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The shackle I use is a solid one piece shackle with a ridiculously over-rated (for the Ascent) D ring and a solid pin that locks into place. There's no reason to NOT use one like it for the Ascent, even fully loaded. I wouldn't yank off the front tow hook - gentle pulls on a recoil rope are the absolute most I'd do, but, it's not designed for high force kinetic recovery, and it is absolutely not designed for yanking on a tow (non-kinetic) rope. The TOW point is on the driver's side front of the car, underneath, in front of the tie down hook, bolted to the frame rail.

Also, please be aware that the Ascent is well beyond the towing limits of the Outback, and, the towing points on the Outback are not rated nearly high enough to extract an Ascent.

Some other tips for Death Valley are the following:
  • Have recovery tracks. Tests have shown that the cheap ones perform as well as the expensive ones. Get the expensive ones, if you want ones that have cool mounting solutions (to roof rack, side racks, etc) - otherwise, get a cheap set (two boards/tracks) that's rated well. Most come as a set of two, but, always double check.

  • Air down to the minimum your car can handle. On my KO2's, I can air down to 18 psi or a little less. On my Kumho Road Venture AT51's, I could air down to 20-22 psi.

  • While aired down, do not do sharp cornering at any speed over a crawl - you run the risk of popping a bead off. If that happens, you can get it back on, if you know how, but you will need to have it resealed properly (taken off, and the bead cleaned of the sand, and then put back on).

  • Have a shovel and be prepared to use it. Unbury behind the wheels, and reverse out, if you get stuck.

  • If you get stuck, don't floor it - you will bury yourself to the frame, and it will take hours to dig out, or, you will need something bigger than the OB to yank you out with a recoil rope.

  • Bring extra water (to drink), and, people suggest renting a satellite phone. It's pretty cheap to rent one (including some amount of minutes) for a week.

  • Bring a fire extinguisher.

  • Bring a kinetic rope rated at 2.5-3 times the weight of the Ascent. EG: 15,000 pounds to 18,000 pounds. If you get one that's higher rated, it becomes a tow strap. If you get one lower rated, it becomes something that will snap.

  • Do not have anyone standing within the length of the kinetic rope or tow strap. A kinetic rope that snaps can literally cut a person into two separate pieces.

  • Invest in a better jack for such trips, and a jack board to stick it on.

  • Some people use a winch and sand anchor in places like Death Valley - I haven't tried that.

11,390 Posts
Here's some of the gear I use:

Kinetic Rope
over-rate these. No less than 2.5x max vehicle weight, no more than 3 times max vehicle weight. Mine came in a much nicer bag.
Toss if they become frayed, cut, nicked, etc.
This is one of the highest customer rated kinetic ropes you will find on Amazon.


Tow Strap (non-kinetic)
DO feel free to over-rate these. Mine is rated at 30,000 pounds.
This is one of the highest customer rated straps you will find on Amazon.

BTW, this comes with the BEST locking shackle pin I've bought to date.

Extra Shackles
Except, I have the red one no longer listed. I use this so I have a shackle set in the kinetic rope bag - so, in a pinch, I grab whichever recovery strap is better suited, and there's a set of shackles ready in each bag.
This is one of the highest customer rated shackle sets you will find on Amazon.

Cheap but great option

This one is very decent, and I've used it since April 2014 through now - giving it to my brother. It's great if you're on a budget, and has lasted me for almost 3/4 of a decade.


This one is great, and comes with a lot of accessories, and a handle extension, and can be used as a wood saw in a pinch.
This is one of the highest rated shovels on Amazon.


Besides all I've mentioned in the last two posts, I also bring mylar emergency blankets and one regular blanket, as well as a full tool set - but, I do more than just day trips, and I can go really far out into nowhere.

11,390 Posts
If a shackle breaks free of the Ascent, and you've hooked it to either the recovery mount on the frame rail or to an OEM hitch, you have a much bigger problem. Shackles won't break towing the Ascent, most especially from the hitch. I am very sure that the rope would break first. If you use the Motormic shackles or the Rhino, you'll see why - they're one of the most beastly parts of any recovery solution you'd be using to recover the Ascent (or Outback).

This is the Motormic shackle (and hitch mount). As beefy as it is, the Rhino is slightly beefier. Nothing is breaking on it. These things are beasts.


But, yes, there's always dangers in doing a vehicle recovery. A flying shackle can do irreparable damage to a person, and serious damage to a car, and a snapped recoil rope really and truly can cut someone in half. There used to be a video on YouTube. I had the misfortune of seeing it before it was pulled.

Regardless, I cannot imagine a rope coming loose from a properly used, high quality shackle. There's a very big reason why everything I bought (excepting the shovel) is of the highest possible quality available. Note how thick the shackle pin is, and how much threading holds it in place (the entire thickness of the shackle). And, the shackle mount itself is solid steel, just like the pin and shackle.

I am pretty sure the pin of the shackles I use will fit through the recovery hook hole on the Ascent. If I ever unbend mine, I'll try it.

It may or may not fit through the tie down hooks (but you shouldn't use them there).

I have not went to Death Valley - it was on our list for our 2019 Cross Country Adventure, but, time didn't permit it. We did spend a bunch of time in the deserts in Joshua Tree, and Moab. I do recommend GaiaGPS app (iPhone/Android/Computer), and, downloading the NPS and Gaia maps inside of it. The NPS maps will show you the legal trails and driving areas.
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