Winter Product Guide: Don’t Park Your 4x4 for the WinterPosted in Features on November 14, 2018
To help you prep your 4x4 (and yourself) for the cold winter season, we’ve got a bundle of gear and products designed for getting through the cold months, including ones that offer better performance and traction. You’ll also find items for the exterior and interior as well as comfort for your person. And we also asked Four Wheeler readers for their real-world survival tips!
Improved Winter Performance
Dual Electric Fans for Diesels
What: This dual electric-fan system might seem counterintuitive for cold weather, but in winter, diesel engines take longer to warm up. Go ahead and double that time for the interior. This works in ’94-’09 Rams with the Cummins.
Some tech: The direct-fit, bolt-on setup features a variable speed controller so that you can decide at what temperature the fans activate.
Bonus info: Did someone say also a bump in fuel economy and more horses?
They said: “Increase the engine power delivered to the wheels when the factory belt-driven fan is replaced with this electric fan system.”
Price: Around $520.
How to get: Flex-A-Lite, flex-a-lite.com
Remove Salt Deposits
What: Snow means road salt and road salt means rust and corrosion. Meet the Salt Terminator Engine Flush, Cleaner & Corrosion Inhibitor. Self-explanatory name.
Some tech: It’s been engineered to clean: Dissolves salt debris that you can’t seem to remove with water only. It’s been designed to protect: Adds a protective coating to prevent future corrosion. There’s a mixer included.
Bonus info: No spotty residue.
They said: “Use the mixer unit with any of the concentrate formulas. It automatically dilutes the concentrate and siphons it through a standard garden hose. No scrubbing or rinsing required.”
Price: Around $30.
How to get: CRC Industries, crcindustries.com
Anti-Gel for Diesels
What: The Anti-Gel is straight up for use in diesels in very cold climates.
Some tech: It’s formulated to improve combustion and lubing when the thermostat dips, and to help avoid cold-start issues.
Bonus info: It does that by preventing fuel gelling (hence, anti-gel), crystallization, and freezing.
They said: “Winter formulas use pour-point reducers to keep wax in suspension and reduce wax crystals to pass through filters and injectors.”
Price: MSRP is $10.49.
How to get: Red Line, redlineoil.com
What: The only thing worse than getting stuck is getting stuck in the snow. You’ll want a winch like the VR Series for assisted recovery in the winter.
Some tech: There are waterproof contactors, and the control pack is located atop a beefy one-piece tie plate, so you get less noise yet more structural rigidity.
Bonus info: There’s a black hawse fairlead to also add beefy styling.
They said: “The contactor resides in a convertible control pack that can be left as an integral part of the winch for a more upright appearance or can be relocated to allow for in-bumper applications, or simply a low-profile look.”
Price: Starts at $499.99.
How to get: Warn, warn.com
What: Traction Jack assists in getting you unstuck but can also lend a hand with a tire change in wet, slick terrain like snow.
Some tech: You get two folding units and two leash ropes; the units are made of poly-composite material.
Bonus info: Can support up to 35,000 pounds gross weight.
They said: “Use Traction Jack with vehicles as small as ATVs and all the way up to fully loaded commercial trucks. Easily stores out of the way under seats or in the trunk.”
How to get: Traction Jack, tractionjack.com
What: The ProT3K replacement soft top is all about cold weather.
Why winter-ready: The triple-layer covering and being 24 percent thicker than OEM, plus having rubber/PVC as its core means waterproof protection (snow or rain) and therefore winter-ready.
Bonus info: Expect less ambient road noise inside your ’97-’18 TJ or JK.
They said: “Features high-definition 40ml DOT vinyl windows and mounts easily to your Jeep Wrangler using factory mounting points.”
Price: Runs around $460-$700.
How to get: Smittybilt, smittybilt.com
What: A BAK Industries Revolver X4 rolling bedcover will mean no snow in the bed.
Why winter-ready: Aluminum slats cover the entirety of the bed, and on both sides, doing so with a low profile.
Bonus info: There are 3/4-inch patented rotational locking rails.
They said: “Heavy-duty locking levers are now three times thicker with reinforced gussets for added strength and are engineered to lock with no adjustment necessary.”
Price: Around $1,000.
How to get: 4 Wheel Parts, 4wheelparts.com
Snow-Friendly Wiper Blades
What: Ever had snow on your windshield? If you know, then you know. The answer is Si-Tech wiper blades.
Some tech: There’s a one-piece, frameless design so that ice and snow don’t build up, as there are no exposed metal parts. There’s a water-repellent silicone barrier, and there are now 14-, 15-, and 28-inch blades in the lineup.
Bonus info: A low profile equates to no wind lift or blade noise.
They said: “More pressure points for streak-free wiping action.”
Price: They start around $27.
How to get: PIAA, piaa.com
What: Add bigger snow tires? Add fender flares. Want to avoid the gross winter roads from kicking that gross onto the lower doors? Add fender flares.
