If you have ever driven in the sand you most likely have had the chance to taste the “joys” of getting stuck. Most of the time, the sand ladders are your best bet escaping the sandy stuff. They come in all size and shapes: heavy-duty ex-Army, lightweight aluminium, flexible polyester, waffle board, you name it, they’ve got it. However, there is only one dedicated to sand: the Soltrak, made of a non-woven synthetic, cardboard-like, material.
Its main asset is to be inexpensive yet very effective. Sold in a set of 4, they are soft, lightweight and less bulky than their rigid counterparts. This was enough to convince us to try them first for a 3-week trip in North Africa, then adopt them in consecutive trips to the Maghreb.
We hold them by straps on top of storage boxes fitted where the second-row seats would be. Should the 4×4 become deeply stuck, we can still grab them, simply rolling down the windows. At 3 pounds each (for 47’’x18’’) you never think twice about using them, you do not even have to wear gloves to handle them!
Simply install them in front of the wheels, put the vehicle in 2ndlow gear (or “D”) and gently press the throttle. You should regain momentum immediately. Do not get the wheel spinning. Not only this will not get you anywhere, but also you will most likely ruin the Soltrak surface tips.
These ladders offer other advantages: they follow the sand shape when in use while quickly regaining their original shape; also, being soft, they will not damage the vehicle’s underbody.
However, bear in mind these sand ladders can only be used in… Well, sand. Do not put them in mud or on wet grass, you will ruin them. Also, consider them as “consumable” if you plan a competition use as they eventually do wear out, not something to worry about if you are only using them on a leisure trip. These are an absolute “must have” if you are going anywhere close to sand, period.
Verdict: excellent in the sand.
Where do I get this: Outback-import.com and local 4×4 stores