A man chains his van to another car during a hurricane in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Do you think this guy needed a hitch hook?

Luis Acosta/AFP/Getty Images

You've got a trailer hitch attached to the rear bumper of your pickup truck. You think you're ready to tow anything, like a boat or even another car, just because you can attach it to your hitch. But what do you do if you're called upon to get a buddy's car out of a huge muddy hole? Your trailer hitch might not be the best option for towing another vehicle out a tight spot. When you have a truck that's going to be doing some towing, it's good to have options. Besides, what happens if you get stuck in the mud?

­­This is where hitch hooks and anchors come in. These towing accessories open up the possibility of towing more than just boats or RVs. They're also there to ensure stability while towing. Hitch hooks, also called tow hooks, are mounted on either the front or rear bumper. Attaching chains, cables or ropes to these hooks allow a driver to tow another vehicle or to get pulled out of mud when stuck. These can go on a wide variety of vehicles, and they often come with factory-issued hooks.

Hitch anchors, also known as truck anchors or stake anchors, can be welded to or inserted into the walls of a truck bed. Many trucks have designated places to place anchors. They also serve as attachment points for cables and ropes, and can be used to tie down items inside the truck's bed.

In the next section, we'll discuss how to buy hitch accessories like hooks and anchors.