Some tech: The uncoated aluminum tube flares for ’07-’18 Jeep Wranglers also improve tire clearance. Plus, you can paint or powdercoat ’em.
Bonus info: There are recessed LED side marker lights.
They said: “The flare design provides an OE fit and finish and the strength and durability of steel without the weight.”
Price: Around $800.
How to get: Bushwacker, bushwacker.com
What: These are FloorLiners floor liners. Besides being a custom fit, they’ll keep snow-related stuff away from your feet and clothes due to having channels that carry that garbage to a lower reservoir.
Why winter-ready: Proprietary custom-blended thermopolyolefin. Not a chemist? Just know that means wear resistance and flexibility, even when it’s super, super, super cold outside.
Bonus info: They’re easy to clean.
They said: “FloorLiners are made with a patented High-Density Tri-Extruded multilayer material, which provides a rigid core for strength to help retain their custom-fit shape, while offering a soft, tactile top surface that feels comfortable underfoot.”
Price: Varies, but figure things start around $60.
How to get: WeatherTech, weathertech.com
Jeep-Themed Floor Mats
What: Ready for snow (and the other seasons), these floor mats have a Jeep logo.
Some tech: The superstar of the front mats might very well be the integrated drain hole. There’s also high wall coverage as well as body-mounted retention posts and nibs underneath to prevent movement. The second-row mats interlock.
Bonus info: Yes, those are indeed topographical map patterns you see.
They said: “Developed by Mopar with exclusive factory vehicle data for perfect fit.”
How to get: Mopar, mopar.com
What: A seat heater from a company that makes seats.
Some tech: The company said if you do the install yourself, it’s pretty much just two wirings needing to be connected to the electrical system.
Bonus info: This is a universal seat heater (so, factory or aftermarket seats), and your body parts will be warmed up within two minutes.
They said: “The patented heat flow system forces the heat from the heater to only go upward toward the body as opposed to a downward flow into the seat itself.”
How to get: Corbeau Seats, corbeau.com
Universal Automotive Heater
What: Heat for the older trucks.
Some tech: Heat-output ranges from 8,500-40,000 Btu, and these heaters should fit in almost any liquid-cooled engine. There are multispeed fans.
Bonus info: Connect wiring and plumbing lines and that’s about it.
They said: “The heaters are a great alternative to replacing a worn-out or hard-to-reach heater core.”
Price: Starts around $150.
How to get: Summit Racing, summitracing.com
Heated Seat Cushion
What: Body-warming seat cushion.
Some tech: You get both high and low heat settings, and there’s an inline controller.
Bonus info: Comes with a 4.3-foot power cord.
They said: “Secure strapping system. Safety-fused.”
Price: MSRP of $29.95.
How to get: Wagan Tech, wagan.com
Snow Plows and ATVs
Heated Grips for ATVs
What: Tusk heated grip kit for ATVs.
Some tech: Warm the hands via a digital switch. We’re talking five settings of heat.
Bonus info: These are for ATVs that have thumb throttles (so negative if you’ve got twist grip).
They said: “Easy installation. Large injection-molded grips with built-in heat panels.”
Price: MSRP is $35.99.
How to get: Rocky Mountain ATV, rockymountainatvmc.com
What: BOSS XT snow plow.
Some tech: A full moldboard trip design and chainless hydraulic cylinder lifting system help with bounce and full float, respectively.
Bonus info: It’s available in 8-foot, 2-inch and 9-foot, 2-inch versions, and, new for the XT, now in stainless steel.
They said: “Flared blade wings and enhanced curl design throw snow higher and farther than conventional plows.”
Price: Around $6,000.
How to get: BOSS Snow Plow, bossplow.com
What: All steaks are not created equal. Same with stakes.
Why winter-ready: These 1-ounce Snow Stakes (for winter tent camping) have holes designed to work directly with snow; they fill in with the snow and that helps hold the stake in the ground.
Bonus info: Use the 9.6-inch aluminum stakes in sand for the same usefulness.
They said: “The Snow Stake can be used upside down if necessary; use one of the lower holes to tie off stake and bury the cord in the snow.”
Price: Less than $3.
How to get: REI, rei.com
Down Jacket and Pants
What: There are gadgets to help you survive cold, but sometimes it boils down to warm clothes, like the Instinct Backcountry packable down jacket and pants.
Why winter-ready: Both are windproof, and the jacket packs into its own pocket.
Bonus info: If your day might include sitting on snow, know that the pants have waterproof knees and posterior.
They said: “Exterior fabric is 100 percent woven nylon.”
Price: MSRP is $200 each.
How to get: Cabela’s, cabelas.com
What: The ExtremeStart Firestarter can light a fire fast, and that’s good when it’s cold (T minus less than two minutes ’til fire).
