Although aftermarket parts grab most of the off-road headlines, a fun adventure can turn into a disaster quickly if you haven’t packed the proper gear. Every time you head off of the road, make sure your vehicle has a properly outfitted off-road kit to help you deal with many of the common emergencies that can occur. The most important item to carry is a Hi-Lift jack, suited to the suspension height of your vehicle.
Although the Hi-Lift jack is primarily intended to lift one point of a raised vehicle off of the ground to change a tire or access the undercarriage, the jack has several other uses. Use it as a manual winch, a tool to gain additional clearance over obstacles, or as a support link in conjunction with a motorized winch kit. Carry the appropriate jack for the lift height of your vehicle. A 48-inch lift jack is too short for use with vehicles lifted beyond stock ride height.
A Hi-Lift jack is a valuable compliment to your motorized winch, especially when you need to clear an obstacle or dig your vehicle out of a wet, muddy hole. Use the lift jack to raise the stuck portion of the vehicle and then use the winch to pull the vehicle forward or backward through the obstacle. In many cases, a motorized winch will be ineffective at getting your vehicle out of a hole or over an obstacle, since the unit pulls in a direction parallel to the ground. In some instances, a tree or other fixed object may be just out of reach of your vehicle with the cable and chains you have available. Use the lift jack to connect a winch cable to a chain or nylon strap and gain up to five feet of additional length.
When setting up a Hi-Lift jack, use only suitable lift points along the frame rail. Attempting to lift your vehicle using a lift point along the body or the fender can cause serious damage and potential injury. When using a lift jack as a manual winch, use only strong, galvanized chains or cable. When you lift the vehicle, you may need to insert logs, rocks, brush and other materials as a makeshift surface to regain traction. Use a hatchet to clear some brush and wood and gather any hard, flat debris available. Stuff the material into the rut beneath the wheel once you have lifted that portion of the vehicle. Pack the material in as tight as possible and then lower the vehicle. You should be able to gain traction and clear the rut.