Home Tips Overland Rig Wants Vs. Needs
Overland Rig Wants Vs. Needs

Overland Rig Wants Vs. Needs

55

So you bought your first rig, or you want to outfit your current setup even more…

Most Overlanders have one question on their mind when it comes to rig enhancement and improvement: Where do you start?

After attending the 2016 Overland Expo West, the Overland Bound Team walked away clear reminded: There are a TON of gear and accessory options for Overlanders, and chasing after the newest, shiniest thing can be very seductive (and expensive).

One of the best ways to filter through your options is to ask yourself three questions before making your decision to upgrade and modify:

  1. What situations on the journey am I preparing for? (Scope)
  2. How much of my budget do I have to allocate to the solution? (Cost)
  3. How long will it take to be “overland” ready? (Time)

Overland Bound’s core principle number two is,

“It doesn’t matter what you drive: The only requirement of an Overlander is that the vehicle serves the job required, safely.”

Consider this carefully! Our core principles: Core Principles on OB Forums

Once you distill down the functionality you are seeking, you can focus your time and budget on the solutions specific to you.

We asked Overland Bound Members to tell us about more about their vehicles, and how they made their modification decisions. Read on to learn more about what inspired them on their overlanding journey! Each member has different requirements! 

What did you modify first?

STeve0202_Subaru

 

Steve – Overland Bound Member #0202

Vehicles: 2008 Subaru Outback and 2016 Toyota 4Runner

“On both, tires! Road biased all-terrain Geolandars on the Outback, and BF Goodrich KO2s on the 4Runner with 50 miles on the odometer. Tires, because that’s the best bang for the buck on any non-paved surface when compared to stock tires. On both vehicles, this simple improvement opened a huge range of places I could go.”

‘Winterpeg’ – Overland Bound Member #2861

Vehicle: 2008 Toyota FJ Trail Teams

 

“First was a winch. I like to “Outfit and Explore” and make it back. My previous 4×4 did not have a winch and I got into a LOT of trouble with my wife because I was late for supper due to being stuck on a “quick” little detour on the way back home. Four hours later, and a long distance call to a friend to get me out, I was home. This was almost a decade ago and I STILL hear about this…”

Jeff – Overland Bound Member #0327

Vehicle: 2007 Jeep JK (2-Door)2016-07-18_0913

“Lighting. (It’s a) cheap and good way to learn about the simple parts to take on and off.”

Mason – Overland Bound Member #0364

Vehicle: 2010 Toy FJ with Off Road Package

“Tires and suspension – BFG AT. Road behavior with the BFG AT was bad (My FJ did not like them), so now I run GY Duratrack and they work very well. The street stock tires just did not work.”

Kevin McC. – Overland Bound Member #0102KevinMc-Ties

Vehicle: 2014 Toyota 4Runner Trail Edition

“We cut a factory tire down on our first trail and promptly made our way to the tire store the very next morning for a complete set of BFG KO’s All-Terrain tires. Since this upgrade, we have NEVER had another flat.”

JDunk – Overland Bound Member #0446

Vehicle: ’06 Jeep XK (Commander)

“Lift and tires was the first thing. The XK is basically a massive station wagon from the factory: long
wheel base and comparably short ground clearance.”

What is the biggest factor in your jdunkdecision making for what and how much you spend on your rig?

Jordan B. – Overland Bound Member #0750

“For me all initial mods/repairs or upgrades were based upon gaining reliability. For me the rig being reliable is most important.”

What are your additional thoughts on this process?

“There are a lot of projects left to do: armor on the undercarriage, sliders, new roof rack, RTT, new lights, on board air… the list goes on and on. It’s a time thing. If I’m always working on the rig, I can’t enjoy it or the world it’s built to explore. Though, budget is a pretty big reason also.”

Long story short, it’s about tires and suspension first and foremost. After that, the sky’s the limit, but be sure to carefully consider the needs of the journey! Head to our forums to ask members directly!

As you endeavor to create or enhance your Overland rig… It doesn’t matter what you drive. There is no modification point that magically tips you into the Overlander category. If you feel the call of adventure… Welcome to the crew.

The best journeys are in front of you. Get outside and find them!2016-07-18_0925

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New to Overlanding? Looking to share adventures with an awesome crew of explorers? Become an Overland Bound Member by purchasing your Member Emblem. Each Emblem is laser etched with a unique Member Number that is yours for life.

 

 


Michael

Backwoods country bumpkin. Overland enthusiast and lover of the great outdoors.

Comment(55)

  1. Couldn't agree more. Tires are the most important. But I would add that you should know what size you want to run ahead of time, and what kind of terrain you would be driving through. Maybe stock height is fine for the trails you plan on running.

  2. I've built more than a couple of rigs over the years. So, in my humble opinion a very mild lift is all you need in order to travel on 99% of all two track trails in North America. I've never lifted a vehicle any more than what would void any factory warranties, in other words, no more than 2.5"s Once you go higher than that, you may as well open up your wallet and understand it'll cost you upwards of a thousand dollars an inch, and that's just to get the geometry corrected. Then as a lot of folks would agree, TIRES..  What will you be doing? Hard core recreational off road,  overlanding, or a little or a lot of both?  The size of your tires should match your drivetrain. I'd love to run 315s but that would entail spending a pile of money re-gearing to at least 4:88s.  So, to mate well with my 4:11s,  I stick with 285s,  Whatever tire you choose, don't cheap out and do your research.

    1. Thank you for the post. I agree with a 2.5″ lift being fine and picking the best tire for what I’ll be doing. I am still running the OEM axles on my TJ Dana 35 in front and Dana 30 in rear (4.10 gears) and 31 x 10.5 tires. when should I drop the money to upgrade my axles? when I can afford it? when I want to go larger tires? or wait until I break something? thank you again for your time.

  3. Great article. My rig came with a 3" lift, but honestly I'm thinking of re-doing it and going with an OME 2.5" or something of the sort. Front bumper is coming in soon though, so I'm pumped about that!

  4. Very good article, I agree with the tires, number one place to start. I'm a bit cautious with lights, early on I got sucked into that, having more lights was a priority; but then I realized, I stop and make camp before it ever gets dark. If we are running late breakdown on the trail or get stuck, I find making camp there till the morning to be a better course of action for myself. Other mods like suspension for one, if it's needed for where you go, by all means go for it. Back in 98-99 my dad and I took his stock 91 Jeep Cherokee into Death Valley with some friends who had some seriously built rigs. We went everywhere they went, only scrapped the skid plate a couple of times, and unlike several others in the party, didn't end up frame deep in the mud. Later that year he put a three inch lift on it…. and never took it off road again. It's hard to live, but remember that just because you can make the mod, doesn't mean you should.

