Van life has always gone hand in hand with traveling off the beaten path. From bumpy, washed-out BLM roads to steep mountain traverses, you’ve likely found yourself driving in some precarious situations. After all, how else will you score that fantastic boondocking spot?
Unfortunately, trailblazing your own path can also result in your vehicle getting stuck. Most modern vans are not 4WD or AWD equipped, but lucky for you, X-Bull makes some excellent recovery traction boards that’ll get you rolling home again.
Are they worth it? This review will cover everything you need to know.
Put simply, recovery tracks are plastic boards that you place underneath your vehicle’s tires when you’re stuck spinning out. They’re designed to give your vehicle just enough traction to get out. If you’ve ever used the old floormat trick, it’s a very similar concept - just on steroids!
If you’re in the market for recovery boards, there’s a selection of companies out there to choose from. While X-Bull may not be the original manufacturers of these devices, they’ve quickly come into the van life space as a reliable, affordable option.
With that being said, let’s check out all the features they offer.
Affordability is where X-Bull truly shines. At a fraction of the cost of other leading recovery board companies, you’ll be receiving a product that’s easy on the wallet, while still providing maximum functionality. Here’s how they stack up:
|X-Bull Gen3 Recovery Tracks (Amazon)||MaxTrax MK II (Amazon)||ARB Tred Pro Recovery Boards (Amazon)|
|Starts at $59.90, color option dependentIncludes hardware mounting set and carry bag12-Month Warranty||$299.99 - Mounting hardware not includedFeatures a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty against faults and defects||$330.00 - Designed specifically for vehicles with 4WD capability alreadyFirst traction board company to offer lifetime warranty|
X-Bull Recovery Tracks are designed for a wide use of terrain applications - specifically snow, mud, sand, and ice.
When dealing with soft ground situations, X-Bull recommends deflating your tires to a level that you feel comfortable with. This increases the surface area your tires have, effectively increasing traction and assisting in your recovery.
NOTE: Be careful not to deflate your tires too much, as this can lead to the tire “coming off the bead.” In this situation, the tire slides off of the rim and will need to be reseated.
For the price, X-Bull holds its own in the durability department. The product is designed with a list of key construction features that ensure it’ll be there to get you rolling home again. These include:
X-Bull Recovery Tracks are pretty standardly sized when compared to other brands. Their overall dimensions are 43 x 13 x 5.1 inches (109cm x 31cm x 6cm). Each pair weighs 11.9 pounds, making it one of the lighter options on the market.
A common complaint often associated with X-Bull is that when stacked, the recovery boards sit slightly higher than MaxTrax traction boards, which can be inconvenient for tighter mounting purposes.
A major selling point of X-Bull Recovery Tracks is that the Gen3 product is a complete kit. Included is a carrying case for storage, as well as mounting hardware if you plan to attach it to an exterior location of the van.
The product also comes in a variety of colors, including orange, yellow, green, black, olive, and blue. Keep in mind that not all colors are priced equally.
First, make sure that the underside of your vehicle is free from obstruction. The last thing you want is for exhaust components to be torn off.
Conveniently, X-Bull recovery tracks can be used as a shovel on one end, although this generally only works well on soft ground without rocks.
This is an essential part of the process, and no recovery board will function properly without this being done. Ensure that you dig out a “runway” for your vehicle to build up momentum on.
Once your vehicle is sufficiently dug out, be sure to place the recovery tracks right up against the tires for maximum functionality.
When you’re ready to recover the vehicle, drive slowly! You shouldn’t have to spin the tires at all. This can dramatically decrease the efficiency of the recovery tracks and can damage them. When in doubt, slow it down and restart.
After following these steps, you’ll be all set to keep trekking on!
Unless you’re a frequent off-roader who plans on getting their rig stuck often, recovery boards are a rarely used item for most of the van life community. With a price five times less than their competitors, you can easily pick yourself up another pair of X-Bull boards should yours ever fail after serious heavy-duty use.
Overall, considering the affordable cost when compared to other traction boards, their lightweight durability, and the diverse color palette you can choose from - X-Bull Recovery Tracks are certainly a worthy recovery board option.