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How to use Recovery Boards

Whether you are Exploring solo, with friends, or part of a convoy, one essential piece of equipment that you should be carrying is a set of recovery boards.
The 4x4Explorer vehicle is equipped with a full range of recovery gear ranging from a ground anchor, dead man, winch, high lift jack and the list goes on…….

The piece of equipment that we use most are our Maxtrax.

Photo 1 of How to use Recovery Boards
Typical cross axle recovery Macaulay Valley.

Most of you will know, but for those that don’t, a recovery board is a plastic or nylon board with lugs that can be placed under a wheel to aid recovery. Some recovery boards have a ramp at either end, which can be placed under a wheel, whilst others only have a ramp at one end.

Recovery boards are great in a number of situations. They will get you out of mud, sand, gravel and snow and provide useful traction on a slippery track.

Knowing how to use you recovery boards is crucial.

If you get stuck and are going to use your boards, it is important that you deflate your tyres to gain more traction. We normally run our tyres at 36psi on the road and drop them to around 20-25psi when travelling off road or over serious corrugations. When using your boards, drop your tyres to around 15-18psi to get maximum grip. Once the recovery has been successful, you can re-inflate them to normal off road pressures.

Photo 2 of How to use Recovery Boards
Using the maxtrax to build a road while recovering a broken truck Potters hut.

It is important to get the boards under the wheels requiring traction. You can either do this by digging or by using a wheel lift to raise the wheel enough to get the board underneath. It is also important to clear a ramp or channel for your departure. If you are bogged in deep mud, a vertical wall in front of the wheel will provide resistance. Dig this away to create a gentle ramp.

If you have four boards, which is ideal, great. If you don’t, place the boards under the wheels that have lost traction. If you don’t have Diff lockers, you will probably be in a cross axle situation with one wheel at the front and one at the back spinning. Time spent digging will not be wasted to make sure that you get out on the first attempt.

Once you’ve got your boards in place, dropped trye pressures and have prepared your exit, engage the lowest gear that you have and drive out slowly. You should never spin your wheels on a recovery board as this will burn off the lugs that are there to give you traction and make them useless!

Photo 3 of How to use Recovery Boards
Recovering a stranded vehicle. Typical beach recovery.

If your boards have leashes, make sure that these are attached, as recovery boards have a habit of becoming buried in mud and sand and can become virtually impossible to retrieve. Before purchasing Maxtrax, we lost or destroyed four complete sets of cheaper boards. It’s amazing how they can simply disappear!!!

Which recovery boards should you buy? They range in price, but are all basically copies of the original Maxtrax. Apart from the price, the fundamental differences are the design and material out of which they are constructed. Most of the cheaper boards are made of plastic, which is brittle and will not flex, causing them to become basically single use items. Maxtrax are made of nylon and come with a lifetime guarantee, so worth that little bit extra……

After having spent a considerable amount of money on single use boards, we watched a video by Ronny Dahl where he tested various brands of recovery boards, trying to destroy them. If you’re not familiar with Ronny’s videos, check him out on YouTube and decide what’s best for you.

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