Introducing the New Factor 55 Rope Retention Pulley (Snatch Block Alternative): New Recovery Gear We Finally Trail-Tested!
Why do you need a pulley?
The Snatch Block or Pulley is a key component of a recovery kit. There are two reasons that you would need a pulley or snatch block, redirect the line or add a mechanical advantage and reducing stress.
1. Redirecting the line:
A line redirect is fairly self-explanatory. If there is an obstacle in the way of the line or the line of the vehicle is at an odd angle, a pulley or snatch block can be used to change/straighten the direction of your winch’s cable when the anchor point is offset.
2. Reducing stress on the winch:
Adding a mechanical advantage is to use a pulley, or multiple pulleys, to reduce the amount of force or stress on the winch and/or anchors being utilized.
Types of Pulls and Winching Tips
Pictured Above is your typical Single Line, Double Line and Triple Line recovery pulls.
Your adventure-equipped 4Runner is stuck in the mud and the total weight pulling (including the force of being stuck) is 9K pounds and you have a 9.5k winch.
While technically you could do a single line pull, however, it will be slow and put a lot of strain on not only your winch but your battery as well.
By adding a pulley and second-line, it cuts the weight in half to roughly 4.5k per line. And adding a second pulley will reduce it further by 3k pounds on 3 lines.
This can speed the pull of the winch and dramatically reduce strain, but not always. Every recovery situation is different so not every pull will have the same exact figures.
10 Quick Winching Tips
- Straight Pulls: Choose an anchor point directly in front of the winch (straight pull is more efficient).
- Angeled pulls: Snatch blocks or pulley guided winching is needed so that your winch line doesn’t spool up on one side of the drum. Also, Snatch blocks or pullies help to straighten your winch line.
- Winch Low: Always loop winch line as low as possible around tree trunks, large rocks, or stumps. Lower points are usually the strongest point of resistance and prevent straps from breaking or becoming projectile.
- Winching Close: If your winch is too close to an anchor point for a strong pull, adding a snatch block or pulley can allow you to spool more cable and increase pull strength.
- Double Line: Using a snatch block or pulley can sometimes double your load capacity depending on the direction of pull.
- Triple Line: To increase your winching strength even more and to reduce stress on the object being recovered, you can add a third line.
- Multiple Line Caution: Use caution when using two-three lines. While the strength of pull increases, the stress on those rigging points also increases. Before attempting a multiple-line pull, ensure your rigging points are strong enough to withstand the recovery pull.
- Length of Cable: All electric winches get their weight rating with only one full wrap of cable around the drum. In most cases; the more cable you let out, the more strength your winch has.
- Over-Heating: The more you work your winch, the hotter it gets. Take breaks in between long winching or continuous winching so your winch can cool down.
- Battery-Strain: Keep your engine running in order to keep your battery charged. Extreme winching loads can drastically drain your starter battery – preventing a starter battery from… starting.
Popular Snatch Blocks
All of these are your traditional 18K – 25K WLL snatch blocks many ends of the quality and price spectrum.
- WARN (18K WLL): Check Price
- ARB (20K WLL: Check Price
- Gear America (25K WLL): Check Price
- Smittybilt (18K WLL): Check Price
The Warn Snatchblock is the most expensive and weighs in at 18 pounds, while the Smittybilt Snatch Block is most affordable and weighs 6 pounds, but the quality and performance may not be as dependable.
In between these two items in terms of price, you have the ARB which is by brand name, known to be a highly-regarded product and finally, the Gear America Snatch Block which boats some incredible reviews on Amazon.
Any of these options are going to aid in your recovery efforts but typically the ARB is going to be your best bet (based on research and review comparisons).
New Innovations in Pulley Systems
The common pulley systems seen across the industry has been unchanged for as long as I can remember, until now.
There have been very few true innovations when it comes to recovery gear except when it comes to Factor 55. They seem to be really pushing the edge of recovery technology and looking outside of the box to make recovery simpler and safer.
Items such as the Factor 55 Flatlink E created a closed system that eliminates the chance for an improper hookup that may lead to unnecessary risk and injury.
They have simply continued to push the “norm” when it comes to off-road recovery.
The Factor 55 Rope Retention Pulley
The Factor 55 Rope Retention Pulley bucks the traditional approach adopted from the sailing industry and created a vehicle recovery pulley that is lighter and stronger.
