Sandy Cats Ultimate Recovery Kit Review

Sandy Cats Ultimate Recovery Kit inside the bag in the snow next to a Toyota Tacoma.

Manufacturer: Sandy Cats MSRP: $218
9.2
Average Score
  • Material Quality 8.5
  • Certification 10.0
  • Strength & Performance 9.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Value - Is it worth it? 9.5
Durable, Effective & Affordable Recovery Rope & Shackle Kits

At first, receiving the Ultimate Recovery Kit from Sandy Cats, I was hesitant to swap out the tried-and-trusted steel shackles and a basic kinetic rope that has been “good enough” for years. It had never struck me that fibrous soft shackles could stand up to the strength of steel.

However, after getting it in my hands, that concern faded. Everything in this kit is impressively well-made, thoughtfully designed, and rigorously tested. It just feels capable, if you know what I mean. But solely feeling capable isn’t enough, so I put it to the test.

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Overview

Sandy Cats Kinetic-X Roper and Ultimate Hitch Hero in a Toyota Tacoma truck bed.

You can purchase each product individually if you prefer but the Ultimate Recovery Kit is a convenient all-in-one solution.

Contents…

  • 7/8″ x 30′ Kinetic-X Recovery Rope
  • 2 Soft Shackles
  • 1 Hitch Hero Soft Shackle – 7/16” 41,000 minimum breaking strength
  • Carrying bag
  • Sandy Cats stickers

Kinetic Vs. Static Ropes

A man unraveling a kinetic recovery rope attached to the Ultimate Hitch Hero on a Toyota Tacoma in the snow.

Kinetic ropes have some give in them. That means they stretch about 20-30% and store up all that energy inside them to give a “jerking” pull motion. They also absorb the shock of the tug which alleviates that stress from transferring to your rig. They’re best for pulling out a vehicle that is spinning its wheels, but still operable.

When you find yourself in stuck and sinking situations, be it snow, sand, mud, or water, or to pull out a larger rig (like an RV) with a much smaller rig (like your Tacoma), you’ll want to use a kinetic strap.

But there’s a time and a place for everything. If you have to pull a vehicle over a large obstacle like a boulder while rock crawling or a tree root, a static tow strap will come in handy. Static straps are also best to use when the vehicle is completely dead on the trail and needs to be dragged out of the way.

Various Lengths & Strap Strengths

For SUVs, 1/2-ton trucks, and midsize pickups

  • 7/8″ x 30′ Break strength: 28,600 pounds
    7/8″ x 20′ Break strength: 28,600 pounds

For full-size pickups, and larger SUVs

    • 1″ x 20′ Break Strength: 33,000 pounds
      1″ x 30′ Break Strength: 33,000 pounds

    For full-size overland trucks, expedition rigs, vans, Utility trucks, and RVs

    • 1 1/4″ x 30′ Break Strength 52,300 pounds

    Pros & Cons

    Man attaching the Sandy Cats Hitch Hero to the hitch receiver of a Toyota Tacoma.

    Pros

    • It’s lightweight and easy to store.
    • There’s no risk of the soft shackles corroding like there is with steel ones.
    • It’s very well-made and thoughtfully designed with useful features, like the reflective strip in the Kinetic-X recovery rope, that actually improve the user experience.
    • The soft shackles are less damaging to vehicles and the landscape if you happen to be in a delicate area such as the desert or a high alpine environment.
    • The Ultimate Hitch Hero is an innovative and game-changing design that’s unique to Sandy Cats and won’t be found in other recovery kits.
    • Being able to thread the Ultimate Hitch Hero directly through the hitch receiver or use it as a standard soft shackle makes the entire kit much more versatile.
    • Double reinforced high-wear points increase durability.
    • Premium quality at a budget price point.
    • Safer to use than steel alternatives.
    • The Kinetic-X rope comes in both 20′ and 30′ lengths so you can choose which you prefer.
    • Soft shackles are much easier to set up and secure than steel, especially in the snow and cold when these components can freeze and jam.

