August 28, 2023
March 22, 2022
If you have a winch, you need to have a fairlead.
It doesn't matter what type of bumper or winch you have, a fairlead is a must-have piece of off-road recovery gear. Luckily, 9 times out of 10, your winch will come with a fairlead. This is super nice because you can start using it right away; however, when it comes to fairleads, the possibilities are endless.
With more than one style of fairlead out there, how do you know which one to use or not to use? Winching is a great way to recovery yourself or other stuck vehicles, but it can also be very dangerous if done improperly or with the wrong equipment.
It's important to practice safe winching techniques with the right gear because when it comes to off-road recoveries, you can't afford to slip up. Since fairleads and winches go hand-in-hand, it's important to use the correct equipment.
The main purpose of a fairlead is to prevent the winch line from becoming damaged or frayed while the winch is in use. Generally, the winch goes in or on the bumper, and the fairlead sits in front of the winch. Without a fairlead, the life span of your winch line is greatly reduced.
Without the use of a fairlead, the winch line would rub directly on the sharp edges of your bumper and cause a lot of wear and tear on the line. Not only is this a big safety issue, but it could result in a failed recovery if it were to break.
Fairleads come in all shapes and sizes but it's important to have one that will work for your application. In many instances, winching is going to be done at some type of angle, so it's important to have a quality fairlead with a big enough surface area that will protect and preserve your winch line.
If your winch didn't come with a fairlead or if maybe you just want to run a different style, there are a ton of options out there. With that being said, it can be a little confusing when the time comes to choose the right fairlead for your vehicle.
Materials matter and country of production matters. Your fairlead is most likely going to be made out of steel or aluminum. It's important to note that steel cable can not be used on aluminum fairleads, but steel fairleads can support synthetic and steel cable.
The two most common types of fairleads are roller fairleads and hawse fairleads. While each has the same general purpose, there are some important differences between the two.
Roller fairleads have been around for a while and come standard with a lot of winches. This design uses two horizontal rollers and two vertical rollers which allows for smooth, dependable winching.
You can use any type of winch line (steel or synthetic) with a roller-style fairlead. Although there are quite a few moving parts with a rolling fairlead, failure is very rare since the parts are never under large amounts of stress.
Roller fairleads tend to stick out a little farther than hawse fairleads and weigh a bit more than them as well. Although you can use synthetic line with a roller fairlead, be wary. In fact, most companies that produce synthetic line recommend using an aluminum fairlead.
One reason is debris may start to build upon the surface of the rollers as time goes on. For steel cable, this isn't a big deal, but for the synthetic line, this could definitely cause some problems down the road.
Synthetic line also has a chance of getting pinched in the rollers, which would eventually cause premature wear on your winch line. You should not use a synthetic line with a roller fairlead that was previously used with steel line. Over time, the steel cable leaves burs and knicks on the surface of the fairlead. Imperfections like this can cause damage to synthetic line leading to possible issues while out on the trail.
Hawse fairleads are extremely simple.
There are no moving parts which means you would have to go out of your way to break a hawse fairlead. This type of fairlead is offered in both machined aluminum and steel.
While aluminum fairleads are great, you can not use steel cable on one. Steel cable will cut through the aluminum not only causing a big safety issue but will eat up your line as well.
This style of fairlead is becoming increasingly popular and is starting to be offered with some models of winches. The slim design gives you a little more clearance so you won't be using your fairlead as a rock detector.
Hawse fairleads also weigh less than rollers; in fact, if you have an aluminum fairlead and synthetic line, it's estimated you shave 40-50 pounds!
When it comes to choosing a hawse fairlead, you have a couple of options. This style fairlead is offered in a 1" thick option or a 1.5" option. But is there actually a difference or is it just for looks?
Thicker fairleads (1.5" option) have a larger surface area, which means the rope will have plenty of room to glide across. This comes in handy when you're using your winch at extreme angles. The extra surface area on the fairlead will ensure your winch line doesn't see any extra stress.
Agency6 Offers USA Made Aluminum Fairleads in multiple sizes. We offer the 1" thick option or 1.5" option in a variety of colors, made in the USA, right here in Roseville, CA.
USA Made Billet Aluminum Winch Fairlead Black: Check Price
USA Made Billet Aluminum Winch Fairlead Red: Check Price
If you have a winch, which fairlead you go with is up to you. Winches are pretty customizable whether you run a hawse or roller fairlead, closed-style systems, or an old-school hook.
We also offer winch shackles that mount to the end of your synthetic winch line. These shackles look right at home on our fairleads and offer a safer alternative to old-school winch hooks.
Whichever route you go with for your winch, safety needs to be your number one priority when it comes to doing any type of off-road recovery. This is why it's important to note what kind of cable you have and which fairlead style works with that kind of winch line.
A majority of winch accidents are from either improper equipment or lack of knowledge. Fairleads are pretty simple, but that doesn't mean there isn't a lot to consider when the time comes to buy one.
If you have any questions regarding fairleads or off-roading in general, don't hesitate to reach out to us.
March 21, 2022
One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to off-road recovery is every strap is a recovery strap. Using the wrong strap in a recovery situation could not only result in damage to the involved vehicles but injury to bystanders as well.
If you like taking the road less traveled, then sooner or later you're going to get stuck. Whether you're frame deep in mud or broken down in the middle of a trail, it's important to have a strap in your recovery arsenal. The nice thing about straps is that they are a lot less expensive than a winch.
Although in some situations they are not as effective as a winch; sometimes all you need is a little bit of help to get yourself out of a tough spot. Even if you have a winch, a tow strap is a great way to give yourself some more length. This comes in handy when you are out adventuring by yourself.
What are the differences between a tow strap and a recovery strap?
Although tow straps are not technically recovery straps, they are still useful in a recovery situation.
The main difference that separates a tow strap from a recovery strap is the amount of "give" each strap possesses. Tow straps contain little to no elasticity making them perfect for towing vehicles. Due to the lack of "give" in a tow strap, they should not be used for yanking a stuck vehicle out of whatever it's stuck in.
Even though tow straps should not be used for aggressive tugging, they still have a place in recovery. If you find yourself stuck and all you have is a tow strap, you can still use it to try and get free. All you do is hook the strap up to a rated recovery point on both vehicles, slowly take the slack out of the strap, and pull.
It's important to remember that tow straps have very little elasticity, meaning you should not get a running start. However, the rigidity and length of a tow strap make them very useful for winching. Tow straps come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and the most common length is 20 feet. This is great for giving your winch line some extra length.
While searching for a tow strap that would fit your needs, it's important to note the pull rating of the strap. It's recommended that the pull rating of your strap is 3x the weight of your vehicle. Obviously, the higher the tow rating, the safer the strap is.
Pictured: ARB Snatch Strap
Unlike tow straps, recovery straps are elastic. One of the reasons recovery straps work so well is due to the kinetic energy the strap will generate. The elasticity in the strap makes the strap snap back to its original length in a recovery situation. Another reason recovery straps work well is the fact that you can get a running start with one.
Unlike tow straps where you would let all the slack out before pulling, recovery straps contain much more "give" allowing the driver to get a running start. This is much more effective in a recovery situation for a couple of reasons. The first is that the vehicle doing the pulling can get momentum as well as traction. Second, the strap has a rubber band effect on the vehicle that is stuck.
Once the strap is all the way stretched out, it will snap back to its original length, yanking the stuck vehicle out with it. Since recovery straps are more stretchy, it makes winching with them pretty difficult. All the more reason to carry both types of straps with you. Just like tow straps, recovery straps come in all shapes and sizes. This type of strap tends to look like a big piece of rope, as compared to a tow strap which is much flatter.
The tow rating of recovery straps is directly related to the width of the strap; moreover, the most common size for standard 4x4 recovery is 2-3" in diameter. Nonetheless, it's important to double-check the tow rating before purchasing.
When the time comes to buy your own tow strap or recovery rope, you're going to notice there are a ton of options out there. However, there are a couple of things to look out for before purchasing.
If the product you are considering to buy does not have a tow rating (break strength), then do not buy it! Legitimate companies will always have a rated breaking strength listed next to their product. Without this information, there is no way of knowing how much stress the strap can take which may lead to problems down the road.
