Yea, they may get beat the crap out of but I would rather replace a shock (thats all it is) than take a direct hit on the axle housing. (well, it will still get hit but at least you know it's coming)
I use the shock as a early warning system.
I used to get all good stuff - brand name but after bashing a few I just went with the cheaper stuff. They would last about the same amount of time. One big or three small - rocks that is.
And for waiting for someone to pull you out with no trees... when I first started out I used to dig a hole, hook a chain to the spare tire and drop the tire in the hole, cover it back up with the chain hanging out and hook up my come-a-long to it and pull my self out.
You can grab a cheap 4000lb come-a-long - all of $20 at:
Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices
or a 8000lb for $30
Don't forget to dig your spare out before you leave! I've _never_ done that.
Some people use a boat anchor...
I just finally just put a 8000 Ramsey on the front and never got stuck again. (it's how things work...)
mig is easy. Grap a bunch of scap steel and practice. It's not hard at all. It's a buzz sound you will recognize after a point.