Recovery Points

I’m new to Overlanding in the civilian world, but not in general. What we do in the military can be considered overlanding: we ride in off-road vehicles, and we spend the night either inside, on top of, or around the vehicle in a tent. My last annual training was a prime example of overlanding.

My National Guard Overlanding steed: the “FDC Vehicle.”

You can see the cots stacked at the right-rear tire of the HMMWV; these belonged to my section, and we camped in one-man tents known as “Lightfighters” close by. This is pretty standard for us in the Field Artillery, and for most of the combat arms of the military. Note something else on this vehicle; multiple bow shackles.

Those bow shackles are used for recovery and towing. The recovery points on military vehicles are hardened to be able to sustain very large loads. If one of these heavy vehicles gets stuck, those recovery points will sustain a very high load and they have to be reliable to both recover the vehicle and to ensure that nobody gets injured or killed by a flying shackle.

Too often on civilian 4WD vehicles, I see people put a bow shackle onto a transport tie down. Transport tie downs are the little bows of steel that look almost like a recovery point, but not quite. They are typically located near the front and rear of a vehicle on the frame. They are used to tie the vehicle onto a ship or a truck when being transported from the point of manufacture to its final destination. They can also be used when transporting the vehicle on a flat-bed wrecker to tie the vehicle down for safety. Those are the sole uses of these transport tie downs.

Image borrowed from Apex Overland (

If you try to recover a vehicle using the transport tie-down, you run the risk of, at a minimum, damaging your vehicle, and at most, death. When a transport tie-down is subjected to the extreme forces of a recovery, it will fail, and when it does, depending on how much energy is in the strap and shackle being used, it can fly back towards people or even the driver of the recovery vehicle and cause serious damage, injury, and even death.

This is an image I took from a 4Runner forum and shows bow shackles attached to transport tie-downs on a 4Runner.

I’ve seen some people attach bow shackles to these transport tie-downs, and it scares me. I’m hoping, at the most, that these people are putting the bow shackles on these transport tie-downs for show; to make their mall crawler 4Runners look more authentic, or off-road ready. In fact, it’s very dangerous, and shows that they don’t know much about off-roading or safe recovery.

A properly attached recovery point (directly to the frame with bolts rated at over 20,000 lbs each) and a rated bow shackle.

Use the right tool for the job. A rated bow shackle or soft shackle and rated recovery points. The recovery points I chose for my 4Runner come from Apex Overland. They are priced well and are built to withstand any forces required to recover your 4Runner safely.

By PaleoMarine

Former active duty Marine who went from 170 lbs to 328 lbs and decided that he had to change his life or die. He lost 130 lbs in 1 year through Whole30 and adopting the Paleo Diet without doing any exercise at all. Since starting running, he's lost an additional 20 lbs and is comfortably back in the 170 lbs range. He is a Warrant Officer in the Army National Guard and writes multiple blogs about topics he is passionate about.

One reply on “Recovery Points”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s