Why winter-ready: It works for wood and charcoal.
Bonus info: You’ll receive it wrapped for clean handling.
They said: “There is no need to find rolled newspaper, dried grass, or other kindling to achieve a wood fire and no need to use accelerants, gels, or fluids to ignite a charcoal fire.”
Price: MSRP is $5.99.
How to get: Pine Mountain, pinemountainfire.com
Winter Sleeping Bag
What: All-Weather Multi-Layer Sleeping Bag. That’s its stage name. Its outdoors name is: Perfect for Sleeping When It’s All the Way Down to 0 Degrees Fahrenheit.
Some tech: It has hollow Coletherm insulation to hang onto your body heat, and roll control makes the sleeping bag stay straight as you roll it closed. The Thermolock draft tube is what stops heat from escaping through the zipper.
Bonus info: The layers can go into the washing machine.
They said: “The bag features three versatile layers that can be removed or attached at simple connection points based on the anticipated weather conditions.”
Price: MSRP is $109.99.
How to get: Coleman, coleman.com
What: Everything’s fine until you’re having to stand on the trail in winter. At least now you can toast yourself with a hand warmer.
Some tech: It’s made from metal, and there are two available sizes, 6- and 12-hour, for that many hours of continuous heat. Both are flameless.
Bonus info: You can also keep it in your pocket. Another reason flameless is good.
They said: “Can be refilled and reused over and over again.”
Price: Starts at less than $15.
How to get: Zippo, zippo.com
What: If you must sleep outdoors and need cold-weather capability, the Copper Spur HV Expedition tent can handle that.
Some tech: It features breathable nylon ripstop and polyester mesh, has waterproof coating, covers 29 square feet of floor area, and has a trail weight of 3 pounds, 1 ounce.
Bonus info: There are two big doors and two vestibules with storm flaps on the zippers and loads of interior pockets.
They said: “Ready to pitch, with pre-cut guy lines and tensioners attached to fly.”
How to get: Big Agnes, bigagnes.com
Other Handy ThingsWe spotted these on Amazon.
What: Kat’s 1600 300-watt Magnum Handi-Heat Magnetic Heater is an electric heater for the engine or transmission.
Some tech: Universal fit for quicker starts and protection during cold starts.
Price: Starts at around $70.
What: You can find snow covers for the windshield, but it’s easy to forget the side mirrors, so King Ice makes sure you don’t.
Some tech: Drawstring tech is the easiest tech.
Price: About $15.
What: Konig snow chains.
Some tech: They’re self-tensioning and have color-coded assembly points.
Price: Starts around $70.
How Four Wheeler Readers Deal With WinterWe asked how you do winter via our Facebook page, and you answered. Here are some of your must-haves:
“Seat warmers! Personally, I prefer the heated travel blanket. Just tuck it under your seat covers for a toasty rear, and it’s perfect for when you’re waiting on a tow!”—Christie L. Price
“Tire chains. I cut down a set of truck chains for my CJ and then I run them on the front tires in deep snow.”—Ray Moffat
“Four 50-pound bags of sand in the bed for better traction. Also useful for grip if you get stuck on ice.”—Nicholas Larkin
“Wiper fluid that is best for cold weather.”—Tim Martino
How to Survive Winter in Alaska—and Therefore EverywhereWe spoke with Earl Olson, the president of the Arctic Offroad club and also the custom fabricator for Wolverine Equipment Services/Olson Equipped, both based in Fairbanks, Alaska, one of the country’s hot spots of cold spots. If anyone knows how to survive winter wheeling, it’s the off-road enthusiasts in Fairbanks. Here’s what Earl said:
“I usually try to avoid wheeling in temps colder than -20 degrees Fahrenheit since metal becomes brittle and things will break too easy. I’m getting lazy in my old age and don’t find it fun lying under a truck at -30 degrees replacing axleshafts anymore. I have wheeled down to -45 degrees, but I don’t recommend it. Any little problem becomes dangerous at those temps.
“In interior Alaska, we have to prep all our vehicles, not just wheelers, with block heaters, oil pan heaters, and battery heaters or trickle chargers. I prefer the trickle charger since heating a battery can reduce its life.
“As far as wheeling in the winter goes, first and foremost on the gear list is proper clothing to stay warm and dry. I usually equip my rig with chains on the winter runs. It makes a huge difference on the climbs, especially when multiple vehicles have already climbed a hill and glazed it over. Bring a good scoop or snow shovel. It comes in handy clearing a work space if you need to do trail repairs; lying in the loose snow will get you wet and you’ll want to stay as dry as possible. Bring as much extra gas as possible since you probably won’t want to shut your rig off when stopped. Got to keep it warm.
“Most of all bring your patience. Wheeling in the winter can be slow-going at times. Deep snow can turn an easy trail into a difficult one quickly. Things break easier in the cold as well. Keep that in mind when pushing your vehicle.”
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