CAMPING PRODUCT REVIEWS

4X4 AND TOWING GEAR

 

Camping Product Reviews 4x4 Gear

 

 

 

 

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4X4 AND TOWING GEAR

 

Poly Block Hitch Lift
Poly Block Hitch Lift

 

Price:$130
From: EBay and 4x4 accessory shops
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: Pending
Our recommendation: Pending

 

We had a problem getting the camper trailer on and off the 4x4 because the hitch was too low. This meant getting out some leveling ramps and driving the back wheels of the4x4 up onto them each time we wanted to get the trailer off.

The problem was that the jockey wheel was too long and after almost ripping the top off one of my fingers when trying to force the jockey wheel into place, I decided it would be a good idea to make the task easier and safer.

The result was a tow hitch with a 4 inch lift, a poly block adapter and the bolt needed to hold the two together. There is a separate entry below for the poly block adapter but this entry shows all three items together and attached to the 4x4. It remains to be seen whether this was a good buy or not and we are taking the old hitch along on our next big trip just in case something goes wrong.

 

 

Price:$125
From: EBay and 4x4 accessory shops
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: Pending
Our recommendation: Pending

 

There are many different ways of mounting recovery tracks but we wanted something that wouldn't take up room on the sides of the roof rack as that is where we mount our shovel and awning.

The result was a rear track rack from Mean Mother. It is simple to install and when you don't want to use it, all that remains on the 4x4 is a short metal connector in the centre of the spare wheel.

As all we have done so far is the install, I can't give any recommendations on how tough it is and how well it stands up to corrugations but I will let you know more once we have had a chance to get out in the bush and make some use of it.

Right now it does exactly what we want and puts the tracks in a place that was otherwise unusable.

 

Poly block towing adapter
Poly block towing adapter

 

Price:$60
From: EBay and 4x4 accessory shops
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: Pending
Our recommendation: Pending

 

If you want to change your 50mm towball into a Treg style hitch, you can buy a bolt on adapter that replaces the 50mm ball mounting.

Simply unbolt the existing 50mm ball mount, place the adapter on your existing hitch and then bolt it in place. You will need a rated bolt to do this (sold separately).

We are hoping that the quality of this adapter is 'up to scratch' but just in case, we will be taking the old hitch along on a couple of trips just in case.

 

Rapid tyre deflater
Rough Country Rapid tyre deflater

 

Price:$40
From: AutObarn
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: Pending
Our recommendation: Pending

 

If you do a lot of off road 4x4ing then you are going to be dropping your tyre pressures frequently.

A good quality tyre deflater will make the job a lot more simple. Of course there is always the twig or matchstick option but then you will have to check pressures several times for each tyre.

A rapid tyre deflater allows you to pull the valve and do the whole thing in one go.

The only thing better than a single deflater, is a double deflater but they tend to be a bit pricey.

We are yet to make any use of this particular brand but once we have we will let you know how it performed.

It looks like it is good quality but the only thing that concerns me at the moment is the rather cheap looking hose. Time will tell whether my fears are groundless or not.

 

Reese plug recovery poiont
Reese plug recovery poiont

 

Price:$26
From: EBay and auto stores
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: *****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: Pending
Our recommendation: Pending

 

This is a new item we have recently added to our 4x4 gear as we are heading up to some sandy areas in Shark Bay later in the year.

There isn't much that can be said about it other than it plugs into the Reese towball socket and is used when snatching or towing the vehicle when it gets bogged.

Our camper trailer also has a rear Reese socket so if necessary, it can be pulled out backwards.

The recovery point is small and can be carried plugged in to the camper trailer and I will be happy if I never actually need to use it. Even so, it is nice to have that extra bit of assistance if we do get bogged.

This particular recovery point is rated to 5 tons.

 

Puncture Repair Kit
Puncture Repair Kit

 

Price: $22
From: EBay and auto stores
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: *****
Ease of use: ****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: Pending
Our recommendation: Pending for this kit but you DO need a kit of some sort

 

One essential item you need to carry if you go off road in your 4x4, is a good puncture repair kit.

We have been pretty lucky in the past because we have been on our own in some fairly remote places and haven't had any serious tyre problems.

The worst thing that happened was popping a tyre off the rim while playing in the sand hills near Lancelin.

Still, there is always the chance of a tyre getting spiked by something and having a full plug kit on hand could get you out of a difficult situation - especially if you only carry one spare tyre.

