RELEASE THE SHACKLES

DO AWAY WITH METAL HARDWARE IN YOUR RECOVERY RIG WITH SYNTHETIC LINES AND SOFT SHACKLES FROM BUBBA ROPE.

WORDS MATT RAUDONIKIS

SYNTHETIC rope has revolutionised the 4x4 recovery winch market and youíre hard pressed to find a user who still persists with the old steel cable these days. Yes, the steel cable more durable, but the reduced weight, ease of handling, flotation, and most of all, the safety of synth line far outweighs the durability factor. Synthetic rope has improved over the years and if you look after it, it will last you along time.

Bubba Rope is a Florida, USA-based company that started in the vehicle recovery business with a unique kineticenergy snatch rope, but has a gone on to produce winch lines, soft shackles, tree protectors and complete recovery kits.

What makes Bubba Rope so special is the way these self-confessed good olí boys from down south ĎGator-izeí the High Density Poly Ethylene (HDPE) Plasma rope by dipping it in a vinyl coating for better protection against moisture, abrasion, dirt and ultraviolet light; all elements that have long been problematic to the longevity of synth lines.

Another element that makes Bubba Rope winch lines safer than others is the spliced in thimble that does away with the need for a metal eye at the end of the rope. Doing away with any heavy metal objects in a recovery rig is paramount for increased safety.

The boys took this a step further when they created the Bubba Rope Pro Line with a soft shackle integrated into the end that you connect to a vehicle or anchor point. This allows the user to completely get rid of any metal shackles from your recovery rig. Bubba Rope manufactures its Gator Jaws range of soft shackles from Gator-ized rope so splicing that design into the winch line was the next logical step toward improved safety and simplicity.

Weíve been impressed with the Bubba Rope products when we see them at the SEMA show each year and decided to put some of them to the test, coming back with a Pro Line winch rope and some Gator Jaw soft shackles.

Looking at the Pro Line itís evident that these guys use these products and include features that make using them easier and safer. The multi-colours of the winch lines arenít just there for a fashion statement, as the colours each serve a purpose.

The last 20-feet of rope at the winch drum is coloured red to warn the user that he is getting close to the end and needs to leave a layer wrapped on the drum. The yellow section is heat-protection coated to shield the rope from the heat generated by the brake in the winch drum during operation, while the red bands around the line are placed every 10-feet along its length to let you know just how much line you have out. Even the Gator-green colouring of the rope itself is bright and easy to see if it is in mud, water, snow or sand. All common sense stuff that improves the product.

HOW TO

01 OLD FASHIONED

The old steel winch cable on this Warn XP9.5.

02 GETTING STUCK IN

After cleaning the winch drum The Grabber is stuck to it using double sided tape and the end of the winch line passes through one end.

03 ALL WRAPPED UP

The winch line is run around the drum and over The Grabber for five wraps before cinching it up tight.

04 READY TO GO

The full length of the Pro Line can then be fed onto the winch. This is best done under a light load to tension the rope on the drum securely.

05 TIGHT AS A DRUM

The Bubba Rope Pro Line wrapped neatly on the winch

06 EASY RIGGING

The Pro Line features an in-built Gator Jaw soft shackle so no metal shackles are needed in the rigging.

07 SNOW PATROL

Pulling another vehicle back out of a bog safely using the Bubba Rope Pro line

08 BUBBA TO THE RESCUE

Using the soft shackle to connect to another vehicleís winch.

Another clever product is The Grabber, a simple yet effective means of attaching the winch line to the drum without the need to screw it on or need tools to remove and refit it. Clever stuff! The Grabber comes with your Bubba Rope winch line or can be bought separately if you need one.

We fitted the Bubba Rope Pro Line to the Warn winch in the editorís old Land Cruiser before a recent trip. After removing the old steel cable and cleaning the dirt and grime off the drum, it was pretty simple to install neatly.

It was put to use on a trip in the High Country and immediately the usability of the winch is much simpler, the rope is easier and safer to handle, attachment is easy using the inbuilt soft shackle, and itís easy to pack up with no kinks or loose wires in the rope like you would get in a steel cable.

Completely removing the rope for cleaning after the trip is tool-free and easy too thanks to the Grabber, meaning this is more likely to get done and hence looks after the rope for a longer service life.

Due to the fact they are premium products made in America, the recovery gear from Bubba Rope isnít cheap; 80-feet of the 3/8-inch Pro Line sells for US$449 and the poor Aussie dollar isnít helping once you get it here. But you get what you pay for and this stuff is strong, safe and easy to use. Look after it and it will last you longer than regular synthetic ropes thanks to the tough Gator-ize coating.

Bubba Rope products are available in Australia from SJM Offroad in Queensland at www.sjmoffroad.com.au