Soft shackles or traditional?


New member
I am after some collective advice. I need to get some shackles for recovery purposes, i.e. attaching snatch block to tree protector, attaching to truck (for whatever reason), attaching winch cable to the other end and any other purpose that might need it. What are most of you using - traditional, rated, (or not) steel shackles and/or snatch blocks. What WLL, breaking level, etc are you using. Brand would be useful, in fact just your own common sense approach to recovery. There's a lot on the web, but how much of it is fact as opposed to someone's mere lounge room experience???

I don't consider myself a novice, but over time, recovery equipment and techniques, etc have changed from the T16 Tirfor, gal bow shackle together with whatever could be used to secure the winch cable to a tree that I used to use to, well, whatever is now available. I have a 6000kg Canter fitted with a Warn 15000lb front mounted winch. And a pair of (Aust) OutbackAccessories recovery tracks which as previously described in this forum do the job nicely.

Please feel free to add whatever you like to this thread and maybe it could become some sort of "Recovery Gear" checklist for vehicles appropriate to this section of Expo.



I am a rigging snob. I believe in referencing WLL from a reputable manufacturer (e.g. Crosby, Columbus McKinnon). My truck is in excess of 7K. I have a 12K winch. Mud suction / weight / resistance can triple the pull required to get me unstuck. Alloy 3/4" shackles have a 7 ton WLL. This is my requirement for single line pull. 7/8" alloy shackles have a 9.5 ton WLL. This is my requirement on the snatch block for a 2:1 pull. Technically, a snatch block could see as much as 12 tons of force (briefly) if pulling a mired vehicle with my setup.

Yes, I know my shackle requirement is way overkill. The cost delta might be $40 to go first class for 2x 3/4" and 1x 7/8" shackles. If I bought cheap recovery gear, I would have nightmares about plastic deformation and metal fatigue after my first use.

I do not have any soft shackles, but I really want to buy some. I see a lot of piece of mind in reducing the mass of rigging. I will buy some soon. I will also be very concerned about the types of rigging with which they are used. Applying force against a metal recovery point / fitting with any kind of a hard edge concerns me.

Aussie Iron

As said 3/4" and 7/8" rated hard shackles. Yes a Canter bogged to the chassis is going to take some pulling out. The figure three times your loaded gross weight is near enough so the idea is to start your recovery before you bury it that far. Snatch Blocks rated high enough are a hard one to find but I picked up a 18,000 lb one, there are a lot of 9,000 lb ones available. Remember that there is quite a safety factor built in to all this gear but once you exceed it they should be thrown away.

Soft shackles I have never seen in person so not used but there is no reason why they aren't good to use. Weight reduction on your winch line has to be good for safety.



I use 4.7t rated steel shackles, never had an issue. Trucks around 5t loaded. I also use an equaliser strap off 2 tow points, one on each rail. I say never had an issue, but pulling the truck off a single 4.7 does concern me a little, especially considering the consequences if it lets go... so I did recently get a couple of 5.8t shackles. Sorry no exp with the soft ones, but I guess in theory they should be safer.
Seen a vid recently where a guy wanted to show the destructive force of a tow ball/shackle letting go under a hard snatch recovery, by choking a snatch strap round a big tree then hooking it to his cruisers tow ball and taking off flat out. The ball obviously snapped, and the energy it put into the tree looked to be similar (if not more) to a 12guage slug at point blank..

Wild Coast

New member
Just to resurrect this thread, does anyone use 5/8 shackles for SUV recovery or are those to weak?

Looking at the Factor55 website, they said something interesting:
"We don’t believe you should compromise your winch recovery safety just to save a few bucks on low quality imported shackles. We have stress tested numerous low quality imported shackles and are amazed in the wide variation of material yield points and ultimate breaking strengths. This is why 99% of imported shackles are not certified to be used in critical overhead/crane lifting operations.
The recreational offroad industry is full of low quality imported shackles due to their low cost."

I purchased my shackles off Amazon, no idea what the company is - probably some Chinese manufacturer. Should I be concerned? They do the the WLL stamped on the shackle, set 4-3/4 ton and the Amazon description said "10+ TON CAPACITY - Lab tested and certified 22,046lbs capacity" - so maybe ok???

What do you guys think about buying non-USA made shackles? Do you stick to reputable brands like Crosby? Not even sure brands like Smittybuilt or ARB actually make their own shackles - I'm sure trying to get a competitive price means they're sourcing them from some chinese plant.


Look into the following: "Whoopie Slings" and 1/2 inch Amsteel or Dyneema rope or go a size bigger even...(see the chart)
Get yourself a "Fid" kit from Amazon and build your own whoopie slings to any size and spec you want....Mine do double duty as infinitely adjustable lift slings for my little 2000lb crane in the back of my truck...a pic of mine is attached (1/2")......You insert the rope through itself. It slides easily but locks up tight as you load it with a pull... A"Fid" is simply a big needle to help you thread the rope. I can build one of these in 6-7 minutes....They are available pre-made from Samson Rope but are too short for most of my uses. I make mine out of 40ft of rope for a nominal, fully extended length of about 20 feet.
Initially, I made mine out of 1/2 inch just so it wouldn't dent nice furniture. I have now made some 5/32nd slings, just for the crane, that are easy to handle and store.

