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Traction boards are tough and durable tire-wide slats with knobby, grippy surfaces. They’re popular with extreme off-road enthusiasts, who often find their vehicles deeply mired in mud, sand, or snow. In those situations, four-wheel-drive alone isn’t enough to extricate your vehicle. But traction boards are very useful to everyday 4×4 drivers as well. Here are three ways to use traction boards to get your vehicle out of a jam.

Top Pick

The top of this product provides excellent grip, while the bottom is formed to hold it in place. X-Bull

Providing traction is the primary purpose of a traction board. When your vehicle’s tires are slipping so much on sand, mud, or snow that you can’t gain enough traction to drive out of the problem area, place boards in front of the vehicle’s drive wheels. Push the tips of the boards as far underneath the tires as you can. If the wheels are deep, first create an angled trench in front of the boards to ease the vehicle’s recovery. Get back in the vehicle and slowly drive forward. The boards will simultaneously provide traction and help lift the vehicle out of the ruts that the spinning tires created.

Great Value

The curved edge on this model makes it a functional shovel. Stegodon

Sometimes it’s possible to get a vehicle mired up to the frame in mud or sand. You encounter a soft spot, your tires start slipping, you try to accelerate your way out of it, and suddenly you’re bottomed out. When that happens, the only way out is to start digging a trench in front of the tires. If you’re carrying traction boards, you can use one as a shovel—and so can one of your passengers—which speeds up the recovery.

Easy to Use

This model has an integral support to prevent slippage when supporting the vehicle. Bunker Indust

In some situations—heavy snow, deep sand, and spongy turf—the vehicle can become so mired that you need to lift it with a jack to place the boards in front of the tires. But the jack base pushes into the soft ground after you start cranking unless you place a support board beneath the base. Some traction boards feature an integral jack lift base, which will hold the jack securely and prevent the base from sinking into the soft ground.