Seven Tools to Bring With You Before Getting Stuck in Sand, Snow, or Mud

Planning on driving off-road? Make sure to take these seven tools along.

Toxic Crush

Whether you're an avid off-roader or slightly adventurous road tripper, everyone is bound to get stuck in sand or mud at some point. These tools can help extricate you from the mire—as long as you remember to bring them.

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Bermuda Rover
$45.00 (37% off)

A shovel is the single most useful tool for getting a vehicle unstuck. Any item that can dig and scoop can be used, including your hands, but a shovel gets the job done quickly. When all four tires are stuck, your hands and back will be grateful you brought a shovel. If you've got a spare garden shovel, cut the handle down so it fits in your car, but it's better to bring a proper  or a foldable shovel like the one linked above.

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Paw PawFlickr
Carpet, Cardboard, Wood

Once you've removed the sand or mud away from the front of your tire, stuff a strip of carpet or cardboard in front of it. Sticks, branches, plywood, can also work, as long as they don't sink to much and can provide traction to prevent your tire from spinning. Press on the accelerator slowly, so the tire has time to grip, or else you'll fling all the things you just laid down behind your tire, which does no good.

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Maxtrax MKII's

Molded plastic recovery tracks provide a considerable improvement over a carpet/cardboard solution. They won't sink or slide under your tire, and when held on the end they can be used as a shovel. The Maxtrax MKII shown here has been put through its paces in the Australian outback, but if the price scares you there are  options to choose from.

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Hi-Lift Jack

A hi-lift jack is a recovery gear staple on most off-road rigs. The factory tire jacks that come with your truck are wholly inadequate, especially if your truck sits higher off the ground due to larger tires or a lift. A hi-lift can be used to lift a stuck tire so you can stick cardboard or Maxtrax underneath it. In a pinch, a hi-lift can also be used as a come-along winch.

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Heavy Duty Tow Strap

A tow strap can be used by one vehicle to free another. Get one that has tow hooks and is rated at least 10,000 pounds. Only connect between automobile frames, never to the body or bumpers.

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If you plan on venturing in areas where the likelihood you'll get stuck is very high, then invest in a winch and proper recovery gear including a tree saver strap, snatch block, and tow straps. A winch allows you to get out of tricky situations that otherwise you'd have to wait for another traveler to help you with.  recommends the "30 percent rule" when buying a winch, i.e., get a winch that's rated at 30 percent or more of the weight of your vehicle. Remember when connecting to another vehicle, always hook to the frame or a recovery point that is directly bolted to the frame. It doesn't take much for bumpers to break off and become lethal flying objects.

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Snow Chains

Today's snow chains are more like cables and can be installed by anyone. Your vehicle remains stationary and you wrap the chains around the wheel. A central bungee cord tightens everything up. Remember that it's always better to put chains on before you need them (and wear some gloves to make process a bit more pleasant).

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