Recovery Gear Audit

A few weeks ago I mentioned in the Echoes of Adventure podcast that a great thing to do right now is take inventory of your gear and figure out what you have, what you need, and if there is anything you don’t need to take with you. This week I’m taking a look at my recovery gear.

I break my recovery gear down into three categories: basic vehicle recovery, basic winching, and advanced rigging. The basic vehicle recovery gear is what i use for 90% of my recoveries which is one vehicle pulling another. My winching kit is everything I need for a basic straight line winch pull (like the picture above). If something more complex is needed, that’s where my advanced rigging comes into play.

Basic Recovery

My basic recovery gear starts off with a shovel and a pair of gloves. Sometimes a little sweat-work is enough to get a vehicle rolling without any additional gear. Also, there is no point trying to recovery a mired vehicle that may need some digging done first.

A 30′ tow strap and a pair of shackles is about as basic as it gets for recovery gear.

As far as vehicle-to-vehicle recoveries I have two kits that I can use. First is my Static Tow kit. This is a 30 foot Warn to-strap in a Blue Ridge Overland Gear “Strap Bag” with a pair of Warn screw-pin bow shackles and a pair of Factor55 soft shackles. Again this is the kit I use for 90% of my recoveries.

Blue Ridge Overland Gear Strap Bag loaded up and ready to go.
Read the full review here.

My other vehicle-to-vehicle recovery kit is this dynamic kit from Hi-Vis Overland. This kit is a 30 foot kinetic recovery rope which has a 30% stretch factor along with a pair of soft shackles all in a Blue Ridge Overland Gear “Large Recovery Bag.” This is a great kit for recoveries when a little momentum is needed in loose conditions like snow, sand, or mud.

Basic Winching

When it’s time to pull cable my go-to winch kit is the Warn Epic Recovery Kit. This is a great all-in-one accessory kit that goes great with my Warn 9.5 XP winch with Factor 55 FlatLink E. It has a pair of gloves, tree saver, a pair of screw-pin shackles, and a pulley block. The kit also comes with a 30′ static strap that is in my other kit that can be used as a winch extension. Everything for the kit comes in a Warn mini-backpack which is great for storing and transporting gear, and can double as a winch-line damper.

Warn 9.5 XP Self-Recovery Winch
Complete with Factor 55 FlatLink-E
Read the install and intro to winching article here.

Advanced Rigging

I have been slowly developing an advanced rigging kit over the last few years. This is to address a few scenarios I hope to never find myself in, but I at least want to be prepared for. The contents of this kit are as follows:

Truth be told this kit is a work-in-progress. I really like the Factor 55 Pulley and can see myself adding one or two more of those to my kit. They are smaller and lighter than a traditional pulley block. They also make a great shear-reduction-device for doing a redirect even when not used as a pulley.

Synthetic Winch Rope and a Synthetic Winch Rope Extension.
Don’t you just love the smell of new gear?
Although this photo is from the archive, so that new gear smell is long gone.

Beyond that I just need a few more soft shackles and a few more standard screw-pin bow shackles. I know everyone is quick to jump on the synthetic bandwagon, and I do like my synthetic gear, but there is still a time and a place for a good ol’ steel shackle.

The other thing I’d like to do is revisit my winch line extension. The one from Custom Splice is great but I think I need to either bump up a size or maybe get a second one. Again, very rare that I would need it, but I think it’d be work having given it’s small, light weight, and won’t really take up all that much room.


Recovery gear is a deep dark black hole that will suck you in. It’s honestly a little addicting. You start thinking about past recoveries and how you could have made them better. You also start thinking about imaginary what-if scenarios you might possibly one day maybe potentially find yourself in, but most likely won’t. But there’s a chance. And you want to be prepared. So, just in case, you want that gear anyway.

That said, when I approach my own recoveries, or the recovery scenarios I use in classes like the Overland Skills Weekends I do take a more practical stance. Most overland recoveries are not super technical. What’s important is a clear systematic approach to the recovery with safety as its ultimate goal. However, that’s something best learned hands-on.

I borrowed Sam’s MaxTrax during the LT Wright Knives Pout Out.
They worked great, but I’m still not sure I need a set.
The Wrangler wouldn’t have struggled the way the Liberty did.
I don’t know… maybe if i had my own set I’d use them more.

As far as other gear I didn’t mention, I don’t have any sort of traction mats. Although super popular in the overland scene, I have yet to justify the expense. I also didn’t mention jacks. I do have a Hi-Lift and their recovery kit. However I’ve come to distain those style of jacks. I’ve since switched over to a Safe Jack bottle jack system which I hope to review as soon as I get the LJ back.

Huge thank you to all the Corporate Partners mentioned in this article. Their support in helping ECOA fulfill its mission to Educate, Encourage, and Inspire is what makes working with these great companies such a pleasure. They put just as much value on the education piece – if not more – than they do the actual sale.