Category: Recovery

Winch Fairlead Myths Debunked

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on

When you purchase a new winch, it usually comes packaged with a fairlead. A winch with wire rope comes with a roller fairlead, and a winch with synthetic rope will have a hawse fairlead. We’ve talked before about good winching practices and winch rope care, but let’s talk about the pros and cons of your fairlead choices, and why you may want to switch fairleads.

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Hi-Lift Jack Do’s and Don’ts

By Nena Barlow
This article originally appeared on

There are two common Hi-Lift jack misconceptions circulated among new Jeepers. The first one is that if they have 35- inch-or-taller tires, they have to carry a Hi-Lift jack with them. The second one is that they shouldn’t use a Hi-Lift jack because they are not safe. The truth is that a Hi-Lift is a very useful and versatile tool to have, no matter what size tires you own, and they can be unsafe if not used or maintained properly. Though I cannot go into all the possible ways to use a Hi- Lift jack in this short space, I will share with you the most common ways I use my Hi-Lift jack and a few key safety points.

First, what I don’t do with the Hi-Lift jack is change tires or work on my Jeep. I find an appropriately sized bottle jack or the factory scissor jack with a broad and sturdy base to be a far simpler option for tire changing. I also never use the jack for holding up a car to crawl under it—use jack stands.

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Rollovers: What To Do Before, During, and After

By Nena Barlow
This article originally appeared on

Roll, flop, dirt nap—whatever your favorite term for a Jeep ending up not on its wheels, rolling over is one of the biggest fears people have about four-wheeling. We can talk all day about good driving techniques to avoid rolling in the first place, but no matter how good you are, mistakes happen. It’s good to be prepared. Protecting the occupants is the number-one priority. Here are things you can do to help everyone walk away safely from a rollover.

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Heads-Up: Tips For Better Trips

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on

When venturing out on the trail, most of us take at least basic precautions to deal with some common trail mishaps. We carry tools, emergency supplies, and a first aid kit. But those things only work if you use the most important piece of equipment—your brain. The ability to pay attention, recognize problems as they develop, and calmly utilize available assets are the best tools you can have.

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How to Avoid Common Winching Mistakes

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on

A winch is a very useful piece of equipment to have, if you know how to use it safely. Though manufacturers will tell you that winches available to the recreational user are intended for self-recovery only, we all use them for far more than that. However, a winch can be dangerous if not used correctly, even for it’s intended purpose of self-recovery.

First, a winch is a static piece of recovery equipment, not a recovery point for kinetic pull. The difference is that kinetic recovery equipment is intended to handle shock loads, like kinetic energy recovery ropes, while static recovery equipment, like chains and winches, are specifically designed for slow and steady loads only. If you use your winch hook as a recovery point for a kinetic pull, you are subjecting the brakes on your winch drum to severe shock load. This risks winch brake failure or even drum failure. Only use frame-mounted recovery points for a kinetic recovery.

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How to Take Care of Your Winch Rope

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on

If you use synthetic rope on your winch, there are some things you should do to ensure the safety, functionality, and lifespan the winch rope. The number one killer of synthetic rope is abrasion, meaning things that rub the independent fiber strands down and weaken the rope. There are many ways we expose rope to abrasion, some that are not so obvious.

First and most obvious is rubbing the line on rocks and terrain while winching. Most of us know to use a blanket or winch sleeve of some kind to protect the rope from any direct contact with the terrain while pulling, but our ropes often pick up dirt and debris while in use. Small particles cause abrasion within the rope. Soak your rope in clean water from time to time, or especially after a particularly dirty recovery.

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Keep Your Guard Up!

By Nena Barlow

This article originally appeared on

Something we see over and over again in the four-wheeling world are mishaps at the places one would least expect it. We get through a nasty obstacle, breathe a sigh of relief, and then get stuck on a small rock we didn’t even notice. Or we spend all day on a grueling 4×4 trail, get through without a scratch, then on the way home, slide off of the gravel road into tree. Or we just head out without much thought on a trail we have done dozens of times, don’t check the weather, and get stranded on the wrong side of a wash during a flash flood.

