Soft Shackles - what is your experience?

All of my winch/recovery gear is old school steel stuff.

I keeps hearing about these "soft shackles" but don't really know anything about them.

I would like to hear your experience with soft shackles for recovery of a ~6,000 lb. vehicle. Brand/model info is helpful, as is the approximate cost.

Thank you.
 

billiebob

Well-known member
steel lasts forever. anything fabric has a best before date
steel is affordable. soft shackles not so much

those were the 2 deciding factors for me, I stuck with old school steel
 

Thinman

Well-known member
they each have their place.

snatch block to tree saver? I'd use a steel shackle.

extending a tow rope? soft all the way.

extending a kinetic rope? Would never even dream of putting steel in the middle and watching it propel through the air should there be a failure

Tow strap to bumper? Most bumpers are going to need a steel shackle because of the edge of the tow point that would otherwise cut up a soft
 

jbaucom

Well-known member
Both steel and soft shackles have a place in a recovery kit. In addition to the uses mentioned above, soft shackles are useful if you need to rig to an unconventional point, such as around a rock slider, that isn't conducive to using a steel shackle, or through obstructed factory recovery points such as the tow hooks on late model GM trucks (a 3/4" steel shackle fits, but with repeated use will chew up the plastic around the tow hook - bothers some folks, doesn't bother others).
 

Metcalf

Expedition Leader
I made the decision to switch the soft rigging whenever possible years back. As most aftermarket recovery points have yet to properly accommodate soft rigging, I still carry a few steel shackles in the bottom of my bag. I do cringe a lot on the trail when I see people haphazardly using soft rigging on sharp corners. While you might get away with it for one of two pulls, it will significantly shorten the life of that gear. That brings up another point I see a lot.....

Vehicle recovery gear is not a forever item. While people might try to treat it like that, I see lots of gear both hard and soft, that should be retired. Gear inspection and retirement is a hold over from my days falling out of a helicopter on a rope, it is also common in just about any commercial overhead lifting program. Just because it is steel, doesn't mean it lasts forever.

I make most all of my own recovery gear, including soft shackles. For a 6000lb vehicle you should be looking for a unit constructed from a 10mm or 7/16" Dyneema, something SK75 or Amsteel Blue. A properly done unit in that size material should have a MBS (Minimum Breaking Strength) of more than 40klbs. I look at most 'drag' recovery ( not overhead lifting ) with a FOS ( Factor Of Safety ) of 2-4:1 depending on what type of device it is. A soft shackle is going to see the most wear in the system typically, so 4:1 is more applicable. On a synthetic winch line, 2:1 is going to be about all you can reasonably do.

A quality soft shackle is going to be $30-40+ typically.
 

WOODY2

Adventurer
I made the decision to switch the soft rigging whenever possible years back. As most aftermarket recovery points have yet to properly accommodate soft rigging, I still carry a few steel shackles in the bottom of my bag. I do cringe a lot on the trail when I see people haphazardly using soft rigging on sharp corners. While you might get away with it for one of two pulls, it will significantly shorten the life of that gear. That brings up another point I see a lot.....

Vehicle recovery gear is not a forever item. While people might try to treat it like that, I see lots of gear both hard and soft, that should be retired. Gear inspection and retirement is a hold over from my days falling out of a helicopter on a rope, it is also common in just about any commercial overhead lifting program. Just because it is steel, doesn't mean it lasts forever.

I make most all of my own recovery gear, including soft shackles. For a 6000lb vehicle you should be looking for a unit constructed from a 10mm or 7/16" Dyneema, something SK75 or Amsteel Blue. A properly done unit in that size material should have a MBS (Minimum Breaking Strength) of more than 40klbs. I look at most 'drag' recovery ( not overhead lifting ) with a FOS ( Factor Of Safety ) of 2-4:1 depending on what type of device it is. A soft shackle is going to see the most wear in the system typically, so 4:1 is more applicable. On a synthetic winch line, 2:1 is going to be about all you can reasonably do.

