I have a couple of other posts about driving on the beaches and in the sand. Generally it’s not a problem on the Texas beaches we’ve been on, but loose sand or unexpected mud can happen. When it does it pays to be prepared. ESPECIALLY if you enjoy remote camping like we do. More than once we have had limited cell service and no neighbors as far as we can see. In those times a few basic tools can make the difference between a difficult situation and an emergency.
If you like to be prepared for any emergency, I put together this list of gear that you should consider. NOTE: I have not used most of these exact items myself. But I have done a fair amount of beach driving and off-roading. I am basing my recommendations on reviews by others and my general experience off-roading.
TRACTION MATS / RAMPS – If you get stuck, these can help get you out. I’ve never used them myself, but I have used boards since that was all that was available. The boards worked, but I can see the advantage of these sand ramps which are designed to get a vehicle un-stuck. In fact, the ones linked HERE actually have a review from a buyer that got stuck on South Padre Island (which is a great Texas beach) so we are hitting close to home.
Less expensive and more compact, foldable mats are also available. Check these out.
SHOVEL – Since you are camping, you probably already pack a shovel. If you don’t, you should because it comes in handy for many other uses besides digging out a stuck truck.
We carry a short D-handled shovel similar to this one. This one’s cool because it’s made by Omix-ADA which also makes Jeep parts.
Also check out this classic military folding shovel made by Ames in the USA. This is the real thing and is well-rated.
RECOVERY STRAP – I carry a strap with me at all times. They can be indispensable for getting pulled out, or pulling someone else out. They are also known as tow straps, snatch straps, etc. NOTE: Do not buy a strap with hooks on the end for extrication. Those hooks become deadly missiles if the strap breaks or hook comes loose.
ARB is synonymous with quality and ruggedness in the off-road world. If you want the best, get ARB. If you need a value option there are plenty of other straps on the market as well.
Check out straps and accessories here. If you have a larger rig, get the 24000 or 33000 lb rated strap. Smaller suv’s and 1/2 tons will likely be fine with the 17500 lb strap.
AIR COMPRESSOR – If you do get stuck in soft sand one of the best actions you can take immediately is to air down, or deflate, your tires. There is a range of opinions on what pressure is best, but generally you need to let out a lot more air than you are comfortable with!! Rule of thumb: deflate to 1/3 your street tire pressure. So, if you run 30 psi on the street, deflate to 10 psi. BUT once you deflate and get unstuck, you need to inflate before getting back on the road and that is where an air compressor comes in. There is a range of compressors out there, from inexpensive units from Harbor Freight to rugged ARB compressors like this one. (Or if you have the funds, check out this top-of-line ARB unit). I would stay away from the little units called inflators. They pump too low a volume and will take a long time to pump up 4 tires.
Another well-known brand of compressor is ViAir. There are several available on Amazon.
Well, these are some basic tools you might need for a sand emergency. It’s possible to get a lot more involved and better equipped. You need to make the call based on where you are going and how often. Some other equipment to consider: Hi-Lift jack; hydraulic bottle jack; electric winch.
PS: I had to mention this ARB air bag jack. My days in the fire department opened my eyes to the power of air to lift heavy stuff. We used heavy duty air bags for extrication purposes in car accidents, for example. This concept could be used to lift a stuck vehicle, and sure enough, ARB makes one just for that purpose. It’s a little pricey, but it has an 8800 lb rating, and the concept is well proven. Check out a video here.