Which is better for recovery?
Jeep tow hooks Vs. Front Hitch
Looking at the Pros and Cons

By Robert B.

No matter the skill, every off road enthusiast will need to use Jeep tow hooks or another recovery method to get unstuck from time to time.

Although, it does take experience to know which hardware to use to get unstuck. I've seen so many people attach a recovery strap or winch directly to the Jeep's underbody.

This is asking for bad news!

The frame of a Jeep Cherokee is a uni-body, and attaching a recovery strap or winch line to it is just asking for trouble. After a hard pull you could be left with a bent frame, which is very EXPENSIVE to have replaced or bent back into position. Also this could leave your frame weakened and prone to other problems.

Luckily, that's where Jeep tow hooks and front hitches help. Both have their pros and cons, some suitable for different situations. Here are the essentials you'll need to avoid getting stuck and the headaches that come along with it.

Jeep tow hooks

To simply put it, Jeep tow hooks are hooks that you bolt to the front of your frame using heavy duty brackets. Jeep tow hooks make great recovery points when your stuck in a hole or ditch. They only hang down slightly from the front of your vehicle, not nearly as far down as a front hitch.

Not only do Jeep tow hooks function relatively well, they look very agressive (if looks matter to you!)

Pros

  • If your not a heavy off roader, these will most likely work in your very rare instances of getting unstuck or helping someone else get unstuck.
  • Doesn't hang down at all, leaving approximately the same amount of ground clearance as before installation.
  • Looks very nice and appears to be stock. In fact, some Jeeps come stock with Mopar Jeep tow hooks and brackets.

Cons

  • You must be really careful what angles you pull from on your tow hooks because they have a tendency to break or bend if pulled too quickly, hard, or from the sides.
  • Weight of pull distributed to only one side of the Jeep's chassis because of using only one Jeep tow hook.
  • If a recovery strap is used on both tow hooks at the same time it is very likely that the force of the pull will weaken your Jeep tow hooks by bending them inward.

If you don't plan to off road much, and just need something for emergencies, Jeep tow hooks should be right for you. BUT, if you may off road anytime in the future, it would be very wise to pay the extra $20 or so and get a front hitch. Here are the best two sets of Jeep tow hooks on the market. The Custom 4x4 Fabrication (C4x4) Jeep tow hooks are considered, from my experiences, the better of the two sets because of an extra metal support on the brackets and they're are of higher quality.

1st -

C4x4 Fabrication Jeep Tow Hooks
( Approx. $75 )

2nd -

Rusty's Jeep Tow Hooks
( Approx. $75 )



Jeep front hitch

The name says it all. This is what I use as a front recovery point, you can check out my install article here. A front hitch is essentially a hitch for the front of your vehicle. Some brands hang down low on the front of your vehicle, while others tuck up nicely under the front air dam.

A front hitch can be used to get unstuck on the trail or can even help to maneuver a large object, such as a boat or camper. The front hitch offers a great center tow point, and some also have loops to the right and left for akward side pulls when you're stuck.

Pros

  • Stiffens up uni-body chassis of the jeep. The front hitch ties both sides of the "frame" together with a totally rigid crossmember. This allows ALL of the mounting bolts on the front hitch to take the load and also distributes that load across both sides of the frame
  • It is almost impossible to bend or break, unlike how Jeep tow hooks and brackets might.
  • Gives a secure place to attach the recovery strap, not allowing the strap slip off as easily.
  • Very versitle. Many accessories can be attached to the front hitch to hold a winch, bike rack, fishing poles, etc.
  • Offers 2 loops on either side of the front hitch, which work essentially like Jeep tow hooks.

Cons

  • The most common complaint that front hitch owners have is that because it hangs low, there is a possible loss in front end clearance and approach angle.
  • Many people dont find a front hitch visually appealing.
  • Also, if you have a brush guard or custom bumper, there may be a conflict with the mounting holes.

In my opinion, if you plan to off road a lot at anytime in the future, this would be a great investment. Most all hooks will bend or break with repeated use, but hitches will generally last a life time.

In addition, if you purchase a front hitch with the side loops, you're essentially adding tow hooks to your vehicle for free. Draw-Tites are considered to be the better front hitch because they tuck up very nicely behind the Jeep's front air dam, it's hard to tell that they are even there.

The Hidden Hitch is an equally good hitch, but it hangs down lower and may get stuck on obstacles on the trail. These two front hitches get my recommendation:

1st -

Draw-Tite Front Hitch
( Approx. $99 )

2nd -

Hidden Hitch Front Hitch
( Approx. $99 )

*NOTE* When visiting the site for the Draw-Tite Front Hitch, click on "Front Mount" on the center of the page to pick the year and model of your vehicle.


Recovery Straps

Just as important as the hardware you use to pull yourself out is the strap that will connect the two vehicles. If you want to learn more about recovery straps, such as how they work, how to use them, and how NOT to use them read this.