Survival Tips photo
No winch required. Kagan McLeod

Hardcore whitewater paddlers use the Z-Drag (a.k.a. the Poor Man’s Come Along) to free kayaks and canoes that are pinned to boulders in heavy current, but this simple mechanical advantage system is also useful for dragging or hoisting anything heavy (stuck ATVs, dead game off a cliff, a tree atop your buddy’s legs) short distances. With a minimum of gear, the Z-Drag gives you a 3-to-1 hauling advantage, so you can be thrice the man when the chips are down.


STEP 1: Tie the hauling rope to the stranded item (A). Using one of the loops of 5mm rope, tie a Prusik knot to the hauling rope close to the stranded item and clip a carabiner to the loop (B).

STEP 2: Tie a loop around a strong anchor point, such as a tree trunk or a vehicle, with the other 5mm-rope loop, and clip a carabiner to the loop (C). Run the hauling line on the pulleys as shown.

STEP 3: Pull on the working end of the hauling rope (D). There is no braking device on a Z-Drag, so hold the haul rope tight once you’ve pulled. As you take in line, have a partner slide the first Prusik loop down the hauling rope and toward the stranded item. If you’re on your own, tie the pull rope off to a tree once you’ve retrieved the stranded object.


✖ About 75 feet of hauling rope ✖ 12 feet of smaller 5mm rope, cut into 2 sections and tied into loops ✖ 2 carabiners ✖ 2 Petzl Ultra Legere Pulleys ($4; moose​, clipped to each ’biner