When out and about in Australia it pays to be prepared for every eventuality, even if it doesn’t happen during your trip. When driving around the country in 4×4’s, there’s the chance you’re going to get stuck, and sometimes there’s not going to be anyone around to help you out.

The Maxtrax is an Australian designed and made evolution to the standard traction mats used for generations. Lightweight, sturdy, easy to carry around in a vehicle and easy to use, they have a concave underside with support ridges and the ends are angled so the board can be used like a shovel to scoop sand, mud, snow, dirt or whatever’s stopping your vehicle.

Now there is a right way to use the Maxtrax, and a wrong way. The proper way to use one is to dig out and clear a small hole around the wheels, back or front depending on the direction you want or need to go or all four depending on how stuck you are, so that you have some space on the underside of the tyre. You need to wedge the maxtrax under the wheel in the space you’ve cleared, making sure that the teeth on the board, which are key to its design and use, are right under the wheel so they have a good grip on the tyre. Once you’ve done that try keep the maxtraks as straight and flat as possible to the tyre by filling any spaces underneath it. The design of the maxtrax and the placement and type of the teeth allow the motion of the tyre to pull the board under the wheel with as little spin as possible. You don’t want wheel spin when using this board as it can damage the board or the teeth. The Maxtrax comes with a little leash or other form of cord which helps pack up the boards and bind them down when not in use, and so that after you’ve used them, if they have become buried in the ground you can easily retrieve them without having to dig them out. When using the boards best to keep the leashes off to the side so they don’t become buried themselves.

Once the boards are set up clear anyone from the car to prevent injury or accident and get in the vehicle and start it up. To prevent wheel spin and damage to the boards set your car to neutral, or select low gear and set the vehicle in the direction you want to go if you have a modern 4×4 or off-road vehicle. The car should move on its own using momentum and gravity to pull the maxtrax under the wheel with minimum movement to the wheels themselves. Once you’re on the boards, slowly and carefully accelerate the car from whatever area its stuck in with the trax acting as solid sturdy ground. In situations where you need to go uphill and that is where you became stuck retrieve the boards and place them in front of the front wheels in the same manner and use them as a temporary solid road to travel uphill without becoming stuck again. Again be careful when doing this to avoid damage to the maxtrax themselves.

The maxtrax, building upon generations of drivers and vehicles becoming stuck in soft terrain the world over, are a great piece of equipment to have. Not only do they help retrieve vehicles from bogged or stuck situations, but as they double as shovels or a sturdy piece of ground they can cut down on the number or equipment you would need to carry and thus save space.