Recovery Gear for Your Lifted Subaru

Hey everyone, Scott from RalliTEK here. I wanted to go over a subject that applies to the off road Subaru market and that is recovery gear and what we recommend having in your car for your off-highway adventures. I met up with Eric Green from Discover NW Expeditions to go over what recovery gear he has in his SJ Forester and in what situation he uses each item in. Eric’s car is set up with a 2” RalliTEK Steel Top Hat Spacer Lift Kit, Standard Height RalliTEK Front Springs, Standard Height RalliTEK Rear Overload Springs, RalliTEK Engine Skid Plate, RalliTEK Transmission Skid Plate, RalliTEK Adjustable Rear Control Arms, RalliTEK Adjustable Toe Arms and finally, RalliTEK Ditch Light Mounts. In addition to the RalliTEK products, he has custom bumpers front and rear with a WARN 8,000 pound winch in the front bumper; his car is ready to tackle anything he can throw at it!

Below is what Eric has for recovery gear; his kit is fairly extensive with a shovel, gloves, recovery strap, recovery rope, tree trunk protector strap, soft shackle, d-ring shackles, snatch block, winch line damper and a set of 4 recovery boards. Follow along as I showcase each product and find out what he uses it for and the pros and cons.

Eric’s full recovery kit consisting of a shovel, recovery rope, recovery strap, tree trunk protector strap, soft shackle, steel shackles, snatch block, winch line damper, winch gloves and recovery boards


One of the most universal and most versatile tools you can have in your Subaru is a shovel. You can dig yourself out, use it as a lever to move rocks or logs around and in some places, it is required to have one during certain times of the year. Here in Oregon, we are required to have at least a 27” shovel during fire season and the fold up shovels do not always meet that requirement. Eric keeps a full size shovel on his roof rack just in case he ever needs it.

Recovery Boards

Eric carries a set of 4 recovery boards in his Forester, he recommends carrying 4 of them in your Subaru because of how the center differential acts. Recovery boards have many uses; you can use them to get out of a situation that you are stuck by putting them under each tire, you can use them as ramps to help get up and over an obstacle or to bridge a gap that is too large for your tire, they can be used as shovels in loose terrain, increase your Subaru’s flotation in sand or snow and can even help level your car out in camp if you have a roof top tent. Recovery boards are available with either plastic teeth or metal teeth and while the metal teeth are more durable, they come at a higher price and also a higher weight. You should refrain from spinning on them if you get either the plastic teeth or metal teeth versions. Eric chose to get the orange boards to ensure that he will have a better chance of finding them after using them.

Eric recommends 4 recovery boards to help get your Subaru unstuck


Gloves are an essential item to any recovery kit, especially if you find yourself having to winch out of a situation. Gloves will protect your hands while you are winching and are highly recommended with both wire rope and synthetic rope winches. Synthetic rope can pick up debris and cut your hands while you are spooling the rope on your winch or pulling it off the drum for use. Eric highly recommends having a good set of thick gloves in your recovery kit.

A good set of winching gloves like these from WARN are a necessity if you plan to do any winching at all

Recovery Strap

If you find yourself stuck, one recovery method is to use a recovery strap, not a tow strap. Recovery straps have kinetic properties and are designed to remove the energy from the vehicles and store it in the strap. Tow straps are a static strap and are not designed to handle the forces that a recovery strap can handle. Tow straps also do not remove energy from the vehicles so they are very harsh if used in a recovery setting. One downfall to the recovery strap is that you do need multiple vehicles to use it but you should always go off road with at least one other vehicle. Eric’s is 30 feet long and has a breaking strength of 14,400 pounds; Eric says the length and capacity have worked well for him when he has needed to use it.

Recovery straps are a great tool to have for a quick recovery

Recovery Rope

Eric also keeps a recovery rope in his gear as well. He prefers the recovery rope over the recovery strap as he says that it removes the energy from the car better than his strap does. The length, capacity and weight of his recovery rope is equal to the strap but it is harder to package because it is larger when it is bundled up. His recovery rope is 30 feet long and has a breaking strength of 29,300 pounds.

Like the recovery strap, a recovery rope is a great addition to any recovery gear kit

Tree Trunk Protector Strap

Another essential item that you need in your recovery gear if you also have a winch is a good tree trunk protector. Tree trunk protector is used if you need to winch yourself out and allows you to safely anchor to a tree or rock. Not using a tree trunk protector when anchoring to a tree can damage your winch line and can also damage or kill the tree, the tree trunk protector will keep that damage from happening to the tree and your winch line. Eric has also said that the length has been adequate to go around the trees that he has needed to anchor to.