Some companies will advertise that their product is a "recovery" strap but in reality, it's not. Many of these companies are on Amazon and literally use the words "USA" and "America" in their name which mislead the consumer into believing they made in the USA. Point being, do your research before you buy a recovery product.
Recovery straps are usually made out of Nylon, which is an elastic material. If the strap is made out of Dacron or Polypropylene, then it should only be used for towing.
One last thing to look for is hooks on the end of the strap. While hooks may be easier to connect to a shackle, it's recommended that straps with hooks on the end are not used for recovery. In fact, a true recovery strap will never have a hook on the end of them.
Just like our Shackle Blocks - Tow Straps & Snatch Straps Should Be Marked with a WLL or Breaking Strength
Tow straps and recovery straps are rated by their breaking strength, also known as tow rating, load limit, etc. In other words, how much force is needed to break the strap. The strap you buy must be going to be able to take the strain of a recovery.
It's important to know the breaking strength of a strap for a couple of reasons. The first is that there are straps out there that are designed for ATVs and UTVs, which would have a breaking strength that would be too low for pulling out a standard 4x4 vehicle.
Another reason is that it's imperative to know you aren't just towing the weight of a vehicle during a recovery. You have to take into account that other forces acting against the recovery such as mud, rocks, snow, etc.
Tow straps and recovery straps must be attached to a rated tow point on both vehicles. These points are always on the frame of the vehicle, but if you have trouble finding yours, consult your owner's manual.
Recovery points are generally a hook or loop shape that allows a tow strap, recovery strap, or shackle to attach to the point.
Hitch receivers are a great recovery point if you have the right equipment such as our popular line of Shackle Blocks.
When it comes to off-road recovery, you really can never have too much gear. The better prepared you are in a recovery situation, the easier and safer the recovery will be.
A shackle block plugs into the hitch receiver and provides an excellent recovery point from the rear of the vehicle. Not only are they easy to use, but shackle blocks are not terribly expensive either.
The Agency 6 shackle block comes with two horizontal holes and one vertical hole, perfect for any recovery situation. Rated for 13,000 pounds, the aggressive-looking shackle blocks should be one of the first pieces of recovery gear you buy.
See a recent overview and review from a Tacoma owner on TrailTacoma.com.
The way you attach your tow strap or recovery strap on your vehicle is going to vary, but 9/10 it's going to be done with some sort of shackle.
Bow shackles (D-rings) are a hard piece of steel that come in various sizes. This style of shackle uses a pin that screws into the top of the shackle to secure it, while a strap slips into the center of the shackle.
Although they are not as popular as bow shackles, soft shackles are a great item to have in your arsenal of recovery gear. Made out of synthetic line, this style shackle uses a knot to close the loop and enclose the strap. Soft shackles are handy because they are able to fit into tighter spaces than a bow-style shackle.
A snatch block is a device that uses a pulley to essentially double your winching capacity. Another feature of a snatch block is it allows you to winch from an angle which is extremely useful if you find yourself stuck by yourself.
Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where you need to winch to a tree in order to recover your vehicle. This should always be done with a tree saver strap. These straps are essentially smaller tow straps. They tend to be a little thicker in diameter and are designed to wrap around a tree. The tow strap, shackle, or winch will attach to both ends of the tree saver. This style strap gets its name from the fact that the thicker diameter doesn't cut into the tree the way a winch line would if you were to simply loop it.
A winch is, without a doubt, one of the most useful pieces of recovery equipment you can own. They can come in handy if you find yourself stuck by yourself, or are broken down on the trail. Winches can pull just about anything out of mud, sand, snow, etc. However, winching can be dangerous if done wrong. When you buy a winch, it is imperative that you go over the owner's manual in order to operate your winch safely.
Safety should be your #1 priority when it comes to off-road recovery. One of the things to consider to keep yourself safe during a recovery is the working load limit of the products you are using. You need to make sure the strap, shackle, winch, etc., are all within the working load limit of which you are going to be using them. The last thing you want happening is something breaking during a recovery. Not only is the stuck vehicle going to remain stuck, but someone is likely to get hurt.
A good habit to get into during a recovery situation is to make sure everything is tight. Double-check your bow shackles and use a screwdriver to make sure the shackle pin is locked into place. If you're using a winch with a hook on the end of it, make sure the hook isn't going to fall off the recovery point.
