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Cape York Essentials – Recovery Gear


If you’re a serious four-wheel driver heading to Cape York to tackle the legendary Old Telegraph Track (OTT) and other famous routes, many of which head into remote areas, recovery gear should be an essential part of your travel tool kit. Because while it might be there for peace of mind much of the time, in the case of an emergency it might make all the difference. 

Four-wheel drive recovery can be a complicated business, but a lot of the time it doesn’t have to be. In the same way that navigating tricky terrain in a 4WD is a skill that’s polished over time, vehicle recovery is something that you’ll get better at with practice. 

Traction boards

Basic recovery gear includes traction boards and a shovel, and they should definitely be loaded onto your rig before you leave home. There many different traction boards on the market these days, but they all operate on the same basic principle; that is, if the ground beneath the tyre isn’t providing enough traction, shove something underneath the tyre that it can bite onto and proceed to drive on out of that hole or soft sand. 

Simple in theory, but there’s a great deal of engineering and testing that’s gone into the products you’ll see on the shelves. The most recognisable of these will be the orange MAXTRAX XTREME Recovery Boards that you see strapped to so many roof racks around town, or any number of similar versions. There are also some similar devices that can be folded up and rolled out when need be. Which you choose will depend on budget and what space you have available for mounting, but it’s worth noting that MAXTRAX are the ubiquitous recovery tracks for two reasons; they work well and they’re Australian designed and made.

Recovery points 

While some vehicles are fitted with offroad recovery points as standard, many will require owners to fit stronger aftermarket versions. It’s common to mistake a vehicle’s stock tie-down points as being sufficient for offroad recovery when they are not. If in doubt, check your owner’s manual. 

The preferred setup is to have two rated recovery points at the front and one at the rear. Each should be attached by multiple high tensile (grade 8.8) M12 bolts, gusseted welds, rated hitch hardware or a combination. An offroad recovery point will be able to distribute great forces across the vehicle’s chassis, so as not to apply too much force to one area. For a run-of-the-mill 4WD, they should be designed to work with 4.75 tonne shackles and 8000kg snatch straps. 


Shackles are used to connect recovery gear to recovery points. There are two types of shackles currently available for this application: the metal bow shackle and the knotted soft shackle. Bow shackles come in 3.25 tonne and 4.75 tonne ratings. Generally, for a couple of extra dollars it’s worth going for the bigger of the two, just to be on the safe side. These figures will be stamped on the side of the shackle; don’t use shackles if there’s nothing stamped. These ratings don’t mean that the shackle will break as soon as the forces exceed that number, since they’re made with generous safety margins, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Soft shackles are woven from synthetic fibres and are intended as a safer alternative to metal shackles since they remove metal from the system, which in turn reduces the risk or hard stuff flying through the air if something fails. 

Saber Offroad Soft Shackle

It’s important to note that soft shackles are rated to breaking strain, meaning a 9000kg soft shackle will break when it’s subjected to around nine tonnes of pressure. 

The primary factor when it comes to selecting recovery gear is its load rating, which refers to the amount of force the equipment can withstand before it becomes unsafe. Every part of your recovery system must be rated sufficiently; this includes bow shackles, soft shackles, snatch straps, equaliser straps, drag chains, hitch receivers, snatch blocks and anything else that will come under load during a recovery.

The A247 website has plenty of recovery gear available, and you’re sure to find the right kit for your needs. 

Must-have gear: 

Saber — 12K Heavy Duty Kinetic Recovery Kit

This 4WD recovery kit includes the standard industry-leading Kinetic Recovery Rope rated at 12,500kg and two 20,000kg Fully Bound Heavy Duty Soft Shackles. This is the safest recovery kit on the market today and comprises:

  • 1 x 9m, 12,500kg heavy duty Kinetic Recovery Rope
  • 2 x 20,000kg Fully Bound Heavy Duty Soft Shackles

The Saber Offroad 9m 12,500kg Kinetic Recovery Rope is one of the most effective recovery tools you can carry in your vehicle. When put under load, it will stretch up to 30 per cent which significantly relieves the sudden shock felt during vehicle recovery, reducing the stress on the vehicle and those inside.

Saber 12K Heavy Duty Kinetic Recovery Kit

Also included in the kit is Saber’s 20,000kg Fully Bound Heavy Duty Soft Shackles. As with the other products in the Saber Offroad shackle range, this product is designed to be safer, stronger, lighter and easier to use alternative to other shackles (both soft and metal).

So, a recovery kit that includes a kinetic rope that offers 50 per cent more stretch than the best snatch straps on the market, combined with two world-class soft shackles, makes the 12K Heavy Duty Kinetic Recovery Kit a must for anyone going offroad.

