Air Jack vs Hi lift jack - which one and why

What Recovery Equipment do you use.
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JohanM
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Thu Sep 01, 2016 7:17 pm

I have decided to put this out here and ask the guys that has been working/ training and touring with these recovery equipment to come and give some advice and pointers as to which one they prefer and why. What makes it such a great piece of equipment to have and why would you use / not use it again.

Both these equipment pieces are very handy and can also be very dangerous when used incorrectly.

Lets hear form the well traveled guys one here which one they would choose and why.
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Thu Sep 01, 2016 10:00 pm

HI lift Jack hardly takes up space and can be used for pulling and winching a vehicle.The air bag is very large and not easy to store on a 4x4 as a permanent piece of equipment and chances are it will be left at home when it is needed the most.
I have to admit the airbag also has many positive attributes. Would be great to be able to carry both items as a permanent fixture. My tcw.
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ChrisF
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Fri Sep 02, 2016 1:54 am

Can only agree with Tony.

I had both.

Airbag just too large to carry around as a regular piece of equipment !! A friend bought it, he only puts it in for trail days ... wonder if he still puts it in ....

ONE downside of the airbag - be very careful where you put it !! NOT all parts under the chassis can handle such a force ! Easy to bend a silencer box, or heaven forbid the fuel tank .... and aftermarket rock sliders often have sharp edges that can destroy an airbag. As with every piece of recovery equipment - use with extreme care

The other issue is that I found it to be a TWO person tool - one to operate the throttle, while other holds the inlet at the exhaust ... and even better if number three can keep an eye on how the bag inflates and where it is applying pressure .....

It DOES have a distinct advantage in very soft surfaces, due to the larger area.


Hi-Lift jack ... VERY dnagreous piece of equipment. Have broken a few jaws of people that did not respect it enough. Switching from lift to drop must be done RIGHT ! DO use wheel stops ! With these basics in place it IS an extremely versatile tool. And certainly the better option if on your own. Combined with some ingenuity this can be a jack, or a puller, or tire de-beader if the situation calls for it ...

AND most importantly, it CAN be fitted to the vehicle and CAN be there when you need it.



would have told you that my Hi-lift is for sale - but due to its weight the shipping costs must be absurd ....

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Fri Sep 02, 2016 9:15 am

I have the T-max version jack, only used it to pull a rod out of the ground and to lift the built-in braai in place :mrgreen:
Also realized I need some instruction on this thing. I bought mine mainly for the off-road trailer in case of a flat tyre.

I have no real experience in the bush with either on of these tools but from what i have been told by the guys in the know is exactly what Tony & Chris mentioned. Another advantage of the bag over the jack I'm told is that it can go under a really deeply buried vehicle where the jack might not be able to go low enough.

I guess if one had to choose it would be down to personal preference and where & how you 4x4. I'm of the opinion that a bag would be safer overall in any uneven terrain

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Fri Sep 02, 2016 9:24 am

would LOVE to see Thys's input on this topic ....

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Fri Sep 02, 2016 9:40 am

would also like to hear from guys who actually used it more than once...

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Fri Sep 02, 2016 9:58 am

The most important thing to remember with a high lift jack is that it is a piece of recovery equipment and does not replace the OEM jack you are suppose to use to change the wheels.

If you are familiar with the High Lift then you can change a tyre BUT you need to know the risks.

I would not even dream of taking an air jack with me.

En ja, I have used HL jacks enough to have been bliksemd into last week!
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Fri Sep 02, 2016 11:20 am

I already gave my input to Johan. :thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:

Hi Lift is my preferred weapon of mass displacement. I have both, use the air jack in sandy conditions and for training, but when I travel I leave it at home.

Agreed, a Hi lift is probably one of the most dangerous pieces of 4x4 equipment in untrained hands, but also one of the most versatile if you know how to use it. It can be used to change a wheel, but not in the conventional way. Do not leave the vehicle suspended on the jack with one wheel removed, that is not just dangerous it is downright stupid. Lift the vehicle, put an axle stand under the axle (4x4Direct sells collapsible axle stands) and take the hi lift jack out. And if you are not happy that the vehicle is stable you can change the position of the vehicle and axle stand before you start removing wheels.... Now you have a stable platform to work from.