  5. Very good article, I agree with the tires, number one place to start. I'm a bit cautious with lights, early on I got sucked into that, having more lights was a priority; but then I realized, I stop and make camp before it ever gets dark. If we are running late breakdown on the trail or get stuck, I find making camp there till the morning to be a better course of action for myself. Other mods like suspension for one, if it's needed for where you go, by all means go for it. Back in 98-99 my dad and I took his stock 91 Jeep Cherokee into Death Valley with some friends who had some seriously built rigs. We went everywhere they went, only scrapped the skid plate a couple of times, and unlike several others in the party, didn't end up frame deep in the mud. Later that year he put a three inch lift on it…. and never took it off road again. It's hard to live, but remember that just because you can make the mod, doesn't mean you should.

    Yea, I agree 100%. I don't get the light thing either. We had some years ago and never, I repeat, never used them. Somehow it seemed sacrilege to light up the night sky out in the middle of nowhere, when simple fog and headlamps on the rig, and a headlamp on our foreheads is plenty.

  6. Good article, I agree with pretty much all the comments, the best mod you can make to increase the performance of a vehicle off road is good tyres.

    One thing I haven't seen posted however is recovery points. If your rig doesn't have any way of getting out if it is stuck it doesn't matter how capable it is you shouldn't take it off road unless you are happy to lose or damage it. Also one of the cheapest mods you can do.

  7. Good article, I agree with pretty much all the comments, the best mod you can make to increase the performance of a vehicle off road is good tyres.

    One thing I haven't seen posted however is recovery points. If your rig doesn't have any way of getting out if it is stuck it doesn't matter how capable it is you shouldn't take it off road unless you are happy to lose or damage it. Also one of the cheapest mods you can do.

    That's true, I forget that most of the new rigs don't really have a good place to tug and pull on or from. The older trucks and Jeeps, you could almost put a chain on anything to free them up.

  8. Hey guys getting into the overland scene and just researching and reading up on all the info and advice you guys are giving out. Just got me a JKU-Rubicon and the first thing I did was add a front bumper and 10,000lb winch. I also was looking into getting me a 3.5-4" lift but I'm digging the 2.5" with some 33"s or maybe some 35"s.  What would you recommend on this and if you all have had experience with either your advice would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks Jose

  9. As far as a lift, depends on what you want to do. The 2.5 with 33"s would take you almost anywhere you would want. From experience I personally wouldn't go that large on the tires, the strain on the drive train is significant and could cause severe damage.

  10. Hey guys getting into the overland scene and just researching and reading up on all the info and advice you guys are giving out. Just got me a JKU-Rubicon and the first thing I did was add a front bumper and 10,000lb winch. I also was looking into getting me a 3.5-4" lift but I'm digging the 2.5" with some 33"s or maybe some 35"s.  What would you recommend on this and if you all have had experience with either your advice would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks Jose

    What do you want to use it for? The requirements for a rig are different if you want to use it for touring, rock crawling, etc… Be careful with large lifts like you mentioned unless you need them. Rubicon stock are very capable and if you lift it 4 inches and put 35s on it it will be more capable however it will also increase the rolling resistance, cause greater strain on the vehicle, decrease ride quality, increase fuel consumption and throw out the gear ratio. I'm not saying don't do it, just be aware of the pros and cons and make sure it is what you want to do to make your vehicle do what you need it to so you don't have any regrets in the future

  11. What do you want to use it for? The requirements for a rig are different if you want to use it for touring, rock crawling, etc… Be careful with large lifts like you mentioned unless you need them. Rubicon stock are very capable and if you lift it 4 inches and put 35s on it it will be more capable however it will also increase the rolling resistance, cause greater strain on the vehicle, decrease ride quality, increase fuel consumption and throw out the gear ratio. I'm not saying don't do it, just be aware of the pros and cons and make sure it is what you want to do to make your vehicle do what you need it to so you don't have any regrets in the future

    Thanks for the info and advice! I've been leaning between 2.5 and a 3.5" lift, either from Rock Krawler or Tera flex suspension and sticking between 33s or 35s.  I want the jeep to be capable of heading out in the trails of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, for camping and exploring nature but would also like it to be able to hit the rubicon and Utah rock trails as well. I'm not looking to do extreme rock crawling or build a rock crawler but would like to have the clearance to tackle those places just incase.

  12. As far as a lift, depends on what you want to do. The 2.5 with 33"s would take you almost anywhere you would want. From experience I personally wouldn't go that large on the tires, the strain on the drive train is significant and could cause severe damage.

    Thanks Kingazjay for the info. I have  lot of researching and asking questions before I make my choice just don't want to make the wrong decision and have to pay more and do it twice if you know what I mean. Lol

  13. Rubicon is pretty setup stock but they are long and could use some ground clearance. My fuel tank skid plate is evidence of that

    You can run 35s witha 2.5 inch lift. 35s will be no issue for the drive train. The stock ball joints wont like it but they are junk anyway so once they fail replace with some quality (not mopar)o you have 3.73 gears or 4.10?

    All suspension systems are not created equal. Different spring types are used. So.e are set for lots of flex some made just to lift it up higher. Some are geared more towards ovverlanding. And what I've read is that ride quality is better then stock with some suspension systems. This what I've read so take it with a grain of salt.

    I personally going to pick up the teraflex 1.5 budget boost kit. I have another set of new rubicon tires I'm going to use when the current ones wear out. So this simple lift kit will give the added clearance while I run the stockers.

    Once they are done I'm looking at the Metalcloak suspension 2.5 system.

  14. Rubicon is pretty setup stock but they are long and could use some ground clearance. My fuel tank skid plate is evidence of that

    You can run 35s witha 2.5 inch lift. 35s will be no issue for the drive train. The stock ball joints wont like it but they are junk anyway so once they fail replace with some quality (not mopar). Do you have 3.73 gears or 4.10?

    All suspension systems are not created equal. Different spring types are used. Some are set for lots of flex some made just to lift it up higher. Some are geared more towards overlanding. And what I've read is that ride quality is better then stock with some suspension systems. This what I've read so take it with a grain of salt.

    I personally going to pick up the teraflex 1.5 budget boost kit. I have another set of new rubicon tires I'm going to use when the current ones wear out. So this simple lift kit will give the added clearance while I run the stockers.

    Once they are done I'm looking at the Metalcloak suspension 2.5 system and 33's

    Thanks Stoney for the input. I have a automatic with 3.73 gears and stock 32" tires right. I'm pretty sure I will need to new gearing if I jump up to 35" but what if I stick to 33"s do you think I would need new gears as well?

  15. Thanks Stoney for the input. I have a automatic with 3.73 gears and stock 32" tires right. I'm pretty sure I will need to new gearing if I jump up to 35" but what if I stick to 33"s do you think I would need new gears as well?

    No you won't. The difference in tire size doesnt really warrant it. To be honest ive seen 35s with 3.73 gears, not very beneficial when trying crawl around and would make your shift points a bit screwy .Like was posted before it really depends on what your getting into and how you want to build the rig. I'm very entry level to offroading so I'm building as needed and money allows.

