Prioritized Rig Upgrade List | OVERLAND BOUND COMMUNITY

Prioritized Rig Upgrade List

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Lifestyle Overland

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Let's pretend you are starting fresh with a blank canvas rig; What are your top 5 rig upgrades listed by priority?

I know these choices can be very subjective depending on needs, area of travel, etc., but it would be interesting to see what items we find consensus on.

Here are my top 5 upgrades listed by priority:

1) Tires
2) Suspension
3) Sliders
4) Skid Plates
5) Winch

Here's why:

Tires - Most rigs come off the street or dealer lot with very basic road tires. Even the Dunlop "ATs" on my 4Runner were very weak in the sidewalls and I cut one down on its very first trip. Quickly upgraded to BFG KO's and haven't had a single issue since.

Suspension (Lift) - I say suspension because a "lift kit" can sometimes cause more problems than it is worth. Using a quality suspension system designed to provide lift, while maintaining or even enhancing the handling is preferable. Our Icon stage 2 on the 4Runner was more than most "lift kits" but it handles better now than it did at stock height! No more nose dive or body roll (unless heavily loaded of course).

Sliders - A simple upgrade to help protect your rocker panels... and gives you a nice step up to load the roof!

Skid Plates - This would be a subjective upgrade but I list it because it applies to me. 90% of my travels don't need skid plates, but that one time you smack your rear diff or fuel tank could pay for these several times over.

Winch - Admittedly I skipped the skid plates and got the winch first. Again, this one is subjective and isn't really required if you travel with a club or stick to mild country. My biggest reason for installing a winch is the fact we will be towing an expedition trailer this year and may be traveling solo a bit more. The added weight could make even a simple muddy trail an issue in the right (wrong) circumstances. So we added this to the arsenal.

Thoughts?

P.S. I'm hoping to use this info to create an article in the "Getting Started in Overlanding" forum for newcomers to reference when planning their build.
 

Steve

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Traveler III

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I'll respond to this question from the point of view of someone who rarely needs more than the basic upgrades to drive on 99% of the roads I would travel during my exploring. I'm far from most interesting places, so much of the travel will be on highways. While a modified Subaru is very capable for most offload situations, I don't want to go mud bogging, rock crawling, etc. I want to be able to travel forest roads (gravel, chip n seal, packed dirt), hard-packed beaches, easy trails, etc.

With that in mind, here is my list:

1) Tires: I want all-terrain tires that have tough sidewalls and good traction without giving up road manners and without adding excessive road noise. For me (and many Subaru owners) the best option is the Yokohama Geolandar A/T-S

2) Suspension: Many people don't know, but a stock Outback or Forester has more ground clearance than a Jeep Cherokee. With the independent suspension, too much lift can result in damaged CV joints. Two inches is about as extreme as recommended without requiring spacers to lower the diff. Any lift all shifts the wheels forward and backward in the wheel well, reducing the size of tires that will fit. Correcting this requires longer or adjustable trailing arms. With my replacement shocks, I chase a modest 3/4" spacer lift.

3) Skid Plates: While not a requirement for 99% of intended use, good underbody protection helps ensure getting home from an oil pan puncture or other calamity.

4) Storage: You can't take it all. But when you want to try, you'll need an option to store your stuff. This can come in the way of roof boxes, roof bags, roof baskets, or storage boxes strapped to a roof rack. For me, flexibility was key. So I have two configurations of roof-top storage depending on what I'm doing. I can switch between them in less than an hour. One has two kayak racks, two bicycle racks, and an awning mount. The other has an extended roof top basket with an LED light bar and an awning mount. I also have a roof bag that fits inside the basket. A hitch basket is another option to haul stuff. The downside of this choice can be horrible departure angles and possible tongue load concerns. I've also added an "attic" above the rear seat and cargo area for storing light bulky items, wet gear, washed socks, hats, etc.

5) Comfort and Convenience: The things that you don't think of that make the trip more enjoyable. For me, these include a good GPS, added internal and external LED lighting, extra 12V outlets/charging points, 110V converter, and an awning. Others might add a roof-top-tent, refrigerator, etc. to this category.

