When we originally opened Horton Common in the summer of 2014 our access and the fully serviced pitches were grass. The following winter provided some particularly wet weather conditions. With our clay soil and wet weather on the first bank holiday weekend in 2015 we did actually managed to get the 5 caravans on site. However, it involved using our neighbour’s tractor, and the caravans were up to their axles in mud. It was this experience which led me to install our road and hard standing pitches in the winter of 2015. However, during 2015 I got to experience what it was like to run a campsite in the UK with grass pitches and helping guests off-site out of the mud. I also got to appreciate what an important role a good set of grip mats can play in getting you out of the mud.
This post is about what I think are currently the best grips mats for motorhomes, caravans and tow cars. However, its also about general tips to help you get out of the mud when visiting other campsites who still have grass pitches. In some cases though, even with sites such as ours with a proper road and hard standing pitches, grip mats can still come in handy. For instance, while I close Horton Common over the winter months in some instances out of season snow/ice can occur. Therefore, grip mats can come in handy if you need to get going in icy and snowy conditions. The point being, every caravan, motorhome and campervan owner I believe should at least consider having grip mats on board.
Introduction to the Best Grip Mats
As stated above, before we installed our road and hard standing pitches at the end of 2015 I experienced helping several guests to leave site in slippery and muddy conditions. What made a significant difference in terms of how easy/difficult that process was depended on if that guest had some decent grip mats. They are also sometimes called traction mats. Essentially, all grips mats are made from plastic, therefore you may expect them to perform the same. In my experience that’s not the case, its a similar situation to my post on levelling ramps. Yes, they are all made from plastic, however some snap and break much quicker than others. On the subject of levelling ramps on grass surfaces, grip mats also help there too, more on that later.
Milenco Grip Mats – My Best Pick
Of all the grip mats I’ve seen our guests use in the past I think Milenco currently offer the best quality in terms of their price and durability. Yes, Kampa produces some ‘ok’ yellow grip mats of a similar size to the Milenco 2742 shown in the image below. However, the Kampa grip mats in my opinion just don’t appear to be quite as durable.
As a budget option, I believe these Milenco 2742 grips mats are currently the best option available: Image – Amazon
The Milenco grip mats shown above are 75cm long by 25cm wide and come in pairs. These are affordable grip mats, commonly found for below £20 that can help in mildly wet and muddy situations. However, if its really muddy then these grip mats may not be sufficient. Therefore, another set of larger and importantly linkable grip mats you may want to consider are the Milenco giant mesh grip mats.
While the Milenco giant mesh grip mats are more expensive than the flat 2742 grip mats they have a better chance of getting you out of very muddy conditions: Image – Amazon
Not only do they provide a larger surface area (106cm by 33cm) their mesh construction helps them to grip the surface better than the 2742 grip mats shown above. Furthermore, the Milenco mesh grip mats can be linked together. For instance, in some cases, you will have lost traction/sunk the vehicle on only one side. As the mesh grip mats come in a pair you can link the mats together and place them under the wheel which is struggling. Obviously, with the flat 2742 grip mats above you could place one in front of the other. However, from seeing both types of grip mat in action, the mesh grip mats linked together do perform better.
Using Grip Mats with Levelling Ramps
While the primary purpose of grip mats is to get your tow car, caravan, motorhome or campervan out of the mud, they do also perform another important role. If the ground conditions are soft/muddy and on level ground its a good idea to park the motorhome/caravan on the grip mats. That will help to displace the weight of the vehicle. Therefore, when it comes time to leave your less likely to find your vehicle several inches lower and stuck in the mud. However, what if the ground isn’t level, what if you need to get out your levelling ramps?
Cheap levelling ramps such a these will often be pushed into soft ground unless you place a grip mat/board underneath: Image – Amazon
Well, in my post on levelling ramps, I discuss that they are not all made equally. Not only in terms of build quality but also in terms of how well they displace weight to avoid the vehicle sinking in the mud. With the cheaper levelling ramps, they will often be pushed into soft ground. Therefore, if you have a set of flat grip mats such as the Milenco 2742 above, place them underneath the levelling ramps first. This will not only make it easier to get the caravan/motorhome up on to the levelling ramps, but the grip mats will also help the levelling ramps to stop sinking into the ground. I also have a post on how to level a motorhome if you’re interested.
