Sometimes you need to fill in a small ditch, and there just aren’t enough rocks or logs handy, an old duffle bag or traction ramps could do the trick.

IF YOU CARRY A LARGE, tough bag you can just fill the bag with whatever debris you can find in order to construct a filler. Works best if you leave the bag in place and bring the stones and small logs to it.  This is also a good time to deploy the small semi-automous recovery devices you may have in the car (sometimes known as children),



1. A “large, tough bag” refers to a flexible container.  Not the occupant of the passenger seat.

2. Yes, shovels exist and should be used.  This tip does not replace the shovel, it’s merely another technique for the times when you’ll need it.

3. Lateral stability of the bag isn’t the best.  In this photo the D3 is at an side angle, but the other wheels are providing enough lateral traction so all is good.

4. It is always tempting to use wood to fill in gaps, but if it is wet then expect to slip.  Rocks provide much better traction when wet than wood.

Traction ramps – more than just sand

Here’s another tip.  Last weekend we did some winching with TJM Sunbury, and demonstrated use of Maxtrax as ramps.  You need at least two, preferably four stacked together but if you can do that then you can build a handy ramp.  This particular set is many years old, veteran of lots of recoveries (I should really put little stickers of cars on the side like they did for kills in WW2) and they’ve not broken yet. 

The Ranger would have run out of ramp angle had it not been for the traction ramps.
Quite a lot of force there, and still not busted. It would be possible to put a log or rock under the ramps to help spread the load. A big advantage of the ramps is that they provide lots of traction for the wheel so it tends not to slip, although generally it is best to winch gently without over-driving the wheels. We left the Ranger’s auto transmission in D which provided some torque to assist the winch without a risk of overruning the cable and creating a shock load.


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