Top 5 Best Traction Boards 2024

the best traction boards
Share
Tweet
Share
Email
Share

The first things that come to mind when most people think of getting stuck in deep snow, loose sand or mud are probably “tow truck” and “shovel” while it should be “traction boards”. These awesome recovery tools are must-haves for drivers who often drive in adverse road conditions where snow, loose sand or deep mud is to be expected. 

Anyone can use them: just shove them under your vehicle’s traction wheels as deep as you can and the traction boards will provide ample grip for your tires to pull themselves free. It’s as simple as that. 

So, don’t call that tow truck just yet, you might not even need a shovel. Just pack a traction board whenever you expect challenging road conditions, and you can get yourself unstuck with ease when needed without having to wait for that tow truck out in the elements for hours or for a friend that doesn’t show. They’ll pay for themselves too, knowing there’ll be no tow truck bills to pay…

These are the traction boards we recommend:

What Are Traction Boards?

Traction boards are exactly what their name implies: boards of about 50”x10” that provide traction whenever a vehicle’s traction tires are slipping and digging themselves in. 

Most traction boards look like (skiing) snowboards with various deep grooves, cleats and spikes for traction on both sides of the board and they come in different colors, styles and sizes. Some can even be rolled or folded for easy storage.

Invented in 1912, traction boards, also known as recovery boards, traction mats, or sand ladders were first developed and used for industrial and military purposes. Early steel Heavy-Duty traction boards were deployed by the military across the globe as standard field equipment. 

From the mid 70’s, they became lighter and more user-friendly and they gradually found their way into civilian life. Fifty years later, they have become the affordable go-to tool to get all kinds of vehicles unstuck from the most gnarly situations.  

Different types of Traction Boards

Full-Size Traction Boards

A full-size traction board typically measures around 50”x10” and it usually comes as a set of two. Most are made from semi-rigid plastics and have ridges for structural support and cleats on both sides to accommodate optimal friction between the road or terrain and the vehicle’s traction tires. 


Pros:
 

  • Provide the most grip, especially in very deep sand, mud or snow
  • Can be used as a shovel
  • Can be used to bridge gaps and holes or to drive over boulders and tree logs
  • Ready to use, no unpacking or assembly needed
  • Ideal for hardcore offroading


Cons:
 

  • Large size takes a lot of storage space

Half-Size Traction Boards

A half-size traction board typically measures around 25”x10”, roughly half the size of a full-size traction board, and it usually comes as a set of two. Most are made from semi-rigid plastics and have ridges for structural support and cleats on both sides to accommodate optimal friction between the road or terrain and the vehicle’s traction tires. Their big advantage is that they are lightweight and easy to deploy and that they are smaller to store than full-size boards.


Pros: 

  • Easy and compact to store
  • Provides good grip in most conditions
  • Can be used as a (short) shovel
  • Can be used to bridge small gaps and holes
  • Ready to use, no unpacking or assembly needed


Cons:

  • Too short to bridge wide gaps and holes or to drive over large boulders and tree logs
  • Too short to get a vehicle out of really deep snow, mud or sand

Foldable Traction Boards

When unfolded, foldable traction boards are typically about the same size as average full-size traction boards. They fold to roughly 1/4 of their unfolded size to allow for easy storage. They are made from semi-rigid plastics and have ridges for structural support and cleats on both sides to accommodate optimal friction between the road or terrain and the vehicle’s traction tires. 


Pros: 

  • Easy and compact to store
  • Provide good grip in most conditions
  • Bends and tilts to provide optimal grip over uneven terrain
  • Can be used to level a vehicle when camping


Cons:

  • Can’t be used as a shovel
  • Limited use to bridge gaps and holes or to drive over boulders and tree logs

Roll-Up Traction Mats or Ladders

Traction mats or ladders come in different sizes but most are about the same size as a full-size traction board when deployed. Their major selling point is that they can be rolled to a bundle for compact storage and that they are ideal for vehicles with limited ground clearance. While fragile plastic ones are to be avoided, quality traction mats or ladders are made of High Strength Engineering Rubber with a Galvanized Steel Core. These are extremely tough.


