Depending on the situation, recovering off road vehicles can be simple or exceedingly complicated, requiring winches, various hardware—and the knowledge and experience to use them all safely. For those of us truck campers who often travel alone, one of the easiest methods of self-recovery involves the use of traction boards (also known as sand ladders or recovery boards). Typically made of either plastic or metal, when placed under your wheels in soft sand or mud, they can make the difference between continuing down the trail or paying for an expensive recovery.
There are many different versions of traction boards currently being manufactured and this article does an excellent job of comparing the options available. For purposes of this review, I will be discussing the storage of boards made by MaxTrax that I have owned and used for the past decade or so. Developed in Australia, they come in a variety of sizes and colors and are arguably the best-known boards in the overlanding community today. The standard MaxTrax are 46 inches long, 14 inches wide, 4 inches thick and weigh 15 pounds a pair. If you carry two pair as I do, that’s a combined weight of 30 pounds of boards that are 16 inches thick when nested together.
Over the years involving several vehicles, I have carried MaxTrax inside, mounted them on a roof rack and strapped them to whatever rear rack or box that I had at the time. When I took delivery of my Bundutec Odyssey flatbed camper in 2018, storing them on the roof or inside was simply not practical. Initially, I had them stored on a rear rack I made that spanned the back of the camper and while accessible, they took up a lot of space I really needed for extra fuel and water storage. My camper has an angled area below the rear window that was not being used and I looked for ways to store the MaxTrax there. After considering building another rack or mounting the boards directly using specifically designed mounting pins, I came across a solution from Quick Pitch that I saw on a company video. Called Trax-Tab, Quick Pitch created a storage platform that secures MaxTrax boards on a lockable platform that can also include an optional integrated table. I purchased mine from Bundutec directly for $425, but they are available from other sources.
The Trax-Tab came with all the necessary hardware (except for mounting bolts) but no instructions, so I consulted a few YouTube videos before proceeding. In some of the videos coming out of Australia, I was surprised to see that they used either aluminum pop rivets or small metric bolts for mounting, both of which seemed prone to failure after miles of off-road use. An additional challenge for me specifically was the fact that the Trax-Table is designed to mount on a vertical surface such as the side of a vehicle or camper. The mounting surface I had was a 45-degree angle, so I knew I had to change out the cable length supporting the table in the open position to get it level.
Using the Trax-Tab shipping box, I cut out a template to determine where to mount the platform and drill the holes. I drilled out the original mounting holes to 1/4-inch by 20 inches to support the load using stainless steel fasteners. The Trax-Table comes set up to carry two boards so to carry four requires moving two end brackets to another set of mounting holes already drilled into the frame (NOTE: do this on a table first before mounting to your vehicle/camper. You’ll thank me later). Once the frame was set up for four board storage, I drilled the mounting holes into the back of the camper. To prevent water leakage, I first placed sealing tape on all the mounting brackets and with some help, bolted the frame to the back of the camper.
The last step was to reconfigure the cables that support the open table so it would sit level when open. The Trax-Tab has several holes already drilled into the frame to fine tune the table level with the provided cables, but I needed to replace the cable entirely to account for the 45-degree angle. The cables provided are plastic wrapped stainless steel and I thought they were a little thin for what they were supporting. After taking a few measurements, I ordered some 6-inch long stainless cables pre-configured with end loops and nylon coated from McMaster Carr. And because I could, I installed two per side after binding them together using heat shrink. The result is a level table I can use when I’m cooking outdoors. Once I mounted the four boards, the lever used to secure them in the frame was extremely difficult to open and close, so I cut some of it away which solved the problem.
Does it all work? Immediately after I got the Trax-Tab installed, we headed west to drive the White Rim trail in Canyonlands National Park in Utah with some fellow Truck Campers. The White Rim is an iconic 100-mile trail that offers unparalleled landscapes and challenging driving conditions (look for a future trip report). While we never used them, the MaxTrax never moved despite some very rough roads, and it gave us piece of mind knowing that they were there and easily accessible if needed. The Trax-Tab is an excellent solution for carrying a vital recovery tool securely and the optional table is a brilliant use of the limited space truck campers offer. We will be at the Truck Camper Adventure Rally in Quartzsite in February if you want to see the product and installation for yourself. What would we rate the Quick Pitch Trax-Tab mounting System? With a rating between 1 to 10 with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, we enthusiastically give this product a 10 for usefulness.