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Frequently Asked Questions

What size rope do I need?

First off, every situation is different, and keep in mind every recovery is unique and it is up to you to evaluate the safety of the situation. This is going to get in-depth and lengthy so if you are looking for a quick answer, scroll down to the “recommendation table” portion below.

Typically, when we are trying to size the right rope for our customers, we tell them to determine the weight of the vehicle stuck, and then we suggest a safety rating anywhere from 1.5 to 4 times that weight for a starting point. For lighter vehicles we suggest a bit higher on that spectrum and for heavy equipment on the lower end. This may seem backwards to most people, and they ask “on heavier equipment wouldn’t you want a higher breaking strength?” Yes, extra safety is always welcome but we also need to consider the amount of nylon between the disabled vehicle and recovery vehicle and not just the breaking strength. The more nylon between the two vehicles will help transfer the energy more effectively and require less effort to extract.

Other factors that we look for when suggesting sizes are soil type, intended use such as recreation, agriculture or commercial, and type of extraction vehicle. Soil types can play a big factor since the friction coefficient of beach sand, snow, or watery mud can vary greatly when you start figuring friction and suction.

Couple quick examples for the safety ratings on size of vehicles and pounds of nylon: 

Example 1: Jeep intended for recreational use with a GVW of 5,000 lbs x 4 = 20,000 lb. rope but we suggest the 7/8 diameter rope that comes in a 20’ length and a Minimum Breaking Strength of 28,600 lbs. Looking further into the situation, you might ask why we suggested a safety rating of 5.72 (28,600 lb. rope / 5,000 lb. gvw = 5.72) for this customer. If we put aside that it is for recreational use (typically these users are hardest on recovery gear) and look into the amount of nylon between the vehicles we will realize that a Jeep at 5,000 lb. and a rope at 20’ weighing around 5.2 lbs. gives us a ratio of 961:1.

Recommendation for Example 1: 7/8”x20’ rope or 1”x30’ is the best fit. If you will only be pulling in that range and 20’ is long enough, then the 7/8” rope is a great fit. You could step up into a 1 rope for the added length to 30’. This will also allow you to help a friend who has 1-ton pickup and ease your mind knowing the rope will hold up.

Example 2: Agricultural equipment such as a semi-truck and trailer weighing in at 80,000 lbs. x 4 would put you at 320,000 lb. rope but that is extreme overkill, and we suggest our 2-1/4” diameter rope for this situation with a rating of 160,000 lb. breaking strength. It is on the low end of our “2-4 times the GVW” scale but here is our logic when you start talking weight of nylon. The 2-1/4” rope is offered in 30’ length (custom lengths upon request) which weighs in right around 82 lbs. The semi-truck at 80,000 lbs. and the rope at 82 lbs. gives us a ratio of 975:1 as you can see is similar to the Jeep scenario in example 1.

Recommendation for Example 2: 2-1/4” rope is a good fit if you are going to be in this range all the time. We almost always suggest the 2-1/2”x30’ for all our agricultural customers because it should be able to handle any piece of equipment you have on the farm at 201,000 lb. breaking strength.

Diameter” x Length’ (MTS)Typical customers requested vehicles and our suggestion on rope size
3/4” x 20’ (19,000 lbs.)Smaller ATVs, UTVs, lawn lowers, small garden tractors
7/8’ x 20’ (28,600 lbs.)UTVs, side by sides, yard tractors, sand rails, 2-door Jeeps
1” x 30’ (35,000 lbs.) Rock crawlers, 4-door Jeeps, SUVs, 1-ton pickup trucks and smaller
1-1/4” x 30’ (52,000 lbs.)Service trucks, utility line pickups 1-ton and 2-ton chassis, skid steers
1-1/2” x 30’ (74,000 lbs.)Utility service trucks, bucket trucks, OTR semis (typically don’t get stuck just slip)
2” x 30’ (131,000 lbs.)Straight trucks up to 24’ beds, farm trucks, smaller tractors
2-1/4” x 30’ (160,000 lbs.)Mid-sized farm machinery, tractors, semis, harvesters
2-1/2” x 30’ (201,000 lbs.) Combines, tracked tractors, bulldozers, excavators, mining, landfills

What is the proper way to use your Kinetic Energy Recovery Rope?

A major misconception on kinetic gear is that you back up bumper to bumper and drive as fast as you can to “yank” the disabled vehicle out. Have we seen it done? Yes. Does it work? Sometimes. Do we recommend it? Definitely not. Here is the proper way to use our recovery gear.

The first thing you want to do is obviously make sure you have the proper gear sized for the job. Not sure what size you need? Check out the “what size rope do I need” section. Next you want to be sure you have a secure connection from the disabled vehicle to the recovery vehicle. Never, ever under any circumstances do you loop a rope around a ball hitch of a vehicle. There any many instances where these break off and become a 5 lb. bullet. We recommend using our soft shackles, and you can find out more about them in the “what are soft shackles” section.

