UPDATE – There been a number of new, improved versions of Maxtrax – the Maxtrax MKII, and the Maxtrax Xtreme.
If you go 4WDing but want to be confident that you can get out of a situation when you get stuck you should be well aware of the recovery items that are available. The more common recovery items include snatch straps and winches, but not everyone has the luxury of a good quality winch and a snatch strap requires the use of another vehicle.
There are very limited recovery items on the market which can be used without a backup item and that work 100% of the time. However, you can purchase a set of Maxtrax which are a great insurance policy when you go off road and they don’t require a second vehicle to work!
The motto of Maxtrax is ‘Take the easy way out’ and they really have to be seen to believed. Maxtrax are so simple, but they work better than any other recovery device that you would own (in most situations!), and they last for a very long time. These are now used throughout the world in all sorts of conditions; however, they were designed and are manufactured in Australia.
What are Maxtrax?
In essence, Maxtrax are just a piece of plastic that you shove in front or behind your wheels (depending on which way you want to go) that provide traction and allow the vehicle to get up and out of the hole that it is stuck in. However, they are much more than just a piece of plastic for a number of reasons.
Maxtrax are sold in pairs (although having two pairs to cover all four wheels is very helpful) and they are designed to be used as a shovel as well. They are light weight, very durable and provide exceptional grip. These are spiky on one side, weigh less than 4kg each, have holes to bolt them down and are 1220mm long and x 340mm wide. They are manufactured out of UV stabilized, flexible engineering-grade reinforced nylon.
Where can you use Maxtrax?
Maxtrax can be used in sand, snow and mud. They are not designed to work on rocks and you risk damaging them if you try. They are also not designed to work as bridges; they need something supporting the whole length or you will damage them.
These are also very popular for those that are launching boats on the beach. It’s easy enough to have your car sink into the soft sand, but by placing the Maxtrax where your rear wheels are going to sit you eliminate the problem. Realistically you should never need more grip in the rocks (unless it’s wet!), so Maxtrax work virtually everywhere.
Using Maxtrax correctly
Maxtrax work exceptionally well if you use them correctly. They are very simple to use too; most if it is logic and common sense. To use them, simply dig out as much of the snow, mud or sand from the side of the tyre that you want to drive towards. Push a Maxtrax towards the bottom of the tyre (facing with the spikes up), but make sure that they are angled at no more than 45 degrees. If you have four Maxtrax then use one on each wheel (although you may not need to).
The next step is to clear everyone out of the way and to accelerate slowly onto the Maxtrax. Avoid any wheel spin at all, or you could damage the tracks or your tyres. If they are angled correctly and pushed in enough the vehicle will drive forwards and lift up considerably. Once you have driven the vehicle forward a few metres you can pick the tracks up and keep going.
Of course, in very soft sand you may need to use these several times until you are on harder ground. These work exceptionally well for getting up steep sand dunes, and can be used in combination with a winch or snatch strap.
A lot of people will bolt these to their roof racks, or simply store them in the vehicle. You can purchase a carry bag to keep them clean and secure, but make sure they are not easy to take, as people will steal them at any chance they have! You should hose these off when you get home, especially if you have been in the mud!
Maxtrax mounts are available with Maxtrax now, and there are some aftermarket options out there too.
How much do Maxtrax cost?
Maxtrax can be purchased for $295 Australian for a pair and the carry bags are $100 Australian. Freight charges will also apply. If you want the best price for Maxtrax, you’ll have to wait for a sale. The cheapest I’ve seen them is $239 a pair
Where can I get Maxtrax from?
You can purchase these direct from the Maxtrax website, or you can purchase them from a four wheel drive accessory store. Many of the better four wheel drive stores will have them, so have a look around. The other option is to purchase them off eBay, as you will find a number of people will re sell them online and one of those might be closer to you.
What are the alternatives to Maxtrax?
There are a few alternatives to Maxtrax. A lot of people swear by having a roll of shade clothe with a bit of sand on top, whilst others have cut milk crates into pieces and cable tied them together. There are a few other alternatives that are similar to Maxtrax, but I haven’t heard as good reviews about them.
You can get away with having ply wood or sheet metal, but they lack any serious grip. Of course, you can use a snatch strap, 4×4 Winches, bits of timber on the track or lower your tyre pressures, however none of which are as easy of throwing the Maxtrax under the 4WD Vehicles tyres!
Maxtrax vs Treds
Maxtrax were the original Australian manufacturer of high quality nylon recovery tracks. Since then, a number of other manufacturers have come out with similar recovery tracks. My suggestion is to compare the two products in person.
Maxtrax make a very good quality product that is used by the Australian army and thousands of happy Australians (and people overseas). Treds are becoming more and more popular, most likely because they are a cheaper product. Does that make them inferior? I don’t know; I’ve never used them. However, they don’t look as well built as Maxtrax. You make the call!
My review of the Maxtrax
I have owned Maxtrax now for many years, and have to say they were one of the best things that I have purchased for my 4WD. 300 dollars might seem like a lot, but think about it as a cheap insurance for when you are stuck on the beach with an incoming tide.
Even if it saves you once from a long walk to get help (or saves your car from being washed away by the ocean) you have made a good decision! I have used my Maxtrax (actually mainly on other people!) over 10 times and never had an issue with them. Of course, they will wear a little bit over time but they would last the average person a lifetime.
In terms of a recovery device which is so simple, easy to use and that can be used without a backup vehicle, Maxtrax are the best that I own. I always make sure that I carry them when I go off road, and they have paid off many times over! Unless I am in the rocks, the Maxtrax are the first recovery device to come out for My Hilux, friends’ vehicles and even people that I have never met before! Get yourself a set; you won’t regret it! Have a read of the full Maxtrax Review I have written.
The video below shows Maxtrax in action: