Snow Chains for Mud Traction?

Discussion in 'Transportation' started by stillman, Jan 7, 2015.

  1. stillman

    stillman Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    I ran across this post by Malamute about using tire chains in the mud:
    http://bushcraftusa.com/forum/showt...capabilities?p=2428320&viewfull=1#post2428320


    Being from the South, I seldom have the opportunity to drive in snow and so I never owned a set of chains. It never occurred to me that snow chains could help with traction in mud.

    If I were the sort of guy who has paved road tires but can't pass up a chance to take a dirt road (and I am) would a set of chains be a good trunk addition, even in a snow-free climate? Can you put them on if you run into seriously muddy conditions and keep driving?
     
  2. Tnfalconer

    Tnfalconer Tracker

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    I think the short answer is that they will. Problem will be getting out. I use chains daily here in Montana to get up my two mile driveway in the mountains. So I chain up when I get to the driveway and unchain when I get to the road. Chains grip and dig VERY well, will they let you go farther in but honestly putting them on in the mud would be a huge PITA and if you put them on before you go into the mud, why not just stay out of the mud in the first place. The one common denominator with chains in snow and lugged tires in mud is wheel speed. Wheels speed cleans the tires and lets them grab more mud. Chains do the same thing. They provide extra traction where the treads are already full of snow. If the snow is deep, say like deep mud, the only saving grace is a heavy right foot and ability to get moving and stay moving even up hill. A good bit of judgment and a winch will get you farther but I would and did carry chains in my truck even when I didn't live here. Just one more tool in the bag incase you need it. They are very helpful on slick, flat surfaces. Even without snow.
     
  3. Malamute

    Malamute Guide

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    Yes and no. They arent easy to put on once stuck in mud, but its amazing what one cqan do when properly motivated. If put on before it gets crazy muddy, you're ahead of the game.

    My use of them started with an old 2wd I-H pickup. I'd drive out some snowy muddy Forest Service road in the middle of nowhere near Flagstaff Az. I'd get stuck, then jack the truck up out of the mud with a heavy duty hydraulic bottle jack and a stack of 2x6 boards. After getting the chains on, it was like having 4wd. I was stopped once putting the chains on in a huge mud trap when a guy and his family came along. He mentioned that I could probably go about the same places with my 2wd and chains as he could in his 4wd without them. That turned out to be true. With 4wd, it gets better also. It isnt that you cant get stuck, but it lets you get much farther into the bottomless morrass before you get stuck. :D

    I used to do some really dumb stuff 4 wheeling. Chains really do add to your capabilities. At this point, other than snowy icy roads, if I need chains offroad, its a sign I need to put them on to get back out, not go farther in.

    Chains on 4wd in deep snow are awesome. I was one of the few moving vehicles on the road in the midwest one time when there was a foot or more of snow. I chained up the front of my Nissan truck and was about unstoppable. was plowing a fair amount of snow with the axles and bottom of the truck, but the chains chop through the snow and ice and grab well. If chaining up with 4wd, always put them on the front, they do the most good there. I never have carried two sets to chain up all around, one was generally good.

    If your vehicle can roll, just laying them out on the ground and driving onto them is simplest. I never have understood why people would go to all the trouble to jack up a vehicle to chain up. Heck it takes less time to chain up than the jack it up. Once you roll a little, retitghten them. A bungy cord works as a tightener and to keep the loose tails from flopping around. If you get them on well, you really dont need tighteners though.

    Practivce once or twice before needing them. Discovering you got them on backwards when in the mud and slop is annoying. Theres an inside and outside.

    If you ever REALLY need them on packed snow or icy roads, the best grade chains are the only way to go. They have traction cleats on the cross chains. Expensive, but money well spent. The better grade chains will hold up better when doing dumb stuff offroad also. I've broken a fair number of cross chains. When you're serious, you have the repair tool and spare cross chains and latches, and chain repair links.
     
  4. Malamute

    Malamute Guide

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    Um, because the mud is between where you are and where you want to go? Or the mud may in fact be where you want to go.

    I had a total blast exploring the back country in N Az when I was younger. Chains were just part of the adventure. If it took chains to get in, it was better than any limp wristed, pasty faced place that didnt require chains, and therefore more worthy of going to. :D

    Once into the chain phase, a hi-lift jack, and a come-a-long hand winch are part of the needed gear. And a couple tow straps to reach anchor points or get pulled out with. and a REAL shovel. After you dig out in mud with a short shovel, the long handled round point jobs are the berries!

    I once required a chain saw to get out. That was REALLY stuck. Had a buddy come help me. He'd been stuck tons of times when he was logging. He had little mercy on trees that were hampering getting out. They can be used to build roadways or skids also. A full size Ford extra cab long bed F-250 can be rotated on its axis with logs, come-a-longs and some dedicated, motivated dudes.

    I sure miss Scott. RIP old friend.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2015
  5. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Banned Member Banned

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    I run a 454 GMC Burb 4x4 at 53N in the mountains. Seems to me that
    a) mud is bottomless = you gotta float and river valley bottom clay will teach you that, not me.

    b) skinny tires cut it in snow, there is a bottom. So far this winter, that's 60-70" down.

