When it comes to winter weather or backcountry off-road hunting or camping you need to have the right tools and equipment to ensure you don’t get stuck. If your vehicle has a winch system, one of the most important tools is a Snatch Block or block and pulley. However, like anything, if you don’t know how to use it, the tool becomes useless. Therefore, we have put this article together to help learn how to use a snatch block properly and what other equipment can help assist in using a snatch block.
What Is A Snatch Block?
First and foremost we have to cover what a snatch block is to understand how to use a snatch block correctly. A snatch block is a vehicle recovery tool designed for winches to help assist in the load and direction of a winch pull. They are made of high strength steel and they tend to have a side plate or cheek plate that swivels allowing you to insert a cable without having to remove any parts from the block. A snatch block is a very simple tool, however, it has a lot of effects when it comes to vehicle recovery.
Looking at the image on the right of a snatch block when can go over the parts in greater depth. Starting at the bottom of the snatch block you’ll see where the pulley wheel is located sandwiched between two outer steel plates. This is the pivot point of where the pulley can swivel and open allowing you to insert a winch cable. The top of the snatch block has a large hole to secure a shackle too. Therefore, closing the loop making it possible to use safely.
What To Pair With A Snatch Block –
When it comes to owning a snatch block it’s quite useless without the proper pairings. For example, a golf ball is useless without a set of golf clubs. Therefore, you need a few pieces of recovery equipment to utilize a snatch block.
First is a winch, many vehicles manufacture make model specific winches for SUV’s, Jeeps, and Trucks. Whereas, most ATV’s and UTV’s commonly come with winches already equipped. A winch cable is the main reason to own and use a snatch block. As a snatch block is designed for the winch cable to run through it. Helping move and direct your load.
The second is a tree saver tow strap. These are typically 6-8 feet long and are designed to be wrapped around a tree base or solid object. This helps protect your winch cable and allows for your snatch block to be attached properly. The last thing you ever want to do is wrap your winch cable around a tree or rough service, this will only decrease the life of it or worse cause damage.
The next item you’ll need is a set of shackles. They provide the connection for a winch cable and a snatch block. Snatch blocks are also much safer than a hook as they create a closed safe loop. By pairing these items together you create a near limitless vehicle recovery system that can save your vehicle.
How To Use A Snatch Block –
Well, you’ve got yourself stuck in the backcountry and help is far from walking distance. You may have even tried to rock your vehicle back-and-forth but your vehicle isn’t moving. Instead, of working harder it’s time to work smarter and use a snatch block.
Begin by taking our your vehicle recovery kit; shackles, tree saver, snatch block, cable damper, and tow strap (if a solid tree is further than your winch can reach).
Begin first by taking your tree saver strap and finding a solid tree, or stationery item that will serve as a great anchor for your snatch block. Let’s assume you have a solid tree located nearby. Start by wrapping the tree saver strap around the base of the tree. With the two tree saver loops in your end attach your shackle between the loops.
Next, unwind your winch so that there is enough length to reach the tree saver strap and then back to your vehicle. This is when you take the snatch block and open the swivel side. Feed your winch cable around the block pulley. Then close the pulley, now take the shackle you had placed between the tree saver straps in the eyelet of the snatch block. Be sure to close the shackle securely so that the pin can’t fall out.
Finally, attach your winch hook back to your vehicle in a solid mount or anchor. Now you can begin to wind the slack in the line. However, before you begin to pull the vehicle be sure to attach a cable damper in case of a failure. Now with everything attached, you can begin to slowly pull your vehicle from its stuck location.
Be sure that your tree isn’t cracking or coming out of the ground if it does. You may need to relocate to a more stationary tree. Also be sure that your vehicle is moving in the direction that will prevent it from getting stuck again.
How To Use A Snatch Block
Tips When Learning How To Use A Snatch Block –
There are some added tips to make using your snatch block easier and safer. Therefore, we have compiled the top 3 to help assist in your vehicle recovery.
#1 – Practice –
Don’t wait for a situation to arise where you need to use your snatch block and vehicle recovery equipment. Instead, be proactive and practice using your rigging to ensure you understand how to use it in a situation of being stranded or stuck. Find a safe location to set up your winch, vehicle, tree saver, snatch block, and shackles. This way you can practice a scenario where you may become stuck. You may find that you’re in need of some added equipment. For example, I practiced my first time with my jeep and found out that I needed a couple sets of shackles to have enough for creating my recovery system.
#2 – Safety First –
Due to the fact that vehicle recovery uses force, weight, and loads, they can be extremely dangerous if you’re not careful or if you’re using older equipment. Therefore, practice helps to ensure you know what you’re doing. Creating a safety checklist is also a great way to practice safe vehicle recovery. I tend to start with my vehicle first and begin checking from my vehicle to my equipment. Then back to my anchor point to ensure everything is hooked up correctly before I begin to recover my vehicle.
There are also a few added tools and equipment that can increase your safety such as a recovery damper. This attaches to your winch cable and in the event of a cable break. It will absorb the cable energy and shock reducing the recoil. It’s an inexpensive tool that may prevent injuries.
#3 – Spotting –
If you end up getting stuck and have a partner with you to help this is an added benefit. It’s always nice to have another set of eyes spot while you’re recovering your vehicle. Of course, you need both parties to be at a safe distance and place in case of a break. However, it’s always nice to have a spotter ensure your vehicle is moving in the direction and speed you’ve planned for. If you don’t have the luxury of a spotter, be sure go slow and move in 2 – 4-foot increments always checking the load can be handled by your equipment.