March 25, 2022 3 min read

You don't like to think about it, but it may well happen. Your truck might break down, or it could get stuck in some boggy, rocky terrain. If you're in a situation where you need to recover your vehicle, chances are you'll be using a soft shackle. Rated steel used to be the go-to solution for winching and towing, but that's not the case anymore. If you're using a soft shackle, you should be using one fromFactor 55. Read on to find out why.

The History of Soft Shackles

Way back in the day, when trade relied on sailing ships, soft shackles were standard. Sailors were strapping up bits of boats with soft shackles made from rope. Then came the industrial revolution, and manufacturers began making everything from steel. Not only the boats but the ropes too!

Nowadays sailing is more accessible to the common man. With that boom has come a rise in the research around high-tech rope materials. High-modulus (or high-molecular-weight) polyethylene is the future of ropes and knots. Shackles made from this material are lightweight, waterproof, and stronger than steel. They float, and they don't damage things like steel does either. Not your head, your hands, your boat, or - most important - your off-road vehicle. 

What Is A Factor 55 Soft Shackle?

Factor 55 makes soft shackles for four-wheelers from high-modulus polyethylene (HMPE) Plasma Rope. This 12-strand rope is the strongest available on the commercial market. 

You can make a soft shackle from two simple parts - a 'strop' and a spliced end. The strop has a knot at one end, which works as a stopper. Usually, this is a diamond knot. When you find your vehicle in a sticky situation, you secure the soft shackle to a rated recovery point. Then you can pull your truck to safety.

Why Use A Factor 55 Soft Shackle?

Soft shackles are way safer than steel shackles. If something goes wrong with a steel shackle, it's a recipe for disaster. Let's say you've connected your steel shackle to a snatch strap. If that snatch strap is under tension and the pin in that shackle goes bust? You've got a chunk of steel flying through the air, who knows where. It could damage property, injure, or even kill anyone it strikes.

Soft shackles don't have this kind of force. Getting hit by one definitely won't feel nice, granted. It'll be a hell of a lot better than getting hit by steel though. 

How To Use Factor 55 Soft Shackles

If you find yourself in a recovery situation, soft shackles are easy to use. 

  1. First, check that your shackle is in good condition. 
  2. Pop the eye of the shackle through the rated recovery point on your vehicle. This is important - always use a rated recovery point. Do not loop a soft shackle around your tow ball! 
  3. Connect the eye end of your shackle to your snatch strap or recovery rope loop. Pass it through the loop to do so.
  4. Take the knot of the soft shackle, and pass that through the soft shackle loop.

There you go, you've established a secure connection. Now you can continue with a standard snatch recovery. Remember, take it slow. Build up pressure until the strap goes tense. Keep the towing vehicle in low range at low speed, and get the stuck vehicle accelerating. You're trying to leverage the strap's kinetic energy, not yank the stuck car free.

How To Care For Factor 55 Soft Shackles

HMPE Plasma Rope can lose strength over time, especially if they're left out in the sun. Keep them clean, dry, and out of direct light. Make sure your soft shackle is dry as a bone before you put it away.

Don't let your soft shackles near high heat, and try not to use them if they're wet. Heat can reduce soft shackles' performance, and breaking strength goes down when moist. 

Should I Make My Own Soft Shackles?

We're gonna say...nah. It's a bit trendy at the moment, especially with sailing types. Chances are you're using soft shackles in 4WD recovery situations, though. They can be pretty strenuous, and even dangerous. You're better off leaving it to the experts. Why make a tough situation tougher?

Factor 55 shackles have had the knots tensioned with a winch. They meet design and safety standards. They'll always do the job better than a soft shackle made with some rope, a knot, and a pair of pliers.

Where Can I Buy Factor 55 Soft Shackles?

Off Road Industries has a huge range ofFactor 55 products. That includesExtreme andStandard Duty Soft Shackles. Get in touch if you need a hand selecting a product. We love helping people get the most out of their off-roading experiences.