This rope stores no energy, so if you snap it, it simply falls to the ground, instead of hunting you down to tear your head off and it's silky soft to handle too.


Last edited:


PLEASE DO NOT buy cheap Chinese crap from 4WD shops, Amazon or eBay. You have loads of money in your truck or camper, so why cheap out on some of the most important gear in your kit?

Over the last few decades people, in general, have become price shoppers. Very few consider the quality of what they are buying, where it is made or what materials are used in its manufacture. It is well worth your dollar, Euro or Yen to purchase high quality recovery gear, not what is popular, what is well advertised or what has a high price tag, what is the BEST QUALITY. This eliminates almost everything in a 4WD catalogue.

I especially like to avoid 800 pound Gorilla brand names such as Warn, Superlift and the like and go straight to the guys who live and breath rigging for a living. Copy and paste from my rigging notes:

CMI #RP123NFPA takes 5/8” rope, is rated at 20,000 pounds, but only weighs #2.2. (USA).

An RP149 is a bit lighter at 1.6 pounds and is rated at 16,000 pounds MBS.

ISC's RP032 Pulley can be used for moving logs or recovering an ATV, but should NOT be used for vehicle recovery as it is only rated at #8,000.

ISC's 8527 is made from alloy, has a WLL of #8800 and an MBS of #44,000.

For comparison, Warn's 63490 is rated at 33,000 pounds, but weighs a whopping 14 pounds. The 8527 must be used with a soft shackle due to its design. It would need to be large enough to go through the top of the shackle and through two tree saver loops.

Alternatively, Spectra 12 x 12 lines (1” diameter and 80,000 pounds tensile strength) could be made into "tree savers" and winch extensions, with 12 strand braided loops at each end. Note: DO NOT used cheap synthetic lines either, they are likely neither certified nor tested for accurate MBS and WLL numbers. Spectra is one of the best on the market, for good reason.

Columbus McKinnon has alloy steel 1” shackles rated at 12.5T (WLL)

Research RED Winches Snatch Rings. I have seen them at an off road show, but have no personal experience with them yet. Their winches are top notch, so I would not expect anything less from their other products.

If you have access to a thick piece of UHMW and fancy a bit of lathe work, a large diameter bearing like this could be used to make a "snatch ring" type of device, for use with soft shackles:

Sealed needle bearings for deep groove UHMW pulley "snatch block":

Finally, tying the proper knot when making a soft shackle is crucial. A double overhand knot or something similar is simply not acceptable. There should be a sliding collar made from a similar material to the shackle or something a bit sticky such as a heavy duty hook-and-loop, to prevent the loop from slipping back over the knot, during a hard pull:

A button knot is the proper knot to use:

Warn Industries

Supporting Vendor
FYI, our 93195 Epic Snatch Block is definitely an option for use with winches with 18,000 lb. capacities and under.

Our Epic Shackles are 3/4" with a 7/8" pin diameter and are good for winches with up to 18,000 lbs. of pulling force.

And I would argue we live and breathe vehicle recovery, which includes rigging. All of our products are extensively tested and will stand up to their full-rated capacities.




New member
Greetings everyone....

I'm not an expert AT ALL on recovery and I am a newb to serious offroading. I mostly stick to forest roads and the like as my 06 Tacoma doublecab is just a 2wd Prerunner. If a trail looks sketchy I turn around.

I just got a new Bubba rope 3/4x20ft with a break strength of 19000 lbs as a Christmas gift.

I have a Body Armor 4x4 rear bumper but I do not have any D Rings or soft shackles.My front bumper is the stock Tacoma bumper.

I would like to know what my best options are for shackles, soft or ? I used to have a cheap tow strap that was used to pull me out of some loose sand and a creek crossing that a got stuck in on a couple of occasions. But that strap is trashed and I want to get the best shackles/d-ringsI can afford.

I'm not really good with DIY so whatever knowledge you could pass on above what has been already said above would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.20180611_181959.jpg


Expedition Leader
Just finished an epic trip to the dunes of Tunisia were recovery started early in the morning and lasted all day. I watch 1/2" synthetic winch line break several times, along with breaking of every type of recovery made including kinetic straps, kinetic ropes, and tow straps up to 4" wide. With all the failure no one was ever hurt just some pride lost.

Now home Im in the process of updating all my recovery gear to included mostly soft shackles, synthetic winch line without a hook, and a red winch snatch ring or of the similar sorts. I watched several attempts to retying straps and lines only to see failure after failure. Im proud to say in the end my square knot with knot stoppers held up over ever other splice or knot attempt. I really like the reports and test I have seen on Red winch snatch ring if nothing else just from its simplicity, safety, and light weight.