Upgrade your 4x4.
By Trent Jonas
You’ve got your 4x4, but now you want to get off the streets and head out on the trails and terrain. Before you do, though, you’ll need to make some upgrades. A winch is always a good option, but there are a few other things you may want to consider to make your off-road adventures safer and more fun. From recovery tools to GPS units, here are a few great accessories for upgrading your 4x4.
And if you’re changing a tire on a high clearance vehicle in rugged terrain, a standard vehicle jack isn’t going to cut it. You’ll need a high-lift jack. One with 48” of lift-space will work for most vehicles. The Hi-Lift HL485, which is rated for 7,000 pounds, is a popular choice for off roaders.
When mud, snow or sand has you stuck and spinning your wheels, a recovery board is the key to setting your vehicle free. And nobody does recovery boards quite as well as Australian manufacturer Maxtrax. The cleats on their boards grip the tread on your tires and dig into the terrain to prevent slippage as you drive free. The ends of the board can act as shovels in a pinch.
After a day of overlanding, there's nothing like resting your head and looking up at the stars through a rooftop tent. A rooftop tent, like the Skycamp from iKamper, sets up and breaks down quickly, so you don’t have to spend a lot of time at the beginning and end of the day fussing with equipment. It also keeps you up off the ground, so you don’t have to worry about rain puddling or ground-based vermin.
Flat tires are always a risk when off-roading, and different types of terrain may call for a change in the air pressure in your tires. Consequently, it’s always a good idea to carry a tire repair kit and a portable air compressor, like the VIAIR 300P—a heavy duty compressor that runs off your vehicle’s battery.
A CB radio is a necessity for any off roader who regularly travels in places without cell service—in fact, many off-road clubs require their members to have CBs. When looking for a CB, you’ll need a radio that’s easy to use and that won’t take up a lot of space in your cab. The Uniden PRO505XL is one such example—it’s extremely well reviewed and relatively inexpensive.
Obviously, if you get caught off-roading after dark, you’re going to need some lights. But they also come in handy in fog, rain, dark woods, and all kinds of other situations. You’re definitely going to want something bright and sturdy. A pair of Gravity LEDs from KC HiLites is a great place to start.
It’s never a bad idea to know where you are when you’re off-roading, and, other than a terrain map, a standalone, satellite-based GPS unit is the best bet. Since you need to get a GPS, anyway, why not get one that also functions as a dash cam so you can share your off-road adventures with all your friends? The Magellan TRX7 CS Navigator comes preloaded with more than 160,000 trails in the United States, including 4WD trails, as well as 2D topo and 3D base maps of the U.S.—it also has a built-in, 5MP camera on the back.
Whether your vehicle is equipped with a winch or not, you need to carry a recovery kit with you. Again, this is not only something that many off-road clubs require, it is also simply a very good idea to ensure you don’t become stranded. The ARB RK9US Premium Recovery Kit is a top-of-the-line, all-in-one kit that comes with a handy carry bag.