  16. No you won't. The difference in tire size doesnt really warrant it. To be honest ive seen 35s with 3.73 gears, not very beneficial when trying crawl around and would make your shift points a bit screwy .Like was posted before it really depends on what your getting into and how you want to build the rig. I'm very entry level to offroading so I'm building as needed and money allows.

    What @stoney126 said. I run my stock gears with 2.5" lift and 35s, no issue. Now, if you have a 4-banger that might be a different issue!

  17. You will be fine with the stock gearing. I currently run a 2010 JEEP JKU Sport with 2.5 AEV Lift and 35" General GT tires, 373 gears.  I am able to do highway speeds and use it as a daily driver. Its slow and gets terrible gas mileage, but I did not buy it to drive fast nor did I care about MPG.

  18. You will be fine with the stock gearing. I currently run a 2010 JEEP JKU Sport with 2.5 AEV Lift and 35" General GT tires, 373 gears.  I am able to do highway speeds and use it as a daily driver. Its slow and gets terrible gas mileage, but I did not buy it to drive fast nor did I care about MPG.

    Lol. That's the truth.  I almonds mine as aDD but once I get everything set up how I want it, most likely I'll do 4.56 or 4.88 gears F/R and calibrate envy thing back to stock mode.

  19. My list of "want" is as long as my leg and always changing, but that says more about me as a person than anything else.  The "needs" list is much shorter: good tires, real 4WD, and experience.

    Looking at upgrades, I break it down into two categories: Optional upgrades, and opportunistic upgrades. The fact is that you can overland in any vehicle, it's just a matter of planning your trip around the vehicle you have. If you have a stock Subaru Outback you will do different route planning than a built Toyota Land Cruiser. If you have a 250 mile range and no ability to carry fuel, you will take that into consideration and plan differently than the Ford Excursion with a 400+ mile range.

    An optional upgrade is when the part/system being replaced or upgraded is currently working fine, but you are wanting something more that it currently is not providing. A lift kit is an example of this, if the suspension isn't currently broken there is really no need to replace it with upgraded parts, you are doing it because you want to.

    An opportunistic upgrade is where the part must be replaced because of a failure and the owner installs an upgraded part rather than another OEM component. An example here would be an alternator failing and being replaced with a high-output waterproof alternator.

    I look at my vehicle as a Swiss Army knife. It is my rock cralwer, overlander, daily driver, motorcycle tow rig, and does the Costco/Home Depot/IKEA run. That means my build will make sacrifices in one area to serve another. Lots of my mods have been optional, a few have been opportunistic.

    The next step is prioritizing where the money gets spent. Opportunistic upgrades are a little easier to swallow because you would have to get the OEM part anyway, so you are only really "spending" the difference between the stock part and the upgrade. In some cases the upgrade ends up being cheaper than the OEM. I had this happen with my XTerra; the OEM rear drive shaft uses a traditional U-joint at the transfer case and a CV joint at the diff. When the CV joint failed I was given the option of replacing it with an OEM drive shaft or getting a custom drive shaft with serviceable U-joints custom built for $20 less.

    This is already long-winded, so here is my list of optional upgrades in order of priority (more or less).

    • Tires. The best rig in the world will be SOL without good rubber. Look for something with the right tread, compound, and carcass for your environment. I went with the BF Goodrich TA KO and later the KO2 for durability and puncture resistance.
    • Rock Sliders. Being able to drive through with more confidence and not worry about expensive panel damage opened up a lot of trails.
    • Upgraded Skid Plates. My vehicle had light-duty skid plates from the factory. I upgraded them to protect the vital oily bits under the chassis. Most vehicles these days use aluminum casings for engines, transmissions, and transfer cases; smack one just the wrong way and it will crack and leave you stranded. I also added a diff guard to the rear differential.
    • Lift Kit: I waited and saved to do my lift kit. I don't recommend spacer kits, they can actually reduce suspension performance and even result in damage. My kit involved new shocks all around, new front springs, a rear add-a-leaf (my rear end was sagging), and new upper control arms. Yes, it is pretty involved, but it's the right way to do it. Later I replaced the add-a-leaf with custom made springs from Alcan.
    • Rear bumper. A lot of people say to do a front bumper right away to protect the engine from impacts with livestock and wildlife. While that is a concern, I opted to go with a rear bumper for added utility. This allowed me to carry a high-lift jack, my CB antenna, and to step up to two spare tires. That original bumper was later upgraded to one with an built in carrier for two NATO cans.
    • Roof rack. It just makes it easier to carry "overflow" gear that won't fit inside or wet and dirty junk you'd rather not have inside the rig.
    • Front bumper. Added clearance and front end protection.
    • Lighting. Upgraded to LED off road light pods in the front, more are planned as utility lights for around camp and dust-lights.
    • +5 HP sticker – because I liked watching my mechanic and friends facepalm when they saw it on the intake.

    Non-mechanical upgrades include things like a cell phone mount, GPS mount, ham radio, CB radio, red LED dome lights (to preserve your vision when you open the door at night to get stuff) and an overhead work light recessed into the lift gate.

    Opportunistic upgrades: U-joints with zerk points, heavy duty lower control arms with zerk points on the ball joints, upgraded rear drive shaft, upgraded clutch, heavy duty battery, and brake pads and rotors.

    Reducing Breakage

    Preventative maintenance is key, inspect your vehicle regularly and have a mechanic to give it a second look. I could do my own oil changes, but I take it to a local shop because I like the peace of mind that someone else has inspected the vehicle.

    • Oil changes. I don't care what the manual says, I do 3,000 miles or three months with synthetic blend. I use blend because I can top-up with conventional, blend, or synthetic if I'm out in the boonies. Off roading is hard on a motor and oil looses its ability to lubricate as it ages.
    • Air filter. Don't use K&N or other oiled filters, they are a high-flow system designed for racing, that means that they are more "open" and let through more crap. I've tried running them in the past and found all kinds of oily dirt and dust on the wrong side of the airbox. They also have a tendency to foul up the mass airflow sensor in the intake. Stick with paper filters and keep a spare in the vehicle.
    • Lube the chassis. When at all possible, add parts with zerk points. Most modern rigs don't come with these from the factory because each one saves the manufacturer a quarter of a cent or something. Lubricate the chassis regularly to push dirt, water, and grime out of critical joints.
    • Maintain seals and gaskets. Especially on fuse boxes and other electrical parts, make sure dust and moisture stays out.

    Most importantly: Pay attention to your vehicle; If you notice even a hint of an odd noise, vibration, or harshness address it immediately. This will help keep the vehicle in good working order so you don't have a catastrophic failure on the trail. When in doubt, swap the part out; if it still has some life left in it, toss it in the spares bin for emergencies.

    This will help prevent wear and tear, but not abuse. Proper technique and good judgement are your best assets. The most common cause of breakages I see is due to over application of the skinny pedal. The rule of thumb is "As slow as possible, as fast as necessary". Look ahead and plan your line, get out and scout the trail to make sure you won't damage anything – and don't be afraid to detour or change your plans if the road conditions are too much to handle comfortably.

    Repairs

    My tool kit isn't super extensive, but it is enough to get me out of most things I will encounter. A basic socket set, pliers, screwdrivers, vice grips, and other basic hand tools. Spare fuses, a spare belt, spare bulbs, lots of zip ties, JB weld, ratchet straps (seriously, I've seen sheered u-bolts replaced with ratchet straps so a vehicle could limp back to pavement. I've even seen someone use a tree branch and a ratchet strap to suspend a motor when a motor mount broke.) gorilla tape, teflon tape, and spare bottles of all the fluids. For longer trips I also throw in my breaker bar and torque wrench.

    Most OEM jacks are garbage and may not even reach a lifted vehicle anymore, I added an upgraded bottle jack to the kit.

    1. Wow, you covered it all…thanks for sharing all your years of offroading. I’m sure that was the condensed version. Hope to meet you out on the trais to continue this great convo over a hot cup of coffee. Thanks again!

    2. Thanks your post was spot on for everything, you have made clear a lot of things i had questions on. I plan to base camp out of a small off road TT , not going extreme rock crawling, just want to travel many trails in 2018 after i retire. Thanks for your insight.

  20. My list of "want" is as long as my leg and always changing, but that says more about me as a person than anything else.  The "needs" list is much shorter: good tires, real 4WD, and experience.

    Looking at upgrades, I break it down into two categories: Optional upgrades, and opportunistic upgrades. The fact is that you can overland in any vehicle, it's just a matter of planning your trip around the vehicle you have. If you have a stock Subaru Outback you will do different route planning than a built Toyota Land Cruiser. If you have a 250 mile range and no ability to carry fuel, you will take that into consideration and plan differently than the Ford Excursion with a 400+ mile range.

    An optional upgrade is when the part/system being replaced or upgraded is currently working fine, but you are wanting something more that it currently is not providing. A lift kit is an example of this, if the suspension isn't currently broken there is really no need to replace it with upgraded parts, you are doing it because you want to.

    An opportunistic upgrade is where the part must be replaced because of a failure and the owner installs an upgraded part rather than another OEM component. An example here would be an alternator failing and being replaced with a high-output waterproof alternator.

    I look at my vehicle as a Swiss Army knife. It is my rock cralwer, overlander, daily driver, motorcycle tow rig, and does the Costco/Home Depot/IKEA run. That means my build will make sacrifices in one area to serve another. Lots of my mods have been optional, a few have been opportunistic.

    The next step is prioritizing where the money gets spent. Opportunistic upgrades are a little easier to swallow because you would have to get the OEM part anyway, so you are only really "spending" the difference between the stock part and the upgrade. In some cases the upgrade ends up being cheaper than the OEM. I had this happen with my XTerra; the OEM rear drive shaft uses a traditional U-joint at the transfer case and a CV joint at the diff. When the CV joint failed I was given the option of replacing it with an OEM drive shaft or getting a custom drive shaft with serviceable U-joints custom built for $20 less.

    This is already long-winded, so here is my list of optional upgrades in order of priority (more or less).

    • Tires. The best rig in the world will be SOL without good rubber. Look for something with the right tread, compound, and carcass for your environment. I went with the BF Goodrich TA KO and later the KO2 for durability and puncture resistance.
    • Rock Sliders. Being able to drive through with more confidence and not worry about expensive panel damage opened up a lot of trails.
    • Upgraded Skid Plates. My vehicle had light-duty skid plates from the factory. I upgraded them to protect the vital oily bits under the chassis. Most vehicles these days use aluminum casings for engines, transmissions, and transfer cases; smack one just the wrong way and it will crack and leave you stranded. I also added a diff guard to the rear differential.
    • Lift Kit: I waited and saved to do my lift kit. I don't recommend spacer kits, they can actually reduce suspension performance and even result in damage. My kit involved new shocks all around, new front springs, a rear add-a-leaf (my rear end was sagging), and new upper control arms. Yes, it is pretty involved, but it's the right way to do it. Later I replaced the add-a-leaf with custom made springs from Alcan.
    • Rear bumper. A lot of people say to do a front bumper right away to protect the engine from impacts with livestock and wildlife. While that is a concern, I opted to go with a rear bumper for added utility. This allowed me to carry a high-lift jack, my CB antenna, and to step up to two spare tires. That original bumper was later upgraded to one with an built in carrier for two NATO cans.
    • Roof rack. It just makes it easier to carry "overflow" gear that won't fit inside or wet and dirty junk you'd rather not have inside the rig.
    • Front bumper. Added clearance and front end protection.
    • Lighting. Upgraded to LED off road light pods in the front, more are planned as utility lights for around camp and dust-lights.
    • +5 HP sticker – because I liked watching my mechanic and friends facepalm when they saw it on the intake.

    Non-mechanical upgrades include things like a cell phone mount, GPS mount, ham radio, CB radio, red LED dome lights (to preserve your vision when you open the door at night to get stuff) and an overhead work light recessed into the lift gate.

    Opportunistic upgrades: U-joints with zerk points, heavy duty lower control arms with zerk points on the ball joints, upgraded rear drive shaft, upgraded clutch, heavy duty battery, and brake pads and rotors.

    Reducing Breakage

    Preventative maintenance is key, inspect your vehicle regularly and have a mechanic to give it a second look. I could do my own oil changes, but I take it to a local shop because I like the peace of mind that someone else has inspected the vehicle.

    • Oil changes. I don't care what the manual says, I do 3,000 miles or three months with synthetic blend. I use blend because I can top-up with conventional, blend, or synthetic if I'm out in the boonies. Off roading is hard on a motor and oil looses its ability to lubricate as it ages.
    • Air filter. Don't use K&N or other oiled filters, they are a high-flow system designed for racing, that means that they are more "open" and let through more crap. I've tried running them in the past and found all kinds of oily dirt and dust on the wrong side of the airbox. They also have a tendency to foul up the mass airflow sensor in the intake. Stick with paper filters and keep a spare in the vehicle.
    • Lube the chassis. When at all possible, add parts with zerk points. Most modern rigs don't come with these from the factory because each one saves the manufacturer a quarter of a cent or something. Lubricate the chassis regularly to push dirt, water, and grime out of critical joints.
    • Maintain seals and gaskets. Especially on fuse boxes and other electrical parts, make sure dust and moisture stays out.