Saber Ultimate Recovery Kit — 22K

The Saber Ultimate Recovery kit includes the standard industry-leading Kinetic Recovery Rope rated at 22,000kg, 2 x 24,000 HDX Fully Bound Heavy Duty Soft Shackles, 1 x 18,000kg Sheath Shackle (ideal for the Recovery Ring) a Utility Rope, an Ezy-Glide Recovery Ring, a Winch Damper, a pair of gloves, and an Australian made rope gear bag. This is the safest recovery kit on the market today. 

The shackles in this kit are Saber’s 24,000kg HDX Technora Bound Heavy Duty Soft Shackles. As with the other products in the Saber Offroad shackle range, this product is designed to be a safer, stronger, more light weight and easier to use alternative to other shackles (both soft and metal).

Saber Ultimate Recovery Kit 22K

Also included is the 18,000kg Sheath Soft Shackle, especially designed to be used with the Ezy-Glide Recovery Ring.  Having tested the shackles in a NATA accredited facility in Melbourne, Saber Offroad shackles perform at a superior level compared to many other tested competitor products. 

Including the market leading Ezy-Glide Recovery Ring, matched with the SaberPro® Utility Rope and Winch Damper, this kit has all you need to get yourself out of trouble. This kit replaces the need heavy and potentially dangerous metal snatch blocks and bow shackles, plus the SaberPro® Utility Rope gives you enough flexibility to no longer need an extra bridle, tree trunk protector or short winch extension. The whole kit weighs just over 3kg, often the weight of just a snatch block and bow shackle, however, you get so much more!

Factor 55 Vehicle Recovery Kit — Sawtooth

Factor 55 introduces the industry’s first fully loaded vehicle recovery kit featuring components all made in the USA. This kit is packed with the essential and advanced tools to safely recover a vehicle in winching and non-winching scenarios.

Factor 55 Vehicle Recovery Kit Sawtooth
Complete with Factor 55’s Ultimate Recovery Gear Bag - Medium, made out of paraffin waxed canvas, this Recovery Kit will fold flat when unzipped allowing you to easily locate the equipment you need depending on your recovery scenario.

The Sawtooth Kit is Factor 55’s medium recovery gear kit and includes:

  • 2 x Crosby Shackles 3/4 RED- 33.00 x 2
  • 1 x Standard Duty Soft Shackle 10in
  • 1 x Shorty Strap II
  • 1 x Tree Saver
  • 1 x HitchLink 2.0
  • 1 x Standard Duty Tow Strap
  • 1 x Factor 55 Recovery Gear Bag Medium
  • 1 x RRP
  • 1 x Fast Fid
  • 1 x Basic Guide to Winching
  • 3 x Strap Wraps (individual)

Please note, Factor 55 Recovery Kits come do not come with gloves or hitch pin. A good quality pair of gloves should be purchased for use in your recoveries. A quality hitch pin should also be purchased, a lockable or quick release pin that suits your needs best.

MAXTRAX XTREME Recovery Boards

Multi-award-winning MAXTRAX XTREME is the most advanced 4WD recovery track ever created, featuring 88 replaceable hard-anodised alloy teeth moulded into a heavy-duty, super-tough, engineering-grade reinforced Nylon recovery track. 

MAXTRAX XTREME Recovery Boards


These tracks are manufactured in Australia using a secret recipe; a heavy-duty, super-tough, engineering-grade reinforced Nylon; the same material used to make MAXTRAX MK2 for almost a decade. All 88 alloy teeth are hard anodised to protect against corrosion in harsh, saltwater or muddy environments.

As the alloy is significantly harder and more durable than the rubber compound found in tyres and also more resistant to wear from a spinning tyre, expect faster, more secure engagement with the tyre's tread pattern — which makes MAXTRAX XTREME the most-durable recovery track on the market. MAXTRAX XTREME is also easily repairable in the field. If a tooth gets damaged, simply flip the board over and use a T-50 Torx bit to remove and replace the damaged tooth.

Mounting pins are available, including a hybrid mounting pin designed for those adding a set of MAXTRAX XTREME to the top of their current MK2 recovery tracks.

MAXTRAX XTREME is also compatible with MAXTRAX mini and our fixing and linking kit to create a portable roadway. They have a lifetime warranty against faulty materials and workmanship.

To see more in the range of recovery gear visit the A247 website.

For a go-to guide on all things 4WD, visit the Hema website and check out the Go-To-Guide for 4WDs available on the Hema Maps online shop.

Next steps

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