A tree trunk protector is a must if you every find yourself needing to anchor to a tree while winching


Eric carries both a soft shackle and 2 steel d-ring shackles in his recovery gear bag and uses them while he is rigging a recovery. They allow him to connect his straps to other vehicles, his winch line to his tree trunk protector or other stationary objects. Pros to the soft shackle are that it is light, it’s easy to store, it’s more moldable and versatile on recovery points, allows him to hook straps together and it will also float on water or other loose terrain like sand or snow. Its weight and versatility do come at a cost though and that is that is susceptible to abrasion since it is made out of rope. It is recommended to have an abrasion sleeve or a protective layer if you are using it around sharp corners to keep the rope from fraying.

Soft shackles are new players to the market but are gaining popularity for their versatility over traditional shackles. Both are must haves in your recovery kit.

Eric’s steel shackles are very durable, strong and do not abrade like the soft shackle does. Like the soft shackle, the strength does come at a cost as it is heavier than his soft shackle, does not float on water or loose terrain and, if used improperly, can become a projectile in the event that one of your recovery straps or winch line breaks. You do NOT want to use this to connect 2 straps together because it will become a projectile should one of the straps break.

Snatch Block

Eric also keeps a snatch block handy in his recovery gear. Snatch blocks are a versatile tool to use while winching; a snatch block is a pulley that can be used to increase the pulling power of your winch, change the direction or angle of a pull and can also be used to get more winch line off of the drum of your winch. If your winch is stalling out or struggling to pull your Subaru out of a situation, then you can get your snatch block out, rig it at your anchor point and run the winch line back to your car. This will effectively double your pulling power while also getting more line off of your drum to get the winch closer to its rated capacity. Should you need to change the direction of your winch line to either get the stuck vehicle to come out at a better angle or to get your winch line to spool onto the drum straighter, you can add a snatch block to your rigging to achieve that result. A snatch block is one of my most used and favorite pieces of equipment in my own recovery kit as well.

The snatch block is one of the most versatile pieces in each recovery kit

Winch Line Damper

The last item that Eric keeps in his recovery gear is a winch line damper. This goes over the winch line for safety and is designed to add weight to the line to help it fall to the ground and also act as a parachute to slow the line down should it break. If you have wire rope then you will want to position the damper towards the middle of the winch line and if you have synthetic then you will want to put it at the hook. These are the best locations to help slow the line down if it were to break. The damper that he uses has pockets on the inside if additional weight is required and also has Velcro straps to ensure that it will not fall off of the winch line. If you do any winching, be sure to add one of these to your arsenal for that added safety factor.

The winch line damper is a key component to winching

RalliTEK 2019 Crosstrek

Hey everyone, most of you have probably seen our latest R&D project when it was unveiled at SEMA in Warn Industries’ booth. We purchased the car to collaborate with Warn on their latest product, a Semi-Hidden Winch mount for the 2018 and newer Crosstreks but we kept it under wraps until the show so I wanted to go over the build details.  Our initial plan was to have this car stand out enough to be noticed but keeping everything functional and transform it into an off-road machine. We installed our 2” Steel Top Hat Spacer lift kit, 1” Raised RalliTEK springs, Engine Skid Plate and Transmission Skid Plate, and our Ditch Light Brackets that were originally developed for the 2015-2018 Outbacks. Accessories from other vendors are Method MR701 wheels, 235/75-15 Kumho RoadVenture MT51 tires, Curt Roof Basket, TorkLift EcoHitch and VisionX LED lights for various places on the car. We are very proud of the final product and love every aspect of the car, here are some pictures of it on the trail where it is most at home:

When it was a fresh build, so clean!
We tried to drive on this stump to try the rock sliders out, ended up getting stuck and needed to winch
A little 3 wheel motion, the WARN AXON 55-S pulls this car around with ease
Sitting on the rock sliders, they worked perfectly!
On a photoshoot for Trails Magazine, looking good in the sand!
This Crosstrek does great in the snow too!


Thank you for reading, if you have any questions about this car or would like to know anything about it, we would love to hear from you! Give us a call, 503-619-0055, or shoot us an email to!



