11 Things You Need in Your Off-Roading Recovery Kit

If an off-roading or overlanding trip is in your near future, you will want to be sure to pack some basic vehicle recovery items with you. Here is a guide of 11 emergency items you will hopefully never use but will be glad to have if the need for them arises:

A shovel.

If your vehicle becomes stuck in something deep, whether it’s mud, snow, or sand, a shovel will come in handy as you maneuver the vehicle out. The shovel does not need to be anything fancy. It just needs to be sturdy, reliable, and weather-proof if it will be exposed to the elements while you drive.

A winch.

A winch can be one of the most valuable parts of your emergency off-road recovery kit. The market is full of different types of winches for different situations. You will have to determine the best one to fit your needs based on the driving you will be doing, the vehicle(s) you will have, the gross vehicle weight, and the terrain on which you will be driving. You can use winches to self-recover your stuck truck, or as a tool to help another vehicle pull yours out in a vehicle-assisted recovery. Don’t just order one and throw it in the emergency kit, however. Using a winch requires training and care.

Off-road recovery boards.

If your tires can’t get traction and the terrain is soft, you can create traction with recovery boards. You place these boards under the tires and the surface of the board creates enough of a grip on the tires to move them forward. Note that spinning the wheels unnecessarily will damage not only the nodules on the boards but also your tires.

Communication devices.

HAM and GMRS radios are both effective tools for communication when cell service is spotty or unreliable. Both of these radio communications, however, require a license. Satellite communications devices allow you to send SMS text messages via satellite, even when cell service is not available. Satellite communication devices do not require licensure to operate.

A vehicle jack.

There are three main types of vehicle jacks to consider for your off-road adventure: a hi-lift jack, a bottle jack, and an air or exhaust jack. Each comes with its own pros and cons, and they’re helpful in different situations.

  • A hi-lift jack is easy to use, but it is more dangerous than the other jacks. It also requires the vehicle you are lifting to have aftermarket jacking points added. It has the tallest lifting capability.
  • A bottle jack is a steadier and easier jack than a hi-lift. It also requires less maintenance. It isn’t ideal for lifting a vehicle in the sand or mud, however.
  • An air jack is a bag made with many layers that inflate with an air compressor and raises a vehicle when it is under the vehicle frame. It is helpful on a lot of different surfaces, but it is easy to damage.

Remember that getting underneath a vehicle supported by a jack is never a good idea.


It’s helpful to have a few different kinds of straps on hand. These include:

  • Kinetic recovery strap (or snatch strap). This nylon strap uses kinetic pulls to get a stuck vehicle out.
  • Tow strap. When you are pulling a stuck vehicle slowly and steadily, a polyester or synthetic tow strap is your best choice.
  • Shackles. Soft shackles, bow shackles, and D-ring shackles securely connect the vehicle to the winch or strapline when it is being recovered.
  • Tree saver strap. This strap has a sleeve that protects the bark of trees when they are used as an anchor point with a winch.

Recovery damper.

The idea behind a damper is for it to absorb (or dampen) the kinetic energy from a winch line. It is a heavier fabric that is placed on the line before the load is.

Winch line extension.

If your winch can’t reach the stuck vehicle, you’re going to stay stuck much longer. A winch line extension, typically a strap or rope of synthetic material, allows a winch to reach a vehicle that is farther away.

Tire repair kit.

A tire repair kit, complete with a portable air compressor, will keep your vehicle in good condition and hopefully prevent the need for a recovery mission.

A land anchor.

Land anchors can create an anchor point for the winch line of a vehicle.

An ax and saw.

If you need to clear a trail, it’s advantageous to have an ax and saw handy. You can use them to cut down branches to create traction if you don’t have recovery boards. They can also create a skid if the axle of a vehicle you are recovering is damaged.

Safety should be central to any off-road or overlanding trip you plan. Take the time to learn how to properly use each of the components of your recovery kit so you can be prepared when you need to use them for real. If you are ever in a situation where self-recovery is not possible, you can call an off-road recovery tow truck.

Keep in mind that not all towing companies will offer off-road recovery service since it requires specific equipment. Roadside Rescue can help with all your Davis and Weber county towing needs, from 4×4 off-road recovery to junk car removal and everything in between.