    Cooper Discoverers with walnut shell traction compound are quite satisfactory.
    If you do not have REAL snow tires, here, you will have your vehicle impounded and you can sit
    on your can until you have satisfied the law.

    I confess that I've never had the need to run chains on any tires at any time of year.
    Might be a mistaken sense of confidence here. Can you run chains and do 70mph?
     
  6. Malamute

    Malamute Guide

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    No, chains shouldnt be used over about 40 mph or so. I dont recall the actual number suggested by the makers.

    If you can do 70, you probably dont need chains.

    Come to think of it, bad road conditions dont always slow some people down.
     
  7. x39

    x39 Hyperborean Supporter

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    One of my best friends used to run chains on all four wheels of his Dodge M-37. We went some ridiculous places in that rig.
     
  8. stillman

    stillman Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    This thread was worth starting just to read about Scott.

    Many thanks.
     
  9. stillman

    stillman Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    I think a set of chains will be in my truck bag from now on.
     
  10. jason.williams.77985

    jason.williams.77985 Tracker

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    Chains don't exactly fall under the "tread lightly" philosophy... That said, there should be a difference between having to drive somewhere and wanting to drive somewhere. I never liked folks tearing a muddy road up, just because. Good to have in the truck, for times you would otherwise have to walk.
     
  11. stillman

    stillman Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    I wouldn't advocate tearing up a perfectly good dirt road but I'd think if chains were needed that the road is already a mess. It irritates me when I see where someone has done donuts or started ruts in a road that wouldn't be in bad shape except for their abuse. On the other hand, I've seen plenty of roads that were already ruined that I'd like to see what's on the other end.
     
  12. Malamute

    Malamute Guide

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    Well said.

    I got seriously stuck once when I drove into a place at night when it was cold and the ground frozen, but when I left, it had thawed. I BURIED my truck. I walked out and found a guy I knew that was on a backhoe. He came in to try to get me out, he ended up getting the backhoe VERY stuck. He used the outriggers and front and rear buckets to help float himself and manuever to get out. The ground around him was moving like liquid, or semi-liquid.

    Sometimes stuff just happens. You didnt plan it, or didnt see it coming.

    I was a couple miles back in on a Harley bunny hunting once, a cloudburst came over and DUMPED on the area. When I tried riding out, the mud was caking on everything and it was like trying to ride on greased glass. It locked up the front wheel when it clogged up in the fender several times. I'd go down then. After cleaning the mud out of the fender a couple times with pliers handles, I took it off.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2015
  13. VinWild

    VinWild Scout

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    Coming from an area where chains are required on some vehicles during certain conditions, I still don't see the justification short of big rig necessity.
    If the roads here are that bad, you probably shouldn't be on them anyway.
    Cable chains for the average commuter are garbage and light duty. Most don't last more then 100 miles (at best) or so rendering them a one time use at best. Strapped on chains are not that much better and can absolutely destroy a fender well or undercarriage if not properly installed.
    A good four wheel drive vehicle, set up properly with good rubber, and somebody with some off-road experience, you can get anywhere within reason.
    If you are looking to get in so deep that a winch can't recover your idiotic tail, then you deserve to be stuck.
    All chains do is tear up the road and countryside and make travel a far less pleasurable experience for everyone.
     
  14. crewhead05

    crewhead05 caffeine, nicotine, knives and nature. Lifetime Supporter Supporter

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    Another option, similar idea to chains, for getting through deep mud (or out of a snow bank) is the trac grabber. They are designed for use on a very short distance, basically just to get you un stuck, then you take them off again.

    I have a pair in my tool box but have yet to use them.


    http://www.tracgrabber.com/
     
  15. chiefcrunchy

    chiefcrunchy Scout

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    Short answer yes, used to do it in the Berkshires in CT/Mass. When it was ice covered mud it would break through the ice and just keep going once in the mud.
     
  16. stillman

    stillman Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    Those look pretty good, thanks for the link.
     
  17. Myr1ad

    Myr1ad Scout

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    My work often takes me on dirt roads and dirt parking lots. Several times I have parked on solid ground, only to have to drive out of muck. I drive an E-350 XLT Superduty Van, not the best in mud. My chains have saved my butt several times.
    Rud Classic V 4x4 chains. http://www.rud.com/en-us/products/snow-chains/llkw/classic_v.html
    The cool part about these chains is you do not need to roll forward or jack your vehicle to get them on. I have put them on even after getting stuck in mud. A buddy out west even uses them to get across loose shale to get to his cabin.
     
  18. stillman

    stillman Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    I ended up buying a set of Security Whitestar Alloy chains that are supposed to be good for on and off road use. My truck is with the mechanic right now so I haven't been able to test fit them but will be doing so before I head out.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2015
  19. drobs

    drobs Guide

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    I bought a set of Thule Chains that are similar to your Rud Chains last year. I wanted Rud's but couldn't find them.
    Here's the ones I have http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1&tag=viglink20438-20

    What I like about this style chains is, as you mentioned, they are easy to put on / take off. No jacking up or forward movement required. I used them on the front tires last winter to pull an old timer friend of mine's car up his snow covered iced driveway to the road. He had almost slid into his pond.

    The idea with chains is: you only put em on when you need them. Take em off when you don't. They are a piece of emergency equipment.

    Test fit last year:
    [​IMG]
     

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