As always, it is crucial that you use rated recovery points during any sort of recovery. These points must be attached to your frame to assure a safe, effective recovery. If you have trouble locating your recovery points, consult your owner's manual.
Off-road recovery is a physics-based operation. When physics are ignored, something is bound to go wrong. It is imperative that you take recovery very seriously and don't take any shortcuts so you can ensure your safety and also the safety of bystanders.
December 27, 2021
This submission comes to us from a customer covering our Shackle Block XL.
A hitch shackle block is the easiest way to add a safe recovery point to the back of your truck. All it takes is inserting the block and securing it a hitch pin - no bolts, no welding. There are plenty of options on the market, but I want to talk about what makes the Agency 6 shackle block different.
Find It Online:
You have the option to purchase the shackle block alone, or as a bundle with a hitch pin and D-ring. I have the latter option in the 2" variant and everything felt super solid out of the box. It is made in the U.S.A. out of U.S. certified 6061 T6 CNC aluminum and has a working load limit of 13,000lbs.
The bundled D-ring is unfortunately not made in the U.S.A. - however, it is still plenty strong at a 9,500lb rating. If this is a concern to you, feel free to purchase the shackle block alone and use your own D-ring of choice. The bundle kit also includes a standard, non-locking 5/8 hitch pin with a clip.
The Agency 6 block has a durable powder coat in a variety of colors for you to choose from, mine is earth grey. Before getting the Agency 6 block, I had a fairly basic all steel (not made in the U.S.A.) shackle block.
Compared to this, the Agency 6 block has a very industrial design and looks way better in my opinion. I'm a fan of the various angles and the attention to detail in the chamfered edge of the D-ring hole so it won't fray soft shackles. Comparing the weight of the two shackles, the Agency 6 shackle is way lighter. This is to be expected considering the Agency 6 one is aluminum. This is not at the expense of your working load limit, however. You can still have the confidence that this shackle block will not be a failure point in use.
I think the Agency 6 shackle block is awesome. It has that rugged, industrial look that I like and at a reasonable price. Aesthetically, it blows my old one out of the water and still retains the requirements needed to be functional.
November 17, 2021
August 11, 2021 2 Comments
There's nothing wrong with the stock battery hold downs, but if you're like me, you want to mod everything. With that being said, one simple yet tasteful mod is an aftermarket battery clamp by yours truly... Agency 6.
These machined billet aluminum battery hold down clamps are not only stronger than the factory clamps but more aesthetically pleasing as well. If you have any other Agency 6 products then you know that these are made with the highest quality in mind.
This battery hold down is a must-have for anyone who is addicted to modding every single part of their 4Runner, or Lexus. Additionally, these clamps match a majority of other products made by our team here at Agency 6, such as our winch shackles, and grab handles.
Aftermarket battery clamps are a great way to personalize your engine bay.
Many aftermarket battery hold downs are designed to be much stronger than the factory clamps.
Upgrading to a stronger battery hold down is not a bad idea especially if you plan on doing quite a bit off off-road driving.
This aftermarket battery holds down uses the factory battery hold down hardware. We provide two stainless steel nuts and two black nylon washers to ensure the aftermarket battery clamp fits the same if not better than stock.
One of the things that sets us apart from our competitors, is the fact that we make all of their products right here in the U.S.A.
These high-quality battery hold downs come in two different anodized finishes to choose from so you can dial in your engine bay aesthetics.
At the end of the day this is one of those mods you aren't going to see a lot of the time, but one that's worth having.
The anodized grey looks incredible in our engine bay, and matches the color of the battery pretty well.
May 03, 2021
Grab handles are the perfect accessory for anyone with a roof rack. They allow you to climb up and down with ease to access your rooftop tent or anything you keep stored on your roof rack.
The grab handles offered by Agency 6 are a great addition to anyone with a CNC roof rack who wants to add even more functionality. The best part is that they're universal and can be mounted anywhere on the side rail of your roof rack.
Find them in our store:
Obviously, grab handles are designed as something you can grab onto to easily get access to your roof or roof rack. However, they do serve more than one purpose. Since the grab handles bolt directly to the rails on your CNC roof rack, they make excellent tie-down points. The grab handles from Agency 6 even come with preexisting holes where you could loop a tie-down strap through.
