Overland Journal testing Sand Mats/Ladders

Beowulf

Expedition Leader
Per Mr. Brady, Overland Journal will be testing out various Sand Mats/Ladders.

Units being tested:
- PillowTracks
- Mantec PSP
- Mantec Bridging
- SandMat
- MaxTrax
- Fiberglass TrackPad

Let's put our collective years of experience and wisdom to test. Let see how well we can arm chair judge these and later compare to the actual results the Overland Journal team compiles.

For the sake of keeping the debate on the same criteria, let's stick to sand & mud extraction and/or bridging to help reduce approach and departure angle. There are many more uses for these tools, but we have to narrow it down somehow.

Good luck and happy debating.

Begin.....
 

adventurebuddies

Adventurer
I'll comment - I like the fiberglass grid boards because they double as sand ladders and bridging ladders. I have used them to get up a wash out "shelf" and my truck weighs 7000lbs. I have the 2" ones in 48" length. They also make a great platform for showering on or washing dishes to let water through but keep you out of the mud.
 

JamesDowning

Explorer
I debated this heavily with myself when making my purchase. I also chose the fiberglass pads as my tool of choice as it seemed to be the most versatile option, and came with a decent price tag.

:coffee: These are my assumptions and observations:

PillowTracks:



Bridging: Ok for bridging small crevices.
Sand: Not much more useful than shoveling sand back into the tire's hole.
Mud: Tends to throw muddy pillow behind vehicle.
Storage: Rolls into small bundle. Must inflate before use.

Mantec PSP:



Bridging: Not meant for bridging.
Sand: Built for sand extraction, can be wedged in front of tire without having to lift tire.
Mud: Helpful in thick mud, but the tire has trouble biting into a muddy track.
Storage: At least it's thin, but very heavy.

Mantec Bridging:



Bridging: Works well for bridging.
Sand: Although it has the raised sides, it can still easily be inserted in front of a tire without lifting.
Mud: problem again with gaining traction on a muddy metal sheet.
Storage: Lighter than PSP, but take up more room.

SandMat:



Bridging: Not meant for bridging... I assume it doesn't work at all.
Sand: Designed for sand and ice.
Mud: Due to the studs, I'm assuming it has good mud traction.
Storage: Appears to take up similar room to PSP, without the weight.

MaxTrax:



Bridging: I've heard it can be used to bridge if you sandwich one on top of the other. However, not designed for it.
Sand: Shines in sand, plenty of traction.
Mud: Doesn't tend to shoot behind the vehicle. Tires can get traction due to raised cones.
Storage: Takes up a lot of room, but luckily they are stackable.

Fiberglass TrackPad:



Bridging: Excellent for bridging, however can get torn up a bit on rocks.
Sand: Decent traction, slightly worse than PSP because of the 2" thickness.
Mud: Tires have some trouble getting traction on the pad when muddy. Track pad does create a lot of traction with the mud, so it will not shoot away.
Storage: Middle weight, ~15 lbs each. 2" thick... plus serves multiple camping purposes.

:elkgrin:
 
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overlander

Expedition Leader
no experience yet with any of the above, but the fiberglass matrix seems to be the universal winner in my estimate on complete score, when looking at traction and recovery in all climates, bridging capability, multi-purpose utility, storage, weight and cost.

I plan on getting a set for my 110, and putting mounts over my rear windows so they add the function as a security mesh when padlocked in place, taking care of my biggest rear windows. now to tend to the rest of them.
 

dieselcruiserhead

Expedition Leader
Question: has anyone ever actually used sand ladders in any sort of necessary capacity? I could see using them maybe if by yourself and the Sahara. I just don't see it for anything in the states.

Maybe I'm wrong though...?
 

UK4X4

Expedition Leader
Sand ladders....I have used mine.....but then I'm in Oman with a rather large amount of desert and drive on beaches, usually filled with 1 meters diameter size holes and freshly dug sand traps for the unwary, curtesy of the local turtle population

I have the fiberglass grate type with non slip. 1.5" X 12 X 48

Work perfectly for sand traction,

Only issue once you've driven over them they are nicely imbedded in the sand,
so a rope handle helps with extracting them

the tie them to the rear of the vehicle trick will probably just bring you to a halt, break the lines, or catapult them towards the rear of your truck- you have been warned.

as a bridging ladder fine

but the material does not really sit well on rocks as it can splinter.


