable gear.
ActionTrax will get a bye b/c of the aformentioned backstory, and I'll circle back around to them in a moment.
The folding mats broke.

Test vehicles included a 1996 LR Discovery 1, an 08 LR3, and a Unimog-b/c that's how you really abuse something in my experience. Most of this testing was circa 2016, and once done we haven't felt the need to go back. In our testing-very much along the lines of the scientific quest you describe-we saw enough to be convinced of the buy once, cry once validity of MT. The same lessons we have learned with other critical items like tires, winches and winch lines, fridges, etc. I have found OJ's testing to be a very articulate expression with more 'scientific' rigor-with the same basic results. In other recovery applications I've used most of the above that survived for more than testing with all manner of Jeeps, Toyotas, an Excursion (wheeling a school bus!), Rovers, etc.

More recently we took what ActionTrax has on the market now and tested them (read: abused the piss out of them) along with Maxtrax.
Not many pics but this gives you the impression (you can see other test subjects in the background actually)
2018-09-15 15.21.12-1.jpg
In this case MT continued to perform, they have pretty much become the standard against which to be measured-effectively they are the control at this point.

ActionTrax performed on par from what we did that day. I don't know that I consider them totally equal but I was impressed. That said, given that I own MT already and that I don't like the aesthetics of the saw tooth ends of the AT I don't know that I'll be buying any but were I to be buying from scratch I'd give them a very hard look.

My experience lends to the belief that the 'pro' version with metal hardware, of either MT or AT, is unnecessary.
From the limited time I've spent with TRED pros I think those are really what you get when you don't want them breaking the first time you use them and don't put them in the same boat as MT nor AT.

In fairness I haven't used a set of X-bulls.

Given the price of X-bulls, I may talk to my partner in crime and throw $100 at the problem to do some testing of those aside MT/ATs and report back the findings...b/c why not.


Thank-you so much Ray_G for that write-up! I would love to see a comparison of the Maxtrax vs. X-Bulls (and it seems like there are some other vendors that sell essentially the identical thing as the X-Bull but with a different name). And you should be able to get a set of X-bulls for $75. I am definitely not the expert when it comes to these types of extrication devices, but the X-Bull seems to be a popular choice out there for those of us looking for a much less expensive option to the Maxtrax but still with essentially the same look and dimensions.

The original post for this thread asked the question:

So I see nearly every overlanding rig these days with at least one set of Maxtrax's if not two. Are they worth the $300 price tag per set? Can you get by without them, or is there a better alternative? I've seen others talking about aluminum ones, but those don't sound as durable to me. Does another manufacturer make a similar product for less that's just as good if not better?

I apologize if this comes off as a silly question to some, but spending $600 for two sets just to park on them at night seems a little ridiculous. Help clarify the reasoning/need for this purchase for me.

I think it is a perfectly legitimate question asking about alternatives (above); and since I too would want four boards (two pair), $600 for two pairs of Maxtrax is a lot for my not-unlimited budget (that's almost an electric fridge - something I currently don't have but would like to get). I don't own stock in X-Bull, I am not on their payroll in any way/shape/form, and other than I like the looks (and color) of the X-Bulls I have (& they don't look cartoonish like some others do), I am not emotionally invested in them as I haven't even used them yet. I just want something that will work as advertised and hold-up.

I have read a lot of good reviews on the X-bulls, a couple bad ones, and seen some YouTube videos that were positive (the sum of my scholarly research). If money were no object or I was doing an Alaska to the southern tip of South America trip, I would own Maxtrax - I haven't read or heard anything bad about them (other than cost and sometimes availability of certain colors). I am not anti-Maxtrax in any way-shape-or-form (other than their price). Give me two pair of them and I will proudly mount them on my Jeep - in OD green or blue than-you. Red would also do just fine.

And as an aside, I understand how the color orange helps you find them better when buried, etc. I just don't think orange looks good with anything, and there is something to be said for having a vehicle look good. And orange just screams out to thieves to get their attention. Both Maxtrax and X-Bull offers different colors for their products.
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I have used my XBulls a few times this winter in the snow under a 1 ton diesel truck and they did well. Today I put them to a test way beyond anything you should do to a $70 set of traction boards. We're building a cabin at 8100 ft outside Durango, its been dumping snow for 2 weeks and my guys buried a 24000 lb Skytrak 6042 up to the frame. The other side was way worse, could barely get in there in crotch deep snow. After some shovel (all the way down till I hit dirt) work I was still just spinning, the snow glassed up under the tires, went nowhere but down. My truck with a 12K Warn was not going to cut it and it would cost a ridiculous amount of money to get a piece of tracked equipment up here capable of pulling this thing out so I felt like I had nothing to lose. I used the boom to lift the front tires out of their holes and stuffed the XBulls under them figuring they would snap in half as soon as I lowered it back down. They bent quite a lot (wish I had taken a pic, they were super bowed) but did not break. I raised the boom, put the Skytrak in reverse and drove out a few feet. I replaced the boards 2 more times, then I was back up on the road. Even if the boards were ruined it would have been a huge win getting this thing unstuck but the boards took no noticeable damage. I'm extremely impressed, my XBull boards preformed way beyond my wildest expectations and every rig I own will have a set from now on.

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In OD Green no less. Thank-you for your story and pictures!

I would think any of these plastic-type boards would be more prone to cracking in freezing cold, so it is nice to see these X-Bulls held-up under the flexing and weight you subjected them to in the snow no less.
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You can see the tire shaped hole the board is sitting over, when I lowered the tires back down I thought "good bye boards" and listened for the snap which never came. I like quality equipment, boots, winches, guns, cold weather gear, tires etc should not be skimped on. There is a limit on everything, but some stuff works great even if its not "the name brand everyone believes they cant live without." A $30 Yeti coozie? Seriously? Its a cheap Chinese made coozie, how long do you nurse that beer? A piece of plywood or carpet can get you out of a hole in a pinch but doesn't look cool strapped to the side of your truck so there is that, lol. In Australia or Africa they probably have a bunch of American stuff they think is super cool and exotic they pay top dollar for that we consider no biggie, but its valuable to them because it comes from the other side of the world.
I destroyed 2 sets of X-Bulls today helping a buddy extract his 200 Series. It was 10 degrees outside and the LC ain’t a lightweight, but I wasn’t expecting all 4 boards to split end-to-end.

They held up ok in the first stage of the recovery to get him out of a 1-tire water hole at the bottom of a severely cambered turn - but when used in the not-quite-flat bottom of a frozen rut/trench, snap/crackle/pop. Even in their broken state they were still useful... and I suppose I could do this again 4 more times for the price of 2 sets of Maxtraxx - but I don’t think I’ll re-order the X-Bulls.