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Off-Road Adventure Buyer's Guide - Explorer Essentials

Posted in Product Reviews on November 7, 2006
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Whether you're driving fast or slow, on a jamboree, or just out cruising the trails with a few friends, the following items in this month's buyer's guide are must-haves for your journey into the great unknown. This varied assortment of shocks, wheels, tires, and other off-road-related components provides either comfort, performance, or a sense of security while on the trail.

If you're in the market for a custom-fabricated, bulletproof differential housing for extreme off-roading, then look no further. Containing a 26-inch center, 3-1/4-inch by 0.250-inch-wall DOM tubes, and 9-inch ends with custom-fit rectangular flange-to-flange backbraces, this housing can take anything you can dish out. Some of the special features of the unit include a custom fill cap and drain plug.

Superlift's eXtreme Ring differential cover protects rear differentials from the abuses encountered when off-roading. The protective rings are manufactured for all Ford, Dodge, and Chevrolet/GMC trucks.

Fabricated from hardened steel with heavy-duty welds and extreme hardware, these rings are sure to be the difference between driving home and waiting for a tow.

Brembo GT brake systems have been designed to produce optimum results in every braking situation by utilizing larger calipers and larger two-piece discs to increase the brake torque and thermal capacity often required when towing trailers. This upgrade system is a direct bolt-on replacement to the OE system and does not affect any other components of the vehicle such as the brake booster or master cylinder. Best of all, the system is ABS compatible. The upgrade kits are available for many popular fullsize rigs such as Ford and Chevrolet/GMC.

Floating axles eliminate the axleshafts from having to support the entire weight of the vehicle, as well as hold the wheels onto the vehicle. Warn's full-floater kit provides high-yield-strength axleshafts which allow bulletproof protection from anything that comes into contact with them. Additionally, they also contain the largest spline count possible and have internal splined wheel hubs, thereby eliminating any excess bolts.
The full-floater kits with internal-mount wheel hubs are sold as a two-part number system: a "foundation" kit and choice of drive flanges or hub locks. The lip seals are spring-loaded in the wheel hubs and spindles, while O-ring seals are used on the hub-lock interface to ensure a proper seal.

These two huge 15-inch electric fans move an impressive 5,500 cubic feet of air per minute and are encased in a glass-reinforced, nylon mold-injected shroud. The benefits of having electric fans while off-roading are monumental - quicker warm-up and cool-down times, increased fuel economy and a cooler-running engine are just a few of the benefits. Horsepower gains have also been noted to exceed 17, with rear-wheel torque increases of 20-plus lb-ft.

Precision Gear's reverse ring-and-pinion sets allow for the replacement of the factory Ford F-250 and F-350 4x4 ring-and-pinion sets with sets containing ratios from 4.10, 4.30, 4.56, 4.88, and 5.13.

Each set is built to fit the Dana 60 high-pinion axles (reverse rotation). For additional install ease, installation kits are also available.

Built from DOM tubing, these light brackets allow virtually any size auxiliary off-road light to be attached to them. Best of all, the mounting plate allows them to be either welded in place or bolted on.

Available in either a satin finish or black powdercoated finish, these brackets look as if they were taken directly off of a high-end race truck.

This wireless remote-control interface unit not only saves you from unpleasant terrain, but it also reduces the risk of injury by providing a distance of 10 to 12 feet.

Between the retractable antenna for optimum performance, easy installation, and numerous built-in safety features, this unit is a no-brainer.

The Mountain Crusher contains a beadlock look with forged aluminum two-piece construction. Extremely dense 6061 alloy provides the backing for the 3,200-pound load rating. These wheels are purpose-built in the correct widths and offsets for each application. A six-layer chrome finish and lifetime structural warranty make them that much more special. The available sizes are as follows: 15x7, 15x8, 15x10, 15x12, 15x14, 16x7, 16x8, 16x9, 16x10, 16.5x9.75, 16.5x12, 16.5x14, 17x8, 17x10, 17x12, 17x14, and 18x10 inches.

Gear Vendors latest under/overdrive units bolt directly to the stock transmission units of some of today's most popular trucks, regardless of whether they are automatic or manual models, and all without requiring any additional modifications. Available in either six- or eight-speed configurations, these under/overdrive units are just 12 inches in length and a mere 3.25 inches in radius from the shaft centerline. With the addition of one of these units, it is possible to shift under full throttle between each gear, with the motor only dropping to half of the rpm it normally would. On the highway, the unit converts to an overdrive, making 4.10 gears behave like 3.20 gears or 3.55 gears behave like 2.77 gears. Overall, when used as an overdrive, a 28-percent increase in speed is achieved.

This is the ultimate suspension upgrade for Nissan Titan and Ford F-150 suspension systems. The coilover is made from CNC billet construction featuring 2.750-inch-OD by 0.875-inch-wall, double-hardened chrome rod.