Pros: 

  • Easy and compact to store
  • Ideal for vehicles with limited ground clearance
  • Provide good grip in most conditions
  • Bends and tilts to provide optimal grip over uneven terrain


Cons:

  • Can’t be used as a shovel
  • Can’t be used to bridge gaps and holes or to drive over boulders and tree logs

How we did our review

For this review we dove deep in the manufacturer specifications and looked at numerous customer reviews to see what their experience was. Furthermore, we listened to what experienced outdoor experts and 4×4 enthusiasts had to say and what their experience was. We only recommend traction boards that do a great job freeing a stuck vehicle in all circumstances and are reliable. We’ve selected traction boards for different purposes, to make it easy for you to choose the right  boards for your car, depending on what you intend to use it for.

These are the traction boards we recommend:

Best Overall Traction Boards

Best Overall
Specs:
  • Type: Full-size Traction Boards
  • Material: Heavy Duty reinforced Nylon 6/6 by Dupont with UV-stabilizer
  • Size: (2x) 44.5″ Long x 12.88″ Wide x 3.5″ Tall when stacked
  • Weight: 16 lbs/Pair
Best Overall
Specs:
  • Type: Full-size Traction Boards
  • Material: Heavy Duty reinforced Nylon 6/6 by Dupont with UV-stabilizer
  • Size: (2x) 44.5″ Long x 12.88″ Wide x 3.5″ Tall when stacked
  • Weight: 16 lbs/Pair

The reason why we chose these full-size traction boards for our “Best Overall”, is that, although they’re not the cheapest of the bunch, they are certainly the toughest and most versatile. They are our weapon of choice when the going gets tough and the diggin’ gets deep. 

These traction boards are made of Heavy Duty reinforced UV-stabilized Nylon 6/6 by Dupont. Although they are lightweight, they are rigid and won’t break when flexed. ActionTrax were developed with feedback from the military and the offroad community. That’s why they have unique features like jagged ends for easier shoveling and better traction. They have larger handles for use with gloves or for big hands. These boards link together with zip ties, nylon webbing or rope to form an extremely strong road, ramp or landing pad. 

ActionTrax have no weight limits or terrain restrictions, they are unconditionally guaranteed for five years against all defects. All materials and labor are 100% US Sourced and they are 100% Made In America. 

Although these traction boards come with strong molded cleats for optimal traction, they are also available with pre-installed metal teeth for an even greater “grab” in the most extreme Heavy Duty conditions.

Customers say these boards are thick and that they feel and look like a quality made product despite the fact that they only weigh in at 16 lbs for the pair. They love the fact that they stack together very nicely with a lower profile than others. Hardcore users usually pack two sets to free all traction wheels at once or to stack them for more rigid bridging.

We wouldn’t recommend buying these hardcore traction boards for your granny’s Honda Civic, but if you’re heading off the beaten track with your 4×4 and detour is not in your vocabulary, you’ll definitely need these.


PROS:

  • Heavy Duty quality, yet lightweight
  • Unconditional five-year guarantee against all defects without weight limits or terrain restrictions
  • Rigid, yet flexible without cracking
  • Superior traction because of large, durable cleats
  • Compact stacking
  • Jagged ends for easier shoveling and better traction 
  • Larger handles for use with gloves or for big hands
  • Can be linked together to form an extremely strong road, ramp or landing pad
  • Materials and labor are 100% US Sourced, 100% Made In America


CONS:

  • High end pricing (but worth every penny)   
  • Large storage footprint

Best Budget Traction Boards

Best Budget
Specs:
  • Type: Full-Size Traction Boards
  • Material: Lightweight, Durable, High-impact Polypropylene
  • Size: (2x) 45’’ Long x 13.5’’ Wide x 2” Tall // 4” Tall when stacked
  • Weight: 17.2 lbs/pair
Best Budget
Specs:
  • Type: Full-Size Traction Boards
  • Material: Lightweight, Durable, High-impact Polypropylene
  • Size: (2x) 45’’ Long x 13.5’’ Wide x 2” Tall // 4” Tall when stacked
  • Weight: 17.2 lbs/pair

The reason why we chose the “Maxsa Connectable Escaper Buddy” full-size traction boards for our “Best Budget Traction Boards” is because they work very well and they are premium quality at a discount price. 

