9AM Offroad Guide: Wants and Needs

9AM Offroad Guide: Wants and Needs

  So here we are again; attempting not to beat the dead horse of "offroad upgrades" and forcing trendy products down your gullet. Although that rig at the mall with every accessory available looked super cool and could theoretically survive a zombie apocalypse, the question always beckons "Does he/she really need or use all that?". So without further ado let's dive into the "wants and needs" of offroading!

  Foremost let me be blunt: I have been the guy to "overbuild". I too am guilty of purchasing products that may or may not be used regularly. I have bought and installed products that I convinced myself I needed to offroad my rig better that truthfully held little to no benefits. I have fallen victim to the aesthetics of others' rides and emulated them on my own. I have had a loss of direction in building and also overbuilt for the terrain I would actually be driving on. Some things I regret because I could have allocated the time and funds to other things (like gas) but that's okay because without my follies; I wouldn't be able to help get 9AM's valued customers the best and most appropriate products for their rigs the first time! 

  So with that confession out of the way, I would like to preface that this guide would be geared towards the "new" offroad builder (or a great reminder for us novices). Anyway, You just got your first Jeep / 4Runner / Bronco etc., and want to hit the trails ASAP but you are concerned with what you may need! The good news and the honest truth is you probably need much less than you think! So let's take a look at some popular upgrades and put them in the "want" and "need" categories and explain our reasoning between both!

- WANT -

Lift Kit:

Icon Lift kit for toyota tacoma with billet upper control arms

So this one is a little bit controversial because historically vehicles came with a low amount of ground clearance. You would always have to worry about scraping on rocks, small objects, and obstacles. In turn that would damage the drivetrain components under your vehicle. However with most 4x4 vehicles today the factory tire size and ground clearance are much taller than in previous generations. Furthermore, the majority of off-road vehicles now come factory-equipped with skid plates and vehicle protection. That being said as you journey deeper into the offroad lifestyle and the terrain becomes more difficult, a lift kit will soon become a "need".


- NEED - 

All-Terrain Tires:

All Terrain Tires

All-terrain tires or mud tires without a doubt will be one of the best and most significant upgrades you can do to any vehicle that has a more commuter or highway-oriented tire on your vehicle. All-terrain tires offer superior traction in all conditions offroad and allow for increased vehicle stability on harsh trails or poor weather terrain (hence the name all-terrain). 


- WANT -

Body Armor:

Jeep Body armor on grey gladiator

Yes, there are some really cool aesthetics to an armored-out rig. The beefy rocker protectors, exterior roll cages, etc. However, the reality is that the most crucial part of your vehicle to protect is going to be the underside, which usually comes equipped with skid plates from the factory, if not it's likely worth allocating the funds from body armor to there. Until you are doing some serious rock crawling we suggest putting body armor on the back burner.


- NEED - 

Recovery Gear:

ARB Recovery Gear

Recovery gear is a crucial upgrade that also adds some cool aesthetics to your ride. Some of the best upgrades would include traction boards, winches, straps, shovels, and more! What we have always told our customers is that recovery gear is "cheaper than a tow truck" because those offroad recovery rates are ridiculous and often insurance companies won't cover them (especially if you don't have cell service to call them in the first place!)


- WANT -

Snorkels / Intakes:

Black snorkel on tan toyota tacoma

Snorkels and intake systems allow for a higher point of air entrance to the engine which in turn allows for you to drive deeper in water crossings and get cleaner air on a dusty trail. I have had three snorkel systems on my last builds, and with too many offroad trips to count, I have only felt that the snorkel may have been beneficial during a water crossing once. I love this upgrade aesthetically but unfortunately, this falls in the want category.


- NEED -

Offroad Lighting / Light Upgrades:

Rigid Industries Bronco Pocket Light Kit

I am a huge advocate for lighting upgrades especially if your vehicle comes with factory halogen lighting. Offroad lights will allow increased visibility during any condition when the sun hits the horizon and further into the night. If you end up on a dark trail or worse, in poor weather, simply flick the on switch, and obstacles and terrain will become immensely safer and easier to navigate. This is one of the cheapest and best modifications done to any vehicle.


- WANT - 

Steel / Aluminum Bumpers:

Jeep JL Steel Bumper

Once again this modification can be incredibly pleasing visually. Steel or aluminum bumpers add an aggressive look to your ride while offering increased ground clearance as well as protection. However, this is not a modification we suggest be on the top of the list. Our rule of thumb is that until your factory ones have some trail damage; they aren't worth replacing. Bumpers add a lot of weight and without supporting mods (lift kit, tires wheels) they look a bit out of place.


- NEED - 

Communication / Radios / Navigation

Rugged Radios kit

Communication radios and navigation are some of the most overlooked upgrades on a trail rig. Many of the sanctioned club trail runs require the minimum of a HAM radio. The radios will allow for others in your group or area to communicate with you the driver regarding oncoming obstacles, driving lines, as well as safety issues along the trail. Navigation is almost self-explanatory, that map you picked up at the gas station may show you some great highways and truck stops but when offroad they become obsolete (and god for bid you spill some coffee on that paper map)! 


In an effort to keep this blog a brief read, we will round out there! As stated this is a beginner guide to getting you on the trail ASAP safely and responsibly. As you progress in your journey into the offroad community and experience more challenging terrains many of those wants suggested above will become needs and we here at 9AM are here to help you along the journey! If you ever find yourself looking for some direction on the build or just want to know about some fantastic products we offer, 9AM is just a call, message, or click away and we would love for you to reach out!

We hope you found this blog useful and can't wait to see you on the trail!
- 9AM -
Back to blog

Leave a comment