    Most importantly: Pay attention to your vehicle; If you notice even a hint of an odd noise, vibration, or harshness address it immediately. This will help keep the vehicle in good working order so you don't have a catastrophic failure on the trail. When in doubt, swap the part out; if it still has some life left in it, toss it in the spares bin for emergencies.

    This will help prevent wear and tear, but not abuse. Proper technique and good judgement are your best assets. The most common cause of breakages I see is due to over application of the skinny pedal. The rule of thumb is "As slow as possible, as fast as necessary". Look ahead and plan your line, get out and scout the trail to make sure you won't damage anything – and don't be afraid to detour or change your plans if the road conditions are too much to handle comfortably.

    Repairs

    My tool kit isn't super extensive, but it is enough to get me out of most things I will encounter. A basic socket set, pliers, screwdrivers, vice grips, and other basic hand tools. Spare fuses, a spare belt, spare bulbs, lots of zip ties, JB weld, ratchet straps (seriously, I've seen sheered u-bolts replaced with ratchet straps so a vehicle could limp back to pavement. I've even seen someone use a tree branch and a ratchet strap to suspend a motor when a motor mount broke.) gorilla tape, teflon tape, and spare bottles of all the fluids. For longer trips I also throw in my breaker bar and torque wrench.

    Most OEM jacks are garbage and may not even reach a lifted vehicle anymore, I added an upgraded bottle jack to the kit.

    Awesome post with good advice to take into consideration. Thanks TrexTerra.

  21. My list of "want" is as long as my leg and always changing, but that says more about me as a person than anything else.  The "needs" list is much shorter: good tires, real 4WD, and experience.

    Looking at upgrades, I break it down into two categories: Optional upgrades, and opportunistic upgrades. The fact is that you can overland in any vehicle, it's just a matter of planning your trip around the vehicle you have. If you have a stock Subaru Outback you will do different route planning than a built Toyota Land Cruiser. If you have a 250 mile range and no ability to carry fuel, you will take that into consideration and plan differently than the Ford Excursion with a 400+ mile range.

    An optional upgrade is when the part/system being replaced or upgraded is currently working fine, but you are wanting something more that it currently is not providing. A lift kit is an example of this, if the suspension isn't currently broken there is really no need to replace it with upgraded parts, you are doing it because you want to.

    An opportunistic upgrade is where the part must be replaced because of a failure and the owner installs an upgraded part rather than another OEM component. An example here would be an alternator failing and being replaced with a high-output waterproof alternator.

    I look at my vehicle as a Swiss Army knife. It is my rock cralwer, overlander, daily driver, motorcycle tow rig, and does the Costco/Home Depot/IKEA run. That means my build will make sacrifices in one area to serve another. Lots of my mods have been optional, a few have been opportunistic.

    The next step is prioritizing where the money gets spent. Opportunistic upgrades are a little easier to swallow because you would have to get the OEM part anyway, so you are only really "spending" the difference between the stock part and the upgrade. In some cases the upgrade ends up being cheaper than the OEM. I had this happen with my XTerra; the OEM rear drive shaft uses a traditional U-joint at the transfer case and a CV joint at the diff. When the CV joint failed I was given the option of replacing it with an OEM drive shaft or getting a custom drive shaft with serviceable U-joints custom built for $20 less.

    This is already long-winded, so here is my list of optional upgrades in order of priority (more or less).

    • Tires. The best rig in the world will be SOL without good rubber. Look for something with the right tread, compound, and carcass for your environment. I went with the BF Goodrich TA KO and later the KO2 for durability and puncture resistance.
    • Rock Sliders. Being able to drive through with more confidence and not worry about expensive panel damage opened up a lot of trails.
    • Upgraded Skid Plates. My vehicle had light-duty skid plates from the factory. I upgraded them to protect the vital oily bits under the chassis. Most vehicles these days use aluminum casings for engines, transmissions, and transfer cases; smack one just the wrong way and it will crack and leave you stranded. I also added a diff guard to the rear differential.
    • Lift Kit: I waited and saved to do my lift kit. I don't recommend spacer kits, they can actually reduce suspension performance and even result in damage. My kit involved new shocks all around, new front springs, a rear add-a-leaf (my rear end was sagging), and new upper control arms. Yes, it is pretty involved, but it's the right way to do it. Later I replaced the add-a-leaf with custom made springs from Alcan.
    • Rear bumper. A lot of people say to do a front bumper right away to protect the engine from impacts with livestock and wildlife. While that is a concern, I opted to go with a rear bumper for added utility. This allowed me to carry a high-lift jack, my CB antenna, and to step up to two spare tires. That original bumper was later upgraded to one with an built in carrier for two NATO cans.
    • Roof rack. It just makes it easier to carry "overflow" gear that won't fit inside or wet and dirty junk you'd rather not have inside the rig.
    • Front bumper. Added clearance and front end protection.
    • Lighting. Upgraded to LED off road light pods in the front, more are planned as utility lights for around camp and dust-lights.
    • +5 HP sticker – because I liked watching my mechanic and friends facepalm when they saw it on the intake.

    Non-mechanical upgrades include things like a cell phone mount, GPS mount, ham radio, CB radio, red LED dome lights (to preserve your vision when you open the door at night to get stuff) and an overhead work light recessed into the lift gate.

    Opportunistic upgrades: U-joints with zerk points, heavy duty lower control arms with zerk points on the ball joints, upgraded rear drive shaft, upgraded clutch, heavy duty battery, and brake pads and rotors.

    Reducing Breakage

    Preventative maintenance is key, inspect your vehicle regularly and have a mechanic to give it a second look. I could do my own oil changes, but I take it to a local shop because I like the peace of mind that someone else has inspected the vehicle.

    • Oil changes. I don't care what the manual says, I do 3,000 miles or three months with synthetic blend. I use blend because I can top-up with conventional, blend, or synthetic if I'm out in the boonies. Off roading is hard on a motor and oil looses its ability to lubricate as it ages.
    • Air filter. Don't use K&N or other oiled filters, they are a high-flow system designed for racing, that means that they are more "open" and let through more crap. I've tried running them in the past and found all kinds of oily dirt and dust on the wrong side of the airbox. They also have a tendency to foul up the mass airflow sensor in the intake. Stick with paper filters and keep a spare in the vehicle.
    • Lube the chassis. When at all possible, add parts with zerk points. Most modern rigs don't come with these from the factory because each one saves the manufacturer a quarter of a cent or something. Lubricate the chassis regularly to push dirt, water, and grime out of critical joints.
    • Maintain seals and gaskets. Especially on fuse boxes and other electrical parts, make sure dust and moisture stays out.

    Most importantly: Pay attention to your vehicle; If you notice even a hint of an odd noise, vibration, or harshness address it immediately. This will help keep the vehicle in good working order so you don't have a catastrophic failure on the trail. When in doubt, swap the part out; if it still has some life left in it, toss it in the spares bin for emergencies.

    This will help prevent wear and tear, but not abuse. Proper technique and good judgement are your best assets. The most common cause of breakages I see is due to over application of the skinny pedal. The rule of thumb is "As slow as possible, as fast as necessary". Look ahead and plan your line, get out and scout the trail to make sure you won't damage anything – and don't be afraid to detour or change your plans if the road conditions are too much to handle comfortably.

    Repairs

    My tool kit isn't super extensive, but it is enough to get me out of most things I will encounter. A basic socket set, pliers, screwdrivers, vice grips, and other basic hand tools. Spare fuses, a spare belt, spare bulbs, lots of zip ties, JB weld, ratchet straps (seriously, I've seen sheered u-bolts replaced with ratchet straps so a vehicle could limp back to pavement. I've even seen someone use a tree branch and a ratchet strap to suspend a motor when a motor mount broke.) gorilla tape, teflon tape, and spare bottles of all the fluids. For longer trips I also throw in my breaker bar and torque wrench.

    Most OEM jacks are garbage and may not even reach a lifted vehicle anymore, I added an upgraded bottle jack to the kit.

    I just got learnt.

  22. My list of "want" is as long as my leg and always changing, but that says more about me as a person than anything else.  The "needs" list is much shorter: good tires, real 4WD, and experience.

    This whole post belongs in the Sticky Hall Of Fame.

  23. Great post! I’ve got to say I’ve got rig envy even though the “Angry Meep” has gotten us a ton of places we hadn’t been before, I still want to be able to get some places we’ve been turned back from due to ground clearance. lifting a Pontiac Vibe seems silly to the extreme. For now though we will just save our pennies for the future and get out as far as we can as often as we can. Don’t Mock the Meep!

  24. My list of "want" is as long as my leg and always changing, but that says more about me as a person than anything else.  The "needs" list is much shorter: good tires, real 4WD, and experience.

    Looking at upgrades, I break it down into two categories: Optional upgrades, and opportunistic upgrades. The fact is that you can overland in any vehicle, it's just a matter of planning your trip around the vehicle you have. If you have a stock Subaru Outback you will do different route planning than a built Toyota Land Cruiser. If you have a 250 mile range and no ability to carry fuel, you will take that into consideration and plan differently than the Ford Excursion with a 400+ mile range.

    An optional upgrade is when the part/system being replaced or upgraded is currently working fine, but you are wanting something more that it currently is not providing. A lift kit is an example of this, if the suspension isn't currently broken there is really no need to replace it with upgraded parts, you are doing it because you want to.

    An opportunistic upgrade is where the part must be replaced because of a failure and the owner installs an upgraded part rather than another OEM component. An example here would be an alternator failing and being replaced with a high-output waterproof alternator.

    I look at my vehicle as a Swiss Army knife. It is my rock cralwer, overlander, daily driver, motorcycle tow rig, and does the Costco/Home Depot/IKEA run. That means my build will make sacrifices in one area to serve another. Lots of my mods have been optional, a few have been opportunistic.

    The next step is prioritizing where the money gets spent. Opportunistic upgrades are a little easier to swallow because you would have to get the OEM part anyway, so you are only really "spending" the difference between the stock part and the upgrade. In some cases the upgrade ends up being cheaper than the OEM. I had this happen with my XTerra; the OEM rear drive shaft uses a traditional U-joint at the transfer case and a CV joint at the diff. When the CV joint failed I was given the option of replacing it with an OEM drive shaft or getting a custom drive shaft with serviceable U-joints custom built for $20 less.

    This is already long-winded, so here is my list of optional upgrades in order of priority (more or less).

    • Tires. The best rig in the world will be SOL without good rubber. Look for something with the right tread, compound, and carcass for your environment. I went with the BF Goodrich TA KO and later the KO2 for durability and puncture resistance.
    • Rock Sliders. Being able to drive through with more confidence and not worry about expensive panel damage opened up a lot of trails.
    • Upgraded Skid Plates. My vehicle had light-duty skid plates from the factory. I upgraded them to protect the vital oily bits under the chassis. Most vehicles these days use aluminum casings for engines, transmissions, and transfer cases; smack one just the wrong way and it will crack and leave you stranded. I also added a diff guard to the rear differential.
    • Lift Kit: I waited and saved to do my lift kit. I don't recommend spacer kits, they can actually reduce suspension performance and even result in damage. My kit involved new shocks all around, new front springs, a rear add-a-leaf (my rear end was sagging), and new upper control arms. Yes, it is pretty involved, but it's the right way to do it. Later I replaced the add-a-leaf with custom made springs from Alcan.
    • Rear bumper. A lot of people say to do a front bumper right away to protect the engine from impacts with livestock and wildlife. While that is a concern, I opted to go with a rear bumper for added utility. This allowed me to carry a high-lift jack, my CB antenna, and to step up to two spare tires. That original bumper was later upgraded to one with an built in carrier for two NATO cans.
    • Roof rack. It just makes it easier to carry "overflow" gear that won't fit inside or wet and dirty junk you'd rather not have inside the rig.
    • Front bumper. Added clearance and front end protection.
    • Lighting. Upgraded to LED off road light pods in the front, more are planned as utility lights for around camp and dust-lights.
    • +5 HP sticker – because I liked watching my mechanic and friends facepalm when they saw it on the intake.

    Non-mechanical upgrades include things like a cell phone mount, GPS mount, ham radio, CB radio, red LED dome lights (to preserve your vision when you open the door at night to get stuff) and an overhead work light recessed into the lift gate.

    Opportunistic upgrades: U-joints with zerk points, heavy duty lower control arms with zerk points on the ball joints, upgraded rear drive shaft, upgraded clutch, heavy duty battery, and brake pads and rotors.

    Reducing Breakage

    Preventative maintenance is key, inspect your vehicle regularly and have a mechanic to give it a second look. I could do my own oil changes, but I take it to a local shop because I like the peace of mind that someone else has inspected the vehicle.

    • Oil changes. I don't care what the manual says, I do 3,000 miles or three months with synthetic blend. I use blend because I can top-up with conventional, blend, or synthetic if I'm out in the boonies. Off roading is hard on a motor and oil looses its ability to lubricate as it ages.
    • Air filter. Don't use K&N or other oiled filters, they are a high-flow system designed for racing, that means that they are more "open" and let through more crap. I've tried running them in the past and found all kinds of oily dirt and dust on the wrong side of the airbox. They also have a tendency to foul up the mass airflow sensor in the intake. Stick with paper filters and keep a spare in the vehicle.
    • Lube the chassis. When at all possible, add parts with zerk points. Most modern rigs don't come with these from the factory because each one saves the manufacturer a quarter of a cent or something. Lubricate the chassis regularly to push dirt, water, and grime out of critical joints.
    • Maintain seals and gaskets. Especially on fuse boxes and other electrical parts, make sure dust and moisture stays out.

    Most importantly: Pay attention to your vehicle; If you notice even a hint of an odd noise, vibration, or harshness address it immediately. This will help keep the vehicle in good working order so you don't have a catastrophic failure on the trail. When in doubt, swap the part out; if it still has some life left in it, toss it in the spares bin for emergencies.

    This will help prevent wear and tear, but not abuse. Proper technique and good judgement are your best assets. The most common cause of breakages I see is due to over application of the skinny pedal. The rule of thumb is "As slow as possible, as fast as necessary". Look ahead and plan your line, get out and scout the trail to make sure you won't damage anything – and don't be afraid to detour or change your plans if the road conditions are too much to handle comfortably.

    Repairs

    My tool kit isn't super extensive, but it is enough to get me out of most things I will encounter. A basic socket set, pliers, screwdrivers, vice grips, and other basic hand tools. Spare fuses, a spare belt, spare bulbs, lots of zip ties, JB weld, ratchet straps (seriously, I've seen sheered u-bolts replaced with ratchet straps so a vehicle could limp back to pavement. I've even seen someone use a tree branch and a ratchet strap to suspend a motor when a motor mount broke.) gorilla tape, teflon tape, and spare bottles of all the fluids. For longer trips I also throw in my breaker bar and torque wrench.

    Most OEM jacks are garbage and may not even reach a lifted vehicle anymore, I added an upgraded bottle jack to the kit.

    Awesome post and thanks. These are many of the points I have tried to pass on to others as they venture into off-roading. I am new to the overlanding lifestyle but find many of the same theories stand true if your DD rig is also your off-road rig.

  25. Out of curiosity, how did this post suddenly get a bunch of attention 7 months after it was posted?  Was it linked or mentioned somewhere?

    I am thinking its newer members like myself that want to read and study everything they can as we embark on our overland way of life! 😉

  26. Good article. I’d agree with many of the comments here and say that appropriate tires and enough lift for clearance over the terrain you’ll be travelling in should come first and foremost. Before pretty much anything else, including bumpers, I’d suggest skid plates and rock rails. I would probably add organizational/storage/cargo solutions to this list though. Whether it’s a rack on the roof or drawers in the back, you’ll probably want some place to keep all that gear you’re lugging around secure and manageable. Off-road lights would be about the last thing I’d worry about , if at all. Unless you’re frequently driving technical trails in the dark, upgraded bulbs for your factory lights are probably all you need.

  27. Wow, what a great article. Being new to overlanding, the want list seems endless, but the experience and time to explore is most important. I have upgraded tires and suspension, so far so good. A little nervous with the Overland Expo coming up in May. Will be my first time, going to be a little crazy. Being part of overlandbound has been awesome!! Tim ob8081

  28. Out of curiosity, how did this post suddenly get a bunch of attention 7 months after it was posted?  Was it linked or mentioned somewhere?

    I am a new member and found it, I am guessing that I am not the only one.

  29. Yes, everything said here is true.

    And I'm sure, there are guys and gals out there, that has been at this longer than me.

    I'm currently, on my 7th or 8th rig, straight out of the Army in '83, I have had nothing but 4×4's.

    I have watched as technology, equipment, style, service, etc. change from a crawl (snail pace), too flippin' Speed Racer!!!!

    All in a 10 year span!

    This last 5 years, has been crazy.  The stuff available is cool, but I find I have to do more leg work for my rig, and it's only 19 years old.

    About 3, maybe 4 years after the Jeep JK came out, all my magazines (even though they ask you, your make and model) still just send me magazines full of JK parts and accessories.

    Or I fine something I think is really cool on a JK, and they may make the part for a TJ, but not in the color, that I thought was perfect – it's enough, to really piss a guy off.

    They get you with these shiny objects, just to find, they don't make them for every body. 🙁

    And please don't reply with, "well maybe you should get a JK".  This is not the playground, and I am not 8 years old 😉 this is just an honest observation.

    Way too many years working in marketing and advertising.

  30. Hi my name is John and I struggle with "uprgaditis".

    Up until recently I have been a jeep guy my whole life, owning a couple cherokees, a wagoneer, a scrambler, a TJ rubicon and an LJ rubicon.  In every case Upgraditis struck.  Pinnacle of this for me was my TJ rubicon, running on a 3.5" full suspension rebuild, 35's, fully skid plated, belly up, winch, you name it.  I could not get enough.  Now we had a great time on trails all over the southeast in that rig and it did what it was designed to.  I rockcrawled with the best of rigs.  That is when I noticed that.. hey… everyone seems to be going to 37's… Why is that.. how much is THIS going to cost me?

    And I bailed.  Went back to 33's, stopped trying to look for the baddest of obstacles and started focusing on the trail time and camping more.  When I got  the LJ Rubicon, things stayed more mild , intentionally.  I battled my "upgraditis" daily and with every new modification I read about.  We started camping more as a family, went through a couple variations of campers and then…

    We took a close look at Four Wheel Campers at Expo East in 2016.  Wow.  All we needed and it fit in the back of my… uh…. jeep… uh…. not so much.   7 months later, perusing CL I came across the camper you see in my avatar, a 2008 Northstart MC600.  We jumped on it as it was a smokin deal.  Brought it home in my wifes DC Tacoma Prerunner.  I sold the LJ, picked up my current rig, a 2003 Tundra, also for a smokin deal.

    I am happy to say the upgraditis is under control.  I have upgraded tires, added skid plates, added timbren bump stops for helping handle the weight of the camper… and that is it.  Loving it and still have the capability to do my regular trails.

    As with most chronic syndromes… Upgraditis never really goes away however…

    I would like to:

    • Add a small lift (this is my ego talking)
    • Upgrade front bumper for winch mount (Toyota aftermarket parts are stupid expensive) and winch
    • Complete skid plating (trans and xfer case)

    The struggle is real.  Need vs. want is the first step.:grinning:

  31. My list of "want" is as long as my leg and always changing, but that says more about me as a person than anything else.  The "needs" list is much shorter: good tires, real 4WD, and experience….

    Well, since it seems this thread is now fully back from the dead, I'll add my own note of appreciation for some of the great, helpful posts – including the one above, and the one from John a few hours ago.

    I suffer from upgrade-itis as well, although I don't necessarily see it as a bad thing.  I'm new to overlanding, but in messing around with race cars in the past, I've found that the trick is to understand what you're chasing after, and to be realistic about your goals with a particular platform. 

    Since overlanding isn't "competitive", it's a bit different, but I think a lot of the same mindset applies.  For example, it probably doesn't make sense to try to turn my new full size pickup into a rock crawler…Any more than it would to try turning a 2-door Jeep into a cross country hauler/tow vehicle.  But that said, I love that the general ethos of this forum and its membership is that it doesn't matter what you drive…all are welcome, and everyone is supportive of each other's rigs, build plans, and overlanding goals.  This really helps abate the evil cousin of upgrade-itis: the 'mine-isn't-good-enough' syndrome.

