Unless you ride your quad on perfectly groomed trails and back out at the slightest hint of a traction challenge, sooner or later you are going to need help from your winch to be able to continue your ride.
In most of the places where I have been stuck bad enough to use a winch, a solid tree trunk has been within cable length to anchor the winch and execute an extraction. I appreciate those trees. There is no reason to ruin a perfectly good tree just because you need a little help getting out of a hole.
Warn Industries of Oregon sells an accessory kit to their winches. The kit contains tools to assist with safe winching. Buy the kit when you get the winch installed on your machine. The Tree Protector Strap will allow your winch hook to be connected in such a way as to protect the tree. You never know when you might need that particular tree again. The Tree Protector Straps fit around the tree and are held together with a shackle to provide a safe anchor point to connect the winch hook.
Warn’s Tree Protector Strap, Snatch Block and Shackle
Warn’s light-duty winching accessory kit comes with two loop-ended 25-mm-wide by 2.5-metre-long (one-inch by eight-foot) straps. The standard trunk protectors are rated for a 2,041-kilogram (4,500 pound) maximum load, a shackle rated the same and a 4,082-kilogram max (9,000-pound) snatch block to be used for changing the direction of the rope for an anchor point or for compounding the pulling force.
Hooking your snatch block to an anchor point, threading the cable through the block and connecting the hook back on the front of your quad doubles the pulling power of your winch to give you jaw-dropping winching power. Download the detailed winching instructions and safety advice here (click on Manual and Literature and download the Winching Techniques manual).
The light recovery kit includes a snatch block, useful as a pulley to multiply pulling force or changing the direction of the cable to pull in a direction different than your anchor point. — Photo courtesy Warn Industries
In addition to the accessory kit, Warn’s standard and its top-tier Epic components are sold separately. These Epic trunk protector straps are the same dimensions as the regular Warn ones but are rated heavier (3,265 kilograms or 7,200 pounds). The Epic Shackle, Epic Snatch Block and Epic Winch Hook are all rated for 2,268 kilograms (5,000 pounds). And the hook has an integral beverage opener to celebrate the extraction when safe to do so.
I’ve seen quad riders wrap steel rope around the tree connecting the hook back on the steel rope, and the bark peels right off the tree. That tree will die in a year or so and will be of no use to anyone for traction. Once these riders learned how to use a tree protector, they made this part of their trail kit and used them everytime they needed to lock onto an anchor point to extract.
Over time, the steel rope frays when attached back on itself. I replaced one of these tree protector straps after 10 years because it was showing some serious wear.
My accessory kit stays with my quad and has helped me get out of more than one gooey mess. It’s worth noting that all the trees I have used as anchor points are still alive and well because of Warn’s Tree Protector Straps.
I have used various gear from this pack for more than a decade of trail riding. My recommendation is to get the kit for your quad, for the trees and for yourself.