Ever been at your local 4x4 shop and seen something on the shelf you just had to have? Or maybe you were out wheeling and a buddy showed up with some new doodad on his 4x4 that you realized you couldn't live without. These are widgets. Not having them won't mean you can't go wheeling, but having them may just make your next wrenchfest or wheeling trip that much more fun.
We approached some of our friends, readers, and advertisers for their latest widgets and quickly rounded up this list (all prices are Price:). In fact, we had more than could fit here, so we may do another widget guide in the future. If you have a widget you think is perfect for the readers, even if it's a homemade doodad you cobbled together in your garage, then send us an email and a photo and we may just show it off next time. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to put "Widget" in the subject line.
Tools are easier to find when they're organized. The Poly Performance 14 Pocket and 6 Pocket Tool Wraps are a great way to get organized on the trail. Each medium and large Tool Wrap is constructed of premium 600d polyester and features slotted and utility pockets. Plus they make a great mat for lying on when trail fixes hit the dirt.
Price: $39.99 (M), $44.99 (L)
Secure and protect your load with a new all-in-one covering system from TarpX. It goes on quickly, is built for multiple uses, and fits in its stuff sack under a seat. Great for camping, four-wheeling, moving, yard work, and dump runs.
One Bad, Two Better
Wrangler NW Power Product's new dual-battery tray kit for the '07-present Jeep Wrangler JK utilizes two Odyssey 925 series batteries and is directly bolted into where the stock battery was located. If two batteries are not enough, Wrangler NW also manufactures direct bolt-in, high-output alternators.
Ever get tired of the klang klang of your shackle banging off your bumper as you bounce down the trail? Daystar now offers the new D-ing Isolator that installs on any standard 3/4-inch shackle and is constructed of a durable polyurethane material and prevents the shackle from rattling while also protecting your bumper's finish. Available in red, blue, yellow, or black.
Jam on It
Tightening and breaking loose jam nuts on suspension and steering components can be a hassle and often requires an expensive giant wrench. Rubicon Express's Jam Nut Wrenches, large (17/8 inches ) and small (11/2 inches), can attach to a 1/2-inch breaker bar and save space in your toolbox. Hardened steel crow's-foot ends make short work of jammed jam nuts.
Price: $37.95 (S), $39.95 (L)
When you thought everyone had a multitool, SOG reveals the only multitools in the world with one-handed flip-open ability and gear-driven, patented Compound Leverage for double the plier power: the new PowerAssist. Start to open the main blades, which are available when the tool is closed, and SAT (SOG Assisted Technology) takes over to complete the opening.
Looking for a small solar panel for recharging your cell phone, iPod, or other electronics? Then check out the compact Solaris 6 and 12 from Brunton, perfect for camping, hunting, or four-wheeling emergencies when you can't charge up off your truck. Available in a 6- or 12-watt output, these panels fold up into a compact 9x5x11/2 inches.
The Flash Light-ER is a small rechargeable flashlight that plugs into the 12V cigar outlet in your truck. This little light also has a USB port built into it and comes with a 12-inch USB-to-mini-USB cable so you can plug in a variety of phones and music players. Then when you remove the light from the cigar outlet, three small LED lights turn on and you have a handy flashlight.
Everyone Needs one
Zone Offroad Products is proud to announce an off-road widget that will work anywhere. This collapsible koozie not only works on the trail, but is the perfect accessory on a warm summer night around the campfire. With a little ingenuity you will be amazed at the multiple uses this koozie has to offer. What makes this koozie different than every other koozie, you ask? Absolutely nothing!
Viking Braid Kit
The splice kit includes all the tools and instructions necessary to safely repair or re-splice a synthetic winch line. If a winch rope breaks, tying a knot in it will reduce the strength by about half, so it is much safer and more convenient to use the right tools. A properly spliced end retains the full strength of the rope. That's why Viking Off Road has introduced its winch rope splice kit for 5/16-, 3/8-, 7/16-, 1/2-, and 5/8-inch ropes.
Hit a rock or stump too fast or at the wrong angle, and your undercarriage can be severely damaged. Trans-Dapt Performance Products welds on a thick, 3/16-inch steel skidplate to the exposed underbelly of the oil pan, and it curves up on the leading edge (like a ski tip) to glide over obstacles. Currently available for Chevy, Ford, and Jeep/AMC engines and GM Turbo 350, 400 and 700R4/4L60E transmissions.
Less weight equals more power. Weighing less than 2 ounces, the Benchmade 530 Pardue is a great tool for everyday use and added power. With its ultra-slim profile, one-hand ambidextrous function, stainless steel blade, and patented Axis locking mechanism, this knife is easily worth an extra half horsepower.
Get the LED In
Finally, a 12V LED headlamp for 7-inch-round forward lighting applications, offering the extended life and energy efficiency of light emitting diodes. Designed to provides brighter, crisper, and whiter light output than incandescent alternatives, with greater dependability and resistance to damage caused by shock and vibration.
Jeep Gear Gate
Packing your Jeep to the hilt has just gotten easier with the new Safari Straps Jeep Net. The JK Extended Nets for two- and four-door models extend all the way to the tailgate and help keep your pets and gear in the Jeep as well as deter theft. The divider net keeps all your gear in the back of your Jeep, not in the front with the driver, especially when descending hills.
Looking for a way to safely mount your CO2 tank? Fourtreks has mounts made up of two tube clamps and two CO2 tank adapter bars along with all the necessary hardware. They are designed to be used with the mounting bracket that comes with your CO2 air system. These mounts fit tubing 1 inch to 23/8 inches in diameter.
The Houdini Automotive Escape Tool (AET) is the keychain that can save your life and the lives of your passengers should you get trapped in a rollover or a submerged vehicle. The AET includes four great features: seatbelt cutter, spring-loaded glass breaker, 5-lumen LED flashlight, and signal whistle.
Tired of the old vacuum system failing on your front YJ central axle disconnect? 4x4 Posi-Lok's replacement system eliminates the failure-prone vacuum system with a simple manual cable and can save you on the trail.
Put a Buck in your truck
Buck Knives' new Model 735 X-Tract Essential is the pocket tool that could easily live in your truck's glovebox. Outfitted with a 420HC stainless steel knife blade, Phillips and flathead screwdrivers, and large spring-loaded scissors, this knife has all the basic tools you need for on-the-spot tasks, and it's easy to carry.
Gerber has solved the problem of never having the right battery on hand. Option Flashlights can run on AA, AAA, or CR123 batteries. The flashlight is engineered from aircraft-grade Type II hard-anodized aluminum for lightweight, rugged durability and has a 60-lumen output.
Youngstown's General Utility Glove lined with Kevlar is a cut-resistant, all-purpose performance work glove. Every inch of the glove is lined with Kevlar for enhanced cut resistance and extended durability while still being washable, dexterous, and durable.
Cover Your Tail
Mercenary Off Road is offering CYT (cover your tail) taillight covers made of 6061 aluminum. They fit three-hole, flush-mounted LED taillights and come in a variety of designs.