When going offroad I always say the three most important things you can bring is an air compressor, shovel, and traction boards. I recently got myself into a pickle — deep sand about 100 yards off the main road and was able to try these recovery tools in a real world scenario. This experience is what my Maxsa Traction Boards Review is about.
Product Link: Maxsa 20322 Escaper Buddy Traction Mat with Metal Grips
Easy camping trip to Anza-Borrego starts off difficult
I purposely sought out an easy primitive campground to reach with my Livin’ Lite camper trailer and also somewhere my sister can get her Honda Fit to without issues. Well, Google Maps gps was slightly off, I’m talking 40 yards off, and we ended up down the wrong dirt road which quickly turned into a deep sand pit. I added a map showing the bad area at the end of the article.
I decided to try and make a u-turn to get out of there and we got stuck. My truck is 2wd so that didn’t help, plus I was pulling my camper trailer. This was after a 3-hour drive, 2 kids, wife, and dog. Plus my brother was following in his truck and also got stuck! Not cool. Everyone’s in a shitty mood and just wants to get to camp.
It doesn’t look like we’re super stuck. But that sand is very soft — put your foot in and it sinks instantly. I purposely DID NOT continue gassing it when I realized I was stuck. That will only sink you further and make the recovery harder.
We evaluated our options and planned where we’d go once we’re unstuck. There was still plenty of loose sand so we found some hard packed ground nearby and decided that would be the planned destination.
How did we get out of this? I usually carry some basic offroad recovery gear (full list here) that everyone should have on them. In this case, it saved us,.
Offroad recovery by airing down and using Maxsa Escaper Buddy Traction Boards
In the moment, my brother’s wife swears that I staged this on purpose so I can test out the new traction boards. Not the case! I would have had video of this and more photos. Sadly, this is the best photo I have of the situation:
How we got the truck out of deep sand – Maxsa Traction Boards Review
- Aired down tires to 20psi using my TeraFlex Air Deflator ($20). If we had done this from the start we might not have been stuck. At the same time we didn’t realize quick enough the sand was this deep.
- Shoveled out as much sand as we can in front and back of tires. You need to get those traction boards wedged as low as you can under the tires and make them as flat as possible. Luckily it wasn’t too hot outside and we knew there was cold beer waiting for us.
- Placed the boards in front of the rear tires and crossed my fingers. In other recoveries you might want to reverse onto the boards.
- Low Gear, easy on the gas. Once I realized I was up on the boards (a split second) I hit the gas hard and drove to the hard-packed dirt we found earlier.
- Breath and smile. Aired back up with the VAIR 88p air compressor — great product!
What a great feeling that was to get out. Once I realized our situation improved I pulled back onto the dirt “road”, which was still super deep sand, and hauled ass back towards the main road where we first came in. Left the truck right there on hard-packed dirt and walked back to my brother’s truck where we repeated the same process and got him out! Same process — air down, shovel, boards, and out.
Successful traction board recovery!
Yes, the traction boards worked great getting two trucks out of the sand and one was still attached to the 1,500lb. camper trailer. I’d say the $160 boards were a massive success and saved our trip.
BE CAREFUL! The boards got buried in deep sand after the first recovery. Seriously, we found them 3-feet deep. I thought they were goners and ended almost gave up. Make sure to buy the bright colors and have someone watch exactly where they get buried. It was difficult for us because I kicked up so much sand and dirt when I gassed it out of there.
Specifications from the manufacturer:
- Treads on both sides grip your tires and dig into the ground prevent slipping and sliding; metal spikes add extra grip
- Each traction mat is 34 inches long and 9 inches wide, 2 pack
- Raised tracks prevent tires from spinning in sand, mud, or snow
- High-impact polypropylene is lightweight, durable, and strong enough to handle any type of vehicle
- No towing, pushing, or shoveling needed
Maxsa boards: Get the ones with metal grips
I attribute my success with the Maxsa boards to the metal grips. I’ll never buy a set without them from now on.
Maxsa vs. TREDS
I have both. The Treds have been used in a few failed recoveries with other trucks. The plastic grips at the feet got burned up and melted. They took a beating. Perhaps we didn’t dig deep enough, but I feel like we did. This was years back and I don’t trust them now. Perhaps I’ll bring them along for some trips, or maybe I’ll hit up the manufacturer about the lifetime warranty.
Map of Arroyo Salado Campground and the sandy dirt road
If anyone is wondering, we were looking for camp at Arroyo Salado primitive campground. This is considered an official primitive campground inside Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and has a vault toilet. If you’re coming from Highway 86 and Salton Sea, there is no signage for the road to the camping area. It’s a quick left onto a dirt road. Google Maps shows the campground about 30 yards further than it actually is, which is why we went down that other dirt road.
If you’re coming from west, the Borrego Springs area you shouldn’t have this problem. There is signage and you can’t miss it.
The rest of the trip to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
I have a trip report lined up, but for now I’ll tell you that we had fun. Arroyo Salado Primitive Campground is a nice place to camp if you want neighbors right next to you. We had our own little cove to ourselves. The wind was relentless both nights and the last morning it didn’t let up. I recommend picking up this book before you visit the park as it comes with a really good map and tons of information.
We visited The Slot hike and of course the metal art statues. Here are some photos from the trip and stay tuned for a full trip report!
This was my second trip to Anza-Borrego in the past 3 years and I already want to go back. The next trip will be my son and I so we can get earlier starts and do more hiking. Don’t forget to be prepared for the worst and take plenty of water.
I hope that my Maxsa Traction Boards review helpful to you and your offroad adventures!
What traction boards have you tried in a real-world situation and did they work out?
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