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ProMark Offroad Blog

Rigging Up a Winch Snatch Block

Winch snatch block

Make sure your winch snatch block is rated high enough for the force of the pull.

A winch snatch block can come in handy when you need to redirect a pull, rig up a double line pull for more power, or spool out more cable for maximum single-line pulling power. A snatch block is a basic winch tool that every offroader should own. It makes your winch more versatile and can give you the extra power and direction you need to get out safely.

How to Rig Up a Snatch Block

  1. Free the winch hook and feed out several feet of cable.
  2. Attach the winch hook to your vehicle’s tow hook (make sure it is attached to the vehicle frame and not the mounting plate).
  3. To open the snatch block, rotate the side plate until there is opening to attach the cable.
  4. Run the cable through the snatch block so that it fits into the metal groove on the wheel.
  5. Rotate the side plate so that the two side plates are lined up together.
  6. Disengage the clutch and use the snatch block to feed out enough cable to reach your anchor point.
  7. Secure the snatch block to the anchor point by using a tree trunk protector or choker chain and a clevis/shackle.

Make sure your snatch block is rated for the capacity of the pull. Remember that if you rig up a double line pull, you are asking your snatch block and other rigging parts to handle up to twice the capacity of your winch. If a snatch block breaks under load, it can do an incredible amount of damage. Always take safety precautions and stand clear of the winch line under load.

How to Use a Winch Snatch Block

8000 lb Winch Snatch Block

8000 lb Winch Snatch Block

One of the best winch tools to keep in your off road tool kit is a snatch block. It can get you out of some tough situations by straightening out an angle pull, spooling out more line on a short pull, and doubling your winch capacity.

Attaching the Winch Snatch Block

Snatch blocks are designed to attach to the cable without having to remove the load or take apart the pulley. Just open up the side plate by rotating it, then attach the block to the cable.

Setting Up a Single Line Pull with Snatch Block

To straighten out a pull or to route the winch rope around an object:

  1. Attach the snatch block to an anchor point in a straight line with the winch.
  2. Then attach the other end of the cable to the load (if winching out another vehicle) or to a solid anchor point (if recovering your own vehicle).
  3. Use a tree strap or chain to secure the snatch block to the anchor point. Do not wrap a chain around a tree; use a tree strap to prevent damage to the tree.

How to redirect an angle pull using a snatch block

How to redirect an angle pull using a snatch block
(Used with permission from JonFund and 4WheelDrive)

Setting Up a Double Line Pull with Snatch Block

To double the line for more winch power or to spool out more cable when the anchor point is too close to the vehicle:

  1. Attach the snatch block to the cable.
  2. Then freespool the cable out to the anchor point.
  3. Attach the snatch block to the anchor point with a tree strap or chain.
  4. Then attach the end of the cable to a solid mounting point on the frame of the vehicle for self recovery.
Self Recovery with a Double Line Pull

Self Recovery with a Double Line Pull
(Used with permission from JonFund and 4WheelDrive)

Recovering another vehicle with a double line pull

Recovering another vehicle with a double line pull
(Used with permission from JonFund and 4WheelDrive)

Snatch Block Ratings

Remember that a double line pull places double the stress on your mounting points, cable, and winch tools. Make sure all tools, including the snatch block, are rated to double the winch capacity if you plan on pulling the maximum load.

Snatch Blocks for Winches

Snatch block rated up to 20,000 pounds

Snatch block rated up to 20,000 pounds

What is a snatch block good for?

  1. It gives you more pulling power.
  2. It takes a load off of your winch.
  3. It gives you more options for rigging up (double line pull, straighten an off-kilter pull, etc.).

Winch snatch blocks are designed to operate safely under heavy loads. They are made to handle different strengths. Higher rated snatch blocks are made from stronger, thicker materials.

What size snatch block do I need?

If you plan to pull up to twice the capacity of your winch with a double line pull, make sure the snatch block is rated up to double the maximum load your winch can handle. If you only use the snatch block to straighten a pull, you can get by with a lower rating.

Generally an 8000 pound snatch block is strong enough for a double line pull with any ATV or UTV winch. For Jeep and truck winches, double the capacity of the winch to find the recovery snatch block rating (16K, 20K, and larger).

How big are they?

Like most other winching tools, snatch blocks are small enough to easily be tucked away in a corner of your vehicle (for recovery snatch blocks) or in the tool kit for your quad (for ATV/UTV snatch blocks).

