X-Bull Traction Recovery Boards – A Must-Have Budget-Friendly Essential For the TRD Off-Road 5th Gen 4Runner
When the discussion of traction boards you see on everyone’s rigs comes up, Maxtrax is king.
While we know these widely used traction boards can definitely help you get out of a tight spot, can we get this done with a cheaper option?
The X-Bull brand started back in 2008 and now offers just a few products such as traction boards and winches.
These traction boards have caused quite a stir as they typically come in at less than $75 compared to the Maxtrax brand sitting at well over $300+.
Maxtrax recovery boards are incredibly expensive compared to the other more affordable “comparable” brands on the market. Even the ARB TRED PROs are priced over $50 less which is saying a lot coming from a company bought by ARB, arguably the biggest/ highest-quality off-road parts brand in the world.
Now, we are not saying the X-Bull brand is on the same level as ARB or Maxtrax, but sitting at $75, it might be an option you should consider if you are Overlanding on a budget.
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Looking at these X-Bull recovery boards a little closer, we want to see if these are more than a cheap piece of plastic.
Here are some of the performance claims that X-Bull makes:
- Comfortable Handles
- U-Shaped design increases strength and reduces slipping
- Nylon material that is strong as well as resists fatigue, corrosion, and UV rays
- Can accommodate vehicles up to 10 Tons
- Comes in Orange, Red, Green, Olive, Blue, & Black
First impressions are that they are made of beefy plastic with a slightly rough texture.
I measured them at about 5-6mm thick on the sides. They weigh in at about 13lbs for the pair and come with a carrying bag to help haul them around. The overall dimensions are 42” x 12” with the ⅝” mounting holes being 23⅝” x 5”.
Once they are stacked, they do sit just a bit higher than the competition at 4”. Add about ½” for the traction lugs on top if you are trying to squeeze them in a tight space. I haven’t seen any mounting brackets specifically made for the X-Bulls, but I have come across some very interesting solutions.
Now you have another excuse to roam around the hardware store. If you get creative you can come up with your own mounting bracket. Just take a look at how other brackets out there are made and design something similar using parts at Home Depot. You may not get it perfect the first time but Overlanding on a budget does require some patience
Also, on each end, there are two additional holes that can be used for additional mounting points and/or tying a rope to yank them out of the mud after you use them.
Personally, I have some pieces of rope in the back of the 4Runner with Stainless Steel Snaps attached on the end that can be easily removed at will.
Tapered, Curved Ends Double As a Handy Shovel
Both tapered ends are slightly curved, and they say you can use them as a shovel.
Don’t skimp on this one, go buy a real off-road shovel.
These can be used in a pinch for sand and *maybe* soft mud, but after a few minutes, you will wish you bought a real shovel with the money you saved on these.
Unique Groove Pattern Traps Sand, Mud Or Any Solids
The bottom of each board has traction lugs staggered along with the zig-zag groove pattern that makes up the overall structure. The groove pattern can trap soft ground such as sand or mud and the lugs claw into anything remotely solid.
This keeps the X-Bulls from turning into fancy projectiles once your tires start to grip them.
But, do they actually work?
As far as usage, I haven’t unfortunately (or fortunately) had to use them on my rig.
However, I did use them to get a neighbor’s car out of their front yard during a hurricane.
The X-Bulls worked flawlessly to get the Grand Marquis that was sunk down to its axles in muddy wet grass. We definitely didn’t use them “as recommended” and had the driver turn the front wheels as far to one side as possible as I jammed one of the boards under the wheel.
With all the traction coming from one board (and the driver gunning it) the damage is minimal with one stress mark near a handle and minor rubbing on 2-3 lugs.
Overall, these are a solid buy for the off-road enthusiast that wants to take less of a hit on the pocketbook.
With these coming in at less than $75, even if you somehow destroy these, you can get a few sets before reaching the $300 price point of Maxtrax and Tred Pros.
Also, check out this video review from Seek Adventure to learn more.