Unlike cheaper competitors, they are really durable and very functional. They have a unique rounded shovel front-edge design that works surprisingly well to clear snow, mud and dirt from under your vehicle. These boards allow for an ergonomic grip with both hands, with handles on both sides and a handle at the back end. 

The rounded front ends of these traction boards are extremely grippy because they are dotted with sharp cleats for your tires to hold on to. Outdoor tests show that, especially when it comes to that initial tire contact, these Escaper Buddies punch far above their weight and leave all similarly-priced competitors behind in the dirt, literally… 

What also distinguishes these boards from their competitors, is the ability to connect two boards to create a double-length traction board.

The Escaper Buddy is made from durable lightweight High-Impact Polypropylene which can withstand temperatures as low as -15°C (5°F) and as high as 100°C (212°F). This tough material is very impact-resistant.

Customers confirm that these boards get the job done and that they are not structurally affected by UV, not even if they are left in an open pickup all-year long in the punishing Arizona sun.

If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, these traction boards are your best Buddies (pun intended).


PROS:

  • Most bang for your buck
  • Very grippy because they’re dotted with sharp cleats
  • Impact-resistant material
  • Full-size and connectable
  • They’re great for shoveling 


CONS:

  • They don’t look as cool as ActionTrax 
  • They don’t interlock when stacked

Best Half-Size Traction Boards

Best Half-Size
Specs:
  • Type: Half-Size Traction Board
  • Material: UV-Stabilized Automotive Grade Polypropylene
  • Size: (2x) 22.8” Long x 13” Wide x 2.3” Tall // 3.70″ Tall when stacked
  • Weight: 9.57 lbs/pair
Best Half-Size
Specs:
  • Type: Half-Size Traction Board
  • Material: UV-Stabilized Automotive Grade Polypropylene
  • Size: (2x) 22.8” Long x 13” Wide x 2.3” Tall // 3.70″ Tall when stacked
  • Weight: 9.57 lbs/pair

Full-size traction boards are the Gold Standard for a reason: they work best in all conditions and are simple and easy to use. That’s why we’ve selected full-size boards for our “Best Overall”. Full-size traction boards do have an obvious downside though: they’re huge and take up much space. 

Enter the half-size traction boards: these are the baby siblings of the full-size traction boards. They are equally simple and easy to use but take up only half the storage space at half big bro’s weight. 

These half-size siblings are a compromise in extreme terrain however, when bridging large gaps or recovery in very deep snow, sand or mud. Their big upside though, is that you can put them in the trunk of all types of vehicles and in most situations they’ll do the job just fine. These boards also have four keyholes for easy mounting and side handles. They’re great for shoveling too, just like the big guns. 

The reason why we chose these traction boards for our “Best Half-Size Traction Boards” is because between its same-size competitors, they are the half-size traction boards that provide the most grip from the get-go because of their very pronounced teeth. Knowing they cost only about half of what you’d have to spend on big-brand competitors that aren’t so grippy, they are the most bang for your buck for sure. 

Bunker Indust Short Recovery Tracks are made of UV-Stabilized Automotive Grade Polypropylene, designed for year-round use in temperatures from -22°F to 140°F. Whenever you get stuck with any type of vehicle, in loose sand, mud or snow, these very affordable half-size boards will get you out of the woods (maybe literally).

