WHERE THE ICE MEETS THE METAL MEETS THE ROAD
By Adam Adler
Snow chains are one bit of gear we usually overlook. Most of us will never have a set for our 4WD but they could be the best aid in the game if you live in a place with frosty winters.
And it’s high time we looked at them before the temperature drops, and also looked at a couple of other sneaky applications they can be used for
If you do have chains, you probably only ever use them once in a while on the odd trip up the ski mountain, but they can also be used on the tracks to give that extra bit of traction.
A friend of mine B1 (Brett) always carried a set and sometimes he would fit them out on a track to avoid getting stuck. He actually nicknamed them chain lockers!
It’s interesting to see them work in action – they grip and throw the mud around like nothing else I’ve seen, and, in a jam, they seem to work better than the best mud tyre.
Admittedly, they are not great for the tracks as they do tend to dig in quite hard, I would suggest using them only when you need them and then take them off as soon as you are OK, but if you need them they are an incredibly underestimated bit of gear.
Using them in the snow is essential and most tracks will require you to have them with you in your 4WD. Up around the Aussie ski slopes during winter they’re pretty much mandatory.
I realise the importance of chains as I’ve personally slipped sideways and spun around on patches of ice on High Country tracks. The chain can actually dig into the ground and break the ice away from under you giving you as much traction as possible.
There are a few different types; the most common being the diamond pattern which is the pattern approved throughout Australia. The ladder pattern is restricted to certain states, and is not permitted within Victoria.
Due to the ladder pattern’s design, it will have sections of the chain that won’t be in contact with the road. The diamond pattern, on the other hand, will always have a part of the chain in contact with the terrain, which makes them the most popular here in Oz.
Chains are mainly fitted to the wheels that are steering the vehicle, but if you have a set of four you can certainly fit them to the rear tyres as well.
Fitting of the chains is difficult to begin with, but with practice they get easier. To be honest, the hardest part is trying to get them fitted up with freezing cold sausage fingers.
Unfortunately, the cost of chains for most 4WDs can be very expensive. Most of us will tend to hire them for isolated trips up to the snowfields, but, if you can, keep a set on hand whenever you are out because they can come in handy.
So if you think you have everything in your kit, think again. When it comes to grip in the ice and mud, a decent set of chains can be worth every cent.