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Frederic

Essential Gear: Recovery Ropes / Tow Straps

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With so much information that can be found online, i wanted to try to bundle this a bit into 1 article to make things easier for people new to off-roading here to provide a bit of information about tow straps / snatch straps / recovery ropes. I will just try to share the information that i've come across and what was also found on Carnity about the well-known Viking Ropes and AOR ropes (Thanks @Rahimdad for previous article on that one) !

With the main aim on safety, i will try to give a view on the DO's and DONT's so we can all ensure that everybody goes home safe and that these practices can be carried forward. Every time i take the kids to Al Qudra Lakes i still see so many people doing such crazy and dangerous things while recovering/pulling others. These people don't have any bad intentions, but just don't know any better. 

We'll start with those:

Gas-station 40dhs Tow Straps:

*Mostly made from Polyester or Polypropylene, and ONLY meant to tow a normal (sedan) vehicle home. DO NOT USE THESE STRAPS FOR RECOVERY WORK !!! The metal shackles are projectiles that will fly off on the first decent tug attempt. 

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Kinetic Recovery Snatch Straps

Kinetic snatch straps are made from Nylon, which is a material that will allow for around 20% stretch. This stretching creates a less brutal jerk when recovering a vehicle, and additionally the "recoil" effect will generate a massive amount of energy, which is a good thing, but also something you need to be aware of, the lack of feeling that brutal jerk will probably result in you pulling harder than usual, and that could result in damages to tow points or chassis. Like in every recovery the first pull should be a gentle one to assess how stuck the vehicle is, and the second one can be slightly more aggressive, if still the vehicle is not moving it might be better to dig out a bit more and than do a last attempt which should do the trick. (inshallah).. Due to the stretch they are not ideal for towing a car along the highway, but it works.

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Kinetic Recovery Ropes

 Similar to the Kinetic Snatch Straps mentioned above, made of Nylon, but in rope form instead. Both AOR and Viking are well-known available brands. Also not recommended for towing a car along the highway but it will do the job. 

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How to Correctly Use Your Kinetic Recovery Rope

Step 1: Verify your equipment is adequate for the use and in good condition.  A Kinetic Recovery Rope should be sized such that the Min. Breaking Load (MBL) is roughly 2-3 times the Gross Vehicle Weight.  To properly select a rope for your vehicle, follow the guidelines on the chart below.
 
Step 2: Securely attach rope to both vehicles - use a proper shackle or tow point.  Recovery points should be properly welded or bolted to the vehicle chassis.  WARNING: Never connect recovery equipment to a tow ball, as they are not designed for this type of load and can fail, causing serious damage.
 
Step 3: Ensure all bystanders are well clear of the area.  No person should be within 1.5xthe rope length of either vehicle, unless inside one of the vehicles.
 
Step 4:  Tow the stuck vehicle out.  The towing vehicle can start with slack in the tow rope and drive up to 25km/h max. WARNING: Do not exceed 25KM/H with a properly sized rope.  WARNING: Do not pull in a direction that would side load your recovery points unless they are specifically designed to handle side loads; most are not.  Continue to pull on stuck vehicle until no longer stuck.
 
Step 5:  Unhook and stow your rope.

Industrial Webbing  / Sling Straps

These are not really made for off-road recovery, but if properly sized (3-4 inches width) they make a pretty good recovery and tow strap. They are made of Polyester or Polypropylene and because of their higher number of items sold and less marketing bla-bla, they are generally cheaper and available from the general traders. They come with a certificate that details the load they can take. Using it during recovery will however result in a more brutal jerk when pulling out your off-road buddy, but on the other hand it makes you realise the amount of force you are applying and that is always a good thing. 

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How to recognise good quality straps or ropes ?

* Type of material is clearly mentioned (Nylon, Polyester, Polypropylene).

* Load capacity is mentioned, together with safety rating (5:1 for example) this means break strength would be 5 times higher than the load capacity. Beware that the pulling force is easily 2-3 times higher than the weight of the car. So a 2.5 ton vehicle will easily have a total pull force of 5 to 7.5 tons. 

* Brand information can be found on Google, maybe even with positive reviews from other off-road sites.

