When The Going Gets Tough!

     In off-roading, everything usually goes fine until it doesn’t. Whether the terrain gets too tricky, trail gets too slick, or some kind of obstacle has you held up and unable to move, eventually it comes time for some sort of assistance. While wheeling with friends has the benefit of throwing a tow strap and quickly getting back on track, sometimes it’s necessary to go the extra mile and use a winch instead. When the time comes for a moment like this, it is imperative you know how to appropriately operate and care for the equipment. Once you’ve realized you’re not moving under your own momentum, it’s time to spring to action and set yourself up for a safe & effective self-recovery.


• Figure out your surroundings. During the day you’ll likely be able to do this without help, but at night it’s incredibly important to illuminate the area with rock lights, forward LED bars, and rear-facing flood lights to ensure there’s nothing around your vehicle that might cause damage as you get pulled forwards or backwards.
    • Locate the best winching point. More often than not there should be a sturdy tree within reach, though every once in a while it might be necessary to connect to a friend’s vehicle as an anchor point. Put your winch in “free spool” and pull the winch line towards the anchor point.
      • Secure a strap or tree-saver. Never wrap your winch cable or synthetic line around a tree, instead use a strap, going as low as possible around the tree. Secure your winch hook or a shackle around the loops of the strap. If you’re attaching to another vehicle, hook up to a tow hook or receiver-mounted D-Ring.
        • Set-up your pull. Switch your winch to the “engaged” mode, and run the winch until the slack is out of the line. At this point it’s recommended to put something over steel winch line, be it a sweatshirt or blanket, as a safety measure in case the line snaps. This isn’t always necessary with synthetic lines.
          • Winch yourself free! Run the winch control wire through your driver’s window and put the vehicle in gear. As you use the controller to have the winch pull, aid it by easing onto the gas. Once you’re “free”, be careful to not drive over your winch line, as it can compromise the integrity of the cable.


            Once you’re in a spot where you can move under your own power, put the vehicle back in park and get to work putting your gear away, being sure to keep tension on the winch line as you spool it back into the winch. While it’s okay to rush this process on the trail, it’s good to then re-spool it cleanly at home.

            The most important thing in self-recovery is to constantly be aware of your surroundings. Keep people away from the winch line while it’s under tension, listen for odd noises that might indicate an issue. In comparison to judging your terrain by resistance to the gas pedal, your winch likely has the capability to pull you through or over anything at all without much hesitation. The last thing you want to do is snag a brake line on a tree branch, drag a driveshaft over a boulder, or puncture a tire through the sidewall. Black Oak’s rock lights, light pods, and LED bars will make a world of a difference in ensuring you’re aware of every obstacle you’re up against while winching off-road!


            Featured Lights:

            40w Flood POD Lights & Amber Lens Covers

            Author Ryan Mckee - 2180 Miles