There’s nothing as fun and adventurous as getting behind the wheel of your rig and heading out to the backcountry. Depending on the type of terrain you plan to traverse, your fun adventure may take a turn for the worse if your vehicle is not properly equipped to handle the environment. The off-road accessories that are ideally suited to one style of driving are not usually a good fit for another. You can install three sure-fire upgrades to make sure that your rig can tackle whatever the trail throws your way, whether it’s a lift kit, the proper wheels and tires, or a self-recovery system.
A Pro Comp or Rubicon Express lift kit can provide your vehicle with a stable suspension system that is able to accommodate larger tires, and help you clear difficult obstacles encountered on the trail. Depending on the amount of lift that you incorporate, your vehicle will be able to tackle tougher terrain, crawl over rock formations, and perform well in wet, sloppy, muddy turf.
The lift kit can provide a mild, moderate, or extreme lift, between 1 and 4, 5, or even 6 inches over factory ride height. The key to selecting the proper lift kit for your vehicle is deciding what you’ll primarily be riding through. Rock crawling requires plenty of clearance and suspension articulation, which means a large lift. Mild terrains usually only require a 1-, 2-, or 3-inch lift kit.
Once a Rubicon Express kit is installed, you can mount larger wheels and tires to help you improve traction, handling, and other performance metrics. For wheels, you have two basic choices: steel or alloy. Steel rims are ideally suited for serious off-roading, as they are tough, durable, and can take the rough, continuous impacts found on most trails.
By contrast, alloy wheels are lightweight and come in a wide variety of designs, but both factors limit durability for off-road use. Alloy rims perform well for on-highway applications, towing, and speed-tuning. For tires, off-roading beyond the novice level requires 35-inch or larger tires, and you have a few other factors to consider. These include deciding between rounded or flat-topped tires, whether you need side-biting tread, and the overall tread design of the tire.
Although it can be tempting to head out into the unknown straight away, curb the impulse until you have installed the most important utility system an off-roader can have: a self-recovery system. The heart of any self-recovery system is a stout winch capable of pulling a vehicle out of or over any obstacle that stands in its way.
When selecting a winch, the most important factor is line-pull capacity. Make sure the winch has a line-pull rating large enough to pull the weight of your vehicle when it’s completely laden with gear. For example, a 5,000-lb rig with gear requires the use of a base-model winch with an 8,000-lb line-pull rating.