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Some vehicles can't mount a winch, but they can still self-recover.

OTA checks out three different ways of getting your 4WD unstuck: sand ladders, Bog Outs and Trac Grabbers.

An electric winch is a handy tool, but many vehicles can’t fit one, because of the front axle weight they impose. Also, many owners can’t justify the expense of a winch on vehicles that don’t regularly get challenged off road.

Another issue with a winch is that it’s normally mounted up front and there are many occasions when you’d rather recover rearwards.

The most likely places you’ll get bogged are on a beach and on a track that’s become muddy after rain. Loose, soft or slippery terrain can trap machines that have traction control and even other traction aids, if the tyres reach their limit of grip.

Plastic sand ladders are popular because they work well and are light to transport. They’re simply inserted under the tyres and convert the soft or slippery ground to much more grippy, moulded-lug plastic. However they’re bulky.

Bog Outs are rope and webbing ‘ladders’ that wrap around spinning wheels, converting the tyre into a temporary winch drum. They offer positive extraction, but take time to set up and require an anchor point from which to pull the vehicle forward or backward.


Trac Grabbers are compact and easy to fit, but it’s essential to ensure they can’t foul your brake callipers. For example, we can’t fit them to our ROH steel-spoke wheels, without risk of catching on the LandCruiser’s brake components, but they fit nicely to most aluminium wheels.

Each Trac Grabber consists of a heavy rubber moulding, through which passes a webbing strap with hefty steel buckle.

The attachment method involves
strapping the block to the tyre and locking it in place with the strap. Velcro on the strap ensures that there’s no loose webbing to get caught around brakes, suspension or steering components. It’s possible to put two or more Trac Grabbers on one wheel, if necessary.

Trac Grabbers are quick and easy to fit, but may foul suspension components on some vehicles.

We like Trac Grabbers for the fact that they can be left in place: all other recovery gear needs to be reset after the vehicle gets out of its stranding.

Trac Grabbers can be left in place for as long as the soft or slippery conditions persist and provided speed is kept very low.

We’ve seen reports of the rubber blocks being torn off the straps and we’re pretty sure that’s a result of too much ‘wellie’ being used. As with chains, Trac Grabbers need a very gentle foot and our testing showed that’s all you need to debog, even on an uphill sandy slope.

We didn’t test these recovery devices in mud, but we know from experience that if something works in deep, soft sand it’ll work fine in mud as well.

Check out our test video:

























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