X-Bull Recovery Traction Mats

Gearflogger reviews X-Bull recovery traction matsIf you're venturing off-road in a vehicle you need to be prepared to extricate that vehicle from the inevitable sand, snow or mud trap. A Hi-Lift jack and a shovel are mandatory equipment, and a good winch won't hurt either, but often all you need is a little extra traction to get unstuck and that's what traction mats are for.

There are a lot of different mats out there at a lot of different price points. X-Bull mats are a great occasional-use mat for light and medium duty at a price that won't have you cringing. Their mats are made from a UV stable nylon mixture for long-term exterior storage, have a nice nesting design to minimize storage space, come with a storage bag and are available in a few different colors.

Careful use is necessary as with any recovery device. First things first: if you come to a dicey section of trail, you can always lay the mats down before you get stuck to ensure easier passage. If it's after the fact, air down your tires, dig out as much as you can in the direction of travel, get the mats down as low as possible in contact with the tire and go easy on the throttle so you don't sandpaper all the little nubs off. You might want to prepare ahead of time to recover your recovery devices by tying off some colorful nylon webbing in case they get covered in muck or are just hard to reach. And pro tip: don't stand behind the mats in case they turn into a missile.

The X-Bulls are straight models and have the advantage of being bidirectional. They also fit perfectly in the back of a Jeep Wrangler sideways. If you've got a smaller vehicle you can look for hinged mats, the reputable brands seem to be plenty durable, just check the weight limit.

The X-Bulls are also fully rigid. Some say a little flex in a traction mat is good, aiding in getting the mat into position and lowering the effective angle of attack as they conform to the ground as you climb out of a hole. This does not mean you should rely on soft carpet-style mats, which are generally useless as they ball up and squirt out the other side. If you want to use your mats for bridging, the X-Bulls are not designed for this and in fact few mats are, and the ones that are will be some heavy metal designs, and you better know what you're doing. It's possible you could double the X-Bulls up for a very short bridge, but don't blame us when that plan goes south.

$102.00 a pair at Amazon



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