Ground Hugger Instructions

Guidelines for successfully using the Deadman Earth Anchor in the ground

We've been using the Deadman as a Ground Hugger™ (e.g. ground anchor) for over two years now, so we KNOW it works. But it wasn't always like that... we learned the hard way, through trial and error, how to effectively use the Deadman in various recovery scenarios. Along the way, we also learned how to screw things up. We love our customers, so we figured it might be nice if we shared with you what we've learned, so you don't have to make the same mistakes! "Sharing is caring!"

In this video, we explain how to use the Deadman in the ground as a Ground Anchor. Many thanks to our friends at Krazy Beaver Tools and Pitbull Motor Toyz for helping us record it! 



Testing Maximum Capacity in Dune Sand

We set out to see how much capacity the Deadman would deliver in the shifting sand dunes of Pismo Beach, CA. We nearly ripped the bumper of of the truck (seriously) in the process, topping out at 8,050lb before giving up - the anchor never moved. Regardless, when we were finished, we pulled it out by a single corner with no more digging. FTW!


For use as a ground anchor, bury the Deadman. Don’t worry, he won’t mind - notice he’s smiling! Place his grave far enough away from the vehicle to allow room for recovery and a shallow pull angle. The walls of his grave should be vertical - the face wall plays an important role in the physics that allow the Deadman to work.

For best results, bury the Deadman face up. Keep his arms and legs out of the hole, but ensure the corners of his face lay flat on the hole floor. Orient him so he’s perpendicular to the vehicle being recovered.

The minimum recommended depth is 2 feet. Soil density plays a role in the Deadman’s capacity at any given depth. In soft soil (e.g. sand) a deeper hole is advised. Conversely, a slightly shallower hole may suffice in hardpack. For reference, 24” in soft sand should yield ~2500lb capacity, while 18” in hardpack might yield the same or more capacity.

If more capacity is needed, simply bury the Deadman deeper -- challenge accepted! His capacity is non-linear: whereas a 24” hole may yield ~2500lb, a 36” hole may yield > 6000lb in the same soil.

Once buried, link his feet (forward loops) to the winch, and his hands (rear loops) to the flat secondary loops on his feet (see photo above). While soft shackles make this process more convenient, metal shackles may also be used. Do not use the secondary loops for any other purpose.

For most recoveries, using the Deadman in conjunction with controlled, light throttle will deliver the best results, lessening the likelihood of your winch pulling him out of his grave prematurely. Use safe winching practices.  

After recovery, unhook all but one hand or foot and pull the Deadman from his hole with the winch or vehicle bumper. The dirt should remain in the hole; please ensure no large holes or piles remain for the next adventurer. Tread lightly.

Soil Density Matters

Because the Deadman is more than a dead weight (see what we did there?!) and acts as a hook within the ground, soil density around the Deadman plays an important role in its capacity. The rule of thumb here is high density = high capacity. So whereas we may dig a 30" hole in soft sand (low density) to achieve ~4000lb capacity, a 20" hole in hardpack (high density) will yield similar results. So use your judgment: if the soil is soft, dig deeper!

Ok, but my vehicle is heavier than that!

So is ours. Our company vehicle is a fully-loaded Tacoma, rolling on 35s, weighing in over 6000lb. Surprisingly, it takes far less force to recover a vehicle than you might imagine. Every situation is different, but when measuring the force required to recover our truck when it was buried to the frame (sand, level ground), we found that 1800lb (1/3 GVW) was all we needed with the vehicle assisting (light throttle), yet only 4000lb (2/3 GVW) was needed with it in Neutral. But remember: If you need more capacity, just go deeper for #beastmode! We’ve measured well over 8000lb in shifty dune sand by going deep.

Angles matter, too!

We've learned that the angle of pull also plays a role in the capacity of the Deadman. Depth and soil density remaining constant, the Deadman will hold more weight when it's above the vehicle vs below. Knowing this, you can compensate for a weak angle by digging deeper (low angle), or use it to your advantage by digging a shallower hole (high angle). In our field testing, we routinely used the Deadman in as little as 18" of hardpack atop steep sandy climbs and it never budged. Every recovery situation is unique, so again, use your judgment and make adjustments based on your environment.