Best Upgrades for Off-road Pickup Trucks
Pickups have long been the most popular models in America. Still, driving them on gravel, splashing through mud, or going anywhere where there is no pavement has become the reason for an explosion in off-road trucks. And just as soon as they get a couple of weekends on the trail under their belt, these off-roaders develop an urge to upgrade their ride and get more out of their truck. Upgrades for 4×4 rigs are a huge aftermarket category with hundreds of companies pushing thousands of products. If you are new to the scene, we have compiled a list of the most popular upgrades and our recommendations for the best performance and value in each category. Where you live, and the type of terrain you travel will probably determine what you upgrade with first, but eventually, you will tackle one or more of the following mods for your ride. AWT Off-Road offer a ton of custome services to upgrade your vehicle to whatever the road throws at you, but if you are just starting out we would recomend starting out with these top 4 upgrades and checking out our Beginners Guide To Off-Roading!
Now that you have big new tires and a 3-inch lift, how easy is it to get in and out of your truck? Maybe you are a 6’+ lanky person, but how about your passengers or your 8-year-old kid? The obvious answer is adding a step, commonly called a nurf bar. But unless your idea of off-roading is parking on a gravel parking lot, adding a bolt-on step significantly reduces the extra clearance you have spent so much money on gaining. AMP Research has a solution called the Power Step. This automatic step resides under the rocker panel and deploys and retracts every time a door is opened or closed. As a result, everybody has an easy time accessing your truck, and no clearance is sacrificed.
3. Off-Road Lighting
You would think rock crawling at night really wouldn’t be an option. But if your truck is equipped with the right auxiliary lighting, the new experience of night rock crawling becomes a possibility. Of course, your truck needs more than your headlights and fog lights. Good off-road lighting, properly mounted, will let you beat the heat and cruise the trail at night. Light upgrades typically include one or more beam types (driving, spot, flood, or fog) which make nighttime cruising, rescues, breakdowns, and of course, rock crawling a whole lot easier. Some of the best auxiliary lightings comes from two trusted aftermarket companies, Rough Country and DV8 Offroad. Both have a wide range of lighting products offered at very competitive prices.
2. Lift Kits
Lift kits, those systems that increase your clearance, are another popular pickup upgrade. They come in three flavors, leveling, body, and suspension. Like those provided by Ready Lift, leveling kits raise the front end using easy-to-install blocks leveling out the “rake” in your truck’s profile, creating space in the front wheel wells to accommodate big tires. Body lifts use simple systems to raise the body off the frame. They do not affect the steering geometry or any mechanical system. Lastly, there are suspension lifts, and these get more complicated. These use a variety of techniques to raise the suspension above the axel. These techniques can modify the steering geometry and handling qualities, so you want a kit with proven performance. Beginners usually start with a Rough Country kit because it is American-made and competitively priced. Other feature-heavy kits are available from Rough Country, Superlift, BDS Suspension, and FabTech. On the plus side, a suspension lift can raise your truck up to 9-inches increasing capabilities and giving you an awesome look.
1. Off-Road Tires
The first thing most new truck owners will swap out are the tires. They want more significant, beefier rubber to give them more capability and an awesome new look. Most manufacturers offer street-biased all-season tires as stock equipment because they know 95% of the trucks they sell will never leave the concrete. So, they want soft sidewalls for ride comfort and a mild tread to keep tire noise down. The problem is when that tire has left the comfort of asphalt and is now tracking down a rocky, debris-strewn trail, those soft sidewalls can be damaged or punctured, and that mild tread will fill with mud and stones making them useless. Off-road tires and there are hundreds to choose from, are designed with terrain and climate in mind. Some are excellent for low inflation rock crawling operations, while others excel in negotiating mud ponds, while still others have the traction to tackle sand dunes. How and where you plan on off-roading will guide you in selecting the right tire. Two of the best-sellers are BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/A KM3 with its computer-optimized compound and interlocking tread block all-terrain design is a great all-purpose off-road tire, and the Toyo Open Country M/T that takes you through the sloppiest mud thanks to its attack tread pattern and the open, scalloped shoulder blocks. Check out our full review on the Toyo Open Country M/T before you buy!