So what is the well dressed TJ vehicle recovery setup sporting for the upcoming wheelin' season? You start with 100 feet of Viking 3/8" Trail Line (winch line) which is made from Samson's 12-strand AmSteel Blue (12 strand single braid) synthetic line. If blue is not your favorite color, you can opt for black, silver, green, yellow or orange too. Adorned with a Winch Safety Thimble (more on that later), your winch line will be the envy of every winch on the waterfall! For those that are number crunchers, this 3/8" Viking line is rated at 19,600 pound breaking strength. That is more than twice the rated pull of my Warn 9000i winch. The line I got has 10' of 7/16" heavy duty polyester line protector. The line protector can be slid up and down the line as necessary to provide abrasion protection for the synthetic line.
No recovery system (especially those of us living in the rocky
west) would be complete without a 25' Rock Line. What is a rock line?
Think of it as a tree saver on steroids. Here in central Arizona, we don't
have many trees that provide a good anchor point. Rocks we got....and lots
of them too.
The rock line is made from 3/8" AmSteel Blue line and protected by a 1/2" braided polyester jacket that lies under the blue covering and ends just under the black heat shrink (in the above photo). To keep debris out of the line, Jon covers the entire line with a tightly braided nylon sleeve (that blue covering you see in the photo). The loops at the end of the rock line are covered in a red nylon sleeve to help protect them too.
During one of our discussions, Jon informed me that the 30'x2" yellow strap that I admitted to using (to go around the car sized rocks for an anchor point) was NOT the right tool for the job. The yellow straps (I've seen a lot of them in use out here on the trail) are designed to stretch under load and so make for a poor anchor line. Remember, we do want to minimize the stored kinetic energy in the line while it is in use. OK....guilty as charged.....and I won't be using a yellow strap as my anchor point any more.
Speaking of yellow straps (I always carried one to help those "other" vehicles get unstuck!), the Yanker Line (shown at the top of the page) completes the recovery trio. Now this line is all about stretching. Made from 100% Premium DuPont Nylon Double Braid, this line will typically stretch 10~20% while yanking a vehicle out of a stuck situation. It will stretch over 30% prior to breaking. I got the 7/8"x30' version that is rated at 28,300 pounds. Jon recommends a rating of 5 to 7 times the vehicle's weight for a properly sized Yanker Line. Too light, you run the chance of it breaking. Too heavy and you won't get the benefits of the line's "stretchy" factor.
The Storage Bag is made from a fish net looking material that provides good ventilation should your Rock or Yanker lines get wet during use. (I probably won't see much damp line syndrome here in Arizona but I know for a fact that some of you can't find a dry 4x4 trail to save your soul. LOL!) Several designer colors to complement your other recovery gear are available.
OK....so I took the liberty "presenting" the gear I got with a bit of humor mixed in. After re-reading the opening page of this article, I realized I may have dumped on some of you and while that was not my intention, I still stand behind what I said. Your recovery gear is every bit as important as the rest of your vehicle mods. You are going to rely on it the most after you failed to get from point A to point B, right? Right!
Before I get too far from the things I wanted to cover on this page, I need to mention this little gizmo. It is the Winch Safety Thimble produced by Tough Stuff Products, Inc. I have a number of this company's unique products on my TJ. This one is an absolute must if you own a winch. OK....so I am a bit biased and just because I know one of the owners, Blaine Johnson, that still doesn't take away from the significance of this winch line add-on.
Gone are the days of the winch hook. Gone are the days of having the hook fall out of the loops on your tree saver. Gone are the days of holding on to the hook and feeding it (and your fingers) into the fairlead. Yeah, we all should know what we shouldn't be doing while operating a winch.....but I've seen it on the trail none the less.
The Winch Safety Thimble won't pull through your roller or hawse
fairlead. It is rated for winches up to 15,000 pounds and works with
all common D-rings and shackles. The Safety Thimble was designed to fully
protect the 5/16"~3/8" line where it wraps around the thimble's support groove.
This groove keeps the line safe from drops onto the rocks. And for those watching
their weight, you'll save about 50% of the weight of a safety winch hook.
You can order your synthetic line from Jon with the Winch Safety Thimble
attached. If you already have synthetic line, get in touch with Jon and order a
Safety Thimble. You can attach it to your existing line in about 10
minutes by following the directions available at
Here is a photo of the Rock Line safely and properly attached to the Viking Trail line. I don't care how hard you try, once the bolt is threaded into the shackle, this isn't going to come apart no mater how much slack or tension your winch line experiences. It doesn't get any safer than this!
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