None of the above take everyday emergency situations into account. For these, you'll want a first aid kit, recovery gear, tools and spares, cold weather gear, extra fuel and water, etc. These are outside the scope of this discussion, but important not to forget.
 
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Overland-Indiana

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1) Complete inspection by competent mechanics....(unless its new from the dealer)
......... 1A) If new: Suspension...

2) Tires

3) Steel bumpers with at least recovery points (If you know about my WJ wreck you'd understand why I think a steel bumper is VERY important)

4) Winch

5) Lighting: LED light bar, LED's on all sides including back and rock lights. (Lighting is VERY important to me.. At night I can hardly see, I think I have a mild case of night-blindness)
 

MarkW

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Really does come down to rig and what you intend to do with it but good idea on the list. For me (over two H3s) my first was tires, went from the stock 33" Dualers to 33" KOs then when I got the Alpha 35" BFG KM2s. The next upgrades were to the optional OEM UCP (under carriage protection) and rocker rails. Then came the winch bumper and finally was the lift. Those were the primary upgrades that improved upon the off road capabilities that lasted me through two rigs and over 9 years before installing the lift several months ago.
 

WUzombies

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Tire purchases need to consider not just the GVWR of the vehicle but the actual weight of the vehicle when loaded, which I believe quite a few overlanding types exceed the GVWR when loaded. Think of 10%. Under inflated 10%, over inflated 10% or overloaded 10%, any one of the three can cause sidewall damage that can lead to a catastrophic failure. Yes I know we air down on the dirt, but that's a bit different than blasting down I-10 at 75mph.
 
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Byron Eby

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Someone please point me in the right direction for a reputable bumper brand. I have four companies in mind but I am so indecisive...Keep in mind that I am willing to part ways with around $700 for this upgrade.
 

TreXTerra

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Here's my list for spacing things out:

  1. Tires. The single most important thing you can do is ditch the OEM junk and put on some real off road tires with proper grip and good puncture resistance. The best rig in the world will go nowhere without good tires and even a crossover can get crazy places with the right rubber.
  2. Sliders. Mine have seen extensive use, that's enough for me to make them a priority. Plus, sliders aren't usually a major expense when it comes to upgrades and a single knock will make them pay for themselves. Plus they are great for getting up to access the roof.
  3. Suspension. No pucks, no spacers, do it right with UCAs (if applicable), springs, shocks, etc. Don't cheap out and be sure to spring the vehicle for the weight you are going to be carrying - not how much it weighs right now. That might mean you run a little over sprung for a while.
  4. Skid plates
  5. Rear Bumper. There is tons of utility to be had with the right rear bumper. Spare tire carrier, can carriers, tow points, and impact protection to name a few.
Now, if I had the cash to do more at once, I would change the order a bit:
  1. Suspension. Make room for the tires you want on the first go
  2. Tires. Bigger rubber will now fit
  3. Sliders
  4. Skids
  5. Rear bumper
Other mods that go farther down the list:
  • Front bumper
  • Lighting
  • Radios
  • Winch (never needed it yet)
  • Snorkel (get some clean air)
  • Upgraded roof rack
 
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TreXTerra

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Someone please point me in the right direction for a reputable bumper brand. I have four companies in mind but I am so indecisive...Keep in mind that I am willing to part ways with around $700 for this upgrade.
Shrockworks makes one for your 4Runner. Just be warned that they have a pretty long wait, but they build a very strong bumper. A lot of XTerra guys run their stuff. One guy on my XTerra forum has juiced 3 deer with his and never needed to go to the body shop.

Even stripped down (no powder coat, no lights, no roll hoop) it's a little above your $700 figure, but you do get what you pay for. I know that Hefty is often compared to Shrock, but I have seen some guys have fitment issues with their Hefty bumpers. InSain Fabrication is a complete joke, they screwed over so many XTerra owners with botched bumpers - bad fitment, not square, vibration issues, damaged goods, etc - that some were considering a class-action against them and there were complaints made to the Colorado Attorney General for fraud.