Milenco Quattro Levelling Ramps with Giant Mesh Grip Mats
If I was to pick a setup of grip mats and levelling ramps that has the best chance of keeping your caravan or motorhome out of the mud, it would be this setup. From observing the condition of literally hundreds of levelling ramps over the years, I believe the Milenco Quattro levelling ramps are the best. They appear to have the best chance of not sinking into soft ground and I’ve as yet never seen one cracked, unlike several other brands of levelling ramps. As stated above, the Milenco giant mesh grip mats can be linked together, which has its benefits. Well, with the Milenco gripper plate you can also link the Milenco Quattro levelling ramp and giant mesh grip mats together aswell.
I believe the setup of the Milenco quattro levelling ramps, with the gripper plates linking to the Milenco giant grip mats is currently the best solution to avoid getting stuck while getting level: Image – Amazon
My Tips to Avoid Getting Stuck!
Even though we now have a road and hard standing pitches here at Horton Common I have a sign on the gate to ‘keep vehicles to the road’. I think some guests may believe that I have this sign because I’m trying to protect the grass. In reality, I’m not concerned about the grass at all. I just don’t want our guests to get stuck. Therefore, while this post is about what I believe are the best grip mat setups currently available, its also about how to avoid getting stuck. But also, if you do get stuck having some important tools to hand to get you going again.
Be Mindful of Your Vehicles Weight
This applies to tow cars and caravans, but particularly the weight of motorhomes. Many experienced motorhome owners I now know from installing a road and hardstanding pitches only visit sites with hardstanding. In many cases, those guests have told me its due to getting stuck on a site with grass pitches and finding the experience very stressful. I can tell you that as a site owner who previously only had grass pitches, it can be stressful for the campsite owner to. Many motorhomes are around the 3,500kg mark, and depending on the class of motorhome it can be significantly more than this. If you are visiting a site which doesnt have a road and hard standing pitches, I would encourage you to walk onto the pitch beforehand. If it feels soft underfoot, its highly likely you will get stuck in the mud. I would also recommend ringing the site owner before your visit to check the ground conditions at the campsite.
However, there are instances where you can drive onto a campsite and the ground is reasonably firm. Depending on how long your stay is when it comes time to leave the ground conditions may have changed dramatically for the worse. Now, a good set of grip mats is going to help. However, in some cases, you may also need assistance from another vehicle to get towed off-site.
Make Sure You Know Where Your Towing Eye/Hook Is
As well as owning a decent set of grip mats to avoid getting stuck in the mud you need to know where the towing eye is stored in your vehicle. The towing eye is also sometimes referred to as a towing hook. Now, you can purchase additional towing hooks if you have lost yours. However, you need to be careful. Towing hooks are not universal across all vehicles. So you if you are going to purchase a new towing hook you need to be absolutely sure it will fit your vehicle.
A typical example of a towing eye/hook: Image – Amazon
The towing eye/hook uses a threaded fitting. On many cars and motorhomes in the front bumper there will be a piece of plastic you have to gently pop off for you be able to screw in the towing hook. Now, many cars and some motorhomes also have a towing eye/hook fitting in the rear bumper. However, that’s not true in all cases. Therefore, with a tow car you can pull the vehicle out of the mud with the tow bar. Some motorhomes are also set up for towing. In that instance, the tow ball can be used to pull the motorhome out of the mud/snow. Making sure the vehicle is in neutral of course.
Towing Cables, Ropes and Tow Straps
If some nice/kind person is willing to help get your tow car, caravan or motorhome out of the mud or snow, never presume they will have a suitable tow cable, rope or tow straps with them. Ideally, you want to have a suitable tow cable, rope or belt on board your vehicle. My personal preference which I’ve used to tow our guest’s tow cars or motorhomes out of mud and snow in the past are tow straps.
I personally prefer towing straps over cables or ropes: Image – Amazon
The image above is of a 1m tow strap, however, you can get them in different lengths. I have two 1m straps, and a 2m strap, each rated to 1,000kg. The reason I like tow straps is you can just quickly loop them over the tow ball. If I need additional length over the 2m strap, I can just loop more straps together. I personally avoid towing cables. I’ve seen a towing cable snap in the past and it was pure luck no one was seriously injured. So my personal advice is to have a couple of tow straps in your vehicle along with the towing eye/hook.
Conclusions on the Best Grip Mats
From my personal experience of observing different makes and types of grip mats in action, I think Milenco currently make the best grip mats. I also think whichever grip mats you choose you want them to work well with your chosen levelling ramps. In other words, you want the grip mats to be large enough to either support the levelling ramps or to link up to them. Another scenario where grip mats can come in handy is for manoeuvring a caravan jockey wheel over soft/muddy ground.
Thanks for reading, I hope you found my tips above on the best grip mats and how to avoid getting stuck useful. If you decide to come and visit us here at Horton Common, with our road and hard standing pitches you are now fortunately unlikely to need your grip mats. 🙂