Soft Shackles some Do’s and Don’ts when using them in 4×4 recoveries

Soft Shakles some Dos and Don’ts

Soft shackles are becoming a key part of the four wheel driver’s toolkit. And it’s a good thing that they are. I’m a big fan of soft shackles. But in this video I’m going to show you some of the things you can do and can’t do with a soft shackle. So it’s going to make sure that we can get out there and wheel well.

A soft shackle is not a new invention. The sailors of old invented these like a couple of hundred years ago when they were sailing around the world in square rig boats and getting seasick. They invented these to try and cure seasick. No, they had nothing to do with seasickness Matthew. All right. They invented these for whatever the heck they wanted to do with their boat. But nowadays we use them in four wheel driving and I like them. I like them because I find that they’re flexible in the way you can use them, I like them because they give you a means of connecting up lots of different items in different ways. But there’s some things you need to know about using them. And there’s a couple of things you need to know about not using them.

How to Use a Soft Shackle

The first thing is how do you actually use it? Well, if you look here, we take that part, we slide that down, we make that eye bigger, we put the ball part the knot through there, and then that tightens up and it chokes itself there. It’s ready to use. To take it apart, you just open that eye up again and pull those out. Now what you’ll find is as you use them a bit, they soften up and become a little bit more supple. These are brand new from the guys at Factor 55. So that’s how you hook them up and disconnect them.

I want to show you another key thing about using them. So I’m just going to hook it up to the front of the Bundera there. I’ll grab the tree trunk protector. So let’s just pretend we’re hooking up to do something here and we’re hooked up like that. Now some people have been saying that it doesn’t matter where you have the knot in relation to these two devices, I think it does matter. I think it’s important that the knot sits next to one of the eyes. The eye of the strap is probably a good spot or up next to your shackle. But let’s assume we’re going next to the strap, because I think that’s a better solution of those two options.
See how the knot is choking here? And this part of the soft shackle is pointing at 90 degrees to the knot for the most part. That in my opinion, is going to give you a stronger connection than if we do it this way. See how this section now is wanting to pull itself over the knot? Now it’s not going to come off the knot, but I think that subtle difference is going to give us a better connection. So in my opinion, always put the knot up next to the eye like that. It’ll give you a nice solid connection point. All right? So that’s effectively how you use your soft shackle.

The Negatives of a Soft Shackle

So here’s one of the negatives of a soft shackle. These recovery points here, because you can’t buy a recovery solution for a vehicle like this. I’ve manufactured these myself and they’re completely up to the task. Is there a rating on them? No, there’s not. But I would tend to use them in tandem together. But let’s just stay on focus here with regards to the soft shackle. Because this is just a drilled hole through this piece of steel here, there’s a sharp edge on this inside point here. That means when we are pulling on this, the soft shackle is exposed to that sharp edge. That’ll create a point loading, which can cut and damage the shackle. That is not a good thing. So whenever you use a soft shackle, you need to have a suitable radius. Now this hitch link has got that suitable radius on the inside there.
So a soft shackle through here, which would be used in the rear tow bar assembly of a vehicle is going to be a great solution. Okay, that’s going to work, but it’s not going to work if we put the soft shackle through this point here. So on the front of my vehicle I use rated bow shackles. There’s another point that can cause a cutting and that’s when you’ve got a vehicle set up with a bridal pull and you were to use soft shackles. This front edge here, if that’s not radius sufficiently, the soft shackle can potentially engage with that and again, create another point loading or if you are pulling sideways on the vehicle again. So at the end of the day, the key thing is wherever a soft shackle goes, there needs to be a nice gentle curve or radius so that nothing can cut them and damage them. You do that and these do have excellent versatility.

An Example of using a Soft Shackle

So let’s have a look at this setup here. This is how I would do a kinetic recovery on the front of this vehicle. Say I was bogged in sand, which is the predominant place you should be using kinetic recovery because you don’t tend to have a winch anchor point as readily available. I would have my rated bow shackles on the front two points there, again, because I don’t want to cut my soft shackles on those points. My tree trunk protector up like that. Now, there’s two ways you can connect to this for a kinetic recovery. One way is you feed that through the eye of the recovery rope like that. But the way I would do it just because it’s easy, is I would simply put a soft shackle in there and away we go. All right, nice and easy. So that’s how I would connect up for a kinetic recovery.

Obviously there’s other rigging scenarios and there may even be situational considerations that mean something in this is not going to work appropriately. So this is why every single recovery you do is unique. It’s unique in every regard, the amount of energy required, the equipment you will use, the vehicles, et cetera. The situation, everything’s unique about it. And this is part of what I like to do for you guys, is give you tools and ways of thinking so that when you get in your unique situation, you can approach it with tools and ideas and concepts that help you make the best decision for your situation. Because at the end of the day, what I teach you here today or show you here today will need to be tweaked and modified for your given recovery and situation.

Another Example of using a Soft Shackle

So I want to show you another potential way I would use a soft shackle in this sort of scenario where I’ve got a bridle set up on the front of the vehicle and I need to do a recovery. So let’s pretend I don’t have a winch on the front of my vehicle and I’m horrendously stuck and it’s going to be a massive recovery load to pull me out of the situation. So we can grab the rope retention pulley here he’s got a fantastic winch and he’s parked up. He could run his winch line down through the rope retention pulley, which is mounted on my soft shackle there. And now we’ve got a double line winch pull set up to give me a good winching recovery. And that’s where again, this soft shackle’s going to come into play.


Now, these soft shackles, there’s two different types.
There’s the light duty and the extreme duty unit. Factor 55 say to us that the light duty one is the only one that should be used on the rope retention pulley. And the reason is it doesn’t have this external protective sheath. These two units have different load ratings. This one has a higher load rating than this unit here. And because of that and because we are doing, by virtue of using this device, we’re increasing the amount of winch pull by essentially two times, not quite, but two times, I want my highest rated equipment at this point because it’s going to be subjected to the highest potential loads. So even though they say there’s a higher frictional loss here and we’re talking quite a minuscule amount, to be honest, I would rather have that frictional loss and not have my rigging fail than put something in there that’s of a lighter duty. That’s my personal feeling. I’ve spoken to Factor 55 about that and well that’s all I’ve done. I’ve spoken to them about it. I hope that’s been helpful.

I hope you’ve learned something here. Look, if you love what I do here at MadMatt 4wd and you’d like to get your hands on any of this equipment or other Off Road gear, there are two ways. If you’re in Australia is you can go to A247 get a bit a of discount and I’ll get a bit of a kickback/commission from that as well as it helps support the production of our content. Our international audience is able to get their hands on this gear through the MadMatt 4wd website.

All right guys, I hope that’s been helpful. I’ve enjoyed bringing you this bit of information, and showing you how to use some of this gear.

I’m MadMatt, stays safe on the trails.

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