Increase Subaru Off Road Traction

Hey everyone, Scott from RalliTEK here with another blog about enhancing your off road experience while in your Subaru. I wanted to talk about one of the easiest ways to increase off road traction and that is “airing down” before you hit the trail. Letting some air out of your tires before a trail day increases traction by allowing the tire to be softer so it can grip obstacles better and it also allows for a nice comfortable ride as well. Most Subarus run tire pressures between 30 and 40psi and while this is great for on road handling and fuel economy, this makes the tire stiff and unable to conform to the terrain as well which can lead to lots of spinning and sliding. While airing down before a trail day, it isn’t uncommon for others in the group to ask what everyone will be running for tire pressure and in our RalliTEK Subarus, I typically will air down to about 18psi or so for a general trail day. The pressure that you will choose will depend on a few things, the weight of your car, the size of your tire and wheel and the terrain you will be in. The RalliTEK Outback has 245/65-17 tires and because it is pretty heavy, I felt that 18psi was the lowest I would go for the trails in the Tillamook State Forest, the tires performed great but there were a few times I felt the sidewall try to roll under and I wanted a little more support on some of the bumps so I didn’t risk damaging a wheel. The RalliTEK Crosstrek on the other hand is on 235/75-15 tires so it has more sidewall and is also lighter, 18psi was a great pressure and one could probably go down to 15psi if needed.

18psi, let’s hit the trails!

To air my tires down, I use an ARB E-Z Deflator that I’ve had for a number of years now. I like using it because it is quick and the gauge has been accurate. It screws onto the valve stem and then you unscrew the valve core and move the slide to let air out. It is a little cumbersome for the first few uses but it gets easier to use as you go.

Here you can see the ARB E-Z Deflator letting air out of the tire

When you come to the end of the day, you will need to air your tires back up to street pressure before hitting the highway. There are a lot of different methods to air a tire up and since we have relatively small tires, any of the methods work great! I have a Milwuakee cordless air compressor that I use and it works really well; you enter the tire pressure you want and then hit start, it will turn off automatically when that pressure is reached so you can socialize freely. There are also 12 volt options that you clip onto your battery and air up that way, the 12 volt compressors that plug into the cigarette lighter work in a pinch but are not up to airing up all 4 tires. The last option is a bike pump. These actually work pretty well but you will need some endurance as it took 55 pumps per tire to get our 215/75-15s to street pressure from 15psi.

Airing up with the Milwaukee cordless air compressor is a snap
Here is a great example of a compressor that clips to your battery, this system is pretty quick!
Small downside to this style compressor is you have to stand at the tire you are filling, a fast compressor makes this task easier

Lifted Subaru Winch

So you have your RalliTEK lift and you installed a good set of All-Terrain tires on your Subaru and set out for your first off-road adventure. The car is doing great handling everything that you throw at it but you soon find the limit and wind up stuck. While you are digging yourself out, you keep thinking that there has to be a better way to get unstuck so you start researching when you get home and you come across winches. Many questions immediately enter your head, “which manufacturer do I select?”, “what size winch do I need?”, “once I do get my winch, how do I mount it to my Subaru?”

Just like with tires, there are a lot of brands of winches on the market so choosing which one to go with can be somewhat confusing. Price point is typically the number one deciding factor on which brand to choose but if you can afford a premium brand winch; WARN, Come-Up, etc., you really can’t go wrong. After price point, you will start looking at things like available winch capacity, warranty terms and even customer service reviews. Extensive testing procedures and component quality will increase the price of the winch but also remember that you get what you pay for.

You selected the brand you want to buy and you start looking at their product line and notice that there are winches for Jeeps and trucks and then winches for ATVs and UTVs, how do you select which style to go with? To properly size a winch for your Subaru, there is a simple calculation that you can do to determine the capacity that you will need; VEHICLE WEIGHT X 1.5 = WINCH CAPACITY. For a real world example, the RalliTEK Outback weighs right around 4,000 pounds. 4,000lb X 1.5 = 6,000lb meaning you will typically want to find a winch that is at least 6,000 pounds. That formula was developed to provide a winch heavy enough to recover the vehicle at the highest extreme without stalling the winch motor or applying unneeded stress to the internal components. In some cases, you can bend the rule a little bit but you don’t want to choose a winch with too little capacity.

The RalliTEK Outback is fitted with a WARN ProVantage 4500-SSD which translates to a 4,500 pound winch with synthetic rope and a shorter drum width than the standard ProVantage 4500. If you remember from the earlier calculation, you will notice that we are 1,500 pounds shy of the winch we should have installed. While this is true, we picked that winch because its small size made it easy to mount behind the factory bumper and knowing that we will rarely get the car stuck enough to need the 6,000 pound capacity. If we ever get the car stuck to the point of needing a larger capacity winch, we will use a snatch block and run the winch line back to the tow hook under the car. A snatch block is a pulley that is used at the winch anchor that doubles the capacity that the winch can pull essentially making it a 9,000 pound winch. The Subaru drivetrain also limits wheel spin so likely you will never find yourself needing the full 6,000 pound capacity winch that we calculated earlier.

I hope you found this blog informative but if you happen to have any additional questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us by either email or phone!