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Trail Armor Guide - The Trail Protection Collection

Posted in How To on September 1, 2010 Comment (0)
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The only way to keep your rig in perfect condition is to never use it. Since that's a lame option, your best bet is to protect the vulnerable spots one way or another. Scratches are a part of off-roading. Dents don't have to be.

The advantages of protecting your trail rig from damage don't end at aesthetics. Bashed-in rocker panels usually mean your doors won't open and close very well. Smashed headlights and taillights can get you pulled over or, worse, in a traffic accident. Dented differential covers can prevent the ring gear from spinning freely. When it comes to trail protection, function goes hand-in-glove with form.

There's no pretense here. This is not a be-all, end-all guide to trail armor. Instead, it's a snapshot of some of what the off-road industry has to offer. For additional products, stay tuned to our monthly 4xProducts column, individual tech articles, and future roundup stories like this one.

Crane Hi Clearance
Crane Hi Clearance builds some of the gnarliest diff covers in existence. If "gnarly" doesn't sit well with you, then "burly" or "bomb-proof" might also be fitting descriptions.
• Made from 4130 chromoly steel. CNC machined sealing surfaces keep gear oil inside where it belongs
• Lifetime warranty against breakage. If you break it and send it to Crane, they'll send you a new one

For more information, contact:
Crane Hi Clearance
(303) 917-4851
www.cranehiclearance.com

Aberle Off-Road
Heavy-gauge steel is still a favorite for bumpers and body protection, but Aberle Off-Road has us throwing light, strong, rust-free aluminum into the mix, too.
• Front bumpers weigh in around 70 pounds, rear bumpers with tire carriers tip the scales around 120
• Naturally rust-free, these bumpers are made from cast aluminum, which eliminates potential weak spots and warping that can accompany bumpers welded from multiple pieces

For more information, contact:
Aberle Off-Road
(303)908-4697
www.aberleoffroad.com

Aluminess
Here's another entry into the aluminum bumper world. Aluminess bumpers are powdercoated for long-lasting good looks and are naturally lightweight and rust-free.
• Front bumpers have D-ring attachment points, a winch mount, and built-in light mounts. Rear bumpers have a locking storage compartment and optional swing-away carriers for spare tires, fuel cans, etc.
• Models available for Toyota Tacoma, Toyota FJ Cruiser, and several fullsize trucks

For more information, contact:
Aluminess<
(619) 449-9930
www.aluminess.com

Metalcloak
Metalcloak's Ditomic armor is described as, "Steel where you need it. Aluminum where you want it." The Ditomic armor combines these two materials into an ideal mix of panels and tubes that protect your YJ, TJ, or LJ front to back.
• Aluminum cuts weight and helps keep the center of gravity lower. Steel is better suited for contact with rocks
• Front bumper uses an aluminum base and fairlead, with steel end caps and center hoop

For more information, contact:
Metalcloak
(916) 631-8071
www.Metalcloak.com

Front Range Off-Road
Front Range Off-Road's transfer case crossmember and skid plate combo make it easy to mount and protect double transfer case setups in '79-to-'95 four-cylinder Toyota pickups and 4Runners.
• Crossmember comes with weld-in mounts, and bolts to the back of the transfer case
• Skid plate is set up for a double transfer case, but can also be used with a single transfer case. The skid plate is made from 1/4-inch steel plate and built to take abuse

For more information, contact:
Front Range Off-Road
(970) 881-2418
www.frontrangeoffroadfab.com

Barnett Performance Products
We got to take a ride in the T&J Performance JK Unlimited recently. Ingress and egress were easy thanks to the Barnett Performance Products rock sliders.
• Bolts into place and has a two-front protection strategy, protecting the bottom as well as the sides of the rocker panels
• Kicked-out rear section ensures you won't hang up on protruding rocks, and doubles as a step for the second-row passengers

For more information, contact:
T&J Performance Center
(714) 633-0991
www.tandjperformance.com

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Rampage
Rampage's front and rear bumpers adorned the tip and tail of the T&J Performance JK Unlimited. They offered very clean lines and generous protection.
• Front is full width, but contoured upward on the ends to avoid hanging up on obstacles
• Rear wraps around the quarter panels, protecting your sheet metal should you slide sideways into a tree, canyon wall, etc. There's also a cutout for spare tire clearance

For more information, contact:
T&J Performance Center
(714) 633-0991
www.tandjperformance.com

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Proto Fab
Proto Fab's Rocksolid bumpers are made from 3/16-inch steel plate and are built to withstand the trail. We used a pair recently on an XJ Cherokee project with great results.
• Bolt-on design that creates better approach and departure angles. The front bumper has an integrated winch mount and is available with a prerunner-style hoop to protect the winch and grille
• Optional rear tire carrier swings on tough, adjustable Heim joints and locks securely with a cam-lock mechanism. Proto Fab makes bumpers for a number of trail rigs, including the early Bronco and International Harvester Scout