    To that end, I have found myself contemplating a bunch of upgrades to my 2 month old Ram 1500 Rebel, but at the same time second guessing myself as to whether this truck is the right platform to commit to long term for significant investment in overlanding mods.  I love the truck, but being new to this, and spending a bunch of time checking out threads on the forums, my eyes have started to glaze over with all the awesome rigs people have that are so capable and bad ass looking…I have to keep reminding myself what my specific goals are with my truck, and to focus on making the most of what I've got rather than wondering if I'd have been better off with something else. (e.g. my truck has a 3.92 rear, and both high and low locking 4wd, but it's got an LSD as opposed to a full locking rear diff.)

    Living in the Northeast, I don't have as much great local overlanding as you lucky folks out West, and many of the trails around here are kinda tight and rocky/technical.  But I'm sure there's still plenty of fun to be had (hopefully without beating up the truck!)  Being that my Rebel will wear many hats – comfortable daily driver, practical kid hauler, race car tow vehicle, and off road weekend warrior – I need to be realistic about mods so that I don't start sacrificing its capabilities with any of the above.

    So in keeping with the wisdom in this thread, I am prioritizing mods that make the most sense holistically first.  To start with, I'm getting an onboard air compressor, a bed rack, and RTT because they're great for overlanding, but will also come in very handy at the track.  After that, I'll move on to…

    Tires – I'm getting 35" DuraTracs because they're great off road, but they're also better in snow for regular winter driving than what I have now… and at 2" bigger than my current tires, I'll get another inch of lift, and they'll make the truck ride even better over crappy potholed NJ roads. 

    Protection – The truck came with a bunch of OEM skid plates, so I think I'm covered there.  I'm planning to get a set of WhiteKnuckle rock sliders, which will protect the truck, but they also stick out enough to serve as good side steps.

    Lights – I'm going to skip the dedicated light bars, and just upgrade the OEM low beam bulbs to 55w HIDs.

    Recovery – I'll also get a few items of recovery equipment, like MaxTrax and a Hi-Lift Jack (with some mounts for the bed rack).  A winch may be in my future, but not right away.

    Electronics – I'm planning on a CB (mostly just because I've always wanted one), with an antenna mount on the bed rack.  I'm sure there will be other stuff down the road…

    Suspension – I've been back and forth on this… The truck comes with an air ride system, which is very comfortable around town, and practical for towing…but apparently it inhibits articulation somewhat for serious off roading.  I'm considering swapping out the air ride system out for Thuren-tuned King coil overs, but it's a tough decision as that's a very big commitment, and I'm inclined to see how it goes with the air ride for a while first.

    So that's my take on mods for my Rebel…

    I'm interested in thoughts from those who've been down the road a bunch – both in terms of whether my Rebel (without a true locking rear diff) will be a good platform to build on, and if the mods list sounds like it's on target.

  32. Thank you for the post. I agree with a 2.5" lift being fine and picking the best tire for what I'll be doing. I am still running the OEM axles on my TJ Dana 35 in front and Dana 30 in rear (4.10 gears) and 31 x 10.5 tires. when should I drop the money to upgrade my axles? when I can afford it? when I want to go larger tires? or wait until I break something? thank you again for your time.

    D35 in t he rear, D30 in front I believe.

  33. Hmmm,  if memory serves me correct if you have 4:10 gears with the 30s and 35s that means you have the 2.5 four cylinder engine.    Upgrading axles? If you are a finesse driver then your stock axles will outlast your jeep. as long as you don't go any larger than 31" tires. 

    If you're beatin on em, breaking traction and grabbing all the time, etc etc, then ya, you'll snap em eventually. I'm assuming you don't have lockers, as another good way to snap em is to have the rear locker engaged while on hard surface when cornering..

     Seriously though, I had a TJ long ago with the dana 30 and 35, 4;10s, 2.5 ltr engine,  on 31's and no problems.  I wanted bigger and stronger so I just got a Rubicon instead of sinking money into axle upgrades.  Be happy with the platform you have, treat it well, and it will be happy with you.

  34. Great information thanks. My 2.4 died so I bought a 2004 tj out of the salvage yard and swapped 4.0 engine, transmission, drive shafts, wire harness and dashboard. I am running a cold air intake, flex a lite electric fan and 1” body lift. Working to get required set up to hopefully join a jeep club without spending money and then upgrading the same item later. Thank you for your time.

    J

  35. I ran a Dana 35 in my 2001 Cherokee with a rear locker, chromo shafts and a Ruff Stuff diff cover on 31's and 33's with no issue.   As Moak mentioned, it is all about driving your rig appropriately to how you have built it.

  36. For me it seems that all one really needs are the following items:

    1. Appropriate first aid kit (includes map and compass)

    2. Vehicle specific recovery kit (including tire repair)

    3. Camping gear (relative term depending on personal tolerances) :tonguewink:

    Everything beyond that is a want.  That said, I want to go farther out of bounds, deeper into the desert, farther up the mountain, etc. too and to do that requires more gear.  It isn't required to get out though.  You can roll a stock 4×4/AWD vehicle with some clearance a lot of amazing places and hike on foot to see the sights you can't drive to.

  37. For me it seems that all one really needs are the following items:

    1. Appropriate first aid kit (includes map and compass)

    2. Vehicle specific recovery kit (including tire repair)

    3. Camping gear (relative term depending on personal tolerances) :tonguewink:

    Everything beyond that is a want.  That said, I want to go farther out of bounds, deeper into the desert, farther up the mountain, etc. too and to do that requires more gear.  It isn't required to get out though.  You can roll a stock 4×4/AWD vehicle with some clearance a lot of amazing places and hike on foot to see the sights you can't drive to.

    Well said

  38. The first upgrade I did was upgrade the brakes. I see too many “killer rigs” with upgraded tires/suspension/armor with stock brakes sliding down obstacles pushing the limit of the brakes with larger tires and maxed out loads.

  39. I’ve been reading everyone’s comments and have learned a lot, I’ve got a jeep Jk Rubicon which like you said was very capable, I added a winch because I got way out on a service road and wondered what would happen if I got hung up. So I’m up to a 3.5 “ AEV lift with stock size 10 ply aggressive tire, I feel like this is pretty much all I need to do what I plan on doing, seeing the country and camping.

  40. Great article to come across as someone new to the game. The ‘want’ vs ‘need’ is something that plays heavily into all of my decisions thus far (guided by wallet thickness as well). Lots of cool stuff, but it’s nice to hear what the first steps would be from different people and be able to read a general consensus. Got my RRO lift in, gonna have to see what clearance I gain for the tire selection. I’m on 265/60/R18s, but would like to go a little big bigger on aspect – not sure if rubbing will be an issue as they currently fit the wheel well pretty closely. Thanks!

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