Originally published at Notes from the bunker…. You can comment here or there.

Went along to help a friend pick up a small trailer today. The trailer had been sitting since the summer and was surrounded by about a foot of snow on all sides. The problem this presented was pretty easy to see – the hitch was going to be at least a foot lower than the ball since the tow vehicle was on top of the foot of packed snow. The obvious solution was to get the trailer on top of the packed snow and hook it up that way. First thing was to shovel out some snow from around the wheels so that the trailer could ramp up to the top of the snow. Problem was, how do you pull it? Fortunately the tow vehicle had a winch on the front of it. We managed to winch it out partially but still had some disparity in ball/hitch height. Enter the Hi-Lift jack.

I’ve been wanting one of these lovely devices for a while now. I’ve read quite a bit about them, explored the wonderful accessories for them and given some thought to some of the non-standard uses they lend themselves to. In addition to being used to lift heavy objects, the jack can also be used to spread objects apart. The attraction there is that while you con certainly use it in a ‘jaws of life’ type capacity, it seems it would be the ideal tool for spreading apart a door jamb to ‘pop’ a door open. That has some mighty appeal to me right there. The jack can also be used as a comealong to pull object around like a winch would. Very versatile tool. Must. Get.

The folks who do a lot of off-road recreational driving carry these things and there are a few websites that review this tool’s use. In addition, doing a search for ‘Hi-Lift’ on YouTube brings up plenty of videos that describe this piece of gear better than I ever could.

Lets start off with a link to the company’s website. In addition to the jacks themselves, they offer some very nice accessories to make them even more versatile.

You dont have to be a visionary to see that a tool like this (or, really, a pair of them) would be outstanding for getting wrecked/disabled/abandoned vehicles out of the way, extricating your vehicle from problems (actually lift the entire wheel off the ground to put some traction aid underneath),  pulling obstacles from your path, etc, etc, etc. Oh…and you could probably use it for changing a tire.

Like any decent and useful tool, there are risks. Yes, you can pinch a finger if youre careless. Yes you can drop a huge weight on your feet if you dont pay attention to where your feet are. Thats the price we pay for self-reliance. Also, there are Chinese knockoffs of this thing out there. I am fully willing to pay a bit more to know that the product wasnt made from melted down aluminum pots and pans and whatever junk metal Factory Number 7 in China happened to have laying around.  Additionally, while Im not that nationalistic, I do try to avoid buying Chinese whenever I can..not only for quality and economic issues but also because I just don’t like them. If I ever do have to buy made in China stuff, I try to at least get it from Taiwan. Enough about that.

So…as I said, Ive been aware of these jacks for a few years but today was my first chance to get to ‘play’ with one and I very much like it and am going to have to start putting together a shopping list of accessories, spare parts, etc, for when I do acquire one. In the meantime, if youre not familiar with them I suggest you do some looking around…they appear to be an excellent item to have on hand for those unexpected situations that call for more force than one person can deliver without mechanical leverage.