How to Choose a Tow Rope

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Here’s a tip that’s so basic that there is no good reason for anyone who goes offroading to not to know this. We’ll put this out there as more of an important reminder than a new revelation for most of us. So here goes: A recovery rope is one of the most basic tools you can have in your off road truck to help get you or others unstuck. Using a kinetic recovery rope (AKA “dynamic recovery rope” or “tow rope”) is a quicker and simpler option than using a winch with a winchline (static recovery). If you don’t have one already, get a kinetic recovery rope, learn how to use one, and keep it in your truck for whenever a situation presents itself. You and others will be thankful you did.

Today, we'll cover how to properly choose your tow rope. Our discussion on learning to use a two rope will follow in the coming days. 


For typical off road vehicles, you normally have the option of a ¾” or 1” diameter kinetic recovery rope. A Viking Offroad ¾” recovery rope has a minimum breaking strength (MBS) of about 19,000lbs. The 1” recovery ropes have an MBS of 33,500lbs.

When you select the diameter/thickness of your tow rope, figure your tow rope's MBS as a multiple of your vehicle’s weight. For trucks that are on the heavier end of the spectrum (military Humvees, heavy expedition trucks, Sportsmobiles, and heavier full-sized pickup trucks), this number is at about a 2:1 ratio between the MBS of your tow rope and the weight of your vehicle. For those heavier vehicles, you’ll want a one-inch tow rope. For example, a Humvee weighs about 14,000lbs, 14,000 x 2 = 28,000. The 1” tow rope’s 33,500lb. MBS is a lot more suitable for a Humvee than the ¾” tow rope’s 19,000lb. MBS.

Three-quarter-inch recovery ropes are the right choice for most 4x4's and SUV's like Jeep Wranglers and Cherokees, Toyota pickups, FJ Cruisers, Land Cruisers, Land Rovers, and lighter full-sized pick-ups etc." The MBS to vehicle weight ratio here should be more like a 3:1 ratio. Say you have an FJ Cruiser. For the purpose of this example, let’s say that FJ Cruiser weighs 4,800lbs. So 4,800 x 3 = 14,400. You’re more in the ballpark with a ¾” tow rope and its 19,000lb. MBS than you are with a 1” tow rope’s 33,500lb. MBS. In this instance, the ¾” tow rope is a good match for use with the FJ.

If you were to use a thicker rope on a smaller-sized 4x4, it would not "give"/stretch enough against the weight/force of your vehicle, subsequently defeating the intended function of a recovery rope. If you use a 1", its lack of give could put your vehicle at risk of experiencing an abrupt yank and possibly even having parts detach and go flying off dangerously.