A quality soft shackle is going to be $30-40+ typically.
Good points and realistically how often will the soft ones be used? Over thinking and price chasing are two of the enemy's of a workable solution. FYI be cautious of off shore products
 

Ragnarok Overland

New member
I've been replacing, and for the most part have now replace everything with "soft" recovery equipment with 2 exceptions, solid aluminum winch rings (donuts) and a few steel shackles. And as was mentioned above there are still a few places where steel shackles are kind of a must. Even my 3/8 winch line is rated to something like 18k lbs, my soft shackles are rated to easily double that or more. I've also found that kinetic ropes can solve probably most problems, and you should always have 1 or 2 on hand, i carry a 25' in 7/8 and a 30' in 1".
 

Ragnarok Overland

New member
Good points and realistically how often will the soft ones be used? Over thinking and price chasing are two of the enemy's of a workable solution. FYI be cautious of off shore products
i always use soft shackles, well, 90% of the time.

Price should never be a factor in recovery equipment. To be blunt, if you can't afford quality well made recovery gear, you probably have chosen the wrong hobby.

And yes, you should avoid the no name uhmwpe (Dyneema) like the plague, they may claim it's capable of X strength, but of course none provide testing.
 

Metcalf

Expedition Leader
Good points and realistically how often will the soft ones be used? Over thinking and price chasing are two of the enemy's of a workable solution. FYI be cautious of off shore products
This is going to go against the grain a bit....but the more I looked into it, the more I found most of the raw products are being made in the same handful of factories globally.
Use what you test and trust.
 

WOODY2

Adventurer
i always use soft shackles, well, 90% of the time.

Price should never be a factor in recovery equipment. To be blunt, if you can't afford quality well made recovery gear, you probably have chosen the wrong hobby.

And yes, you should avoid the no name uhmwpe (Dyneema) like the plague, they may claim it's capable of X strength, but of course none provide testing.
My comment about use was meant about if one ventures out how many occasions will the recovery gear be needed? If one went out 100 times perhaps 5 maybe 10% of the time. Any more than that your choice of route, equipment and judgement should be rethought.
 

Ragnarok Overland

New member
My comment about use was meant about if one ventures out how many occasions will the recovery gear be needed? If one went out 100 times perhaps 5 maybe 10% of the time. Any more than that your choice of route, equipment and judgement should be rethought.
i would certainly agree with that, but a lot of our ventures are into the unknown, kind of the point really. I've used my winch to clear downed trees, and just as a general helpful tool a fair amount. I love gear, specially this sort of stuff, kinda of a gear geek like that, so I'll actually find any excuse to play with this stuff 😛
 

billiebob

Well-known member
Anytime I need a soft coupling I use a Warn strap. Soft shackles are just the current trendy option. There are much less expensive choices which are better.

Beyond the M8000 with steel cable this is my entire recovery kit. Altho the big snatch block is no longer in the kit. 8K# winch. 4K# truck, 2K# trailer........ I'll never need a 16K# pull. :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO: Plus the jack the Jeep came with.
The chain gets used most.

DSCN1249.jpeg
 

billiebob

Well-known member
My comment about use was meant about if one ventures out how many occasions will the recovery gear be needed? If one went out 100 times perhaps 5 maybe 10% of the time. Any more than that your choice of route, equipment and judgement should be rethought.
but some deliberately pick the route to test the recovery gear.... the goal is to get stuck..... or actually the goal is to pick the worst line and not get stuck... think of it like downhill skiing. Do you ski Green or Black Diamond.

Unknown.jpeg
 

WOODY2

Adventurer
but some deliberately pick the route to test the recovery gear.... the goal is to get stuck..... or actually the goal is to pick the worst line and not get stuck... think of it like downhill skiing. Do you ski Green or Black Diamond.

View attachment 697535
I'm still back in the Hold My Beer Club. I don't have enough money or time left on earth to play at that level. :unsure:
 

Joe917

Explorer
I use nylon braided static rope exclusively. Learn how to tie knots. Cut the rope if necessary.
I have pulled out vehicles up to 26 tonnes with just 1" nylon braid. Nylon absorbs shock loads and does minimal damage when it fails.
 

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