* Industrial slings will always have a certificate with clear details on how much load it can take with manufacturer stamps.

* The ends should be reinforced.

 

What is the lifetime of Kinetic ropes vs Kinetic Straps vs Industrial Webbing Slings ?

That is a question that's probably difficult to answer. I will leave that to our senior experts to give their feedback on how many pulls they were able to do with Kinetic ropes, Straps, or Industrial Webbing sling before they broke. Beware that even a small cut in the strap degrades the total strength severely, so it makes sense to inspect it every now and then. 

 

Rated Shackles vs Soft Shackles ?

To connect your rope or strap to the vehicle's tow hook, you will need shackles. Avoid the cheapest shackles because they will have no load rating. Go for rated shackles IF you can find them.....

However, most show load ratings on them but imho the ratings are very questionable as there are international standards but to my knowledge there is no clear legislation in UAE itself.  All the reason more to choose soft-shackles because this completely eliminates the risk of having a metal projectile flying through your windshield. When using Kinetic ropes, the soft shackles are definitely an essential item, due to the massive amount of energy being released during the recoil effect. 

 

I hope this provides a bit more information on the subject straps and ropes. Feel free to correct, comment, and remark !

 

 

Edited by Frederic
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Awesome contribution @Frederic

Thank you ! 

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Great write up. My snatch strap I got femrom Ace lasted me 7 years. Just for a careless tug from someone who left a knot in the rope it broke on the very next attempt. So a cut in the rope is a long way as a knot can easily break your strap. There is no certain life, but if you keep your rope or strap in a shade and clean the rope to make sure no sant is stuck in it can last you a very long time.

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Superb article on almost all points well covered.

Slight addition I like to make on a few aspects:

  • Kinetic recovery ropes or straps have plenty of advantages of softer pull, elastic effect but also has few downsides. After every tug kinetic ropes need some time to recover the elasticity. You can't or shouldn't use kinetic ropes on stuck that require hard tugs to reposition vehicle nose or back - when stuck in a wedge situation.
     
  • Straps if it's from a proper offroad brand like bushranger or TJM, they need not be a 3-4 inch wide and still do the job very nicely for years as per what they are rated for. I think @Srikumar using one of those and still works fine.
     
  • Industrial Webbing, often confused with rated straps as they look similar but that's where the logic of 3-4 (min-width) plays an important role. I'm still using (occasionally now) 5-inch wide Liftek Webbing Sling since more than 10 years now and its really capable of dragging heavyweight uphill or giving a hard tug to reposition vehicle with jerks, as sometimes you need these jerks when straight recovery isn't possible. @Mujtaba @Melvin Martin now you know when buying your next webbing, brand rating and width is very important than breaking them frequently.

WhatsApp Image 2019-03-14 at 6.40.43 PM.jpeg

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20 minutes ago, Gaurav said:

Superb article on almost all points well covered.

Slight addition I like to make on a few aspects:

  • Kinetic recovery ropes or straps have plenty of advantages of softer pull, elastic effect but also has few downsides. After every tug kinetic ropes need some time to recover the elasticity. You can't or shouldn't use kinetic ropes on stuck that require hard tugs to reposition vehicle nose or back - when stuck in a wedge situation.
     
  • Straps if it's from a proper offroad brand like bushranger or TJM, they need not be a 3-4 inch wide and still do the job very nicely for years as per what they are rated for. I think @Srikumar using one of those and still works fine.
     
  • Industrial Webbing, often confused with rated straps as they look similar but that's where the logic of 3-4 (min-width) plays an important role. I'm still using (occasionally now) 5-inch wide Liftek Webbing Sling since more than 10 years now and its really capable of dragging heavyweight uphill or giving a hard tug to reposition vehicle with jerks, as sometimes you need these jerks when straight recovery isn't possible. @Mujtaba @Melvin Martin now you know when buying your next webbing, brand rating and width is very important than breaking them frequently.

 

Yes, we use the LIFTEK brand here at work, and have several ones laying around. We get them tested every year by a third-party company and we are pretty happy with them. I think if well dimensioned they are a very good alternative to a "4x4 Offroad" branded strap that would cost you a lot more.

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100 Points awarded to @Frederic for this "Exceptional Post".

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A good tutorial:

 

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