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Traction mats, are they useful?

 
Old 02-03-2019, 11:01 AM
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Default Traction mats, are they useful?

If you shop at Sam's Club I've alway found this time of year a good time to pick up some good deals on misc tool kits. These are items which are seasonal and they don't regularly carry.

During the holidays they always have what I would call "Dad item" gift packages which usually involve some tool kit. Around the end of January, beginning of February they typically start putting these items on clearance to get them off the shelves. I'ld go as far to say, they sell them at prices less then it cost them. The quality of the tools are typically pretty good.

The item I picked up today was an all-terrain roadside emergency kit which included a tow strap, shovel, gloves, blanket, and a traction mat. The main item I was interested in was the traction mat since I own most of the other items already. Price was $9.91 where it was $30+ during the holidays. For <$10 I figured what the heck, I'll pick a couple up.

I've used 26's in the past when stuck in sand to get some traction and stop digging down and my thought was these would store nicer than 26's. Has anyone ever used a traction mat, and your thoughts? Is it useful or did I just buy some junk I'll end up throwing away?

Here's what I got.
https://m.samsclub.com/ip/elantrip-a...t/prod22390078

Kit Contents
Heavy-duty tire traction mats
20-ft. towing rope
Upgraded grip dot gloves
Detachable snow shovel
Waterproof blanket & poncho

Last edited by Rednroll; 02-03-2019 at 02:25 PM.
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Old 02-03-2019, 01:30 PM
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Ive used floor mats before. Ild like that shovel.
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Old 02-03-2019, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by akpostal View Post
Ive used floor mats before. Ild like that shovel.
The shovel was another reason I decided it was worth getting the kit. I actually bought a similar kit a few years back from Sam's club, same after the holidays clearance deal which came with an aluminum collapsible shovel which now resides in my recovery kit bag. I should have purchased 2 of them back then. This recent kit the shovel is collapsible but has a plastic shovel end. My thought was that if my aluminum one ever breaks, then I'll have a couple spare replacements hanging around from this recent kit.
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Old 02-03-2019, 08:00 PM
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Here's what the traction mat looks like.

It has an 8"x23" foot print and is 1in thick solid plastic with traction groves on front and back. On the back side it seems to have a few studs in it, probably to help bite into ice. The ends fold to make it more compact for storage. It essentially seems like a high-tech 2"x6", so I expect it should at least do as well as a 2x6 plank.

Each kit came with 1 traction mat, so I've essentially have 2 of them currently for the cost of both kits I purchased for $20.

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Old 02-03-2019, 10:05 PM
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Hard to beat for $20 to try them out. I've used steel ramps from a dune buggy trailer to get a pickup unstuck in sand, these may have done the job too.
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Old 02-03-2019, 11:24 PM
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The problem with a 2x4 is, of course, that whatever you're stuck in can make the surface of it slippery. So, I would imagine that these would perform better than a hunk of wood. However, when there are comparison tests between various media for getting unstuck, there's consistently one that does well: MaxTrax. Only you can decide if the time and hassle getting unstuck and getting traveling again (you probably don't want to leave until you retrieve whatever back out of wherever it ended up in the muck) with these was worth the $280 savings. My experience, however, with any folding tools is they fold when used really hard. That includes shovels, pick-axes, etc. I wouldn't expect any better from a folding sand ladder/traction mat.
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Old 02-04-2019, 02:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Mark Doiron View Post
The problem with a 2x4 is, of course, that whatever you're stuck in can make the surface of it slippery. So, I would imagine that these would perform better than a hunk of wood. However, when there are comparison tests between various media for getting unstuck, there's consistently one that does well: MaxTrax. Only you can decide if the time and hassle getting unstuck and getting traveling again (you probably don't want to leave until you retrieve whatever back out of wherever it ended up in the muck) with these was worth the $280 savings. My experience, however, with any folding tools is they fold when used really hard. That includes shovels, pick-axes, etc. I wouldn't expect any better from a folding sand ladder/traction mat.
I just checked out those MaxTrax. WOW! Those are definitely the high-tech designer version of taking a 2"x6" wooden plank to a whole other level and for $280 I guess that can be expected. I'll give these $20 upgraded 2x6 traction mats a whirl for now. I was mainly thinking of situations of assisting others get unstuck out of some snow/ice to avoid unraveling the winch or if I find myself digging down into some soft sand as I've used a 2x6 piece of wood for in the past. Thanks for enlightening me, that was definitely an eye opener where you made me realize I just picked up a couple of kids toys compared to those MaxTrax and I was originally just thrilled the ones I got were a size I could throw under the rear seat or into a recovery bag with my straps.

After seeing those MaxTrax and their length compared to the ones I got, I'm feeling a little uncomfortable with my manhood and now has me thinking maybe I should pick up a couple more sets of the ones I got to at least come up to length with the big boys.

Last edited by Rednroll; 02-04-2019 at 02:37 AM.
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Old 02-04-2019, 09:12 AM
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I'd have to think that these things are better than nothing, and better than a plain piece of wood. Now, if you were going to remote parts of Alaska where there might not be anything round for a few hundy miles, like Mark, probably feel more comfortable with those $290 MaxTraxs.......

I'd bet for what you're thinking, handy to have on hand, and handy that they fold even though that could also be a weakness to them. Pretty cheap considering all the "extras" you got along with them.
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Old 02-04-2019, 04:31 PM
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Thanks for all the responses. I realize now how my original question was a bit naive where I didn't know anything about traction mats other than I've heard them mentioned by others without really looking into them further.

As an analogy, I now realize my question was similar to asking if a winch is useful or not, where I purchased an equivalent of a $75 HF 2k lb winch without being aware that there are 12K lb Warn winches also available. So along that analogy while my 2K lb HF winch is better than nothing and a step above a tow strap it will be limited to the fact it's compact and more convenient in regards to storage space, but I shouldn't expect it to get me through the more challenging situations as a Warn 12K winch would...the MaxTrax being the equivalent of the Warn 12K winch.

On that note, that's ok with me since it seems these traction mats should be a nice added convenience which I didn't have before and seems like a good addition for the price I paid for them.

My main thought when picking these up was that when I was at Silver Lake sand dunes, I realized my winches were pretty much useless if I got stuck in the sand since there was nothing to hook onto and I don't really want to get one of those anchors you bury in the sand. Having these instead along with a shovel, while not the best solution for getting unstuck, it is a solution which may be good enough and definitely better than nothing.

Last edited by Rednroll; 02-04-2019 at 04:38 PM.
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Old 02-04-2019, 08:55 PM
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For the price... give them a whirl! IF the come apart, hopefully you get out before the fall apart. they are helpful in sand and snow... but don't spin on them! They will heat up, melt, etc... They work best for a low speed type recovery! I have a cheaper knock off set, only had to use them once and they look no worse for the wear... You can find cheaper ones for 40 bucks or so on e-bay... your not going to "years of use out of them" but for the rare stuck situation... they can get you back on top of the sand or snow again.
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