This kit is pretty inexpensive and comes with just about everything you will need if a tyre get staked. I would suggest adding a few more valve cores and a better quality knife for trimming off the plugs.

 

Snatch strap and rated shackles
Snatch strap and rated shackles

 

Price: $99
From: Repco etc.
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ***
Value for money: ****
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: Get one if you are going off-road.

 

We think this is a little over priced considering that a snatch strap on its own can be bought for around $50 but it is handy to have a good quality bag to put the shackles etc. in. It also comes under the heading of 4x4 gear more than caravaning, but as so many people tow their caravan with a 4x4, this is an essential item to carry if you venture off sealed roads.

Snatch straps are NOT like a tow rope. Tow ropes have no 'give' in them and if used to extract a 4x4 from deep sand would, in all probability, break. A snatch strap is designed to stretch and then use the stored energy to spring the bogged vehicle clear.

When using these it is VERY important NOT TO ATTACH THEM TO TOW BALLS AND BULL BARS. You must always attach these to a proper tow point on each vehicle using the bow shackles. When extracting a vehicle keep everyone clear and if you don't have CB radios to communicate between the two vehicles a simple toot of the horn to indicate you are ready will help.

The vehicle being extracted should engage low range 2nd (if it is a proper 4x4 that is) and let the wheels slowly rotate as the tow vehicle moves off. Removing sand from in front of the wheels will help so carrying a long handled shovel is also necessary.

 

Treg Hitch Caravan lock
Treg Hitch Caravan lock

 

Price: $45
From: Caravan dealers
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: **
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *
Product quality: *
Our recommendation: BEWARE! read below.

 

We had a bent-pin style connector for our Treg hitch and it was an absolute beast of a thing to insert or remove because the 'handle' for want of a better word, was difficult to grasp and did not allow you to pull straight.

What we needed was a pin with a T handle that would make 'jiggling' the pin in to place much easier. This one came with the added bonus of having a lock attached but NOT THE LOCK you see in this photo.

We had assumed, obviously incorrectly, that once locked on the lock would just stay in place - even when on the move. WE WERE WRONG!

On our most recent trip we arrived at our destination only to find that the lock had DROPPED OFF. There was NOTHING keeping the locking pin in place and had it popped out, only the safety chains would have been holding the van.

BE AWARE that the original lock that comes with these pins FALLS OFF in transit. We have now replaced it with a 6mm padlock.

 

Caravan load bars Caravan load bars
Caravan load bars

 

Price: $300-500
From: Caravan dealers / CAMEC etc.
RATINGS:
How useful is it: ****
Value for money: ***
Ease of use: ***
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: Ok to buy and essential for big caravans.

 

The first set of anti-sway bars we used was the top (light weight version) that is primarily for small single axle caravans. The difference when using these to tow a van is very striking. We did try to tow the 14 foot van without the bars and found that it did pull the car round a lot more. As the car is a 2 tonne + Cruiser this was quite surprising. Attaching this type involves a bit of effort if you don't have a special bar to assist in fitting the rings on the torsion bars (our 'helper' broke and I had to use brute strength to get the chains on at a good tension.)

The second pictures shows the top end version of load bars as it is designed for large caravans and has to be very heavy duty. The tow ball is height and angle adjustable and allows you to set up the towed van correctly. It is also much easier to use than the model above and attaching the chains is very simple and involves no effort at all. We wouldn't contemplate trying to tow the big van without this fitted. We have found so far, that the big van remains very stable on the road when we have this heavy duty anti-sway assembly fitted. In fact it feels better than towing the small van with the light weight ant-sway bars (above). This may have something to do with the fact that the big van has tandem wheels but in any case the load bars seem to be very good.

There is a LOT of tension in these bars when they are on so it pays to be careful and keep back when releasing them. We saw one person receive a very bad gash in the side of the leg from standing too close.

 

Friction sway control Reese
Friction sway control Reese

 

Price: $200
From: Caravan dealers / CAMEC etc.
RATINGS:
How useful is it: *****
Value for money: ***
Ease of use: *****
How well designed is it: *****
Product quality: *****
Our recommendation: Ok to buy and very good for big vans.

 

This is a good add on to the heavy duty load bars (above). The basic idea of this unit is to help stop the 'tail wagging the dog'. The lever adjusts the tension on a sliding bar making a firmer connection between the towing vehicle and the van. The MOST important thing with these units is NOT TO OVER TIGHTEN the friction control as you can then find that the van will try and push you off the road when taking corners.

 

 

 

 

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