Just in time for holiday gift-giving, here are the latest accessories 4-wheel-drive fans will love!
By Drew Hardin
Tis the season! With the holidays right around the corner, you may be wracking your brain to find something new and different for your favorite four-wheeler. Allow us to help. We recently returned from the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show, the automotive aftermarket's biggest display of new products. We scoured miles of aisles at the Las Vegas Convention Center to bring you the latest 4x4 and off-road-related accessories. From hardcore recovery gear to fun mini 4x4s, you’ll find something here to please any off-roader this holiday season.
ARB, which has made vehicle protective gear and traction aids since 1975, has added a new recovery tool to its lineup called, simply, Jack. Unlike the traditional mechanical farm jack, ARB’s Jack is hydraulic, capable of lifting up to 4,400 pounds with just light force applied to the handle. The red lever at the top of the jack lowers the vehicle and controls its speed on the way down. Jack’s body is made from aircraft-grade 6061 T6 aluminum, and it can pivot a full 360 degrees around its base to align with uneven terrain.
If you’re into radio-controlled trucks but looking for something different than the usual monster truck or desert racer, check out this very well detailed 1969 Chevrolet Blazer by Axial, which was demonstrated in the Horizon Hobby booth. The 1/10th-scale Blazer is an accurate reproduction of the factory K5, albeit one that’s been lifted and is running giant Falken tires. Solid axles front and rear are joined to the chassis with steel suspension links, and adjustable coilover shocks keep the tires planted for optimal traction. The transmission gears can be adjusted for high cruising speeds or low-speed rock crawling.
Where to Buy Off-Road Accessories
SEMA (shown above) is where the off-road industry just unveiled its new products; many of which are now available for holiday purchase. If your hometown or city doesn’t have a well-stocked off-road parts retailer, you can still get these products in time for holiday gift giving by shopping online. Here are just a few sources to explore.
4 Wheel Online
4 Wheel Online offers products to improve both the looks and functionality of a truck or SUV. Its website features not just parts, but also videos and articles that explain how the parts work and how to install them. Having all of its inventory contained in one warehouse helps keep costs and shipping charges low, says the company.
4 Wheel Parts
In addition to a massive inventory of parts and accessories available online, 4 Wheel Parts has 73 brick-and-mortar retail stores nationwide, many of which include service centers that can install the parts after purchase. Its website also offers free shipping for orders of $75 or more.
Summit Racing Equipment
Yes, “racing” is in its name, but Summit sells far more than just competition-oriented parts. It has specific web pages for truck, SUV and Jeep accessories; towing and trailering equipment; and an outdoor recreation section with items like the Napier Sportz tents and Pittman Outdoors Airbedz.
Serious off-roaders know a 4x4’s muffler is at risk when crawling over rocks. Dynomax has developed a stainless-steel Elimination Pipe for the 2018 (JL) model of Jeep’s Wrangler that replaces the canister-type muffler behind its rear axle. This mandrel-bent, 2.5-inch pipe is tucked neatly out of harm’s way, and is designed to work with stock-height or lifted suspensions. Dynomax says the pipe will give the Jeep a “deep performance tone,” but not a completely unmuffled one, since its installation does not affect the factory resonator behind the catalytic converter.
Are trailer mirrors becoming obsolete? The Full Display Mirror (FDM) from Gentex streams the feed from a rearward-facing video camera to a mirror-integrated LCD to provide you with an unobstructed view behind your truck and trailer. The latest version of the FDM can toggle between two different camera inputs. That would allow, for example, one mounted in the bed to keep tabs on cargo while the second is on the back of the trailer. (A new wired, detachable auxiliary camera was also introduced by Gentex for this application.)
A Hi-Lift or other farm jack is invaluable when you need to raise a 4x4 with tall tires, but the narrow base on those jacks doesn’t always conform to the terrain. Enter the Alien Jack Base by Hard Core Trail Gear. Each of its articulated legs can be adjusted and locked in place to provide a stable platform for the jack. Or, when all four legs are folded up (as seen with the Base in the photo’s background), they present serrated, tooth-like edges that can grip rocks or even be jammed in between them.