Find It Online:
- Factor 55 Rope Retention Pulley: Check Price
How much lighter and stronger… 1.3 pounds and Working Load Limit of 22,000 pounds!
The pulley has an outside diameter of only 6″ and only 2.5″ tall so it’s not going to take up a bunch of extra space in your recovery box or bag.
Yes, you still have to add the weight of the soft shackle as well, varying from .3 to .5 pounds.
So for under 2 pounds you have one of the beefiest recovery snatch blocks or pulleys available on the market for less than the Warn Snatch Block, and you are also eliminating a shackle from the system.
The Devil’s in the Details
The body is essentially a donut made from Billet machined 6000 series aluminum then the surface is hard anodized.
They then added Teflon to the inner hole area which is a high wear area to help dissipate heat and reduce friction due to that is what turns around the soft shackle.
However, I can’t tell a noticeable difference in the material except where it is engraved, the whole thing seems really slick.
Being aluminum it can only be used for synthetic winch lines 5/16” to 1/2″ or 8mm to 12mm, which to me is not a con as I believe that they are lighter and safer in 99% of all recreational applications.
However, extra care has to be given as to not ding the outer ring as it could create a bur in the aluminum and damage the soft shackle.
Synthetic Winch + Soft Shackle Setup
The Synthetic winch line inserts into the pulley and a soft shackle is used to attach it to whatever anchor point you have available.
I have seen a similar pulley setup for climbing where a small polymer donut inserts onto a carabiner and the rope sits on it. I didn’t like this because, at any time the rope had slack, it would come right off the pulley.
Well, Factor 55 solved that issue by adding small soft rubber fingers that hold the line in the groove. The rubber fingers seem durable but being a new product I am not sure what kind of life they have – but they can be replaced if needed. However, as of yet, there are no replacement parts on their site yet.
Another great detail that Factor 55 does that not many others do is notating their minimum breaking strength and working load limits in clear print. They mark everything including their Soft Shackles and other soft recovery gear.
They also go a step further and give each one a serial number and manufacture date to ensure quality control.
Setting Up The Factor 55 Rope Pulley
Depending on the type of recovery performed is going to determine how the pulley is being used. In a standard double line pull, a tree is used as an anchor using a tree saver. Setting up my Ironman 4X4 9.5K Winch is a breeze utilizing the wireless remote.
A Bubba Rope Gator-Jaw Pro Synthetic Soft Shackle secures the Flatlink E shackle mount to the bumper recovery point.
The line is then pulled to the anchor point.
The winch line is then fed through the Pulley’s rubber fingers.
There is very little effort to put them in but they stay in well while working the system. Removing is the same ease and effort.
The soft shackle is placed through both straps of the anchor and then the Rope Retention Pulley is inserted to the same shackle.
I would use the Factor 55 soft shackle as it was designed for this specific use.
The Buba Rope shackle would not work as it has a rubber sleeve that would cause too much friction and the pulley would not operate properly.
Close the soft shackle and ensure that it is secured and nothing is twisted.
As a safety precaution still dampen both lines as it may still cause injury in case of failure. A jacket or blanket can be used as a makeshift dampener.
Then, winch away!
Pro Tip: Always test new gear and techniques in a controlled safe environment before heading on the trail.
This is an extremely quality piece of recovery gear.
It feels solid and is extremely easy to use. Unless I was looking to put my 4Runner on a diet, and thin things out, I am not sure I would replace good quality working Snatch Blocks with this, as it’s pretty expensive.
However, I would not hesitate to buy these for building a new recovery kit or as additional pulleys for more experienced kits to utilize triple line pulls. Honestly, you can have three or four Rope Retention Pulleys for the same weight as a single snatch block.
Factor 55 also launched its own all-in-one Recovery Kits as well. 100% made in the USA – light and compact, their basic kit is only 17 pounds and the ultimate kit is 47 pounds!
The only negative I have for the pulley is that it doesn’t come in a protective bag. I don’t have one of their nice recovery bags with a dedicated pocket. Mine is an old military tool bag that has everything thrown in there.
I see Factor 55 leading the charge in the closed system recovery and this new rope retention pulley will relegate steel shackles and snatch blocks for decades to come.
Comments or Questions! Leave them below!