Their wide customer base states that Bunker Indust Short Recovery Tracks can be stored in the trunk of a SUV, where full-size boards can’t. Reviewers say that you can take these lightweight recovery boards with you even in a smaller vehicle where there’s no space to store full-size ones. They agree that, contrary to other compact recovery solutions, it’s a big advantage that they can be used as a shovel too.


PROS:

  • Takes less space than full-size traction boards
  • Doubles as a shovel
  • Simple to use
  • Very affordable


CONS:

  •  Not as efficient in extreme terrain as full-size ones 
  •  Not as compact as foldable or roll-up traction boards

Best Foldable Traction Boards

Best Foldable
Specs:
  • Type: Foldable Traction Board
  • Material: Flexible, high strength, high impact polypropylene copolymer with special additives
  • Size: (2x) 46” Long x 9” Wide // 12”L x 9”W x 8”T (folded pair)
  • Weight: 12 lbs/pair
Best Foldable
Specs:
  • Type: Foldable Traction Board
  • Material: Flexible, high strength, high impact polypropylene copolymer with special additives
  • Size: (2x) 46” Long x 9” Wide // 12”L x 9”W x 8”T (folded pair)
  • Weight: 12 lbs/pair

We chose the “GoTreads” traction boards for our “Best Foldable Traction Boards” because these foldable recovery boards are tough as nails and because they are full-size when unfolded but very compact when stored. 

GoTreads are versatile and durable traction tools designed to help vehicles get unstuck in various situations, on all kinds of terrain. Their typical arched grooves are designed to automatically align the treads in the center of your tire for optimal traction. 

First, the self-feeding design with only grooves on top allows the spinning tire to pull the first two segments underneath. The third and following segments, which have bottom grooves also, will provide traction underneath too, on the surface. Opposing grooves on both sides create a strong grip in opposite directions, utilizing the full surface area for traction.

The arched shape not only provides traction but also strengthens the traction surface. The rigid lattice structure ensures strength and flexibility, allowing the treads to flex lengthwise even in extreme temperatures. GoTreads are modular and expandable, offering customizable configurations. They can also double as vehicle levelers up to 4 inches, making them useful for rooftop tents, camping trailers, and RVs, with a weight capacity of 50,000 lbs.

The articulating design allows GoTreads to navigate tight spaces that rigid traction boards cannot. Designed for Extreme Duty, this latest version is suitable for military, off-road as well as fleet use. Despite their strength, GoTreads are compact, portable, and easy to move between vehicles, with different types of optional storage bags for convenience. No need for complicated roof rack systems, you can take your traction tool wherever you go. 

GoTreads are the originals, invented in 1975 and sold since 1991. They are made in the USA.

Customers say that GoTreads are superior to other recovery tracks in every conceivable way with the one exception of bridging – which is obviously not going to happen with GoTreads. For the primary purpose of getting a stuck vehicle unstuck, the GoTracks win hands down and are well worth their price, they state.


PROS:

  • Tough as nails, yet lightweight
  • Very compact, yet full-size when deployed
  • Easy to store and carry with you
  • Ingenious self-feeding design with opposing grooves
  • They can double as vehicle levelers up to 4 inches with a weight capacity of 50,000 lbs 
  • They are modular and expandable, offering customizable configurations 
  • The original, made in USA


CONS:

  • Storage bag is optional
  • Not suitable for bridging
  • Can’t be used as a shovel

Best Roll-Up Traction Mats

Best Roll-Up
Specs:
  • Type: Roll-Up Traction Mats
  • Material: High Strength Engineering Rubber with Galvanized Steel Core
  • Size: (2x) 39.3″ Long x 10.8″ Wide // approx. 22” L x 12” W x 7” T (stored in carry bag)
  • Weight: 15.6 lbs
Best Roll-Up
Specs:
  • Type: Roll-Up Traction Mats
  • Material: High Strength Engineering Rubber with Galvanized Steel Core
  • Size: (2x) 39.3″ Long x 10.8″ Wide // approx. 22” L x 12” W x 7” T (stored in carry bag)
  • Weight: 15.6 lbs

We chose these traction mats for our “Best Roll-Up Traction Mats” because contrary to most competitors, these are made of tire rubber, not plastic, and have tungsten steel spikes for enhanced bite.

