D Rings vs. Hooks

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Well-known member
Jul 29, 2010
Orlando, FL
I just joined a jeep club here in Orlando and found they require bolt-on tow hooks front and rear for recoveries. The aftermarket bumper and shackle mounts on the jeep sure seem robust, so I was surprised to see a specific requirement for bolt-on hooks as opposed to welded. Is this due to the variance in weld quality of aftermarket bumpers? I recognize the benefit of frame mounting over the stock bumpers, but the Bestop bumper sure seems stout, and the front hooks are just going to be bolted on the same upper bolts attaching the bumper to the frame.

Comments? I use the D-Rings for the safety cables when towing. I am mounting the hooks, but would like to know what would be the appropriate use  for the D-Rings vs. bolted hooks? Are all those off-road folks hanging those shackles just for looks and to secure their winch line?

I am asking here rather than the jeep and wrangler forums since I find this to be a more mature group and I respect your opinions.
As a former Jeep owner, I have attended Camp Jeep a couple of times.  One requirement for taking part in the more severe trail rides was to have tow hooks and skid plates.  The hook vs D-Ring requirement was to enable use of loop ended tow straps for recovery.  Much easier to slip a loop over a hook than to try to figure out how to connect a loop to a D-Ring.
I have been Jeeping for many years now and have used both types. To be honest, I like the rings. I have a recovery bag that I carry in me Jeep and I carry 4 screw types clevises so I can pretty much hook up to many things quickly. With this type of attaching I don't have to worry about the tow strap coming off. Many times I will just leave a tow strap attached to my rear d-ring with a clevis so it is reading to go. I do a lot of trails that require winching (at least on some Jeeps, most of the time it is people that did not read the trail information) and I will always stop to help people in needed weather with our group or not. I do know that many organizations say "tow hooks" required. But they have always accepted my d-rings. I do tell then I have the clevises so may be that is why? Happy Wheelin
my only though would be if you are stuck in a mudhole you might find trying to connect a d hook under water or mud might not be as easy as reaching down and hooking on to a hook. just a thought
Nice visual there :)
I'll just tighten this shackle up <blub blub blub>
DANG! I dropped the pin <blub blub blub>
Yeah, it seems to be totally a preference thing. I have D hooks on the front and a hook on the back. And you are right about some of the Jeep forums and the level of maturity there.

It kind of goes with the group you are considering. If they favor tow hooks, then I would comply just to fit in. It's hard being the FNG sometimes.
Yes Sarge, it is a preference thing. My wife's Jeep is the exact opposite of your. Hooks in the front and d-rings in the rear. And dropping the pin for the clevis in mud or water wouldn't be fun either.
Good comments, guys. Thanks.

The wording is "tow hooks must be bolted on, not welded", so the controversy seems to be over bolted as opposed to welded.

The concern about hooking up underwater is sure applicable here in Florida, even if that type of problem I would like to avoid. I will look for and post a YouTube of last nights trail ride.
Florida night ride last night. I missed it, but I like the dry southwest better. You can see how the dropped clevis pin could be a problem sometimes.


Well, I got this sorted out. I bought hooks and brought them home only to find the grill guard portion of the bumper interferes with the hook install. I returned the hooks and when I explained why the counter guy and I got to talking. One thing led to another and it turns out he is the nieghbor of the club trail director. He gets on the phone and we ask for clarification on the hook thing. The club guy says don't worry about it, my setup is just fine.

I am so new to the club I have not met any of these guys yet, and was going by what the posted rules were. I guess they were using hooks as a generic term. Since I am trying to be ready for an upcoming trail ride I did not want to be turned away on my first ride. All appears fine now. 
Good deal Bill, I was wondering how that was going to turn out for you. So basically what ever you have will work as long as it is "done" the right way so to speak.  Be safe out there wheelin! :D
I will find out more once I get out there with the guys. I sure thought my setup looked stout. The lesson so far is that there is a lack of confidence in the fabrication of some aftermarket gear, particularly load bearing welds. I will keep that in mind and be watchful.

For now it is baby steps as I start to get a little experience under my belt.
my guess would be:
because bolt on tow hooks will be bolted directly to the frame rails with two grade 8 bolts, while a welded on tow hook will probably be welded to the face of the bumper.  many of the cheaper jeep bumpers have a recovery ring simply welded to the face of the bumper. which looks something like this

unless the bumper has a 3/4 inch steel shank that goes thru the bumper and is welded on BOTH the front and back (like this, on my jeep), then a hook that is bolted directly to the frame is the stronger option.

  also, if a tow hook has been welded on by the owner, it is a safe bet that the weld job was done by an amateur (read: not a professional).  in such a case, i sure would not want to be standing anywhere near that jeep when he is being pulled out of the mud.  i have seen more than one attachment point fail and be turned into high speed shrapnel.  a tow strap will act like a giant rubber band and fling a sheared off tow hook with enough force to kill. 

this is an antiquated rule which still exists in a few clubs.  most of the new bumpers today have proper attachment points for a clevis D ring, making the need to add tow hooks yourself obsolete.  however, if your aftermarket bumper did not come with PROPER attachment points for a clevis D ring, (or if it has the words "smitty" or "best" in it) then i would highly recommend attaching your tow hooks with bolts and not welds.
Good response. Since the original post I have found that the terminology the club uses is a little off, as are some other organization's rules. Jeep Jamboree rules, for instance, are being scrubbed to move from "hooks" to "Recovery Points" to include the use of shackles (D rings). The organization's tech inspector then judges suitability of the attachment before allowing folks on their organization's trail rides. That determination is necessary for all the reasons you mentioned. On our club rides a safety inspection is performed at the rally point prior to the start of each ride to determine all of the required safety gear is in place.
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