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We recently rented a 2 wheel drive van and went on a 10 day adventure over spring break. On that adventure we logged a lot of miles on dirt roads. Not just short dirt roads to get to the camp ground, we did miles and miles of dirt roads through remote terrain all by ourselves. It’s OK to take chances, just be prepared. Even if you don’t consider yourself an off roader, if you’re logging a lot of miles on dirt roads in any vehicle, you need to think about this.

Van camping at Alabama Hills
On the last night of our trip we woke up and realized we were parked in sand and had to use our recovery gear to get out. But we were prepared, had the equipment we needed and the experience to get ourselves out.
Van stuck in the sand
Van stuck in the sand. Recovered with MaxTrax
Fortunately, Mark at Rack 2 Roam here in Reno has your back. He’s started carrying some basic recovery gear, in addition to anything you need to cary all your overlanding and adventure gear on your vehicle. Even if you aren’t doing gnarly off roading, any adventurous soul will eventually find themselves in need of this gear.
Let’s head down there and check some out the three levels of recovery gear that I recommend every vanlifer, boondocker or adventurer should carry.

Level 1: The basics

If you only get three things, get these.

Max Trax (at least one set)

MaxTrax is a brand of traction board that you can place in front of or behind the drive tires of your vehicle if you are bogged down in a loose surface. You can also use them to bridge a gap or make a step up or down less harsh.
X-Bull Traction Board: https://amzn.to/3qQWA5U

Shovel

The shovel and the traction board go hand in hand.
Bully Tools Shovel: https://amzn.to/3u52UZP
DMOS Delta Shovel: https://amzn.to/3x1boTg

Gloves

If you protect your hands it’ll make all of this work a lot easier.
Mechanix Wear Glove: https://amzn.to/3Ka9Z0o
Troy Lee Designs glove: https://amzn.to/3J3G2y4

Level 2:Level Up

For those times when you’ve really made a bad decision. With this stuff all you need is another vehicle and you can get out. It’s easy to find another vehicle, but if neither of you has this stuff you’re hosed.

Snatch Strap / kinetic rope

A snatch strap or kinetic rope is a stretchy length of webbing or rope with fixed loops at both ends. With a little momentum, a smaller vehicle can pull out a larger vehicle with the magic of physics. Don’t attach it to a trailer ball.
ARB Recovery Strap: https://amzn.to/3uJyf37

Soft Shackle

A soft shackle is a light weight and incredibly strong way to connect a recovery strap to a hart point on a vehicle. It’s flexible and can go around tubes and through eyelets. Do not connect this to the trailer ball either.
Bubba Rope Gator Jaw: https://amzn.to/36P7KRM

Receiver Pin x2

The one kind of hard point that is most reliably on most if not all vans, campers, RVs and random vehicles you may encounter is a trailer hitch. The best way to connect to a trailer hitch is with a receiver pin which is rated for a high load and easy to cary. I recommend carrying two of these with your snatch strap. You can insert the loop into the receiver and secure it directly with the pin.
Buyers Products Hitch Pin: https://amzn.to/3736BG6

Level 3: Van Tire Tools

Arguably, this should be level 2, but it’s less likely to work, so I put it in third place. A lot of times, lowering the air pressure in your tires will give you enough traction to get out of trouble. Plus, tire punctures can ruin your day if you aren’t prepared.

Tire Deflators

Tire deflators are a tool that lets you lower the air pressure in a controlled way. They run the gambit from super nice ARB Deflator kit to the basic and useful kit from TeraFlex
ARB Tire deflator kit: https://amzn.to/38jK2xF
Boulder Tools auto deflator: https://amzn.to/36FLRoe
Terra Flex Deflator kit: https://www.4wheelparts.com/p/teraflex-air-deflator-zinc-4807200/_/R-FNNT-4807200

Air Compressor / Inflator

If you deflate your tires, it’s smart to have a way to re-inflate them. Rack2Roam carries a compressor kit from Ironman 4×4 that includes everything you need to air up the tires.
ARB Compressor Kit: https://amzn.to/3LvgDPb

Tire Repair Kit

If you have the compressor, you might as well have a way to repair a punctured tire. A tire repair kit is simple and easy to use and you can recover from most, not all, punctures quickly.
ARB Tire Repair Kit: https://amzn.to/3uQJmrg
Basic Tire Repair Kit: https://amzn.to/3LtRWCO
If you want to see any of this gear, or ask Mark or myself about any of these things, come down to Rack 2 Roam on Saturday April 9th from 2 to 6 for an overlander meetup.
Ok, see you the, Happy Trails.

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