When you own a Jeep, chances are you will find yourself off-pavement at some point in your 'Jeeping' career - whether it is something planned or just a spur of the moment thing. And when that happens, there is always the possibility of getting stuck somewhere. So to prepare for that possibility, it is always a good idea to include recovery items - whether self or assisted - on your off-pavement adventures.
Assisted recovery items simply mean products that will help someone pull you free of whatever problematic situation you encounter. Things like tow or snatch straps that can attach to another vehicle with D-rings or tow attachment points. Generally, snatch straps work best to yank a vehicle out of a stuck situation as the strap is flexible, unlike tow straps which are best to pull a non-functioning vehicle off the trail. Many include both in their vehicles so they can be prepared for whatever situation arises.
Self-recovery products are designed, surprise, to help pull yourself out of trouble when it occurs and a winch is the ultimate accessory to make that happen. In fact, most off-road parks and clubs require all vehicles to have a winch installed before they can ride. But choosing the right winch can get a little complicated as there are different pulling capacities, line types and speeds, and solenoid mountings.
Generally, making sure you have enough winch for the vehicle is as simple as taking your Jeep's Gross Weight rating and multiplying it by 1.5. For example, if your vehicle's GVWR is 5,000 lbs then an 8,000 lb winch would work, but many prefer either a 9,000 or 9,500 pound winch for the added power as challenging and hilly terrain can put extra demand on the winch. Some go even higher as there is no detriment for utilizing a higher pulling capacity winch except expense.
Another key factor is line type and length. On average, 80-100 feet of line is more than adequate to accomplish off-road recovery as the more line length added, the more line speed drops. Most winches ship with a wire rope included, which is durable, heat-resistant and more resistant to abrasion than synthetic line. However, synthetic has become extremely popular recently because it is lighter than wire yet stronger and, in case of breakage, simply drops dead instead of snapping back like wire.
Finally, all winches utilize either an integrated or remote solenoid pack. This is basically the electrical components which helps activate the winch and supplies the current so neither the switch nor motor are damaged. An integrated solenoid pack is usually part of the winch housing, sits above the motor to eliminate extra wiring, and essentially forms a 'bridge' over the winch that effectively protects it from possible impact damage. A remote solenoid is externally mounted and traditionally sits to the side in order to protect against excessive heat from the motor. This way, the winch does not shut off from overheating.
Accessory items such as hi lift jacks, shovels, fire extinguishers, first aid kits and gloves can augment any recovery kits, while different winch mounting kits allow you the ability to attach a winch to either factory or aftermarket bumpers.