Get some advanced winching skills that’ll see you out of just about any drama…



So you’ve got a shiny new winch bolted up to your bullbar, you’ve followed all of the advice and re-spooled the rope on it under tension, and even got yourself mock-stuck to test it out to see if it works – you think you’re basically good for every situation now? Nuh-uh, you’re only just getting started my friend.


Y’see, winches are really not that great at winching out a stuck 4X4 in a straight line. I mean, sure, they can do it alright; but did you know there are methods you can employ to make life not only easier (and safer) on you, but on your winch too? Pull on your reading gloves, switch your phone onto freespool and get the solenoids fired up for some of the handiest winching techniques that’ll get you out of just about any jam you find yourself in.



Remember back at high school and you were sitting in a boring physics class thinking to yourself, “When am I ever going to use this nonsense in the real world?” Well, welcome to the real world of pulleys and mechanical advantage. Doing a double line pull during recoveries should really be the first option, at least from a ‘taking it easy on your gear’ standpoint; only not considered if you don’t have a sufficient length of winch rope or the terrain won’t allow it. Every other time you should be using this technique. Not only does it effectively halve the load on your winch, it doubles the torque too – making for a much easier and more controlled recovery.



Simply spool your rope out to your anchor point, run your tree-trunk protector (or shackle if using another vehicle) through a pulley block, feed the rope through and then back to your vehicle. Mechanical advantage and halved load on your winch for days. Yeah, your winch will only wind in at half its normal speed – but you aren’t competing in the Outback Challenge, so why rush it? If you’re feeling seriously fancy and have a couple of spare pulley blocks, you can even run the rope back to your vehicle, back to the anchor point then back to your car for even more mechanical advantage – excellent for heavily-loaded rigs that are stuck deep.


As a side note: It’s worth noting that there will effectively be double the load on the anchor point during a double line pull, so make sure you choose a nice sturdy tree to use.



This one is not so much for self-recovery, but it can be invaluable for a range of other uses such as pulling mates out of bogholes or moving downed trees off the track. Let’s say there’s a mud pit straight ahead with an easy chicken track off to the side. Your mate charges in and promptly gets his 4X4 well and truly bogged. You assess the situation and decide that it would be easier to pull him out frontwards. You park up on the chicken track next to him, run your rope out to an anchor point and through a pulley block, then back to the stuck vehicle. Nek minnit – he’s out and you’re doing your best to make him feel as much like an idiot as you can… even though you know he’ll probably be pulling you out of the next jam you find yourself in. Still, it’s what mates do.




Again, this one is not so much for self-recovery as it is for use when the direction of recovery is not in a straight line – such as when driving overgrown or particularly rocky tracks. As the name suggests, you use pulley blocks (in case you missed it, these things are invaluable when winching) to run the rope in a completely different direction to the one your vehicle is pointing. Excellent for tricky recoveries or dragging trees or obstructions off the track.



This one is a little left field. In fact, so much so that we’ve only heard of a few guys doing it  (apparently with good results), but it’s definitely based on sound physics principles so it’s worth throwing in here. Without sounding like we’re writing a dissertation on directional force theory, let’s just say that this technique involves vector multiplication and other complicated and boring principles. The important thing is it actually works.

Here’s how you go about it:

From the rear recovery point of the bogged vehicle, run a tow rope back to an anchor point; and using a pulley block or a truckies’ hitch knot, make it as tight as you can. At the mid point of the tow rope, run a snatch strap at a 90-degree angle out from the tow strap and connect it up to a hand winch, or a second vehicle’s electric winch. Then simply pull on the perpendicular rope. The triangulation of the forces will magnify the tension on the tow rope and pluck the stuck vehicle out. That’s the theory, anyway. This one may need a ground anchor (depending on the terrain) and another vehicle or winching point, but it may well get you out of strife if there’s a lack of better options.



