MAXTRAX GEAR REVIEW
WHAT ARE THEY?
Maxtrax, a 4x4 recovery track used to free your vehicle from a bogged-down situation. The design has evolved over the years, but essentially, it’s a traction device used to keep your 4x4 moving.
WHO MAKES THEM?
An Australian company that’s been around since 2005.
DO YOU NEED THEM?
At some point in your off-road ‘career’ you may find yourself stuck / bogged down / in the shite. It is at this point that you’ll find a set of recovery tracks worth it. The question is, are MAXTRAX the answer?
Some folks make the mistake of cost-comparing MAXTRAX against cheaper knock-off brands, but that’s like wrapping bubblegum around a wheel and raving about how much cheaper it is than a BFGoodrich.
When it comes to recovery tracks, you get what you pay for.
There’s a small note on each set of MAXTRAX that warns against tyre spinning. Basically, they don’t want you to do it. Spinning your tyres on a set of MAXTRAX will rapidly wear the traction lugs down to pimple size, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly that can happen. Just a few tyre rotations and you’ll notice irreparable damage. So the message is clear: DON’T SPIN YOUR TYRES! But here’s the thing… you will.
It’s inevitable. The more you use your MAXTRAX, the greater the chance of spinning your tyres. Whether it be accidental, or out of frustration / desperation, the time will come. Hopefully, however, you’ll quickly come to your senses before any major damage is done.
You’d be hard pressed to find a better product in the recovery-track department. MAXTRAX revolutionised the recovery track arena, and since their initial launch in 2005, they’ve been copied (mostly unsuccessfully) countless times.
The fact is, the performance of the product lies predominantly in the quality of the plastic. Most of the cheaper knock-off tracks are made from a much softer (less resilient) material. MAXTRAX also hold their shape when used as a bridging tool, and are far more likely to return to their original form after being severely bent / driven over.
EASE OF USE
Some of the market’s knock-off tracks are unable to stack on top of one another; this is because they’re not designed to uniformly fit together. MAXTRAX do. In fact, when packed together, they offer a surprisingly compact / streamlined form which bolts nicely to a roof-rack, spare wheel, or to the side of a 4x4. You can even stack multiple sets together.
It’s a big plus, and an important feature to keep in mind when you’re shopping around for a set of recovery tracks – if they don’t stack closely together, they’re a pain in the arse to carry, pack, and, they’re less effective as a bridging tool.
MAXTRAX are also relatively lightweight, low profile, and ergonomically designed so you can carry them for long distances.
- Easy to carry
- Easy to find when buried in mud (bright colour options)
- High-quality construction
- Does what it promises to do in most recovery situations
- Works incredibly well as a preventative tool – if the road looks bad in certain parts, put the tracks down before you attempt to drive the obstacle.
Although they perform incredibly well (generally better than their competitors), MAXTRAX are not an all-out solution to 4x4 recovery – they do have limitations. In most cases, they will successfully free your vehicle from a bogged-down situation, but the recovery process may still involve time and lots of effort (digging and scraping).
THE BIG QUESTION…
Are they worth it? It would foolish to ignore the high price tag, however, you get what you pay for, and MAXTRAX work. If your 4x4 exploits are limited to well-graded gravel roads, you could get away with buying a cheaper alternative. But if you regularly push the limits off-road, it would be wise to invest in a set of high-quality recovery tracks, and in this instance, very few products can top the performance and durability of MAXTRAX.
ALSO LOOK AT…
TREDs: These tracks are quite similar to MAXTRAX in terms of strength, performance and quality, but there are subtle differences. At the time of writing, the two biggest drawbacks of the TRED product was/is their lack of definitive grab handles, and the inclusion of only one ramp edge. It’s a bizarrely weird omission. Technically speaking, a single ramp edge may cut the lifespan of the tracks in half.
To be clear, TREDs do have moulded “cups” for your hands, but they’re not terribly comfortable and they make the tracks a bit awkward to carry.
Because MAXTRAX were the original high-density nylon recovery tracks, I’m assuming they probably have a few patents on the design – I wouldn’t be surprised if the carry handles and double-ramp edge aren’t part of some sort of patent clause.
That said, I’ve always had a soft spot for MAXTRAX. Provided they keep evolving the product and innovating new features, I believe they deserve some sort of industry loyalty. But that’s just my opinion.
PAP Tracks: These are the perforated aluminium tracks which have been around since the World War. They’re a great alternative to MAXTRAX, but not quite as universal and convenient.
- Weight: 3.6kg
- Size: 1150mm x 330mm
- Stacked height: 85mm
- Maxtrax is made from UV Stabilised, Flexible, Super Tough Reinforced Nylon.
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