Offroading Gear Complete Guide to Soft Shackles for Off-Road Recovery
Soft shackles are fairly new in the off-road world but have been around for centuries in the marine industry. They are a great alternative to standard D-rings and often have more benefits than a traditional hard shackle.
Many of the soft shackles we use for off-road recovery are made of a high modulus material. This means the synthetic soft shackle has elastic characteristics, much like that of a kinetic rope.
The benefit to this is the material is that it’s very strong and rigid, but the downside is it is prone to more deformations than material with less elasticity.
Offroading Gear Soft Shackles
Straight out of the box it’s easy to tell that the Offroading Gear shackles are high quality. They come in pairs of two in a neat little draw bag. Both shackles and the bag weigh less than one D-ring, just to emphasize the weight difference.
We were sent the 1/2″ soft shackles (38000-lb breaking strength) which are overkill for the 4Runner’s and Tacomas we run but will be nice to have if we run into a situation where we need to yank out a full-size truck, which does happen from time to time.
What size should you buy?
For most applications, running with a 5/16″ (22000-lb breaking strength) or even 3/8″ (30000-lb breaking strength) soft shackle would be fine. Both of these options would suffice for 4Runners and any mid-size off-road truck like the Tacoma.
Most typical 2″ hitch receiver recovery points like the Factor 55 Hitchlink 2.0 and the Agency 6 Shackle Block fit 3/4″ screw-pin D-ring shackles so both the 5/16″ and the 3/8″ would fit just fine. Actually, every size soft shackle that Offroading Gear offers would fit through a 3/4″ screw-pin shackle point.
The shackles from Offroading Gear have a section of rope wrapped in heat shrink material. This part is designed to be pulled from and in order to not fray the rope – another added benefit of the Offroading Gear Soft Shackles.
Find it Online:
- 5/16″ 22000 lb (Jeeps, cars, ATVs): Check Price
- 3/8″ 30000 lb (mid-size SUVs, small trucks): Check Price
- 7/16″ 34000 lb (full-size SUVs and mid-size pickups): Check Price
- 1/2″ 38000 lb (full-size pickup trucks): Check Price
- Offroading Gear Recovery Rope: Check Price
Hitch-Mounted Recovery Points
Why Soft Shackles
Photo by: @Unsealed 4×4
As I mentioned before, soft shackles have quite a few benefits over D-rings. For starters, soft shackles weigh much less than a standard 3/4″ D-ring. The reason for this is pretty obvious as soft shackles are made out of synthetic rope, whereas D-rings are made from hardened steel.
Another benefit to running soft shackles over D-rings is that they are float. This may not sound like much, but if you’ve ever done a recovery in deep mud, or in water, the last thing you want to do is go fishing for a D-ring. If you accidentally drop your soft shackle, it’s not the end of the world as it’ll float on the surface due to the buoyancy of the synthetic rope.
Soft shackles are much faster at fastening to a recovery strap or vehicle. D-rings use a screw pin method, which even though it doesn’t take that long to install, it’s not the most pleasant thing in the world with cold hands. With soft shackles, all you do is loosen the hole, slide it over the nut and tighten.
Soft Shackles and Kinetic Recovery Straps/Ropes
Using a kinetic recovery rope in an off-road recovery situation is a close second to using a winch when it comes to effectiveness. A recovery rope uses kinetic energy to propel the stuck vehicle forward (or backward depending on the situation) in order to free the vehicle.
Where do soft shackles come into play? A kinetic recovery is going to be much safer with a soft shackle than a D-ring simply because there are not going to be any hard pieces of steel flying through the air if something were to break.
That’s one of the benefits of using a soft shackle especially in a situation like this. With the amount of load that takes place during a recovery, let alone a kinetic one, I would much rather have a soft shackle break than a heavy D-ring.
Soft Shackles vs D-Rings
D-rings are widely used throughout the off-road community. They’re cheap, easy to use, and very durable. You can use them in pretty much any off-road recovery situation, in fact, it’s not uncommon to carry multiple D-rings with you.
Soft shackles are much lighter than their D-ring counterparts. This means you could throw a couple in the back of your 4Runner and never know they were there. They are just as easy, if not easier, to use than D-rings, and are usually quicker to set up. They’re generally priced higher than standard D-rings, but they have different sizes and load strengths available.
- Less expensive
- Float in water
- Safer than D-rings
- Quicker to use
- Easier to store
Soft shackles are the new D-rings.
The lightweight, yet durable design makes for a great alternative to a standard set of D-ring style shackles. The shackles from Offroading Gear are extremely nice to have since all you have to do is pull the drawstring and throw them in the back of your truck.
Although they cost more than your generic D-ring, they still won’t break your bank. Since these are much safer than your average D-ring, these are a must-have for any serious off-roader.
The only problem we had with these soft shackles is that the diameter of the material is actually quite large on the 1/2″ shackle compared to other shackles we run. If you have a very small inside diameter mounting point then the 1/2″ soft shackles may be too large to feed through that hole.
For example; most welded on clevis shackle mounts have a tendency to feature a small inside diameter. While most mounting points are 3/4″ – some run on the smaller side, and push closer to the 5/8″ mark. The knot on the end of the soft shackles is actually pretty large as well, a bit larger than the commonly found higher-end Bubba Rope soft shackles on the market. I would say that these soft shackles are on par with the Smittybilt shackles in terms of quality – which at the end of the day, are a great soft shackle.
If you grab one of these shackles for your 4Runner or Tacoma – look at the 5/16″ and/or the 3/8″ option.
I think this product comes in at a great price point and will offer you, more or less, the same end-goal functionality as a higher-end shackle and will fit most clevis shackles, along with working great with all ropes and D-rings alike.