4WD vehicle recovery is an inescapable element of driving off road. Preparing yourself for the inevitable before heading to the backcountry will ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for you and your passengers. ARB’s 4×4 recovery gear is engineered and manufactured to the highest standards, making it ideal for recreational use as well as competition.
A snatch strap, as the name suggests, is used to ‘snatch’ a vehicle that can no longer maintain forward momentum under its own power. ie. Bogged or unable to climb due to loss of traction, swamped in a water crossing, stuck on an obstacle or loss of power. A snatch strap is an elastic recovery device that stores kinetic energy and has the ability to stretch to a significant degree and return to its original length. This elasticity combined with the momentum of the recovery vehicle creates a ‘snatching’ effect that can extract a vehicle without shock loading the attachment points or vehicle.
Specifically designed to stretch under load for maximum performance, an ARB snatch strap is a highly effective method of extracting a bogged or immobilised 4WD when a second vehicle is present. The unique design of the strap allows it to stretch and return to its original length, aiding recovery and great reducing the likelihood of vehicle damage.
This ability to stretch is a distinction between a snatch strap and a tow strap, ARB snatch straps are elastic when under load whereas a tow strap is not, the benefits of which are twofold. Firstly, the kinetic energy generated by the elasticity actually aids the recovery itself, and secondly, the elasticity greatly reduces the likelihood of vehicle damage during recovery. The enormous weight of each 4×4 and the weighted force of whatever caused the immobilization puts enormous strain on the point where the straps are attached, and without some elasticity, there is a substantial risk of damaging the vehicle. For vehicle recovery, a snatch strap is more suitable than a tow strap.
When choosing a snatch strap for use, it is recommended that the strap has a minimum breaking strength (MBS) of between two to three times the vehicle’s gross vehicle mass (GVM). When using a snatch strap to recover a stranded vehicle, the MBS should be suited to the GVM of the lighter of the two vehicles involved in the recovery process. If the GVM is not stated on the identification plate or registration certificate of the vehicle, consult the owner’s handbook or vehicle manufacturer. It is important that the correctly rated snatch strap is used. If a strap with a too heavy breaking strength is used on a light vehicle, the desired stretch may not be achieved and more stress will be placed on the recovery points.
When the only thing preventing your vehicle from imminent danger is a narrow fabric strap, nothing but the best will do. Don’t trust your vehicle to substandard recovery gear that could jeopardize your safety and your vehicle. Likewise, make sure you’re using appropriate equipment for your situation. The old adage “the right tool for the job” can certainly be applied to vehicle recovery. For every situation, there is an article of recovery gear specifically designed to handle the task – from snatch straps to exhaust jacks.