If you are headed out into the unknown, you have got to be prepared and this means that you need to have some recovery gear on hand.
For many, the first thing that pops into their mind is an electric winch. While this is a great option, it is out of the reach for many. The cost of even a cheap winch, with the needed winch bumper, can cost well over 1000 dollars. Should you wait to explore until you have the coin? No way.
Here are some items that can get the job done, all of which cost around $50.
1) Come Along
Also known as a hand winch, this piece of cheap recovery gear can get you out of a lot of jams. This one from Amazon is a good example. It is rated at 4 tons, has a 10 to 12 foot reach and will get the job done.
I have used a Come Along many times to get a Jeep out of the mud. It works best as a two person approach with someone lightly giving throttle while another works the come along. Just be sure to follow proper winch safety, placing something over the steel line so that the force would go down if it were to break. A heavy sweatshirt or a car floor mat works well for this.
2) Tow Strap
It is amazing how many people head out without a simple tow strap. This cheap piece of equipment. with the help of a buddy, can get you out of just about any jam.It can get you out of a mud hole, over an obstacle or even tow you all the way back to civilization.
If you adventure alone though, a tow strap can still get you out of trouble. It can allow you to get help from a passerby or it can be used with a Come Along to extend your reach. When looking for a tow strap, look for quality construction and avoid metal hooks like the plague.
A strap like this one from Rugged Ridge is what you should be looking for.
3) Bottle Jack
Those High Lift Jacks sure do look cool, but have you ever tried to use one off road. Even if you have a good jack point on your vehicle, they are dangerous at best. Unless you put a strap under your axle, you have to lift your vehicle excessively high and you end up with a very wobbly lift point.
A much better option is a bottle jack like this one. Since you pace it under the axle or control arm, you can lift your vehicle just a few inches and get the job done. Combined with a jack stand, it is the safest way to go off road. Bottle jacks can also be used in other ways off road besides changing a tire. For example, they can be used to straighten a bent tie rod.
4) Recovery Boards
You have probably heard of the famous MaxTrax recovery boards. They can really help you out of a jam but you are certainly not going to pick up a pair for around $50. Cheap recovery gear they definitely are not.
Having said that, you can get something similar with a product like the Ecotric recovery board. No, they might not last as long as MaxTrax, but for around 50 bucks, if they get you out of a jam a few times, it is money well spent.
5) Recovery Shovel
Sometimes, you just have to dig your way out. Unfortunately, a full size shovel is hard to pack in your overland vehicle. This is where a two piece design shovel becomes real handy, as long as it doesn’t break on you.
This shovel from Billet 4×4 is compact but strong enough to get the job done. Made from heavy duty steel construction right here in the US, it is a perfect piece of cheap recovery gear for well under 50 dollars.