Once you have everything hooked up tight, you will want to do a static pull, meaning pull the rope tight and try to remove the disabled vehicle without any running start. If this does not work, back up 4’ and try a slight running pull. Once you feel the rope tighten up and the pulling vehicle starts to slow down, stop accelerating and hold your brakes. Let the tension of the rope transfer your energy to the disabled vehicle. Your recovery vehicle will more than likely slide back toward the disabled one. If that recovery doesn’t work, try again at 8’ and again at 16’. When doing this never exceed 16’ of a run and 16 mph. After several attempts if you still cannot retrieve the disabled vehicle, you can hook up another rope and pulling vehicle either parallel to the 1st recovery vehicle or in tandem to it and extend your reach to try get to higher and dryer ground.

When recovering any equipment be sure to use common sense when pulling out disabled vehicles and never pull at a 90 degrees angle as this can result in rollovers. Also, when you pull in tandem be sure to keep in mind that you now have twice the horse power and traction to recover the disabled vehicle and a larger rope may be required.

What is a Soft Shackle, and do I need it?

A soft shackle is nothing more than a synthetic rope version of a screw pin shackle or clevis. They are constructed out of a synthetic fiber that is extremely strong and then wrapped in a heavy-duty jacket to help fight abrasion and cuts. We offer many sizes that we then pair up with the proper rated Slingshot Rope.

We prefer the Soft Shackle for many reasons, but the most important is the safety. If something during the recovery were to “let go” or break during a recovery, the last thing we want is a steel clevis flying through the air. Another great benefit to the soft shackle is they fit in much tighter places then the rope eye or a steel clevis. It also doesn’t scratch paint like a steel clevis can. Perfect example for this is on Kenworth Trucks, in which the tow hooks from the factory are a small clevis like “forks” and use a pin to hold the “tow rope” or “chain” in while you pull. The problem with these is there is no room to fit a sizable rope in there limiting your strength to pull. The soft shackle can fit in there with ease and can be coupled to a more sizable nylon rope to give you greater strength while recovering.

Lastly, the Soft Shackle can be put together with others to make a large diameter circle to fit around larger things such as axles or trees if you ever need to anchor while winching during a recovery. They are also perfect to hook up 2 ropes to extend your reach.

Do you offer different rope lengths?

We will build ropes to almost any length, however we stock ropes under 1” diameter in 20’ and 1” and over are 30’. These are by far the most common sizes and good lengths to have to ensure the rope is working properly to transfer the energy efficiently. To learn more about this topic see the category “what size rope do I need?”

We get quite a bit of requests for a rope that is in the 50-60 ft. range, and we have built some but we typically suggest that you buy 2 of the 30’ ropes for a couple different reasons. First off, we will have it in stock and it will be shipped same day instead of waiting about 10-14 days for us to make up your requested length. Also, not every situation will you have enough room to use the entire 60’ rope, if you had two 30’ ropes you can take one out and shorten your length. You then also free up the possibility of taking that 2nd 30’ rope and either pulling in parallel to the other recovery vehicle or in tandem.  Plus a rope that length can become unmanageable and heavy.

What is the Slingshot made of and what happens if it breaks?

The Slingshot is made up of double braided nylon that is hand spliced, whipped and coated all in the United States to ensure a quicker turnaround and quality that meets our standards. The nylon gives us an elongation of up to 30% meaning if you are seeing those types of numbers, you are close to exceeding the strength of the rope, and you need to step up a couple sizes to ensure longevity of your rope.

By having a rope that elongates, it will reduce the cringe-inducing jolts that can cause damage. It is an effective way to transfer the energy of the recovery vehicle to the disabled one. When you use a chain or cable to extract a vehicle, the energy is transferred so rapidly it causes what we call a peak load and that is typically when your piece of recovery gear will fail. When a chain breaks, it is on its way up, it reaches a peak load and will snap, causing it to continue to fly upward and more times than not it seems to fly through a window or hood and can cause serious injury.

If/when a nylon rope breaks and you are using it properly (refer to: What is the proper way to use your Kinetic Energy Recovery Rope) it usually breaks once it is stretched out completely meaning it will recoil towards what it is attached to. If you hook it up from one low point to another it will more often than not fly under the towing vehicle causing no harm. Never hook up the rope from a low point to a high point such as a draw bar of a tractor to the 3 point hitch, this can cause serious injury if something were to “let go” or break. We have heard of people trying to use a “dampener,” meaning they place a heavy object over the center of the rope so if something where to break it would steer the rope into the ground. This should be avoided as it can cause the rope to ricochet and fly in an unwanted area. Always let the rope be in its natural state and do not try to alter its path. If used properly it will stay low and recoil to the hookup point if it should “let go” or break.