  • Snatch Block/Pulley Block (two or even three is better if you’re travelling solo and remotely)
  • Tree trunk protector (again, having a couple is invaluable)
  • Gloves (because metal splinters in your hand suck)
  • Cable Dampener/s (have the same number as you do pulley blocks)
  • Shackles (3.2T and 4.7T rated – have a few of each)
  • Bridle (runs between your two recovery points and spreads the load on your chassis)
  • Extension Straps
  • Tow Rope
  • Drag Chain (good for trees)
  • Rated Recovery Points (anything else is dicing with death, seriously)




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  1. Seems you were in the wrong classroom when physics of pulley blocks and double line pull (as you put it) were taught.
    There is NO Mechanical Advantage (MA) gained by using a Snatch Block (SB) attached (anchored, not moving) to a tree or whatever, running a cable out through the SB and back to the vehicle. There is a MA in that you have run out twice as much cable over a single line pull, which gets your line pull closer to the centre of the winch drum and closer to the advertised winching capability of your winch. Trouble is you could have got the same advantage with a single line pull out to an anchor point twice the distance away as your supposed “double line pull”.
    To gain a MA using a rope and pulley the formula is: “The number of parts of rope supporting the MOVING block”.
    You also say that you should only use “RATED” recovery points, I am yet to see a Recovery Point (RP) that is actually really “RATED” if you know of some, could you please point them out to me.
    Your report on Shackles was quite interesting, tip, a Rated shackle should have a larger diameter pin than the body of the shackle itself and should be embossed/stamped with the SWL or WLL which is a Safety Factor of usually 6 (gen. purp.), i.e. Guaranteed Breaking Strain divided by 6, as was shown in your test article.
    However what was not shown is the way that shackles are mounted to supposed rated recovery points in real world winching/recovery.
    These aftermarket recovery points almost always have the pin hole in the HORIZONTAL plane and underneath the vehicle, not allowing the shackle to align itself with the line of pull, as we usually don’t find a convenient tree (anchor point) right in the middle of the track, most pulls are off to the side, which causes the shackle pin to get kinked to one side and the cable/rope to pull off centre on the body of the shackle.
    A recovery point must have the pin hole aligned in the VERTICAL plane which allows the shackle to align itself with the line of pull. The ideal recovery point would be on the front of the bull bar, but not attached to the bull bar but to a proper mount in or on the chassis rails, a swivel eye bolt would the the best setup.
    Shackles are designed to have a load applied in the straight ahead plane, as in the Test Video, a pull off centre can greatly reduce the SWL/WLL and cause the shackle to break well before it should.
    I have some pics from 4WD Action magazine from a story on How to Winch showing a shackle connecting a SB to anchor strap and the strap eyes are on one side of the body of the shackle and the SB on the other and I’ve seen a number of dickheads doing just that..
    Ask the company that conducted your shackle tests to test a shackle pulling from the sides
    Look, it is painfully obvious that you are not QUALIFIED to offer winching/rigging advice to anyone, I would imagine that were someone injured from using your “ADVICE” you may be open to legal or criminal prosecution.
    I am a Class 1 Ticketed Rigger, have Crane drivers tickets, Dogmans ticket and Scaffolding tickets and have been for over 40 years, never in the Construction/Mining industry have I seen anyone use Rigging Gear like 4WD’ers do, never have I ever had a serious accident on any work site I was in control of.
    Yet every time I go 4WDriving I see practices that make me cringe, you people have a Duty of Care when you offer advice to make sure it is factual, go buy “The Riggers Guide”, don’t take what some dickhead down the road heard from a mate of his cousin, if bullshit like “Your” double line pull is repeated often enough the dickheads will believe it and your demo using SB to change direction with ropes running off over 90 degrees, christ you have no idea, get the riggers guide, quick.
    You can call me any time on 0407103320, Regards Frank.

    • Well said, by double lining they have decreased the capacity of the winch by adding friction to the system

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