    Cons

    • The rope became a bit stiff in the cold (and snow). This didn’t seem to compromise its effectiveness but did make it difficult to coil tight enough to fit it back into the bag.
    • Packing and storing the rope and shackles before they dry completely can reduce longevity and potentially lead to a failure in the system.

    Kinetic-X Rope

    Black Toyota Tacoma in the snow with a kinetic recovery rope attached to it.

    A kinetic rope is a kinetic rope. It either does the job or it’s of subpar quality — or at least that’s generally the mindset. However, if there’s one that can shift that perspective, Sandy Cats Kinetic-X Recovery Rope is it.

    Construction

    The rope has double dipped polymer eyes that feel impressively tough. Reinforcing high-wear areas at the attachment points on each end of the rope increases its lifespan.

    And when they say “double dipped”, they aren’t kidding. The coating is much thicker than I’ve felt on other recovery ropes. I do not doubt that it will live up to Sandy Cats’ lifetime warranty.

    The rope is comprised of a hardwearing Nylon 6 exterior and a 12-strand Nylon 66 core. It is coated in UV and abrasion-resistant polymer. A reflective strand is braided into the fibers. This is a small but thoughtful feature that will be helpful during nighttime recoveries.

    Size, Strength, & Elongation Capacity 

    The rope offers up to 30% elongation. That’s plenty of dynamic capacity to get out of sticky situations where the stretch in the rope helps generate the pull needed to snap a vehicle out of the mud, sand, or snow and absorb the shock of the pull.

    The 7/8″ x 20′ or 7/8″ x 30′ — both share the same 28,000 pound break strength — is recommended for Tacomas and other midsize trucks.

    Hitch Hero Shackle

    Sandy Cats Ultimate Recovery Kit Hitch Hero on a Toyota Tacoma.

    The Ultimate Hitch Hero Soft Shackle is the major highlight of this kit. It’s unique in that it’s intended to thread straight through the hitch receiver, no D-ring or recovery point necessary. It is not meant to be hooked around the ball hitch and if a ball hitch is present, it should be removed in order to use the Hitch Hero.

    The Hitch Hero is 34” long. It’s pliable, making it versatile and easy to maneuver in different situations and setups. It’s 7/16” and rated for a minimum breaking strength of 41,000 lbs.

    The sheath covering the length of the shackle that directly contacts the steel hitch receiver is reinforced with ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene to make it abrasion-resistant. This reinforcement makes Hitch Hero stiff and extra sturdy. It’s made to stand up to force while rubbing against rough, sharp, thin metal edges.

    Soft Shackles

    Sandy Cats soft shackle

    The Ultimate Hitch Hero can also be used as a typical soft shackle. This particular kit also includes 2 standard Kinetic-X soft shackles.

    The 7/16″ soft shackles have a 41,000lb. MBS. When it comes to price, strength, and versatility they’re tough to match.

    Sandy Cats Kinetic-X products are purpose-built to stand up to immense wear and tear and stand the test of time without failure. If you somehow manage to damage your recovery gear with regular use (not the kind of use demonstrated in Sandy Cats’ field testing videos) they are all backed by a lifetime warranty.

    Highly Tested

    Sandy Cats Ultimate Recovery Kit soft shackle attached to Kinetic-X Rope with snow in the background.

    As you can see on Sandy Cats’ website and YouTube channels, they put each component through aggressive testing far beyond what any recovery situation would ever require.

    Their stress testing includes scenarios like mashing the accelerator to the floor in an Escalade that’s roped to a massive tree using the Kinetic-X Rope and Ultimate Hitch Hero, and what looks like some static tow straps around the tree. While that is not how these products are intended to be used, it’s impressive that they hold up to the abuse.

    My experience using the it as intended has been highly positive.

    Performance

    Sandy Cats Ultimate Recovery Kit inside the bag in the snow.

    Despite my initial skepticism over whether or not I could rely on a soft shackle to replace steel shackles, I wouldn’t go back after testing this kit out.

