We’ve all been doing it for as long as we can remember. Somebody gets stuck; you roll out the snatch strap, connect it to the bogged fourby and the recovery vehicle using a couple of rated shackles and complete the recovery. It’s the way it’s been done since Willys Jeeps were still available off showroom floors.
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The problem is, if a recovery point lets go or the shackle has been incorrectly attached you’ve now got a heavy piece of steel flying through the air at a speed only a little slower than a bullet. People have tragically lost their lives or sustained horrific injuries this way. It’s why we keep beating on the ‘safety first’ drum here at Unsealed 4X4.
So when American company Bubba Rope wanted to send us out some of their award-winning Gator Jaw soft shackles, we were immediately interested in seeing how they work compared to the tried and true 4.5T rated bow shackles in our recovery kit. First impressions were a little off-putting. “This thing’s going to snap like a postal worker – it weighs less than a helium-filled balloon.”
But we were so wrong.
Sure, the Gator Jaw is light. It actually floats – handy for when you’re doing a water or mud recovery; but it’s made from Plasma rope which is one of the highest-strength synthetic ropes available. The ones we used are actually rated to 32,000lbs, or just over 14.5T for those of us who aren’t slaves to an outdated measurement system (sorry America but you know it’s true)… so they’re not lacking in the strength department. But still, how would they go in a real-world recovery?
Pretty bloody good, actually. They’re opened by slipping the spliced loop over the knot and then simply pulled tight once it’s been threaded through the recovery point. No pins to fasten, no chunk of metal to potentially become a lethal missile; and they can easily be washed and air-dried along with your snatch straps. They just felt safer too, during the recovery. We did a couple of decent pulls on a fully-loaded 150 Prado going uphill on a soft sand dune and the Gator Jaws still looked brand new. They’re designed to take the load without stretching and given that our American cousins use these things to recover their ‘muddin’ trucks’ that usually attack mudholes the size of Tasmania on tyres that start at the 44in diameter mark, I think it’s safe to assume they work.
The only thing I’d do is probably look at running a rubber grommet through my recovery point holes to reduce the wear and tear on the rope… but that’s me.
Personally, I think they’re an excellent invention and represent a significant leap forward in the safe-recovery stakes. They cost a bit more than an equivalent steel shackle, but when you consider that they’re actually stronger, they weigh less, they won’t clink around noisily in your recovery bag and they’ll fit any recovery point (no matter how small or fiddly to get to), I reckon it’s money well spent.
GATOR JAW SYNTHETIC SHACKLE AVAILABLE FROM
$42.99 (USD) doesn’t include Shipping