This tire features large ground-biting lugs that provide excellent traction with siped tread blocks that allow for better water spin-off. The tighter tread pattern translates to a more comfortable and quiet highway drive. The six- to ten-ply rating provides tough, thick sidewalls with chip- and cut-resistant compound.

The available sizes are as follows: 255/85R16, 265/75R16, 285/75R16, 31x10.50R15, 33x12.50R15, 34x12.50R15, 35x12.50R15, 33x12.50R16, 34x12.50R16, 35x12.50R16, 33x12.50R16.5, 35x12.50R16.5, and 33x12.50R17.

A good all-around performance tire at home on either the street or trail, the STS offers good traction and is excellent in the snow, sand, and on the rocks.

The available sizes are as follows:
33x13.50-15, 15x39.50-15, 33x13.50-16, 15x39.50-16, 15x39.50-16.5, 21x44-15, 21x44-16, 21x44-16.5, 21x44-17, 15x39.5-20, 31x11.50R15, 33x12.50R15, 33x14.50R15, 35x12.50R15, 36x14.50R15, 38x15.50R16, 36x14.50R16.5, and 38x15.50R16.5.

The Xterrain features a high-void, staggered directional tread pattern with full-length lug sipes for enhanced on- and off-road traction in mud, snow, dirt, and rock. The Dualguard polyester body plies consist of thick two-ply polyester combined with a blend of dual sidewall rubber for puncture resistance and two layers of opposed-angle steel belting over the entire tread area. The available sizes are as follows: 31x10.5R15, 31x12.5R15, 33x12.50R15, 35x12.50R15, 37x13.50R15, 305/70R16, 315/75R16, 325/80R16, 37x13.50R16, 35x12.50R17, 37x13.50R17, and 40x13.50R20.

Weighing in at only 36 pounds, the Pull-Pal is recommended for all vehicles that travel off-road. Designed to work in most types of terrain (including sand, hardpan soil, and even snow), it can be used to extract your vehicle without the use of another rig and to serve as an anchoring point from the rear when winching another vehicle out of harm's way. When not in use, the Pull-Pal folds compactly to the size of an ordinary bumper jack for easy storage. Ruggedly constructed with a forged chrome-moly plow assembly and assembled with Grade-8 bolts for strength and quality, this unit will get you unstuck in no time. Also available for heavy-duty vehicle applications.

The Off Road A/T is engineered for the 4x4 enthusiast. Up to 19 inches of ground clearance is possible using 35x12.50-15 tires, and a 2-inch drop axle comes standard. An optional lift kit and a 4-inch drop axle make room for tires up to 37 inches in diameter. A variety of rack systems is available. The Tentrax Off Road A/T can also be personalized to match your vehicle's paint and wheels. Options for off-road use include the Off Road Package, which allows for trouble-free articulation in rough terrain. For extreme 4x4 use, the skidplate and nerf bars are recommended.

Dual battery kits allow for an additional battery to be added to the charging system of your trail runner. The systems include a tray and custom cables with relay. The Wrangler battery manager system is available either with or without batteries. With more power and amperage, a stereo system, additional off-road lights, and a winch can all be operated with better efficiency and all at the same time, without power loss or electrical system overload and damage occurring.

The new Airaid intake system, specifically designed for '04-'05 Ford 6.0L Power Stroke diesels, replaces the restrictive and expensive factory inline air filter with a high-flow, high-filtration SynthaFlow filter. The SynthaFlow filter is located in a heat-resistant housing, which draws cool air in from the factory location while providing additional airflow through the Cool Air Dam at the top. A dramatically improved throttle response and 21.2 rear-wheel horsepower are gained over stock. The Airaid Power Stroke Intake System not only fits Super Duty pickups, but also '05 Power Stroke-equipped Excursions as well.

The powerful Cr5 Pentabeam II bulb in this wireless, remote-controlled portable spotlight allows for 370-degree rotation and 135-degree tilt to light up even the darkest corner of the world. Requiring a mere 5.5 amps, this 500,000-candlepower light contains two integrated, 12V DC high-torque motors for seamless operation. A weatherproof design allows for extended use in mud, water, or any other severe condition. Each unit includes a rock-guard cover and stainless steel mounting system.


Currie Enterprises
Corona, CA 92880
Brembo North America
Northville, MI 48168
Superlift Suspension Systems
West Monroe, LA 71292
Precision Gear
Suwanee, GA 30024
Weld Wheel Industries
Kansas City, MO 64101
Phoenix, AZ 85050
Warn Industries
Clackamas, OR 97015
Wrangler NW Power Products
Explorer Pro Comp
Eugene, OR 97405
Interco Tire Corp.
Rayne, LA 70578-0486
American Outfitters Inc.
Golight Inc.
Gear Vendors Inc.
El Cajon, CA 92020

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