Once the wheel is changed, lift, remove the axle stand and let the vehicle down to stand on all 4 wheels. Most of the time the vehicle is not on a flat surface when you want to change the wheel anyway, which makes lifting and leaving it on any kind of jack a little dodgy.

Use a hi lift jack-mate to hook into the wheel spokes to lift the vehicle, then you dont need fancy hi lift jack points, and you can lift the wheel with 4 easy strokes of the jack handle..

I love the air jack as well, but it is too bulky to pack on a long trip, and it has a single use only. Unless you want to use it as a flotation device when swimming in the Okavango river.. :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

If you decide on an air jack, get one that can be inflated with a compressor, as well as the exhaust pipe. Using the exhaust makes it a 2 man operation, one to hold the pipe to the exhaust pipe, and another to set and reset the jack until it lifts correctly. With a compressor inflation is slower, and allows one person to control the airflow and positioning of the jack. Once inflated it is a pretty stable platform though.. :thumbup: :thumbup:
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Fri Sep 02, 2016 11:31 am

I used both and lean more towards the Air Jack.

Most important is to chock the wheels on the ground decent. Use your car mats if you doubt the position on the 4x4. Get the bottom and top bases exactly aligned and there you go. Setup takes the worry out of the operation.

I used the Jack in sand, mud and on uneven terrian, works easier for me. If you get into it its a 1 man operation, an Air compressor works vry well for this part.

1down point cant use it as a winch. + point is you use the air jack only, An hilift jack you need jack adaptors, mounts, base plates and bags.

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Fri Sep 02, 2016 1:09 pm

My air jack fits into a ammobox is a quarter of the weight of a highlift and not nearly as dangerous. Works on all vehicles with a exhaust :P

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Fri Sep 02, 2016 2:48 pm

Very interesting points of view, makes a person think. Now the question is which one (brand) are you using?
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Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:19 pm

Hallo almal, Vind hierdie thread baie intersant. Die vraag is, buiten die "air jack" en die "HL jack", is daar ander soort "jack" wat mens kan gebruik wat dieselfde werk kan doen soos die twee bogenoemdes. Indien so, hoe lyk hulle en waar kan mens dit kry. Ek het vir my 'n "jack" gebou wat ek in enige situasie kan gebruik en dit is twee derdes ligter en drie keer keer korter is as 'n "HL jack". Kan dit op die wiele gebruik of onder die "towbar" en "bullbar". Praat dan later weer.
Ecc 1:9 Wat gewees het, dit sal daar weer wees; en wat gebeur het, dit sal weer gebeur, en daar is glad niks nuuts onder die son nie.

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Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:36 pm

Hennie while expanding the topic also consider the dynamics of an off road vehicle - LONG suspension travel.

Most convensional jacks cant get the BODY lifted high enough to get a tire off the ground. The solution is to jack under the axle/A-arm. Be very carefull when jacking under an A-arm as the jack can easily slide out ...

the other thing to consider - WEIGHT !!!!

Let's not kid ourselves. Most kitted and loaded 4x4's are near or over the weight limit of the vehicle. A standard jack may not be able to raise such a load, especially on the rear of the vehicle.


MAKE SURE :
- you have a "strong enough" jack, a 5 ton bottle jack comes to mind
- you have a SHORT enough jack to fit under the A-arm and back axle when the tire is FLAT.
- also TEST that this short jack CAN get a fully inflated tire off the ground (hopefully your spare is inflated and will require this ground clearance)

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Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:42 pm

Thunder02 wrote:Very interesting points of view, makes a person think. Now the question is which one (brand) are you using?
In the case of Hi-lift jack I will not use any other brand than the one made in the USA
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Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:59 pm

ChrisF wrote:Hennie while expanding the topic also consider the dynamics of an off road vehicle - LONG suspension travel.

Most convensional jacks cant get the BODY lifted high enough to get a tire off the ground. The solution is to jack under the axle/A-arm. Be very carefull when jacking under an A-arm as the jack can easily slide out ...

the other thing to consider - WEIGHT !!!!

Let's not kid ourselves. Most kitted and loaded 4x4's are near or over the weight limit of the vehicle. A standard jack may not be able to raise such a load, especially on the rear of the vehicle.


MAKE SURE :
- you have a "strong enough" jack, a 5 ton bottle jack comes to mind
- you have a SHORT enough jack to fit under the A-arm and back axle when the tire is FLAT.
- also TEST that this short jack CAN get a fully inflated tire off the ground (hopefully your spare is inflated and will require this ground clearance)
Cannot agree more.

