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20 Off-Road Gifts That Offer Major Value For Modest Coin

Posted in Product Reviews on November 24, 2014
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If you’ve got some folding money to spend but don’t want to reach too far into overdraft, the options for great off-roaders’ gifts in the $250-$500 range are abundant. Here’s just a few ideas we’d love to see wrapped under the tree Christmas morning.

1. What: A press is just one of those tools you never thought you couldn’t do without, but that once you own one, you discover you can’t do without. While you’re untangling that one, we’ll recommend Harbor Freight Tools’ durable, yet inexpensive 20-ton model.
How much: $260 (list price but can often be had for much less)
Where: Harbor Freight Tools, 800/423-2567,

2. What: It’s always nice when somebody has your back to pull you out of a sticky situation. That’s what a winch does in terms of the off-road hobby. It’s your big buddy with the set of brass knuckles. Feel free to run your mouth off, ’cause no matter what you get yourself into, it’ll pull you to safety. The Smittybilt XRC 9.5 winch offers 9,500 pounds of pulling power with a price that won’t put you in the poorhouse.
How much: $299
Where: Smittybilt, 888/717-5797,

3. What: With a width of almost 18 inches, you won’t be squeezing the Yeti Tundra 65 cooler behind the rear seat of a two-door Jeep, but if that’s what you’re after, the company has smaller offerings. Still, Yeti’s Tundra 65 is a great size for multi-day expeditionary camping and wheeling. And with heavy-duty latches and O-ring seals, it’s so durable you’ll be passing it down to your grandkids.
How much: $399
Where: Yeti Coolers, 512/394-9384,

4. What: A harsh ride, wallowy handling, or chattery tire movement can all be fixed by a quality set of shocks. The Bilstein 5100 monotube shocks are available for a wide variety of vehicles, tuned specifically for each application. Give the gift of a great ride.
How much: About $360 for a set of four, depending on application
Where: Bilstein,

5. What: A set of wheels can make or break the way your vehicle looks, but cheap aftermarket or weak factory aluminum wheels hold the potential to break in an entirely different way. For the utmost in bashability, it’s hard to go wrong with a set of plain steel wheels. Pro Comp’s Rock Crawler wheels in black powdercoating look great, are super strong and durable, and are made in the USA.
How much: Roughly $100 each or $400 for a set of four
Where: Pro Comp, 800/776-0767,

6. What: You can never have too much stuff—that is, until you have to get it from point A to point B. The Yakima Load Warrior roof rack makes that task a bit easier, with a generous 44x39x6.5-inch capacity. It’ll accept Yakima’s bike, ski, canoe, and other rack systems atop its rails, and the company even offers off-road-specific mounts for items such as Hi-Lift jacks, axes, shovels, and lights.
How much: $251
Where: Yakima, 888/925-4621,

7. What: Heading off into the great outdoors means you’ve got to bring everything you’ll need with you, including compressed air to repair flats or air up tires. Viair’s Constant Duty onboard air system includes everything you’ll need to outfit your 4x4 with a continuous supply of compressed air for a reasonable price.
How much: $399
Where: Viair, 949/858-0011,

8. What: Doing any heavy hauling? To help keep the rear from squatting and the headlights from pointing at the treetops, Firestone’s Ride Rite air bag system can be easily installed to provide additional load-carrying capacity. Application-specific kits are available with compressor, bags, brackets, in-cab switch, and everything else required for installation.
How much: About $316, depending on application
Where: Firestone, 800/247-4337,

9. What: If you know somebody with a lifted GM truck with independent front suspension, chances are they’re constantly chasing worn steering tie-rod ends and idler arms. The Cognito Motorsports GM pitman/idler arm support kit adds a double-shear mount to help support the factory components and prevent wear. It’s just the ticket to avoid replacing all your tie-rod ends every 20,000 miles.
How much: $290
Where: Cognito Motorsports, 866-426-4648,

10. What: Got an ’03-’08 Dodge Ram 2500 or 3500 pickup that wanders all over the road and eats tires for lunch? There’s a fix for that. Converting from the older Y-shaped linkage to the ’09-up T-shaped linkage will go a long way toward improving your Ram’s steering. The tie rod and drag link parts (PN 52122362AL) are available through your dealership, but we found them at Diesel Power Products as well. Don’t forget the ’09-up pitman arm (PN 68039930AA) while you’re at it.
How much: $465 with pitman arm
Where: Diesel Power Products, 888/993-4373,

