The 4X4 world is chocker block full of accessories. From 12V pie ovens to complicated recovery kit, all of them promise to make your next off-road adventure a good one. But the humble traction board might be one of the most versatile bits of kit you can buy. Sure, a flash pair of 1150 Lime Green Exitrax might not be able to cook you a pot pie. But if you’re up to your door sills in sand, axle deep in mud, trying to get your roof top tent level for a decent night’s kip, or trying to get your camper-trailer up a rock ledge in one piece then they’re worth their weight in gold. But how do we do right by those sleek plastic boards to make sure they’re going to last the distance? We’re glad you asked.
They’re shaped like shovels for a reason!
Have a deep seated aversion to hard work? You’re not going to like this one. Traction boards are a seriously clever bit of kit, and used correctly they can get you out of all sorts of sticky situations. But the easier you make their job, the longer they’ll last. If you’re bogged in sand or mud, grab your boards by the handles and set to work digging out with them. By ensuring there’s a gentle ramp up from the bottom of your tyres back up to solid ground will not only give you the easiest ramp up out, it’ll also allow the boards to get in deep under your 4X4s tyres and let those traction lugs bite.
Lock them up
Unfortunately, a down side of having good stuff, is other people wanting it too. On the surface, the easy solution is to stash your Exitrax or other traction board somewhere inside your 4X4. We’ve seen them mounted to cargo barriers, stowed in next to storage drawers, even stashed behind the back seat in a dual cab ute. All of those are terrible ideas as soon as you get them muddy! Instead, mount them up out of sight on your roof rack. It’ll ensure you can reach them from either side should you find yourself bogged in a rut. Decent mounting systems should be able to accomodate up to four traction boards, and give you a quick release mount, and provision for a lock to ensure they’re there when you need them.
Don’t spin your wheels
There’s no such thing as a free lunch in 4X4 world. If you want your bar work to be light, you’ll lose protection. Want your tyres to be quiet, you’ll lose some strength. And want an extensive camping setup, you’ll eat well into your GVM. When it comes to recovery boards things are no different. Sure, there’s metal options. But they’re heavy, expensive, and will slice your tyres to smithereens if given half the chance. Traction boards are designed with extensive clever lugs that’ll allow your tyres to bite and crawl you forward, but if you spin your tyres on them you can not only rip these lugs off, you can melt a hole straight through the board. It’s not ideal, but better to damage a $200 board than a $500 tyre. Keep your right foot under control and you’ll be home free.
Link them together
If you’re the kind of 4X4er who thinks more is better, you’re going to love this one! If two traction boards can get you out of strife, four must be able to get you out of even bigger strife right? By bumping your board count up from two to four you’re able to not only have a traction board available for each wheel when you’re proper stuck, but add in a linking plate and you’ll be able to daisy chain them together. Essentially it means that sloppy muddy rut you were previously fighting, has now become a solid pathway just for you. That’s worth the price of admission any day of the week.
Leash them up
If you ever find yourself parked up at Inskip point do you reckon you could do us a favour and have a poke around in the sand? We’ve lost about 47 pairs of traction boards there. They’ll probably be with the other 10T of recovery boards just under the surface. While most people are quick to throw away the straps when they unbox their shiny new recovery boards, they’re probably one of the most important features no matter what the brand. A quick loop through the handle and the strap laid out to the side is all it takes. When the 4X4 triumphantly rockets back onto solid ground, and the traction board is nowhere to be seen, simply pull on the leash and you’ll have your kit back in no time.