Why do I need a snatch block?

A snatch block is useful for a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • It increases pulling power.
  • It increases the amount of winch line spooled out.
  • It doubles the pulling power and cuts the strain on the motor in half by using a pulley system.
  • It lets you straighten out a pull.
  • It lets you double or even triple the line for hard pulls.

When rigging up a double line pull, keep in mind that it will also reduce the line speed by half and double the amount of stress placed on the mounting points.

Basic Offroad Recovery Kit

If you wheel out in the backcountry, you know how important it is to be prepared in case things go wrong. And when it comes to offroad recovery, there are certain items you just don’t want to leave at home!

We’ve put together a basic list of offroad recovery and winching tools to help you prepare for any recovery situation you might face. Some of these items are essential to the winching process, and others are just a matter of convenience. Feel free to add your own items to the list.

    20,000 lb Snatch Block for Offroad Recovery

    20,000 lb Snatch Block for Offroad Recovery

  1. Gloves – Protect your hands during the winching process with a pair of heavy duty leather gloves.
  2. Hook Strap – Keep your fingers from getting pinched in the winch hook by using the hook strap to spool out the cable.
  3. Snatch Block – Double up the winch line with a snatch block for really tough pulls.
  4. Clevis / D-shackles – Attach the winch hook to the anchor point with a clevis or D-shackle.
  5. Choker Chain – Use the choker chain to hook up to sharp objects or other vehicles. (Note: Not for use on trees, since a choker chain could damage or kill the tree.)
  6. Tree Strap – Use the tree strap to hook up to trees or other natural objects as an anchor point.
  7. Heavy Blanket or Coat – Throw a heavy blanket over the winch cable to zap the momentum of the cable in case it breaks.
  8. Recovery Strap – Use the recovery strap for quick and easy snatch pulls. (Note: Do not use the recovery strap in combination with your winch.)
  9. Batteries – Throw in extra batteries for the winch remote, just in case your batteries die out on the trail.
  10. Accessory Bag or Case – Keep all these winching accessories handy when you need them by storing them all together in one place.
  11. Shovel – One of these might come in handy during a tough recovery.
  12. Toolbox – Throw some pliers, a wrench, a screwdriver, and other basic tools into your accessory kit for repairs and quick fixes.
  13. Backup Parts – If you have room, it’s a good idea to throw in an extra winch cable or cable extension, an extra tree strap, and an extra clevis shackle and snatch block, along with any other extra parts you think might come in handy.

Don’t Go Offroading Without These 2 Winch Tools

Going off road this weekend? Don’t leave home without these two handy winch tools: a snatch block and a clevis shackle.

8000 lb snatch block

8000 lb snatch block

Snatch blocks (or pulley blocks) are an offroader’s friend. Here’s why:

  • Snatch blocks double the pulling power of your winch.
  • They let you straighten out an off-kilter pull.
  • They give your winch motor a break by reducing heat buildup and amp draw. The more you let your motor overheat, the faster it will wear out. A snatch block means less demand on your winch.
  • Because a snatch block pivots at the pulley pin, it easily attaches to the winch cable without any need to take apart the snatch block.

A D shackle (or clevis shackle) is another winch tool you don’t want to leave behind. Here’s why:

Pair of clevis shackles

Pair of clevis shackles

  • A clevis shackle lets you connect the looped ends of cables, straps and snatch blocks.
  • It prolongs the life of your winch cable. Looping the winch around an anchor point and tying it back on itself is a quick way to destroy the cable or, at the very least, compromise its strength.
  • The shackle pin is threaded, so it stays in place when you’re depending on its strength and can easily be removed when the pull is over.
  • It’s a good tool to have around for more than just off road recovery.

How to Dig a Deadman Ground Anchor, Part 2

Tie stakes or axles together with a tree strap for a homemade ground anchor.

Tie stakes or axles together with a tree strap for a homemade ground anchor.

Instead of burying a heavy object, you can also drive in long stakes or axles. They should be at least three feet in length to reach deep enough into the ground. For a solid anchor, pound in several stakes, one behind the other, at an angle away from the line of pull.


The stakes must be deep enough and the ground dense enough to sustain the force of the pull or the winch will yank the anchor right out and all your work will be for nothing. This can also create a potentially dangerous situation if the buried anchor pulls free and rockets toward you or your vehicle.

