Building a bug-out vehicle means preparing for a wide range of road conditions, from everyday commutes on wide-open highway to slippery ascents up muddy trails. If you find yourself in a true emergency situation, it should go without saying that you don’t want to be stuck in a ditch spinning your wheels. In all likelihood, no one will be around to pull you out, and time will be of the essence. So, you should prepare multiple methods of vehicle recovery in case you get stuck in the mud, sand, gravel, ice or snow.

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The most obvious tool for vehicular rescue is a winch. These bumper-mounted electric devices can easily hoist your vehicle out of that rut. Just unspool the cable, loop it around a nearby tree or rock, and hit the remote to start pulling with thousands of pounds of force. However, like any mechanical device, winches can fail. You’d better not put all your bug-out eggs in that basket.

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One clever alternative to a traditional winch was developed by Australian off-roaders, and it’s incredibly simple. The Bush Winch doesn’t use electric motors of any kind — instead, it’s powered by one of your truck’s drive wheels. As the wheel spins, it spools up the excess slack in the winch line, and pulls your truck slowly out of its rut.

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The Bush Winch is attached by a set of special wheel bolts and nuts, which must be installed ahead of time. Then when your vehicle becomes stuck, you can step outside, twist the winch drum into place on the nuts, and attach the winch rope to a nearby object. This can be done on any of the four wheels, assuming you have a 4×4 or all-wheel-drive car or truck. Each kit includes two cast alloy winch drums and two 66-foot high-strength winch ropes, as well as a wheel nuts and a carrying bag. Optional rope guides and ground anchors are also available.

While we can see some drawbacks to this system, such as stress on suspension components and wear on the rope as it contacts the ground. There also needs to be enough space between the wheel face and terrain to fit the winch drum, so you might need to do some shoveling. But it’s still a clever backup system to add to your vehicle rescue kit.

MSRP for the Bush Winch kit is $568 Australian dollars, which equates to roughly $432 U.S. dollars at the time of this article. For more info, go to BushWinch.com.au.

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