So, the worst has happened, a Tornado has torn up the area, and you need to get from point A to point B. If you are running standard road tires on your bugout vehicle, and have no winch, you are probably in trouble. Are you prepared to drive through storm debris? Will your tires hold up with minor nails and other obstacles?
I am involved in a Texas Recovery Group on Facebook. It is a community approach to helping others in the area who have become stuck. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, we received a message stating a family was stranded at their house for a week. They got stuck trying to get out, and three trucks got stuck in the process of trying to get them out.
The people who were stuck, and those who got stuck trying to get them out, ended up in a soft bog, nearby the house. The driveway was a long winding sand drive, about ¼ mile off a secondary paved road. It seems that with all the rain due to the hurricane, the boggy area was softer than normal. In the process of trying to pull the folks out, one truck got bogged down, and another truck who tried to get him out also got stuck. By the time I arrived on the scene, the second truck was able to get out, leaving the original vehicle, and the first truck that got stuck. Nobody on the scene had the proper equipment, winches, shackles, or snatch blocks. They were forced to get into the bog, to try and pull them out. One fellow used a strap wrapped around a sharp edge part of the frame. The result was a broken strap.
Using a combination of 3 snatch blocks, and attaching my vehicle to a tree, we were able to winch out the recovery vehicle with several pulls. Then we were able to winch out the original vehicle. After all the cars were recovered, I was driving out of the long sand driveway and again, the road collapsed under my truck and I was able to winch myself out one final time.
When you pull with a winch, each line you add to the pull doubles your pulling power, so if you are pulling 1000 pounds, and add one snatch block (pulley), you can pull 2000 pounds, or the force required to move an object is half. If you add a second snatch block or three lines, you can pull 3000 pounds with the same strength as one line, or 1/3 of the force. That means, if the power required to move an object is 1000 pounds, then the power would be about 333 with three lines.
While you are sorting out a plan for your bugout or everyday vehicle, there are a lot of choices. My main priority for such a vehicle is it must be a 4×4 or some kind. I just wanted to touch on an essential aspect of all our vehicles that will make a huge difference, and reduce the chances, and likelihood of flat tires.
While I am personally a fan of BFG tires, there is a vast array of brands and quality of tires. There are a few critical aspects you should research and consider about tires for your bugout vehicle. Your tires should be load range “E” if you can get them, and you should try to get the maximum number of “plies” or layers of tire liner that you can. This helps define the toughness of the tire, and the loads it can withstand.
In this list, you can see as the road range goes up, so does the plies:
- Load Range C 6 Ply 50 psi
- Load Range D 8 ply 65psi
- Load Range E 10 ply 80psi
When I run around town regularly, my tire-road contact is good, and the ride is good at 42psi. However, when I hook my heavy trailer up to the vehicle, I need to increase the tire pressure to 52psi to maintain the same tread contact, or the truck will drive “mushy” and not handle well. If I were running without a trailer, and in mud, sand, snow, I might also lower my pressure and speeds to maximize my traction, and not damage my tire or rims. That being said, it is imperative to have a DC powered air compressor in your rig to make adjustments on the fly.
In summary, a winch is a critical piece of equipment for recovering your vehicle or other people’s vehicles. Bear in mind that you should buy a quality product with a known reputation for reliability, such as a Warn winch. You should also purchase a winch sufficient for the size of the vehicle you have. You will also want to take some classes to learn the basics of safe, effective winching. There is an abundance of companies that offer professional courses such as @pitts4x4co or @twinmtnoffroad, for example, who offer private or group classes. There are hundreds if not thousands of videos which explain tire pressures, and most recovery classes will also discuss tire pressures, and other vehicle considerations, so before you spend a bundle, take a class.