After driving in the stakes, connect them with a chain or tree strap, and attach the winch hook to the strap as close to the ground as possible. If you have trouble pulling the stakes back out, try winching them out by pulling at the same angle as the anchor.

As you can see, digging a dead man takes time and hard work and is not going to be your first option, but when it comes down to walking back for help or making your own winch anchor, now you have the option of getting out on your own without the embarrassment of calling in the rescue squad.

For more tips, see Part 1 of How to Dig a Deadman Ground Anchor.

How to Dig a Deadman Ground Anchor, Part 1

Maybe you’ve been there before. You’ve been riding hard for the last couple hours, conquering boulders, mud, and tight spots until suddenly you find yourself good and stuck, and no amount of pushing, pulling, or cursing will make your vehicle budge. You’ve got a winch. The problem is there’s not a rock, tree, or stump in sight and no buddy around to pull you out. How are you going to find an anchor point to winch out? Roll up your sleeves and get ready to move some dirt. It’s time to dig a dead man.

Digging your own anchor is a last resort, but when you find yourself in a desperate situation, miles from civilization, it may be your only option. Here’s how you can make your own ground anchor if the situation calls for it.

If you’re adequately prepared for times like this, most likely you have a shovel stashed in your ATV or truck. Pull it out and start digging. The depth of the hole will depend somewhat on the size and weight of your vehicle and just how good you’re stuck. The deeper the hole, the sturdier your anchor will be. At minimum, it should be deep enough to fully cover an object the size of your spare tire and rim.

Dig the hole directly in line with the stuck vehicle, if possible, and far enough away from your quad or truck to spool out a decent length of winch cable for a maximum power pull. Spool out the cable ahead of time to measure the distance if you’re unsure where to start digging. Taking the time to plan out where your dead man needs to be is better than making the hole too close or too far away from your vehicle and then having to dig a new one.

A broad, weighty object makes the sturdiest dead man winch anchor, such as a log, large rock, or spare tire. If you carry a spare, you have a heavy, solid object on hand without scrounging around for a log or other large object. The size of the tire corresponds to the size of your vehicle and, if buried deep enough, should hold fast as you winch out.

Attach a chain or tree strap to the anchor and bury the log or tire deep in the hole, angled away from your vehicle for greater resistance during the pull. Fill in the open areas with dirt and pack it down solid. Hook up your winch to the chain or strap and you’re ready to start the recovery. After you winch out your vehicle, make sure to retrieve your makeshift anchor and fill in the hole. Leave as little trace of your digging as possible.

For alternative methods of burying a ground anchor, see Part 2 of How to Dig a Deadman Ground Anchor.

3 Basic Winch Tools for Rigging Up

When you’re out exploring or working in the great outdoors, there’s no telling what kind of tricky situations you may find yourself in. That’s why it’s best to be prepared for whatever life throws your way. A winch can get you out when you find yourself stuck, but some situations may take a little more ingenuity and finesse. Here’s where your winching tools come to the rescue. The three most basic winching tools you should always keep at hand are a snatch block, tree strap, and D-shackle.

1. Snatch Block

16k_snatch_block_smallWhether you need to straighten out the cable on a side pull or you need some extra “oomph” for a really good stuck, a snatch block gives you the power and flexibility you need. As an added bonus for heavy pulling, they also reduce amp draw and heat buildup.

In order to truly double the capacity of your winch, the snatch block capacity should be double the maximum capacity of your winch. For most ATV or UTV winches, which generally run up to 4000 lbs, an 8K pulley block is more than sufficient. For recovery winches, double your winch capacity to find the capacity you need for the snatch block. Make sure the snatch block can handle the diameter of your cable.

2. Tree Strap

tree_strap_main_1If you’re hooking up to a natural anchor point such as a tree or rock, a tree saver strap will come in handy. Tree straps soften the impact on the environment, unlike choker chains, which can damage or kill trees.

Your cable itself should never wrap around an anchor point and hook back onto itself. This can severely damage your cable. A tree strap saves your cable from rubbing against abrasive surfaces and gives you a secure hold on your anchor point.

3. D-Shackle

clevis_smallA clevis D-shackle (D-ring, anchor shackle, etc.) works as a link between the tree strap (or other anchor point, such as a tow hook) and your cable hook. Check the working load of your D-shackle to make sure it can handle what you put it up against.

With these basic winching tools and a little know-how, you can winch your way out of tricky spots with little effort.