Part of the fun of taking your vehicle off-road is facing unpredictable challenges. When testing the limits of your ride’s potential and your skill as a driver, you’ll sometimes get more than you bargained for. Before you know it, your rig is stranded and you can’t get it out with just the power of its engine alone.
Whether you’re calling in a tow truck or having buddy’s ride pull yours out of a ditch, towing is part of the off-road experience. Let’s take a look at what you need to know about towing and how an aftermarket bumper can help.
How Towing Got Started
Tow trucks are a very specialized type of vehicle. Their main purpose is to move other vehicles that can’t otherwise be moved on their own.
How did this idea come about? We have a man named Ernest Holmes, Sr. to thank.
Around a hundred years ago, Mr. Holmes found himself in a bit of a dilemma. He was called by a friend whose car was stuck in a creek. Obviously, this wasn’t a task that just two people could accomplish, especially with the tools available at the time. It took six men, a bunch of blocks, some rope, and a few hours to recover the vehicle from the water.
This frustrating experience was the catalyst for the invention of the first tow truck. Since then, tow trucks and towing has saved many vehicles from situations that seem almost impossible to recover from.
When You Need To Get Towed
There are many situations where a vehicle may have to be towed. Sometimes, it’s because there’s a mechanical problem that makes it unable to move on its own. It can also be that the vehicle needs to be moved because it’s in violation of certain laws and regulations. Other times, a car or a truck is working fine but it’s just stuck and needs a push in the right direction. Or in this case, a pull.
Since we’re all about off-road adventures here at BumperOnly, that last scenario hits close to home. We’ve certainly heard our fair share of stories about trucks that had a hard time getting out of a sticky situation. Here are a couple of examples.
Out in a backwoods trail, the weight of a truck might simply be too much for the soil and one or more wheels might sink into the mud. And because is mud is still pretty wet, the wheels just can’t get enough traction to get the truck moving again.
Another situation would be when a driver misjudges the terrain their vehicle would be passing through. If your truck is trying to climb over some rocks, a steep incline, or trying to navigate a narrow path, you have to be careful. One maneuvering error is all it takes for the vehicle to flip over. Once that happens, you’re not going to be moving that thing on your own.
Professional Off-Road Towing and Recovery
If you’ve tried everything you can think of by yourself but to no avail, the only option might be to call for help. Tow trucks that are made specifically for off-road recovery jobs will likely be the ones to come to your rescue.
Depending on the towing company, they may have different vehicles in their fleet. When it comes to off-road towing, they will probably send out their heavy duty tow trucks your way. Just like your truck, these beasts are made to handle the rough terrain on the way where you may be stranded. However, keep in mind that their job may involve more than just getting your truck upright again.
If necessary, they may also have to haul your baby back to civilization. They’ll have to traverse the same off-road path but this time with another vehicle in tow. As you can imagine, this is a difficult task. But there are ways you can make it easier.
Tools You Need To Unstuck Your Truck
Most vehicles roll out from the factory with the necessary parts built in so that it can be hooked up to a tow truck. However, they’re made with only the most common towing scenarios in mind and it’s unlikely that off-road situations are included in that.
Heavy Duty Bumpers
Aftermarket bumpers are practically a necessity when taking your vehicle off the beaten path. They provide excellent protection along with rugged good looks. Most importantly, they’re a way to add almost limitless utility to your truck. That versatility is essential if you ever need help with towing or recovering your rig.
Manufacturers such as Go Rhino, Iron Cross, and many others build heavy duty bumpers that are designed to handle off-road challenges. That’s why they offer bumpers with built-in mounting points for accessories like winches, hooks, and tow straps. This gives you several options to help pull out your truck if it ever gets stuck.
As for the accessories we’ve mentioned, here are a few you should think about getting when it comes to towing and vehicle recovery.
If you need a tow point, D-rings are one of the first things to consider. They can be installed in the shackle mounts of an off-road bumper or certain parts of the vehicle’s frame. When properly attached, D-rings can help with recovery even at tricky angles. Just be sure to find one that’s specifically made for off-road applications. Those rated at 30,000 lbs. to 40,000 lbs. should be enough but you can use even stronger ones if you want.
Hitch Mounted Tow Points
Many bumpers like the Ranch Hand Legend come with a hitch receiver. These can be used to attach different accessories - many of which can help with towing your truck.
Do note that you can’t just use any hitch accessory that you can tie a strap to. As always, need to make sure the tow point, (the hitch, in this case) is properly secured to the frame and has a strong enough rating for the task.
Another accessory that many aftermarket bumpers can be installed with is a winch. If you ever get stuck, having a winch can mean the difference between getting out of the situation on your own and having to call in the cavalry to pull you out.
If you’re looking for winch Warn makes some of the most popular winches and winch bumpers around. In fact, manufacturers even design their bumpers to be compatible with a Warn winch.
Straps are indispensable for off-road recovery. That’s what going to attach your rig to whatever it is that will pull you out, after all. There are two kinds: tow straps and recovery straps.
- Tow straps have metal hooks that are designed to attach to tow points such as D-rings. They’re made to pull a vehicle that can’t move on its own but isn’t stuck in the trail. If a vehicle is stuck, don’t use a tow strap as it can be very dangerous, even lethal. You’ll need a recovery strap for that.
- Recovery straps have a bit of elasticity to them. Once it’s stretched, a recovery strap provides some pull as it compresses back to its original length. This reduces the sudden force that the vehicle would experience if the strap wasn’t elastic (like a tow strap) which also helps prevent something from breaking and flying off from your truck.
What NOT To Do When Towing
Because you’ll be pulling a truck that weighs a few tons, the forces involved are enormous. You can damage your vehicle if you’re not careful. And if something breaks off, it can easily injure anyone close by.
Below, you’ll find a few things you absolutely should NOT do when towing or recovering your vehicle.
- Don’t use a tow ball as a tow point. They are not strong enough nor secure enough.
- Don’t use under-capacity tow straps, chains, or cargo ratchet straps to pull a vehicle. They will snap, damage your ride or hurt someone in the process.
- Don’t tie the straps on the bumper itself, on a nerf bar, or anywhere else that isn’t specifically made with towing in mind. Specially-made mounting points are there for a reason.
- Don’t go beyond the rated capacity of your vehicle or any of its components. You will definitely break something.
- Don’t let bystanders near when recovering a vehicle. As we’ve mentioned, when pulling vehicles of this weight, things can fly off with extreme force. Anyone close to the action is close to danger.
Be Ready When Things Go Wrong
It’s not always fun and games when you’re out on the trails. Before you tackle some treacherous terrain, make sure you’re prepared. Equip your vehicle with the right tools so that when worse comes to worst, you won’t have to worry about leaving your rig in the dirt.
Check out BumperOnly’s collection of heavy duty bumpers and accessories. Made by leading manufacturers, our bumpers will protect your truck and help you out when it’s stuck in a tight spot. Get in touch and we’ll help you find the perfect bumper that’s guaranteed to fit your vehicle and your towing needs.