When used - getting truck and trailer up onto the tops of dunes
 
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dzzz

I was thinking of fiberglass grating as a walk way on an aluminess rack. If needed, these could be removed and used as sand ladders. Or shower floor. Or security "bars" on windows. I'm liking this.
 

Antichrist

Expedition Leader
For the sake of keeping the debate on the same criteria, let's stick to sand & mud extraction and/or bridging to help reduce approach and departure angle.
I'd personally be interested in seeing how the maximum span each can bridge. I imagine you'd want to do that test last in case the unit you're testing breaks or distorts badly.

Mantec Bridging:
Mud: problem again with gaining traction on a muddy metal sheet.
I've never seen one up close. I wonder how well the lips from the punched holes aids traction in such condidtions.
 

AndrewP

Explorer
I don't carry any of the above traction devices, but I was highly impressed with the fiberglass waffle boards on the Kokopeli Trail this past summer. We used them twice to support the edge of the roadway where it was crumbling away into the abyss, and they were perfect for this. I one spot, the trail was so sketchy we would have had to turn around, or back down the canyon without them.

On the same trip also used to stand on while we took a shower. A bit sharp on the toes but did the job of keeping our feet clean and out of the mud.

They are very heavy and awkward-that is the biggest downside.

Anyway, prior to this trip, I thought they were a silly poser accessory. Now I wish I had a set.


 

JIMBO

Expedition Leader
:sombrero: I've used the ARB sandtracks in Nevada, but since they aren't mentioned--they must be worthless for anyone else--too bad

:costumed-smiley-007::safari-rig::safari-rig: JIMBO
 

adventurebuddies

Adventurer
I'd personally be interested in seeing how the maximum span each can bridge. I imagine you'd want to do that test last in case the unit you're testing breaks or distorts badly.
According to the specs, my 2" fiberglass ladders can bridge a gap and support the 7000 lb truck with just 2" supported on either side. That's a max gap of 44". Granted that requires a strong ledge for support. I have used them in a ramp scenario where just an inch or two were supported. They bend a lot but don't break.

I haven't used them in sand yet. But I got stuck in snow and couldn't move forward any further. Had to back out on my same
tracks but the sun went down and the tracks we created instantly turned to ice. The ladders made for awesome traction over the ice tracks to back out again.
 

geovalue

Adventurer
Sand Ladders in Use.

We have used Sand Ladders both in soft sand while crossing the Sahara in Sudan and mud in the Cameroon. In all situations the sand ladders were essential in getting out of a sticky or stuck situation.
We are planning to drive across Central and South America and will be taking sand ladders so are interested to see what is the "best buy" in North America. Any suggestions will be most welcomed
In both pictures we were assisting an overlander with their ladders. We managed to cross without in getting stuck but they were heavy so we assisting them digging several times while crossing Sudan



.
 

cruiseroutfit

Supporting Sponsor: Cruiser Outfitters
Question: has anyone ever actually used sand ladders in any sort of necessary capacity? I could see using them maybe if by yourself and the Sahara. I just don't see it for anything in the states.

Maybe I'm wrong though...?
Plenty of places in Utah they could be needed. We found a mandetory winch sand hill on a trip near Powell last year, search "Dune of Doom" on EU.com for another local place that they could be needed. That said I've been packing my SandTracks around for a few years and havn't used them for any real need, just dinking off really.


I don't carry any of the above traction devices, but I was highly impressed with the fiberglass waffle boards on the Kokopeli Trail this past summer.
Where on the Kokopelli is that? Having a hard time picturing that??
 

Scott Brady

Founder
Just finished the bridging tests today. Some failed completely, while a few exceeded my expectations.

Overall, the results from field testing has been surprising.

Andre,

To answer your question. IMO, that largely depends on the vehicle type, weight, tire size, etc. The Overland JK without the rack and tent, and at 12 psi was running with the dune buggies, high-siding 80'+ dune faces. A normally aspirated diesel series Land Rover with 7.5R16 tubed tires would certainly been a different result.

 

1leglance

2007 Expedition Trophy Champion, Overland Certifie
Dang and now we have to wait for the mag to come out to know the result.
Oh well, such is life.
I hope the PillowTracks survived since we are supposed to put them in out booth at SEMA :) But then again that is why testing is important, to see how things work in the real world.

It would be interesting to add the aspect of "other uses for the device" like how some of them make good tables, others shower floors and others camp cushions.

Thanks for doing the hard work and looking like you were having fun at the same time!
 
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