Also make sure you have enough space to be able to move that lever up and down to operate the hydraulic jack. Especially at the back, when the wheel is completely flat, and you have to get in from the side, or from behind. I tried the following jacks in similar conditions.

1) Standard Hilux jack. Not even suitable for a Yaris, it is totally inadequate to lift a fully laden Hilux on a dirt track.
2) 2 Ton Hydraulic wheelie Jack, Not enough space to move the arm up and down when the wheel is flat. I tried operating it from the side, and from the back, it was not a comfortable affair, and once the full weight came to bear on the jack, lifting became very very hard, because of the limited travel in the lever, and my body position. I couldnt get more leverage by lengthening the pipe, because that restricted the movement even more.. It is difficult but still better than the original Hilux jack.
3) 2 ton Hydraulic bottle jack... Exactly the same issues as the wheelie jack above, and I struggled to get it under the axle....
4) Air jack.. wonderful as said...
5) Hilift jack, wonderful as said... The jack buddy makes lifting the vehicle very easy..
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Fri Sep 02, 2016 6:01 pm

back, or closer, to the topic - devices for recovery ...


step one - DONT get stuck. Okay, let me explain better. DO NOT get stuck when traveling alone !!! When traveling on your own do not be a cowboy. When in a group, heck, GO FOR IT .... decent recovery points, right ropes/straps for the situation, and recovery is mostly a breeze.

getting bogged in mud is a real lady dog. THIS is probably the best application of an air jack - to get you UP, and allowing you to get stuff under the wheels .... that is after an epic struggle to get to the unit under the beeched vehicle, and trying to reach the drowned exhaust ... here the good old boards/planks may just be a much easier solution - if you have the presence of mind to use it before getting beached to deep.


I used to believe a winch is the end all and be all of self recovery tools .... The two tightest spots we encountered on our solo trips had NOTHING to attach the winch to !! go figure ... But I did use a couple of times, once to save my own vehicle from rolling down a mountain trail. Even though we were in a group nobody could get past me to help, and the guys ahead could not back down to where I was stuck. I also used it a couple of times to help others out of tight spots. So yes, I certainly would go this route again - KNOWING it is not a silver bullet. My winch was mounted on a cradle, allowing me to slip it into the front and the rear towbar mounts, with electrical connections at both ends. This also allowed me to keep the winch in the back, way out of the wind and weather. Thanks to BURNCO for this brilliant concept. I can also testify to the relativity of weight - that winch is LIGHT when you start the recovery (a good boost of adrenaline will do this), packing it away later that 45kg was VERY heavy !

A cheaper version is the "come-along" jack. Certainly has its uses. Personally dont want to be that close to cables under such strain !!


The original Landies had a nifty party trick. Effectively an extra modifie rim that bolted onto an existing rim, stick out and providing a place to tie a rope to ... as the wheel spins and turns the rope winds up and pulls the vehicle out. The fact this did not survive the test of time tells the rest of the story ...


Allow me to wrap up my story with the following thought - You are looking at serious money for any one of these items. The FIRST item on any 4x4 owner's list should be TRAINING - en plaaspad ry as n laatie tel nie.... With the correct training you CAN have loads of fun, have less vehicle damage, AND you will have less need for all the extra equipment - though you WILL end up buying some of it for your solo trips .... but then you will have a much better understanding of your capabilities (both you and your vehicle) and you will also better understand what equipment is best suited to YOUR needs.

Okay, thats me done, soap box is available again .... :twisted:

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Fri Sep 02, 2016 7:23 pm

Chris you aptly hit the nail on the head.Experience and training will prevent you from almost all the sticky situations one encounters whilst driving off-road or in the bush.But the unplanned and unlikely problems do crop up,but once again,the training and experience helps one to handle the situation easier.Amen.
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Wed Sep 07, 2016 11:53 am

Remember that you got stuck mostly from a moving situation unless you just stopped on an uphill in soft sand, then you must mostly reverse back on your tracks.
Mostly you will not get unstuck without doing more than just revving your vehicle more.
Usually you will just get more stuck.
So get out and dig/lift or do something else before just revving more, otherwise you will just get more stuck.
Travelling alone will teach you to be more careful, otherwise you will work much harder.
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