MAXTRAX is relatively new in the US Market, but they’ve been rescuing trucks in their native Australia since 2004. This year MAXTRAX is hitting the US in a big way, determined to change the way we think about recovery. You may have seen the MAXTRAX FJ Cruiser at the 2010 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, we were so impressed with the display that we contacted Ben Meddows (the US representative for MAXTRAX) to see about testing a set at our annual Snow Recovery Run in December. Ben was kind enough to send his personal set out to us so we could see how they work.
Recovery gear is absolutely essential for any successful off road adventure. We’ve written plenty in the past about recovery straps, winches, and even using your Hi-Lift as a recovery device when you’re stuck in snow, mud, or sand. MAXTRAX is meant to provide instantaneous traction in muddy, sandy, or snowy conditions by giving your FJ Cruiser grip when none exists. The idea is actually pretty simple, but the way MAXTRAX tackled the problem is unique and very effective.
Using a high quality engineering-grade reinforced polymer (Nylon), MAXTRAX has crafted a stout, durable product that is resistant to the most extreme environments on earth. To test their new second generation MAXTRAX product (the MAXTRAX MK-2), we gathered a few FJ’s in central Colorado in early December for some fun in the cold. We couldn’t think of a better way to test MAXTRAX than over a foot of fresh snow and below freezing temperatures.
At about four feet long, MAXTRAXs are sold in pairs since most people will only need two (for front or rear recovery) to get out of trouble. For hard core mud boggers or those constantly in deep sand, four MAXTRAX may be advisable to keep your truck moving. Each piece is about 13” wide an although one of our test vehicles had tires wider than the MAXTRAX, they still did a great job providing traction to get out of the snow.
While we had several people helping with recovery operations, it’s entirely possible to use MAXTRAX in a solo situation. They were specifically designed to make recovery easy and safe for a single person to use. With MAXTRAX you don’t have to worry about stressed components like winch line or tow straps that can fail catastrophically. Recovery with MAXTRAX is a relatively smooth process that presents very little danger.
For our testing, we had several FJ’s with various types of tires, lift kits, and other aftermarket mods. While we didn’t test the MAXTRAX with a bone stock FJ, they should work just fine with any FJ Cruiser. The MAXTRAX website does note that for best performance an All-Terrain type tire (or anything more aggressive) should be used. We tested them with several All-Terrain and Mud-Terrain tires in snow that was over 12” deep.
Our process was simple: drive the FJ up the snow covered hill as far as possible using A-Trac as well as the rear locker until stuck in the snow. Once the truck is nice and immobile, we pulled out the MAXTRAX and placed them under the front or rear wheels, depending on the direction of recovery. The key to using these devices is getting them as far under the wheel as possible. A couple of times we didn’t push them back far enough and the tire couldn’t get a grip. They really need to be under the tire tight to work properly.
Once the MAXTRAX is placed in the right position, it’s simply a matter of using very gentle throttle to climb out of the rut. If too much power is applied the MAXTRAX can simply slide under the tire and you’ll still be stuck, with the MAXTRAX buried in the snow. A gentle, easy throttle is all it takes to quickly recover the FJ.
One great piece of advice is to tie a rope or cord about two feet long to one end of each MAXTRAX. This will help you retrieve it from the deep snow after it’s been used. We omitted this step and spent as much time digging out the MAXTRAX as we did using them for recovery.
So the question: “Do MAXTRAX work in the snow?” is a very enthusiastic YES. We noticed that even if the rear wheels are ‘more stuck’ than the front on a forward recovery, the MAXTRAX provide plenty of traction to get the FJ out. The only key is to get them pushed under the tire far enough to give the tire plenty of grip. They worked very well on all the types of tires we tested and we didn’t have to use any other recovery method all day.
We’re looking forward to testing them in mud and sand this year and will report back on what we find. While MAXTRAX shouldn’t be your only recovery solution, we definitely think a set should be at the top of your list for quick and easy recovery gear. The MAXTRAX MK-2 version will be available in late January or early February 2011 and can be ordered from www.maxtrax.com.au or by calling 855-MAXTRAX in the US.
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