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I recently came into a 2004 RAV4 to use as an off-road vehicle for a photography/journal project that my fiancé and I have been working on in our spare time.

To date we’ve done only minor modifications: 30mm lift, A/T tires, and a class 3 hitch for pulling a small boat. I have a brush guard on order that should arrive later this week and will be installing fog lights and additional light bars in the near future to help with evening excursions.

which brings me to my project: I’m looking for advice on installing a winch on the vehicle that could help pull us free in the event that we get stuck. My main thought is “safety net.” —I hope to never have to use it, but I have turned back for fear of getting caught in a rut or a place where there’s water over the road.

I’m aware the RAV4 is not meant for severe off road conditions so I err on the side of caution already. But I would like to be able to pull myself out of a jam because some of the places we get out to are well removed from the beaten path.

I could use advice on everything: winch size/load, how to strengthen the mounting position, and anything I need to be weary of moving forward.

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