For more information, contact:
Proto Fab
(928) 632-0216
www.protofab4x4.com

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American Expedition Vehicles (AEV)
AEV's product lineup includes many products made using Chrysler factory blueprints as a base to work from. This gives AEV a huge advantage in that they don't have to reverse-engineer their products in order to start from square one. The result? AEV products have a factory-quality fit right out of the box.
• Bolt-on axle slider skidplate fits TJ and JK Dana 44 rear axles and TJ Dana 44 front axle. Installation is simple, and the skidplate protects not only the differential but also the TJ's U-joints and the JK's CV joints. Quarter-inch thick steel is tough to damage
• JK rear bumpers and JK rear corner guards are compatible with each other or can be used a la carte. The corner guards are stamped to match the JK's exact body contours and are available for two- and four-door models. The rear bumper has two integrated 2.4-gallon liquid storage tanks and a built-in step. The tire carrier can carry up to a 40-inch tire

For more information, contact:
American Expedition Vehicles (AEV)
(877) 685-0278
www.aev-conversions.com

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Dave's Customs Unlimited
Dave Seger is thorough, studious, and experienced. He's exactly the kind of guy you want designing stuff for your rig.
• CJ, YJ, and TJ front bumpers maintain maximum approach angle, include a winch mount, and actually increase the strength of the frame
• YJ and TJ boat side rocker panels radically increase side clearance and are made from 3/16-inch steel plate

For more information, contact:
Dave's Customs Unlimited
(970) 216-8179
www.davescustomsunlimited.com

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Nemesis Industries
Nemesis Industries offers a broad-reaching line of Jeep Wrangler and Jeep CJ protection products.
• Billy Rocker guards are unique in that they're made from 3/16-inch aluminum plate. The design renders a mini boat-side that makes it easy to get past obstacles
• TJ fenders are made to work with high-line hoods from AEV and Truck Master Designs. The fenders offer a completely bolt-on design that directly replaces the OEM item. Front fenders and rear corner protectors are made from aluminum, and can be augmented with a bolt-on steel tube flare

For more information, contact:
Nemesis Industries
(303) 974-2440
www.nem-ind.com

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Poison Spyder Customs
If you saw our recent feature on Poison Spyder's JK Unlimited, then you know what this rig is capable of. In case you missed it, the Poison Spyder JK climbed the water fall on Johnson Valley's Backdoor trail without using a winch. The rear corners of the Poison Spyder JK are protected by Poison Spyder Crusher Corners and Crusher Flares.
• Crusher Corners are tool-formed and follow the exact body lines and contours on the JK. They don't require removing any stock sheet metal to install. If you choose the optional flush-mount LED taillights, you will need to open up the body to fit the taillights
• Rear Crusher flares provide gobs of room underneath: enough for a 40-inch tire

For more information, contact:
Poison Spyder Customs
(951) 849-5911
www.poisonspyder.com

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River Raider Off Road
River Raider protects your JK with crusher corners and tube fenders. Both products are made to complement the original styling of the JK, while making it way more trail-resistant.
• River Raider Crusher Corners follow the JK's contours and bolt into place with flush-mount hardware. They’re made using 3/16-inch steel plate
• River Raider tube fenders are available in stock or narrow widths. Made of 1-1/2-inch DOM steel tubing and heavy steel plate, these fenders tie into the sub frame for added strength. The styling blends perfectly with the stock fenders, but the performance is radically different

For more information, contact:
River Raider Off Road
(717) 262-3079
www.riverraider.com

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TrailReady
TrailReady's bumper lineup includes, among others, offerings for the XJ, ZJ, JK, and Toyota FJ Cruiser. Each bumper matches the application's lines, while creating better ground clearance and better protection.
• Bolt-on construction makes installation easy. Winch mounts are standard, as are D-ring mounts
• Heavy-gauge plate steel (usually 3/16-inch) means they'll shake off trail obstacles

For more information, contact:
TrailReady
(888) 910-2999
www.trailready.com

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Fab Fours
Fab Fours is synonymous with durable, attractive bumpers and rock sliders. While there are several Fab Fours offerings for fullsize trucks, we're drawn to what Fab Fours makes for trail rigs.
• FJ Cruisers benefit from Fab Fours front and rear bumpers. The bumpers feature 3/16-inch steel plate construction and complement the FJ's distinctive styling. The rear bumper's tire carrier gets the spare off of the thin sheet metal and places it on the bumper where it should have gone in the first place
• Jeep Wrangler bumpers also feature 3/16-inch steel plate construction. Front and rear bumpers are available for the TJ and JK models. Rock sliders are available for TJ, LJ, and JK models

For more information, contact:
Fab Fours
(866) 567-2415
www.fabfours.com

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