11. What: Want a carburetor that’s tailor-made to work well on rough terrain, angles, inclines, and heavy hits? The Holley Truck Avenger is available in 470, 670, and 770 cfm models to support a wide range of engine sizes, no matter the terrain.
How much: $464
Where: Holley, 866/464-6553,

12. What: Nobody likes to be kept in the dark, especially when it comes to what’s going on under the hood of that hard-working 4x4. Upgrade or add to your factory gauges by installing a matched set of Auto Meter mechanical or electric gauges. They’re available in a wide range of styles with options to cover just about any item you could imagine needing to keep tabs on.
How much: Starting at $270/set
Where: Auto Meter, 866/248-6356,

13. What: Performance Distributors offers its much-upgraded DUI (Davis Unified Ignition) distributor for a wide range of engines. Custom-tuned with a spark curve specific to each individual order, a much hotter spark allowing plug gaps up to 0.065-inch, and a wide cap that resists arching, adding a DUI distributor is as close as you can come to visiting a custom dyno-tune facility.
How much: About $385, depending on application
Where: Performance Distributors, 901/396-5782,

14. What: Being a kingpin is probably pretty nice, but being a kingpin steering arm can be hazardous to your fasteners. That is, unless you’re talking about Artec Industries’ Ultimate Dana 60 steering arms. They come with five-bolt mounts for use with aftermarket or stock knuckles and use a double-sheer mount that ties the tie rod and drag link into the factory mount for the ultimate in strength.
How much: $330/pair
Where: Artec Industries, 855/ARTEC99,

15. What: Normally you don’t want a present that sucks, unless you’re talking about your engine’s ability to suck in more air. Airaid has a high-performance cold-air intake for your engine, guaranteed. If not, Editor Hazel will more than double your money back. (Editor’s note: No, I won’t. Mueller, you’re fired.)
How much: About $285-$350, depending on application
Where: Airaid, 800/498-6951,

16. What: If you’re driving a late-model 4x4, chances are Bully Dog has a GT tuner that’ll give you more power, mileage, and flexibility in turning on or off your OE function, can compensate for bigger tires or different gear, and so much more. It even includes a color screen with on-the-fly viewing capabilities.
How much: About $400, depending on application
Where: Bully Dog, 940/783-9915,

17. What: What’s the hottest segment of the off-road market lately? LED lights and their ability to fry an oncoming deer at 1,000 paces. Some of the brightest available are the Vision X Light Cannons. We like the svelte 4.5-inch Light Cannons, which pack a lot of lumen punch in a manageable, mountable package that only draws about 25 watts.
How much: $499/pair
Where: Vision X, 888/489-9820,

18. What: Got Wood on Christmas morning? No? Wish you did? Tom Wood’s Custom Drive Shafts can help with that. One of the longest running, most trusted names in the aftermarket driveshaft world, Tom Wood’s pack tons of high-quality features into each custom-built unit, from Gold Seal U-joints, forged (not cast) CV assemblies, and more. Just call with your desired length and Tom Wood’s will do the rest.
How much: About $360, depending on application
Where: Tom Wood’s Custom Drive Shafts, 877/497-4238,

19. What: If you don’t have the real estate for auxiliary lighting but still want to be able to spot oncoming hazards in pitch-black conditions at ridiculously long distances, Truck-Lite has replacement LED headlights that retrofit in place of your 7-inch round incandescent bulbs. They pull much less wattage than the factory bulbs, yet throw enough lumens to give the sun a run for its money.
How much: $399/pair
Where: Truck-Lite,

20. What: Modern vehicles are great—until you try to hook any auxiliary-powered doodads to ’em. The sPOD is the solution, offering a clean underhood distribution box to which you can hook up your accessories. The only thing you need to run into the cabin is the control box containing the rocker switches. Many different styles and configurations are available from JK Wrangler-specific units to universal applications.
How much: About $435
Where: sPOD, 661/755-6549,

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