The common thread? We let our guard down after the perceived threat is past. The solution? Don’t take anything for granted—keep your guard up until everyone is safely home on the couch. The following are a few things to think about before, during, and after your trip to help keep everyone safe.

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Trail Fixes You Should Know

By Nena Barlow
This article originally appeared on

Many people pack their Jeep with hundreds of pounds of spare parts, tools, and equipment for dealing with all possible scenarios of broken. While I am often guilty of over-packing, I go through my equipment regularly to see what I use, what is used up, and what is just taking up space.

My kit changes seasonally and by location, but some items that are a must for any of my backcountry trips are a pair of ratchet straps and a couple of two-foot lengths of 3/16-inch, grade-30 chain with a few bolts, nuts, and washers. With these items I can limp out vehicles with a wide variety of ailments. Here are some ways in which I have used my cute little pieces of chain and my colorful ratchet straps over the years.

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Best Steps to a Safe Vehicle Recovery

By Nena Barlow
This article originally appeared on

There are only two types of wheelers: those that have been stuck and those that will be stuck. It can happen through mechanical failure or operator error, but when a rig is stuck, the first thing to do is make sure that the vehicle is stable and the people are safe. It’s natural that everyone involved wants to jump out and rush to be heroic, but safety must come first.

Once any true emergencies have been eliminated (i.e. something is on fire or someone is injured), a vehicle recovery should be executed in a calm, thorough, and systematic manner.

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Recommended 4-wheeling Equipment

By popular request...from our Jeep School workbook--the Equipment list for 4-wheeling! It is in written form, below the photos, so you can cut and paste, but for a better format, see the attached photo.


Recommended Equipment for Four Wheeling

Basic Outdoor Preparedness Gear (stuff for your own self-preservation):

Water & food
Extra Clothing (know the weather forecast)
First Aid Kit
Matches, Lighter, Candles, FIRE
Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, Trash Bags, wet wipes, hand sanitizer
Detailed Road Maps, Topo Maps, Compass, Watch, Knife
Tarp, rain gear
Cell phone, CB, HAMM radio, or Personal GPS Locator Beacon
Flares, signal mirror, police whistle
Flashlight (windable, or with extra batteries)

These are the most used recovery items. Invest in quality items.

  1. TIRE CARE: Jack, spare tire, repair kit, tire pressure guage, air compressor. Keep your spare tire inflated and in good condition. Make sure you have the correct lug wrench for your wheels.
  2. VEHICLE PULLING: Tow Strap. A tow strap should be at approximately 10-15 feet long and rated for at least twice your vehicle’s gross weight. Buy good quality strap with loops on the ends, not hooks.
  3. DIGGING OUT: Compact folding shovel/axe/saw. A Forester Tool, Handle-All, or plain old shovel is an invaluable all-purpose tool for getting yourself unstuck in a variety of circumstances, and are also useful for general survival.

These items are an important part of your regular excursion kit:

Heavy duty work gloves
Jumper Cables
Fire Extinguisher
Recovery Strap (20' to 50', with loops, rated at 3-4 times the vehicle weight)
Baling wire, Duct tape, Zip ties, Ratchet Straps, bungee cords, equipment tie-downs
Stop Leak radiator repair, Motor Oil, Transmission Fluid, extra water
Replacement fuses and electrical tape
Basic tools: wrenches, pliers, mallet, ratchet, spark plug socket, vehicle-specific tools
Variety of hoses, clamps, nuts, bolts, washers, parts specific to your vehicle

Additional equipment to consider for more extensive excursions:

Extreme caution is urged for the use of these items. Make sure you are thoroughly familiar with their function and operation. Read owner’s manuals thoroughly and follow all safety precautions:

Hi-Lift Jack
Full-size Shovel (especially for sand, mud, or snow areas)
Full-size Axe, Bow Saw, Chain Saw (in heavily-forested areas)
Winch with accessories: tree strap, clevis, snatch block, chain
Extra gas