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2010 Outback 2.5 Prem
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Discussion Starter #1
I've never been stuck in 20 yrs of Subie ownership, in either snow, sand or terribly maintained forest service roads. That said, I'm upping my kit and want a 2" x 20" snatch/recovery strap and likely soft shackles to attach to the factory emergency tow bolt. I intend to never, ever use it. It is not an investment, I don't want ARB.

The problem I find is Amazon, suppliers and other retailers throw the word 'recovery' around when they should say 'tow strap,' which is a static line. This makes product searching very frustrating. You want the stretch and snap of a dynamic nylon strap to avoid torquing your frame or on a simple recovery. Also looking for a similarly bargain basement pair of soft shackles. Harbor Freight does not appear to carry true recovery straps. Tow straps, yes, but not 'snatching' types.

Do you have bargain basement recovery straps in your kit? What brand, where did you get them? Am I being unfair to the lowly static polyester tow strap? Everything I've read says not to use them to unstuck a vehicle.

P.S. I already have AT tires (Falken Wildpeak AT Trail), shovel and GoTreads (a foldable MaxTraxx alternative), tire repair kit (actually used successfully in the field!), Viair compressor, stock car jack (can support with GoTreads). Decent tires, ability to air down, shovel and GoTreads should theoretically get me out of most traction-related problems. If I'm cattywampus in a ditch, the recovery strap may be the only tool to save the day.
 

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2010 2.5 CVT Limited
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1,704 Posts
The challenge is the low-dollar nylon straps, even though they stretch more than polyester, are not really intended to do a dynamic recovery. The ~10% stretch inherent in a nylon strap is really there to soften the tug.

That said, I bought a 2"x30 foot Rugged Ridge nylon strap from Home Depot. I think it was less than $50. I've only used it once for a light tug on a 1/2-ton 2wd Chevy on the beach.
 

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2019 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited
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93 Posts
If you're using the factory screw-in tow hook as a recovery point, I'd recommend staying away from snatch, or recovery, straps. This photo has been circulating around quite a bit, supposedly of someone using the rear tow hook & a snatch strap to recover another stuck vehicle:

508158


The factory tow hooks are really only intended to be used for light towing, such as getting the vehicle up on a flatbed towtruck. They're not really designed for recovering the vehicle if it's really stuck. Snatch straps put a much larger strain on towing points than a tow strap or winch, due to how they work.

From personal experience, I've used the front factory tow hook with a D shackle twice to get unstuck from deep snow using a winch on another vehicle, and while it definitely was not ideal, it did at least get me out. At the end of the day though, if using a snatch strap means the difference between being stuck in the middle of nowhere & possibly damaging your vehicle, I'd probably take the risk. But if it's not quite that serious, might be worth just using the tow strap.

I purchased a random tow strap from a brand called Rocket Straps on Amazon when I first started offroading, just as a placeholder until I could figure out a more permanent solution. It cost me around $40. Thankfully, I haven't had to use it yet, and once I get more solid recovery points installed in the front, I'll just replace it with a proper snatch strap.
 

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2015 3.6R Limited w/ES
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When I bought my Outback, after a fair amount of research here, I got an ARB705 and a pair of dyneema soft shackles for about $100 total. These things are not astronomically expensive, and I want them to work well and safely, so I didn't see any reason to cheap out. But, yeah, a unibody vehicle is not well suited to serious vehicle recovery.
 

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2010 Outback 2.5 Prem
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Discussion Starter #5
If you're using the factory screw-in tow hook as a recovery point, I'd recommend staying away from snatch, or recovery, straps. This photo has been circulating around quite a bit, supposedly of someone using the rear tow hook & a snatch strap to recover another stuck vehicle:

View attachment 508158

The factory tow hooks are really only intended to be used for light towing, such as getting the vehicle up on a flatbed towtruck. They're not really designed for recovering the vehicle if it's really stuck. Snatch straps put a much larger strain on towing points than a tow strap or winch, due to how they work.

From personal experience, I've used the front factory tow hook with a D shackle twice to get unstuck from deep snow using a winch on another vehicle, and while it definitely was not ideal, it did at least get me out. At the end of the day though, if using a snatch strap means the difference between being stuck in the middle of nowhere & possibly damaging your vehicle, I'd probably take the risk. But if it's not quite that serious, might be worth just using the tow strap.

I purchased a random tow strap from a brand called Rocket Straps on Amazon when I first started offroading, just as a placeholder until I could figure out a more permanent solution. It cost me around $40. Thankfully, I haven't had to use it yet, and once I get more solid recovery points installed in the front, I'll just replace it with a proper snatch strap.
Refreshing perspective, thank you. I've read a lot of the opposite, of how you don't want a static tow line if you have to use factory tow hook. I certainly have no clue, hence my inquiry. What where you thinking for more solid recovery points on a Subaru? What are they bolted onto?

I might do as you suggest, just go with a cheaper tow strap. There's a lot of things that need to fail me before I'd need another vehicle to pull me out. Poor judgement on road surface composition, AT tires not adequate, tire deflation not enough, shovelling is hopeless, GoTreads inadequate for the conditions, etc. I picture a bad misjudgement of sand composition and depth, or sucking saturated clay-ey desert road after rain. I don't mind a $40 item I might not ever use, but I sort of hesitate throwing a hundred dollar bill into a dark recess that I'll likely never use. I'm miserly like that.
 

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Hello Roslen:

I'm new here on the forum & don't have much experience with Subaru Outbacks (lurking to influence a future purchase). But I have a lot of experience with 4x4 recoveries via winches, static and dynamic lines, etc. The points Mutsuraboshi brings up are very valid, but not necessarily contradictory to the information you reference about static verus dynamic lines for recovery with the factory tow hooks.

