Recently around the fire, the subject of 4×4 equipment came up. The newer entrants to the “lifestyle” strongly favoured winches because they look “cool” and are so useful.
Yet given the way overloading has gone lately a winch may be superfluous, a good roof rack will more than likely prove to be more of an asset. In my opinion, a winch is great if you travel alone but not necessary if you are in a convoy with other vehicles that can assist you should you require recovery.
A decent recovery kit is essential but you can discuss elements with the group that you are travelling with.
On two occasions when travelling in the Northern Cape with our CEO Ian Georgeson, we had punctures and found that the scissor jack supplied in the vehicle did not have sufficient travel to lift the vehicle and allow us to remove the flat tyre. In both cases, we made a plan but last week I gave Ian a piece of roof timber to put under the jack it is a stable platform that also gives additional height.
But back to basics, what are the critical bits to start with? Well before you run around buying everything which in the long run could prove a waste of money start with a few rated recovery bow shackles that will allow you to attach a strap, rope etc. to a recovery point. Ideally, you should carry a variety of rated shackles that cater to various vehicle sizes.
Then never use commercial shackles that you buy from the local hardware store, your shackle should have a rating embossed on the body and the shackle pin will not be of the same diameter as the body. And then once you have rigged the recovery turn the pin back slightly as it makes it easier to release it after the recovery.
Then we get to my favourite, an absolute off-road and outdoor essential, gloves.
I used leather gloves even before I got involved in the 4×4 life, They were just so useful when camping or outdoors. They should fit comfortably and be fairly tight as loose gloves do not allow proper handling. Good gloves should be durable with a reinforced palm that offers protection under all conditions.
One should also look for gloves with eyelets that allow you to keep them together in your vehicle or even clip them to your trousers or hang them in your vehicle.
They are not only a “winching” accessory but are useful when lifting pot lids and even collecting firewood, mine have saved me from the occasional scorpion and spider bite over the years.
So in the long run I would say invest in a decent pair of gloves before you buy all the kit.
Hand in hand with your first aid kit and fire extinguisher. And then don’t forget a wooden jacking block, it does not take up space but you will be extremely grateful when you need it.
Then afterwards chat to the older 4×4 fraternity,they will guide and assist you in terms of what you need.