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Camper Recovery

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September 295 minute read

Haul a trailer far enough and chances are you may get stuck. This day we were just arriving at our isolated campsite on Dirk Hartog Island – we were tired, we were hungry and in the final hundred metres we got stuck!

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After the firm tracks we’d be travelling along, this ‘quick sand’ soft final section had caught us off guard. It was time to drop our tyre pressures some more – but there was no driving straight out of this one.

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After scouting where we needed to be, it turned out the best camping spot was back the way we had just come from. This left us with an awkward turnaround.

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First up we needed to get back on some hard ground, and you guessed it, that too was behind us. So we set up for a reverse MAXTRAX recovery, with trailer, while running on VERY low blood sugar…

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We dug our MAXTRAX in under each tyre and managed to pop backwards on to harder ground.

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Next we needed to turn around. We tried to back the trailer off the track, but the sand was too soft. The only option left was to drive back through the soft section where we had been stuck, into a very sharp turnaround in even softer sand, and then hopefully still having the momentum to get back out on the track.

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So with low pressures and full throttle, we sped into the turn, bounced around the corner, landed back in the ruts (just) and sped back onto hard ground.

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Heading to our next campsite a few days later, we were hooked up and ready to drive the 10 metre section of soft sand before the rest of the track – wouldn’t it be funny if we got stuck again… Yes, we got stuck again – and no, it was not funny.

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This time we tried one pair of MAXTRAX under the trailer wheels. With no drive the trailer acts like an anchor. With the ramps in place however the trailer seemed to lift out of the boggy soft sand and roll freely, certainly enough to help us get up some momentum.

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MAXTRAX have become a staple on many camper trailers. Like most recovery gear, they may just be a saviour on the odd occasion you need them. 

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Mike Collister has spent his life outdoors. He has represented Australia as a slalom kayaker, guided whitewater expeditions in Nepal, and taught outdoor education and wilderness medicine. He’s paddled the Kimberley’s Fitzroy River in the wet season and across the Bass Strait and is an avid photographer, overlander and camper.

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