Off Road Sand & Beach Recovery.

Getting bogged in off road sand will happen to everyone that frequents on sand.

The number one reason for getting bogged in the first place is by not lowering the Tyre pressures enough or at all when driving in off road sand..

Toyota Hilux bogged in sand.

How to help prevent getting stuck:

Lowering the tire psi to suit the soft sand will go a very long way to prevent any vehicle troubles, also maintaining momentum is just as important.

When coming to a stop try not to use the brakes as you will create a mound of sand in front of the tyres, instead coast to a slow and smooth stop.

Turning around on narrow beaches is another easy way to get bogged and having to turn around on a narrow beach will not be uncommon.

The best thing to do is to try and reverse until you reach a wider section of the beach. This is not always an option however.

In soft areas on the beach keep to the existing off road sand tracks/ruts as they will be more compacted than the surrounding sand.

General beach and off road sand bogging’s:

First thing to do is get the shovel out and start digging, then lower the psi to somewhere in the mid to high teens (14-18psi) if not already done. This will get you out 9 times out of 10, unless bogged to axels which will happen from too much right foot/wheel spin while not moving.

If shoveling sand won’t get you out of off-road sand it may be time for a snatch strap or maxtrax.  A winch is rarely the best option in sand as it can pull the recovering/winching vehicle into the sand, possibly causing a second bogged 4x4. Sand is all about momentum which a winch is not designed to provide.

On the rare occasion where a winch is better than a snatch strap and all other methods is when a 4x4 is stuck on a razor back dune.

A 4x4 is stuck on a razor back dune.

Stuck at the very peak in a way where the front and rear wheels are not touching the ground. A snatch strap could damage the vehicle as it will suddenly be pulled while the entire weight is held by the middle of the 4WD. A sudden pull could damage the drive shaft, fuel tank, door sills, exhaust etc.

A winch in most cases will be able to pull slowly so if any damage it should be minor. It’s also safer than a snatch strap as the recovered vehicle would come charging down towards the recovery 4x4.

Toyota Hilux stuck on a razor back dune.

Toyota Hilux stuck on a razor back dune.

Turning around on a narrow beach: 

If unable to continue forward along a beach and reversing is not working; (perhaps too far a distance to do so), turning around may be the only option.

This can be a real challenge at times especially on beaches with steep sloops down towards the shoreline.

To do this safely, get yourself some maxtrax, bog bags or any other type of sand traction aid.

Best to have another vehicle on standby with a snatch strap or winch as if possible.

Without any of these aids a lot of shoveling work in the sand will be required, expect more than an hour’s digging and drop the tyre psi to 12, avoid turning too much as having wheels turned will create more resistance and cause the rear wheels to dig.

With psi lower than 12 there is a high risk of rolling the tyre of the rim. Rarely this will result in a 3 point turn; expect a 12-18 point turn affair.

Off road sand dune, Bogged sideways: 

Driving on off road sand dunes can be quite dangerous for those who have never done it before.

The golden rule is to keep the vehicle straight when climbing up or descending sand dunes. Never drive across a sand dune when climbing up or going down as it will highly result in a rollover.

Even when trying not to end up side’s ways on a sandy slope or sand dune it can still happen by accident.

Applying the brakes too hard or reversing down a failed dune climb it’s not too hard to get it wrong as it can be hard to know which way the front wheels are pointing sometimes. Having someone guide you down a big hill is a good idea; this will reduce the chance of getting into a nasty situation.

If stuck sideways on a sand dune or even a small rise you are in danger of tipping over.

Start with the shovel and dig from the higher side to try and level the vehicle out even if it’s only a little bit, once done carefully access the situation and start thinking of options and ways to recover the 4x4.

Think of everything, sometimes the quickest way out is not best, from past experiences a good 20-30 mins on the shovel is most of the time the best option. Dig and move, dig and move, inch by inch until out of danger. What you want to do is get the 4WD straight facing up or down the sand dune or rise; from there it’s usually an easy drive.

Other situations require a vehicle at the top of the dune when possible to assist by using a winch or extension strap not for pulling just for holding.

Attach the winch or extension strap in a way so that it prevents the bogged vehicle from tipping over while the recovery is taking place.

The anchor vehicle must be placed/parked so I can’t roll down towards the recovery aid, so best keep the driver in the vehicle should it start to move!


Bogged on the beach shore line: 

This is the worst case scenario for the vehicle, this is something that needs to be avoided by all costs. If driving along the beach and the tide has caught you out its better to stay on higher ground, if this means spending the night there waiting for the tide to subside then so be it!

If caught out and the ocean is hitting the vehicle get help with a snatch strap NOW and drop the tyres down to 8-12psi, if you are the only vehicle in sight I hope you have maxtrax, bog bags or some off road sand ladders because using the ever so useful shovel might be too late. When the water is hitting the wheels the more you dig the worse it will get.

Prevention is the only sure way, always think before you park up and start fishing, surfing or whatever activities you’re doing.

Get a tide chart book, they only cost about $3-$5 which is nothing compared to you 4X4!

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