Being able to safely grab onto something to access your rooftop tent or roof storage may be an overlooked commodity. Rooftop tents are extremely nice to have and make setting up camp a breeze, but climbing up and down the side of your vehicle is a little cumbersome. If your tires or rock sliders are wet or muddy, now you risk slipping and falling backward. Grab handles on your roof rack make setting up and taking down your rooftop tent so much easier.
Storing gear on your roof.
A lot of us keep some kind of storage box on the roof to keep things from rattling around in the back of our trucks. With grab handles, getting your things down from the rooftop storage is no longer a chore. They ultimately make your life easier by eliminating the need for awkward finger grabs on your roofline or roof rack.
Recovery gear such as shovels is another piece of gear that is commonly stored on a roof rack. Grab handles are very handy when it comes to undoing the mounts or locks that secure the shovel or other equipment to the roof rack rail.
For starters having a grab handle is a bit of added safety if you're going to be climbing up and down from your roof. Grab handles are extremely sturdy since they mount directly to the side rails of your roof rack, which means no more slipping on wet tires or rock sliders.
They also make great additional tie-down points. While some roof racks come with tie-down points, others don't which is why grab handles are a great additional add-on. Even if your rack comes with tie-down points, you can never have too many.
The installation process is very simple for grab handles. If your rack has pre-drilled holes or slots, simply bolt the handle to that part of the rack. If it doesn't have any type of bolt hole or slot, simply drill two holes in your rack to accommodate the grab handle.
There are a couple of different styles of grab handles out there. They all save the same general purpose but have different characteristics.
Soft Grab Handles
Soft grab handles would be those made out of paracord or a similar material. While they offer a place to grab onto and pull yourself up to the roof, they aren't secured, meaning if you rely on the grab handle 100% to pull you up, it might move around a lot.
Hybrid Grab Handles
Hybrid grab handles are the handles we see on kyacks. They are a hard piece of plastic that has a rope or paracord going through both sides. This option is a bit more sturdy than a fully soft grab handle, but they will move a little bit since the handle portion is not bolted down.
Hard Grab Handles
An example of a hard grab handle would be the billet grab handles from Agency 6. These are the best, most sturdy option when it comes to grab handles. They bolt directly into the roof rack rail which guarantees that the handle is not going to move when you grab onto them.
A billet grab handle is usually the more expensive option out of all the grab handle options. This is because they are far stronger, and will outlast any other type of grab handle, and will provide a much more secure grabbing location.
Roof Rack Grab Handles
Some roof racks come with cut-outs designed to grab onto. These are nice to have as extra tie-down points, or if you don't have aftermarket grab handles. However these handles are the same thickness as the material of the rack, so it's pretty thin. After a while of climbing up and down while using the cutout grab handles, it will start to get uncomfortable on your hand due to the thinner material. This is why it's not a bad idea to get aftermarket handles like those from Agency 6.
The Agency 6 grab handles are the best on the market and they're made right here in the U.S. These billet aluminum handles are built to last and come with your choice of red or black powdercoat. They bolt directly to the roof rack rails on any CNC rack which makes them extremely safe and convenient to use.
All of Agency 6 grab handles come powdercoated, not anodized. This means that they will not fade due to harsh weather conditions. In a couple of years, your red grab handles will still be a brilliant red, not a sun-faded pink.
Agency 6 also has pre-existing holes on their grab handles to use as a tie-down point. If your rack didn't come with any sort of tie-down points, the grab handles are a great alternative and work perfectly with all sorts of bungees and straps.
Machined Billet Grab Handles Pictured on a CNC Roof Rack on Toyota 4Runner
If you have an aftermarket CNC roof rack, grab handles are a must-have. Not only are they a safe alternative for climbing up to your roof, but they can also be used as versatile tie-down points.
Find them in our store:
A good pair of grab handles such as the ones made by Agency 6, make setting up your rooftop tent much easier than it already was. Plus you don't have to worry about slipping or falling off the side of your vehicle.
January 20, 2021
Shackle hitches are a must-have for anyone considering getting into the off-road world. Not only does their simplistic design make them easy to use, but they are also very affordable. However, there is a right and a wrong way to use one.
