One of the best pieces of equipment you can carry with you on a romp into the backcountry is a snatch block that accompanies your winch. A snatch block is simply a pulley with a side plate that swings open so you can feed a winch cable through to the wheel itself.

The snatch block is so valuable for two reasons: it changes the direction of pull and it doubles the power of the winch through mechanical advantage. Let’s break both of these down.

One of the biggest rules of winching is to winch directly forward as best as you can. This ensures that when spooling the winch, the cable lays evenly on the drum. If you are winching at an angle, huge stressors are being placed on the mount and the winch itself, and you can ultimately end up with all of your cable on one side of the drum which will cease operation due to binding. By using a snatch block in this scenario, you run your primary anchor in the direction you want to be, and use a second anchor point to attach the snatch block to in the opposite direction. Then you use the tension from the two offset anchor points to position the block directly in front of the vehicle. It’s tedious work, but it will get you on the path you need to be. This method of rigging can also be creatively used with multiple snatch blocks to do things like winching backwards or capturing the rear of the vehicle to pivot the vehicle in another direction on the spot by dragging.

Another situation where a snatch block can be useful is when your winch simply is not up to the task of pulling you out of the mess you got yourself into, or you are assisting a vehicle that is simply bigger than yours. Thanks to mechanical advantage of a pulley doubling back to its origin, you can effectively double the pulling power of your winch at a cost of half the speed of recovery. You do this by placing the snatch-block at the anchor point, and looping the winch line through the pulley and back to an anchor point on the vehicle itself.

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