The problem is most folks that use dynamic lines for recovery try to do the Youtube version "snatch" recovery. Hook the line to the stuck vehicle, leave a bunch of slack, take off at high throttle with the tow vehicle and hope that the shock loads imposed "pop" the stuck vehicle free. With that technique the shock loads to the recovery points is tremendous and likely to cause damage like that suggested by Mutsuraboshi. However, if you use a dynamic line without the "snatch" it can actually impose lower shock loads on the recovery points. Hook the vehicles together, leave no slack, slowly and carefully move ahead with the recovery vehicle. The dynamic line stretches imposing smoother, less intense loading. If the stuck vehicle begins to move the dynamic line absorbs some of the shock from unequal speeds of the two vehicles and you can achieve a smooth, effective recovery. Unfortunately, if it's your vehicle being recovered, you have no control over how the recovery vehicle will drive, especially if the initial attempt spins its tires. But that is true with a static tow line as well - hook your stuck vehicle to someone else's vehicle via a static line and they can tear off your bumpers or torque your "frame" even more easily - especially if they back up a bit to put slack in the line.

It's hard to control how someone you don't know drives when they are "helping" you recover your vehicle, but achieving that control is probably more important than the nature of the gear you use. In an ideal situation you'd drive the recovery vehicle to protect your stuck vehicle, but the stranger that would let you do that is rare!

Howard
 

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2019 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited
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Refreshing perspective, thank you. I've read a lot of the opposite, of how you don't want a static tow line if you have to use factory tow hook. I certainly have no clue, hence my inquiry. What where you thinking for more solid recovery points on a Subaru? What are they bolted onto?
My plan, so far, has been a class III trailer hitch for the rear, and a complete bumper replacement for the front. Both of which use the eight mounting bolts for the steel bumpers. In the rear, the hitch mounting plates are sandwiched between the frame and the OEM steel bumper. In the front, you would replace the front steel bumper entirely. My plan was also to see if I could double-up the front mounts, to not focus all the strain on one point like with my current tow hook.

The hitch was easy to install, but the front has been a problem I've been looking for overcome for awhile now. I think I've found a solution, and in a few weeks, I'll know if I made the right choice. But there aren't really any easy options for this. Bumper replacements for Outbacks are rare & expensive.
 

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2020 Onyx
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This is slightly off topic because you are all talking about the Gen 5 but I wonder if the Wilderness Edition has a slightly different bumper beam with more reinforcement and attachment to the unibody. It does have dual tow hooks front and back instead of single, and I suppose it would allow you to use both instead of just one?
 

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This is slightly off topic because you are all talking about the Gen 5 but I wonder if the Wilderness Edition has a slightly different bumper beam with more reinforcement and attachment to the unibody. It does have dual tow hooks front and back instead of single, and I suppose it would allow you to use both instead of just one?
Hello Silver Onyx:

Using two recovery points joined by a long bridle is a great way to spread load on the stuck vehicle. I use a bridle made up of two 6' crane lifting slings when working on recoveries with our trucks. Relatively long "arms" of the bridle reduce "multiplying" the force on the recovery points. With a bridle your pulling force is exerted at the apex of a triangle and if the arms are short the angles from the recovery points to the pull are great and can cause damage. I'm not sure how the recovery points on the Wilderness or any modern Subaru (my last Subaru was a 2002 WRX) are configured, but passenger oriented SUV points involve a long threaded rod with an eye stored in the vehicle until towing. If you use two of these and the length between the portion threaded into the vehicle and the eye is more than an inch or so, then there will be a lot of sideways force trying to bend those rods when used simultaneously with a bridle. The shorter the bridle the greater that sideways force.

We're contemplating purchasing a Wilderness when they become available. Right now I'm thinking we might mount one of the Warn "semi-hidden" bumper inserts without a winch to the front to get two apparently strongly mounted accessible recovery points and a bit more protection for the front of the car. All just ideas at this point! I don't think we want a permanently mounted winch on a Wilderness as we don't anticipate using it for a lot of true 4x4 travel - we have a couple of other truck-based options for that and each of those has a winch (one has two!).

Howard
 

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2020 Onyx
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Relatively long "arms" of the bridle reduce "multiplying" the force on the recovery points. With a bridle your pulling force is exerted at the apex of a triangle and if the arms are short the angles from the recovery points to the pull are great and can cause damage. I'm not sure how the recovery points on the Wilderness or any modern Subaru (my last Subaru was a 2002 WRX) are configured, but passenger oriented SUV points involve a long threaded rod with an eye stored in the vehicle until towing. If you use two of these and the length between the portion threaded into the vehicle and the eye is more than an inch or so, then there will be a lot of sideways force trying to bend those rods when used simultaneously with a bridle. The shorter the bridle the greater that sideways force.
Thanks for the CRITICAL point about the bridle length. I recall a similar discussion when it comes to wrapping around a tree - if you leave short "arms" then it's weak.

I think those threaded rods aren't meant to have tension other than straight-on.

 

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Thanks for the CRITICAL point about the bridle length. I recall a similar discussion when it comes to wrapping around a tree - if you leave short "arms" then it's weak.

I think those threaded rods aren't meant to have tension other than straight-on.

Hello Silver Onyx:

I just ran across a good video explaining the use of bridles for vehicle recovery. If anyone is interested here is the link. Robert Pepper, the gentleman who produced the video, has a large library of recovery videos. I like his stuff because I find his low key, data rich approach refreshing compared to many video channels.

Howard
 

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I like how he used the scales to demonstrate the forces instead of just math.
 
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