Recovering a stuck vehicle can be extremely dangerous if not taken seriously. A majority of the companies that manufacture recovery gear are aware of how dangerous a recovery can be. This is why their products are tested before they become available to purchase. This means that it's on you to learn how to safely recover a stuck vehicle. It's important to realize that not every recovery is going to be the same.
There is almost always more than one force acting upon the stuck vehicle, which is what makes a recovery a little tricky. This is why it is not only crucial that you have an arsenal of recovery gear, but that you also know how to use them properly. A shackle hitch is a great tool to start your recovery gear collection.
What makes it so safe and reliable?
For starters, the hitch receiver that the shackle block would plug into is bolted onto the frame. You also do not run the risk of the tow strap coming off like you would with a ball hitch.
Tools and Materials
Inset the ⅝" hitch pin through the hitch receiver and shackle block. Depending on which shackle block you have, there is going to be more than one hole you can put the hitch pin through.
The horizontal holes should only be used for towing or tugging straight back. You should avoid sideloading a bow shackle with a single strap. Some shackles have holes for a vertical mounting option.
If you ever found yourself in a situation where you needed to sideload a shackle, then you would simply flip your shackle block into the vertical position.
The retaining pin must be put on the end of the hitch pin. This small pin keeps the hitch pin from coming loose, which in turn keeps the shackle block in place. Failure to put the retaining pin on may result in injury.
Once the shackle is open, slide the snatch strap into the shackle. It is important to make sure that the strap sits flat in the shackle. In other words, the strap should not be folded over itself. The strap should also be at the very bottom of the shackle.
Once the snatch strap is inside the shackle, it's ready to go back on the shackle block. Once you twist the pin back into the shackle, it is a good habit to lock the shackle pin with a screwdriver.
During a recovery, the last thing you want to happen is to have a piece of equipment come loose. Locking the shackle pin with a screwdriver assures that the pin will not come loose during the recovery process.
The correct position of a snatch strap in a horizontally mounted shackle block should be straight back. However, in most cases, you will have to off-center the strap by a couple of degrees. This is referred to as side loading and should be avoided when possible. It is recommended that if you do have to sideload with a single snatch strap, then you should not go past 45 degrees on the shackle.
One of the things to consider when using recovery gear is the load which they're rated for (load rating). When you sideload a shackle, that load rating decreases. When the load rating of a shackle is decreased, it has the possibility of failing.
Pictured: Side Loading shackle - Do not attempt recovery with strap directly from the side.
This is why it's nice to have a shackle block that is capable of being mounted vertically. If you find yourself in a situation where you can't get yanked out straight back, then you just flip your shackle block into the vertical position.
Pictured: Side Loading Shackle with a Vertical Mount Hitch Receiver
With this method, you get a wider range of recovery motion as opposed to direct side loading because the shackle retains its WLL or load rating. With a vertically mounted hitch receiver and shackle, the direct pull is on the intended point of the Shackle Block.
However, there are ways to safely sideload a strap to a shackle mounted horizontally. To do it safely, you must sideload the shackle with more than one snatch strap and in exactly the same location. One way to do this is to hook both snatch straps or winch lines up to the shackle. Next start winching simultaneously.
Pictured above is one strap; however you would use another strap in exactly the same orientation on the other side of the the shackle. This is known as a collector ring and the two straps should not exceed a 120-degree angle in the strap. This should not be used in a recovery with straps and three vehicles, but rather, a recovery with only a winch at this point. This distributes the load on the shackle whereas using a single strap would significantly lessen the load rating. When it comes to recovery, safety is your number one priority.
Some bow shackles are rated for single side loading applications, from both a 45-degree (30% loss WLL) or even 90-degree (50% loss WLL); however in an off-road recovery situation, we do not recommend recoveries with a 45-degree or even 90-degree side loading angle.
This is why it's important to understand how to use the equipment you plan on using, as well as understanding proper and improper recovery techniques.
December 11, 2020
June 21, 2019
With weather conditions improving and school ending it's tempting to pack everything up and head out for an offroad adventure.
We've put together a few key items to get your vehicle ready for a summer of offroad wheeling, camping and adventure.