Equipping your Land Rover

When you join us on club runs or an event, your Land Rover must be well maintained, carry certain safety and recovery equipment and be fitted with recovery points.

If you are a new member, a visitor or a guest, even in a non-Land Rover, your vehicle should still meet our requirements.
A check is made by the trip leader or organiser to confirm everyone has all the right gear and it is in working order. They have the right to refuse a vehicle joining in if it doesn't meet our requirements.

This equipment, the condition of your vehicle and its recovery points are checked annually at one of our Grading Days.

Once checked out you will receive a Grading sticker. You must have a sticker or have been graded to join in one of our runs.

Here, we'll deal with Safety Equipment, Recovery Points and recommended extra gear.

Safety equipment

  1. First Aid kit:
    We recommend a 'full size' kit which has had serious thought go into its contents. We are NOT talking about a tube of ointment and a box of sticking plasters here!
    Talk to a club committee member or better, St John's Ambulance or your local Civil Defence Office - they should have good advice as to what should be in a serious kit for off-road use. Remember, out in the bush with no phone coverage and medics/helicopters an hour away, you might be called on to staunch serious bleeding (a cotton wool ball will just not do!), get someone dry and keep them warm or have to seal up serious gashes.
  2. Fire extinguisher:
    2kg, or more, dry powder. Fixed in place within your vehicle in a place easily seen and easily accessible.
    We have access to approved models at reasonable prices and are also able to arrange for annual checking.
  3. Recovery equipment 
    The basic minimum: 
    One recovery strap or rope
    A stretchy 'bungy' or 'snatch' strap or, a nylon rope made up specially for snatching (These are not Tow Straps or Tow Ropes).
    Rated over 5,000kg. 8,000kg is recommended. Cheap and cheerful supermarket 'car tow ropes' are not permitted to be used.
  4. Shackles
    Two approved (i.e. certified or certifiable) bow shackles (e.g. from a reputable store/shop).
    These will need to be used with the recovery points/ropes/straps on your vehicle and the recovery points on others'.
  5. A shovel or spade
    This should not be the rusty old thing you would have thrown in the rubbish years ago!
    It should be sound, sharp and be able to withstand robust use.
    Even if you don't use it, someone else might grab it for serious work digging a vehicle out of trouble!
    A 'long-handled shovel' has been proven to be best.

Recovery points

You MUST have, as a minimum:

  • One purpose-built recovery point at the front. Two such points are preferred.
  • One purpose-built recovery point at the rear or a suitably strong tow bar mount with the tow ball removed.

What Reovery points? - Where? How?

Recovering your LR from ditches, bogs, rivers and soft sand is not the same as being towed along the road after a breakdown.

“Towing” usually involves gradual pulls and steady motion with a strop or rope.

“Recovering” or "Snatching' can involve short, sharp pulls and high forces with a strop with some stretch in it. These are know as kinetic strops.

Standard LR factory equipment might not be fully suitable for all purposes so please check with us for the latest details.  

Please note: "tie down" eyes or plates, and especially tow balls, are NOT suitable for recoveries.

Some 'golden' rules relating to the fitting and location of recovery points:

  1. Recovery points need to be attached to something solid like a chassis member, the bumper or a bull/winch bar (which in turn are attached to the chassis). On top of or right next to a chassis mounting point is best. The further you go away from a strong point, the more likely it is to bend the structure.
  2. Any points of welded construction should be made by competent, certified welder.
  3. Don’t go drilling holes in your chassis willy nilly; use the factory fitted holes.
    The reason? Chassis members are thin-walled box section. If you simply drill a hole through a box section, pop a bolt in and then tighten it up you will crush the box. At the factory they fit strengthening pieces or tubes inside, in way of the holes to prevent such crushing. They also put the holes in safe places!
  4. Bolts: We recommend using high tensile bolts, grade 8 or better, of 12mm diameter where possible and coat them with grease especially on sections which will lie hidden inside chassis or box sections to avoid early rusting.

What type of recovery point should I use or buy?

There are many varieties, each having their good and bad points. There is no specific club recommendations, only that they are purpose built or manufactured for the job. Remember though with all recovery points that they work best and are strongest when the pull is in a direct straight line with the way they are oriented.  

Tow hooks:
Simply bolted with 2 large bolts through a chassis member, bumper or winch bar. Some have spring clips to retain the rope in place (which are easily broken or bent), some don’t.

 Pros: Can be mounted on their sides or upside down; Quick to use; “simple” to use. Cheap.  

Cons: Ropes and straps can easily fall off when there are no retainer clips; The surfaces inside the hooks can be rough and tear your rope/strap. The shape of some hooks can cripple your ‘flat’ webbing bungy strap. Have been known to bend open after prolonged heavy use.

Tricky to fit to the rear of Land Rovers without having special frames, or pads added to the chassis or bumpers.