ARB is reputable, but check the installation instructions before you buy. For some vehicles you have to use a template and cut your factory bumper to fill a large gap between the bumper and the body. To me that is sloppy design work and it should have been included in the ARB bumper. But they do have a reputation for high quality stuff.
 
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Byron Eby

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Thanks a lot. You answered every question I had. These are reasons why I am so indecisive but I will definitely move them to the top of my list!
 

Maxterra

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A quality suspension system that gives you some lift or clearance for some larger tires is always a huge plus.
Not just a spacer lift that makes it taller but does nothing to increase suspension travel, or have better quality springs, struts, coilovers, shocks, etc. IMO, just a stock lift is a waste.

A well designed suspension that does increase wheel travel, and typically add heavier load capability (as overlanding always gets heavier with the expansion of your gear, armor, etc), better dampening (shocks & struts). Adding quality bumpstops at all four corners, such as the Timbren active off-road bumpstops really improves those hard bottom-out situations.

You can't believe the difference in ride & capability over the vehicles stock suspension (unless you already have a raptor).

I'm now two complete suspension upgrades in over the last 8 years, and as good as the first suspension kit was, current setup of about 11" travel and all the goodies is just unbelievable. You can push it about as hard as you want, and the ride is still very nice and doesn't beat you to death. Makes a long day of severe off-roading much more enjoyable (and faster)! Much easier on the rig too.

Definitely not cheap upgrade, but you won't regret it.
 

barg

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Traveler I

For me:
1- definitely a lift for more ground clearance
2-offroad tires
3-recovery gear.. Could be as simple as a few d shackles, tow straps, and a hi-lift jack, or a winch, whatever gets the job done
4-armor (skid plates especially)
5-fuel. I always carry a rotopax when I'm on the trail, nice to have if you get lost to assure you make it home.
 

MidwestOverlanders

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For me it really depends on your needs. I personally don't need suspension mods as I purchased a vehicle with the correct clearance for my needs.

  1. Tires - a solid set of tires will get you in and out of 95% of the situations that I intend to be in. Factory Michelins LTX At2s are doing the job, but looking for a bit taller and more aggressive tire in the future.
  2. Recovery Gear - For me having the correct recovery gear is almost as important as the tires. Luckily i've been traveling within a group and have been able to utilize other members gear, but for any solo trips the proper gear is a must.
  3. Fuel - it doesn't matter the size of your tires, how cool your bumpers are, etc if you don't have enough fuel to get you in or out exploring. My truck has a stock 38 gallon extended range tank. If it didn't then an aftermarket would be on my priority list.
  4. Camping gear - there isn't anything more miserable then camping without the needed gear. You dont have be have a lot of gear, you just need to have the correct gear. This process usually takes times and experience to figure out. No ones gear list is the ultimate or go to list, its going to vary between the trip and your personal needs.
  5. Armor - have skids, sliders, protection is always a good investment. My truck cost me a lot of money and I'm still paying the monthly mortgage on it for the unforeseeable future. I want to protect that investment. I would also prefer to drive this rig for the next 10 - 15 years.
Most importantly... you need to have the passion. Too many people miss out on getting outside because they have this mentality that you need this or that before you can do this "overlanding" gig. There's nothing new about overlanding. Hell i've been camping out of an old pickup truck since I was a small child and knew it was anything different than just going camping with my parents. Having some necessities and a brain is key to proper exploring, but you'll also discover needs as you go along. Not everyone needs a 4" lift and 35" tires. Not everyone needs to have sliders, customer bumpers, and a winch. Some people just need an old truck, gas money, fishing poles, and desire to get in the woods.
 
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Winterpeg

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Someone please point me in the right direction for a reputable bumper brand. I have four companies in mind but I am so indecisive...Keep in mind that I am willing to part ways with around $700 for this upgrade.
Some other Toyota bumper suppliers:
(you will need to part with more than $700, you get what you pay for)

Demello
http://www.demello-offroad.com/shop/catalog/

MetalTech
http://www.metaltech4x4.com/


Keep in mind if you add a steel bumper without upgrading the suspension you will be disappointed. That's a pile of extra weight at the farthest point of your vehicle.
 
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