Its manufacturer may call it the Thunderbird, but it sure looks like a kid-size flat fender “Jeep,” a fun way to get the youngest members of your family into four-wheeling. It’s powered by a 125cc four-stroke engine hooked to a semi-automatic three-speed transmission (with reverse). Dual A-arms in front and a swing-arm rear suspension provide a reported 9.8 inches of ground clearance. Behind the 8-inch aluminum wheels are disc brakes at each corner. And with a weight capacity of 265 pounds, a grownup can try it out, too!
As overlanding becomes more popular, companies are pulling out the stops to design gear that will turn 4x4s into self-contained, rolling campsites. Yes, the Jeep Wrangler in the MorRyde display at the SEMA Show had the requisite roof-top tent, but it also had a very well equipped galley thanks to the company’s Jeep Trail Kitchen products The Trail Kitchen includes a sliding tray and collapsible table, a drawer with 300 cubic inches of storage, and a platform that will accommodate most of the popular makes of onboard refrigerator/freezers, like the Dometic unit seen here. In addition to the Trail Kitchen, the inside of the Jeep’s tailgate is equipped with MorRyde’s Storegate, which will hold up to 35 pounds of gear behind its diamond-plate door. (A Storegate with a netted front is also available.)
Napier’s Sportz SUV tent is actually two tents in one. The vehicle sleeve provides a pass-through between the tent and an SUV, allowing easy access to gear or extra sleeping space. The tent can also be used by itself by zipping off the sleeve. The 82000 model shown here has a 9-foot-square floor, 7 feet of headroom, and sleeps up to five adults. Two doors, two skylights and three mesh windows provide lots of ventilation, while a full rain fly and built-in storm flaps at the windows and doors offer protection from the elements. (The awning shown on the tent is optional.) Bigger versions of this tent are available from Napier, as are truck-bed tents for pickups.
Pittman Outdoors is known for its Airbedz line of inflatable mattresses, with wheelwell cutouts that turn any truck bed into a cushy place to sleep. The company is now turning its attention to SUVs with the new Airbedz XUV. It, too, is contoured to fit around an SUV’s wheelwells; and, at 66 inches long, will cover the entire rear cargo area when the back seat is folded down. It’s made with a built-in air pump that’s powered by a rechargeable Ni-MH battery, and its heavy-duty fabric is puncture-resistant. The Realtree camo fabric shown is one of three color choices; blue and gray are also available.
“Light cannon” is a great way to describe the performance of this auxiliary driving light. The 8.7-inch ADV Light Cannon throws a narrow beam of light as far as 2,300 feet down the trail, while also casting a wide beam at the front of your truck to brighten the terrain immediately at hand. The white “halo” around the multiple LED reflectors acts as a daytime running light, or can be wired on a separate switch to supply custom lighting on demand. Smaller, 6.7-inch versions of the ADV Light Cannon are also available; they cast “just” an 1,800-foot light beam.
Storage space is at a premium inside a Jeep, so Warn Industries has developed a full line of what it calls Epic Trail Gear to address those needs. The Passenger Grab Handle Bag provides a secure space for phones, sunglasses, and other personal items, while still allowing the Jeep’s grab handle to be used for those off-camber moments. The bag comes in two sizes, this Full-Size model and a Slim bag for a little more knee room. The Epic Trail Gear line also includes bags that strap to the rollbar, fire-extinguisher holders, rollbar-mounted grab handles, and triangle bags that fit in those spaces where the rollbar’s downbar meets the Jeep’s body.
The Zues Open-Eye Rope provides an alternative to closed-eye ropes that require heavy metal shackles to attach to a 4x4. This 100-percent nylon rope has open eyes woven into the rope with a cordura chafe guard over the open eye. This makes the rope lighter and easier to stow without the worry of shackles banging around in your truck bed or cargo compartment. The rope is available in multiple sizes, and thicknesses from 7/8-inch to 1-1/4-inch.
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About The Author: Drew Hardin’s work in automotive journalism began while he was still in college in the late 1970s. After a 14-year stint at Petersen Publishing, where he was Editor of 4-Wheel & Off-Road and Sport Truck magazines, he transitioned into a freelance career, covering topics that range from vintage hot rods and classic muscle cars to 4x4s and green vehicles.