These extra-wide roll-up traction mats work on all terrain: mud, loose sand, snow, ice,… The rungs are made of High Strength Engineering Rubber, held together by galvanized steel cables to support vehicles up to 7 tons. They are ideal for vehicles with limited ground clearance.

These mats, also called “traction ladders”, are easy to deploy and can be conveniently stored in the included carry-bag. Jojomark mats are suitable for use with all vehicle types: cars, SUVs, trucks, ATVs…

Customers comment that they are very sturdy and grippy. They love the fact that you can just fold each mat in half and insert them both in the included storage bag. Nothing to it. 

A user stated that he recently had a Pro recover his 4X4 and that mats like these were an integral part of this guy’s equipment. People like the fact that they are smaller than the board styles and they are not going to crack like those boards have a tendency to do. Another customer stated that while unboxing he immediately noticed how sturdy and durable the tracks are. Good and thick, not like some plastic thing, he said. 

These traction ladders may not be a stairway to heaven, but if you get really stuck out in the boonies, they may be the next best thing…


PROS:

  • Compact, easy to deploy and store
  • Ideal for vehicles with limited ground clearance
  • Durable construction: High Strength Engineering Rubber with Galvanized Steel Core
  • Extra traction because of tungsten steel spikes
  • Storage bag included


CONS:

  • Not suitable for bridging
  • Can’t be used as a shovel

Comparison Table of the Best Traction Boards

Final Thoughts

Without further ado, let’s head straight to that burning question, the elephant in the room: Between these 5 excellent recovery tools, which should you buy? 

Well, because they all have pros and cons, that depends on the type of vehicle you’re going to use it for, the frequency you expect to deploy them and the type of terrain you’re going to use it in.

Between the two full-size traction boards (“Best Overall” and “Best Budget”), the answer is very straightforward: you should definitely buy our “Best Overall” if you’re a hardcore offroad person and you plan to get yourself in “deep trouble” frequently. If you don’t want to spend that kind of money, go for our “Best Budget”.

If you have limited storage space and don’t want to mount anything to the outside of your vehicle, your second-best choice would be half-size or foldable traction boards. They work great for every-day commuting in challenging road- or weather conditions too.

Finally, if your vehicle has very limited ground clearance and you don’t want to damage your car while getting it unstuck, roll-up traction mats are your safest option. Chuck them in your boot for peace of mind, they’ll be there whenever you need them. 

Happy cruisin’!

Be safe!

FAQ’s

How to use traction boards?

First of all, you want to clear some dirt, mud or snow from under your traction tires in the direction you want to drive out. This will make it easier to shove your traction board, mat or ladder under your vehicle’s traction wheels. Tuck them under your tires as deep as you can so your tires can grip the traction device and your tires can pull themselves free. 

Next, disable your vehicle’s traction control and drive out by very gradually increasing traction. Don’t floor it by no means, you want to have as little wheelspin as possible. If your tires start spinning and can’t get a grip, reposition your traction devices and try again. It’s as simple as that. 

How many traction boards do I need?

Hardcore 4×4 off-road users usually pack two sets (4) to free all traction wheels at once or to stack them for more rigid bridging. For urban use, a front- or rear wheel drive vehicle, one set (2) should do.

Why You Should Trust Our Reviews And Content

All our website content and reviews are 100% unique, protected and based on our own thorough research.

They are the result of our hands-on testing, data analytics, expert consultation and customer review analysis, enhanced by our own extensive expertise.

We do not compromise: our focal point is always on you, our valued visitor.

Our website content and reviews are your unbiased, unsponsored tools to get the job done better and quicker, with less expense. 

Learn More 

CCM is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Share
Tweet
Share
Email
Share

Subscribe To Our Newsletter. It's 100% Free!

* indicates required

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *