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Top 5 Things to Rescue Your 4WD from a Sand Trap

Whether it’s on the beach or a desert dune, bogging your 4WD in the sand is a common occurrence so having the right tools to extract yourself is important, here are some of the things we think you’ll need. 

(Image: Using a long handle shovel makes it easier to clear sand from underneath your 4WD.)


It isn’t difficult to get your 4WD bogged up to the chassis in the sand; this is where a long-handled shovel comes into its own. With a long handle, you can reach further under the 4WD and remove sand from around the diff pumpkins, chassis rail, suspension and of course the tyres. While a spade or a recovery track can also be used, they are only good for clearing the sand away from the tyres. 

Recovery Tracks will help get you out of deep sand(Image: Recovery Tracks will help get you out of deep sand.)


One of the best discoveries since sliced bread, recovery tracks have made 4WD recoveries simpler and safer in many cases. To achieve the most out of recovery tracks, it’s important to get the set-up right and then slowly put pressure on the accelerator so that your wheels don’t spin on the recovery tracks, but grip and spit the recovery tracks backwards or forwards, depending on the direction travelled. 

The most effective positioning of the recovery boards is to partially place the leading edge of the boards just under the tyres so that traction is achieved right at the start. While some recovery tracks double as a shovel, to help clear sand away from your tyres, as already explained, a long-handled shovel is a better tool to use. 

Ironman 4x4 sell rated recovery points to match most vehicles(Image: Ironman 4x4 sell rated recovery points to match most vehicles.)


If you need help in extracting your 4WD from the sand using a snatch strap, first of all, your 4WD should have rated recovery points bolted to the chassis on the front and a tow hitch or something like the Matrax Hitch 50. Don’t mistake tiedown points on the front of the 4WD as rated recovery points but in a pinch, they can be used in conjunction with a bridle strap and minimal force used by the tow vehicle. 

4WD vehicles don’t come with recovery points; in most cases, adding a bullbar doesn’t change this. When adding a bullbar to your 4WD, ask the manufacturer if it has rated recovery points and if not, ask if they have some that suit your 4WD. You must NEVER use a tow ball as a recovery point as it’s lethal. 

Kinetic ropes and soft shackles are safer and stronger, perfect for a sand recovery(Image: Kinetic ropes and soft shackles are safer and stronger, perfect for a sand recovery.)


The traditional snatch strap is quickly being superseded with kinetic rope. A kinetic rope is considered to be safer and a better recovery option than a snatch strap as it's stronger has more stretch and provides a smoother recovery. Saber Offroad do recommend that you choose the correct size as “the size of the recovery rope is vital to the recovery of the vehicle and situation” as getting this wrong could make it “difficult to perform the recovery and it could be unsafe.” They recommend the following rope sizes:

  • Lightweight 4WDs e.g., Jeep Renegade or Subaru Forester – 4000kg 

  • Dual-cab utes and average-sized 4WDs e.g. Toyota Prado – 8000kg 

  • Large 4WDs e.g. 79 Series or 200 Series Landcruiser with GVM over 4 Tonne – 12,500kg

D shackles are also being replaced with soft shackles as they are lighter and safer and quicker to install. Soft shackles also come with different load ratings, so it’s wise to match these with your kinetic rope. Some recovery items, such as the Maxtrax Hitch 50, are only suitable for soft shackles. 

A 12v winch is only helpful if you have something to winch from(Image: A 12v winch is only helpful if you have something to winch from.)


A winch is only as good as what it is attached to and in the sand, there may not be anything you can winch off. A winch recovery is safer and smoother than a snatch strap or kinetic rope recovery but also slower which isn’t a problem in the desert but could be if the tide starts lapping at your tyres on the beach. The steel winch cable is being replaced with synthetic rope as it is lighter, easier to handle and safer as it stores less energy. When things go snap, a synthetic rope will cause less damage to people or vehicles than a steel cable.  


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