For Discos and Rangies with spoilers you’re out of luck; you’ll need to cut away the plastic to accommodate hooks or, be brave and remove the spoiler completely.

Single eye pads

Simply bolted on but usually need 4 medium-size bolts. A large range of styles and sizes available. Make sure the diameter of the hole will take a standard shackle pin.

Pros: Can be mounted on their sides or upside down. Ability to attach not just ropes and straps (with a shackle) but also blocks and pulleys. Cheap. Less likely to bend after prolong use. Once your rope is attached with a shackle it will not fall or flick off. Straps and ropes sit easily through shackles.

Cons: Take longer to use (shackles can be fiddly); Tricky to fit to the rear of LRs without having special frames, or pads added to the chassis or bumpers.

JATE rings (Joint Air Transport Equipment)
Originally designed for attaching air lifting slings to military equipment. The LR official part (can be ordered through dealers) is stylish and capable.
Pros: Designed to fit in place of the factory standard towing eyes up front and at the tie down loops at the rear (watch that they clear the fuel tank though).  

Cons: You’ll need to do some minor cutting in the spoiler on your Disco/Rangie to suit but it can be done neatly. Watch out though! Shackles fitted onto the rings will probably contact with the spoiler and put dents or marks in it (You can keep your spoiler looking nice but stay stuck in the ditch!)

Receiver hitches (Reese or Hayman-Reese ) for the rear
Multi purpose receiver hitches allow you to swap out your tow ball attachment for a towing eye

Pros: As for single eye pads. Simple job to swap from tow ball/bike rack to off-road mode.  

Cons: Expense, special framing needed to suit your vehicle.

Dixon-Bate hitches  for the rear
Considered the crème de la crème of towing/recovery gear for LRs as they just look right.
In basic form these have a towing jaw with a simple lift-in, lift-out pin.
The next model up has a tow ball integral with the pin, dual purpose towing and recovery point.
Pros: Simple and sturdy, easy to use. Can attach shackles, ropes and straps with ease.
Cons: Expensive.

NATO pintles

If you are after butch de la butch then these are for you. Heavy duty – you could tow a Chieftain tank with them.
Pros: Heavy duty capacity; quick to use (but see below re latch).

Cons: The security latch can be tricky to use at first if you’re not used to them. The latch can sometimes stick open or not drop properly.
Can’t attach a shackle to them, just ropes, straps (and military trailers!)
You can't just hook up a trailer from the hire place.

“Standard” tow bar with tow ball removed
The cheapest option at the rear. Just unscrew your ball and pop in a shackle.

Pros: Cheap and simple. No worries about attachment bolts and design.

Cons: While this sounds easy there are pitfalls. The tow ball pin should have been torqued up very tightly so that you can tow your trailer/float/caravan in safety. Constantly taking it off and putting it back leaves room for mistakes in setting the right torque afterwards.

Club standard shackle pins might not fit through the hole - don’t go reaming it out! Your tow ball shaft will not sit or fit securely afterwards.
AND: you will need a decent sized spanner to hand each time you want to change modes...

Towing eyes on fronts of Discos (I and II), Rangies (I & II) and Freelanders
For Grade 1 runs, the single factory fitted towing point at the front will suffice.

For Grade 2 runs where you don’t want to or can’t fit “proper” recovery points you will need to source a second tow point device, fit it on the other chassis rail and then have a bridle ready to use. We understand that the LR tow points are substantial enough for recovery purposes but as they weren’t specifically designed for the job we think using two of them in tandem gives a better safety margin.

 For Disco IIIs, Range Rover Sport and onwards

We understand the front and rear 'towing rings' as fitted are OK for both towing and snatch recoveries.
There are now though a growing number of aftermarket add-ons to suit your off-road needs.

Recommended extra gear

Cargo net or other means of preventing loose gear flying around in your vehicle.

Toolkit (a selection of spanners, pliers, hammer, duct tape (yes!) screwdriver(s); a can of spray lubricant/de-watering fluid.
A pad of timber or plywood larger than the foot of your jack. There is nothing worse than having a flat tyre and then seeing your jack sink into the mud as you start to use it!

As time goes by you will find that extra recovery gear with which to help yourself and others is very useful.

More shackles; spare tow rope or 'bungy'; A towing bridle; A tree protector; a snatch block; tow rope joining stick; winch; high lift jack

As you gain more experience and confidence then you'll join in on the higher graded runs (see Grading) . This is when you will find that you need the extra items.

One final note: Even if you are not on a club run and are at the scene of an accident, you can be perceived to be someone useful and probably experienced simply because you are in a Land Rover rather than any other 4WD. This is not a joke; such is the power of the Land Rover marque. If you can live up to the name and be able to provide the 'serious' First Aid kit, some decent tools or an item of rescue equipment, then so much the better!