    Overlanding gear can quickly get heavy. The Ultimate Recovery Kit is a lightweight, packable, durable option that gets the job done. There doesn’t appear to be any sacrifice in performance or longevity for the decreased weight. I love how the whole kit can be thrown into the backseat, or stuffed under the front seat, without taking up much space.

    I haven’t had it long enough to be certain that all the components will able to hold up to hundreds of pulls as advertised. However, I believe they will be based on the feel of the products, their performance so far, and the intentional, heavily tested designs.

    Not only is the kit lightweight and low profile, but it’s easy to manage when you need it most.

    It’s quick and simple to use. Just thread the soft shackles through your recovery points or a D-ring and the eye on one end of the rope. Tighten the shackle by hand with a quick tug. You can do the same with the Ultimate Hitch Hero, running it through the hitch receiver and the opposite eye of the rope. Ensure that the reinforced sheath (the grey part) is what is in contact with any metal and then, again, give it a tug to tighten the system.

    Toyota 4Runner in a rear view mirror as it is recovered from a ditch on an off road trail.

    It’s simple to use. There’s much less fumbling around then there often can be when trying to hook up steel shackles. The simplicity is much appreciated in recovery situations that can quickly become stressful.

    The whole system only takes about 5 minutes to set up and make a successful recovery.

    I first tested out the Sandy Cats Ultimate Recovery Kit in a slick, snowy scenario where our 4Runner slid into a small ravine and couldn’t get traction. It worked like a charm. We attached the Ultimate Hitch Hero to the Tacoma and one of the soft shackles to a D-ring on the back of the 4Runner. A few slow and steady tugs and the 4runner was back on flat ground and good to go.

    The stretch and rebound in the Kinetic-X Recovery Rope is great and my Tacoma has had no issues pulling out either the 4Runner or larger full-sized trucks I’ve used it on.

    The soft shackles and Hitch Hero are much more user-friendly than steel shackles. They won’t bang up your rig or chip your paint. And, personally, I appreciate not having to worry about a steel projectile launching through the rear window of my truck if something were to go wrong.

    Supporting Small Business

    Sandy Cats Kinetic-X Recovery Rope on a Toyota Tacoma recovering a 4Runner from snow.

    I was pleasantly surprised by this entire kit and the Sandy Cats brand. I appreciate the transparency offered on their website and social media. They also have great reviews vouching for both their products and customer service.

    Sandy Cats is a family-owned small business located in California. All of their Kinetic-X products are CERTEX tested and backed by a lifetime warranty. They put them to the test here in the U.S. but make it clear that they’re manufactured in China to continue providing such premium quality at what comes off as a budget price point that they’re proud to offer.

    With so many options available when purchasing recovery gear from high investment to countless Amazon finds, you’ve got to applaud a brand that operates with such integrity.

    Final Thoughts

    I enjoyed the ease of use that the soft shackles provide. They thread right through the hitch receiver and recovery points with no problem. The soft flexible material also allows you to thread multiple shackles through certain recovery points if needed.

    The Ultimate Hitch Hero felt great through and through and shows no signs of wear (or even use, really) after tugging against sharp steel during a few recoveries so far.

    For under $200, The Ultimate Recovery Kit is well worth it. Honestly, I’d expect to pay much more for the quality (and it’d still be worth it). Each piece of equipment is thoughtfully designed and well-engineered. It competes with budget ones on Amazon while offering what is, in my experience, far superior quality and a functional, innovative design.

    After testing everything I have no inclination to go back to using my old recovery gear or hauling around heavy, clanging steel shackles anymore.

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    Bruce
    Bruce
    1 month ago

    The most effective use of a snatch strap is to have some slack as the rescue vehicle starts to pull and sling-shot the stuck vehicle free. A 6,000 lb vehicle can exert 12,000 lbs of force in this situation and this is what determines the safe rating for the snatch strap. The connections also need to be able to resist this amount of force without breaking loose from the vehicle or being damaged by the effort. I bought a 13,000 lb snatch strap in 2017 and paid $17.20 plus tax for it. I needed to have a D-ring shackle mount… Read more »

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