Whether you’re searching for yourself or somebody you really, really, really care about, sometimes money is no object. So if you got to put the best gift that money can buy under the tree for your off-road addict but aren’t sure what to get, we put together a must-have list that’s sure to cover most bases.
1. What: AEV’s Rear Vision System for JK Wranglers comes in two versions: one for OEM navigation screens and another that includes a replacement rearview mirror with an integrated LCD screen. Either version drastically improves rearward vision and makes it possible to see with an oversized tailgate-mounted spare tire.
How much: $650-$700
Where: AEV, 248/926-0256, aev-conversions.com
2. What: The ARB Fridge Freezers are crazy-durable, conveniently sized, and packed with features like LED interior light, integrated handles, and removable lid. The digital thermostat can be set from anything to a light chill to frozen solid, and the unit can operate on 12/24-volt DC or 120-volt AC current. They’re available in 37, 50, 63, and 82-quart sizes.
How much: $850-$1,300, depending on model
Where: ARB, 425/264-1391, arbusa.com
3. What: Even without the useful ability to cut metal without a ton of noise and effort, the sparks it throws is worth the entry fee alone. Miller offers plasma cutters in a range of sizes and capabilities, from the hobby-friendly Spectrum 125C (rated to cut 1⁄8-inch steel) up to the Spectrum 875 (rated 7⁄8-inch steel). However, for most at-home fabbers, the Spectrum 375 X-TREME or Spectrum 625 X-TREME will be plenty.
How much: $1,200 (Spectrum 375) to $1,700 (Spectrum 625)
Where: Miller Electric, 920/734-9821, millerwelds.com
4. What: If you’ve got a JK and you’re discerning about the ride, check out Rock Krawler’s 2.5-inch Max Travel System. The bolt-in suspension will clear 35s and includes high-clearance lower control arms, a bombproof 1.5-inch solid alloy front track bar, stainless brake lines, an upgraded rear track bar relocation bracket, front sway-bar disconnects, and Rock Krawler’s excellent triple progressive-rate coil springs. The result is factory-like ride and handling with gobs of flex.
How much: $1,379 without shocks
Where: Rock Krawler, 518/270-9822, rockkrawler.com
5. What: Airing down is the best thing you can do for on-trail performance. To keep from slipping a tire off the wheel, Champion Wheel can convert your existing wheels into single or double beadlock wheels to cinch the tire bead firmly in place. We’ve never slipped an inner bead, so unless you’re running an all-out competition rig, the regular outer beadlocks should be plenty.
How much: $980, or $245 per wheel
Where: Champion Wheel, 951/471-2183, championbillet.com
6. What: Chevy Performance’s 6.2L LS3 E-Rod package makes it absurdly simple to install a smog-legal 430hp, 424–lb-ft all-aluminum V-8 in any ’95 or older vehicle. The E-Rod includes a brand-new engine, two different sets of exhaust manifolds, catalytic converter, wiring harness, EVAP system, air filter, MAP sensor, O2 sensors, electronic throttle, and more. Just add your front accessories, hook up the wiring, add fuel, and go.
How much: $7,950
Where: Chevy Performance, chevyperformance.com
7. What: Running a 1-ton Dana front and want the strongest, most stupid-proof axleshafts you can get? Try a pair of RCV’s Ultimate 300M CV Axles. Like the name implies, they’re constructed from durable 300M chromoly, and the CV joint eliminates binding when turning. Without the elliptical rotation of U-joints, the RCV CVs are as strong turning as they are with the wheels straight. They come with a durable polyurethane seal.
How much: $2,950/pair
Where: RCV, 815/877-7473, rcvperformance.com
8. What: The Eaton E-Locker is a burly-strong electronically actuated selectable locker (open/spool) available for most popular Dana, AAM, and some Ford axles in factory and increased spline counts. They offer a simple installation with no special hoses, lines, or cables to route. Just hook up the switches and lock ’er up.
How much: $690-$972, depending on model
Where: Eaton, 800/328-3850, eatonperformance.com
9. What: You don’t always need a complete upgraded axle assembly, but if you’re wheeling serious terrain with lockers and up-sized tires, you’ll probably want axleshafts made of better material than factory. The G2 Axle & Gear Placer Gold-series axleshafts are forged of chromoly right here in the USA and are available in factory and up-sized spline counts for most common axle assemblies.
How much: Roughly $990/pair, depending on application
Where: G2 Axle & Gear, 310/900-2687, g2axle.com
10. What: If you’ve already got a powerful 4.6hp motor wired inside your 9,500-pound Warn winch, why not use that motor to power an all-screw air compressor to deliver a whopping 5 cfm of compressed air at 90 psi. With a max air pressure of 100 psi, the Warn PowerPlant 9.5 combines one of the world’s best winches with a super-fast onboard air compressor to operate pneumatic tools and air up tires.
How much: $1,690
Where: Warn, 800/910-1122, warn.com
11. What: What T-case is durable, super-strong, relatively light weight, compact, can be had in a wide range of low-range ratios, and can be configured to work behind just about any transmission you can imagine? If you said Atlas T-case you’d be right. With no end of options from driver/passenger front output, 32-spline upgraded output shafts, all-gear internals, ratios including 1.5, 2.0, 3.0, 3.8, 4.3, and 5.0:1, and shifters and yokes for nearly any chassis, the two-speed Atlas T-case is the envy of any stock T-case.
How much: About $2,300, depending on options
Where: Advance Adapters, 800/350-2223, advanceadapters.com
12. What: Converting from your antiquated carburetor to a fuel-injection system will give you night and day performance. And one of the easiest and least expensive aftermarket ways to do it is with a Professional Products Powerjection system. Aside from a pressurized source of fuel, a 12-volt hot ignition source, and a few wires for things like the O2 and a couple other simple sensors, the Powerjection fits right to any square-bore four-barrel manifold. And it’s self-learning to adjust for aftermarket modifications.
How much: $1,560 alone or $1,730 with fuel pump, filter, and lines
Where: Professional Products, 323/306-5067, professional-products.com
13. What: Love long off-road exploration trips but hate setting up camp every night? Rooftop tents like the Smittybilt Overlander allow you to get your bed ready quickly by yourself. It’s a one-man operation to open up the tent, and it has fully waterproof RipStop polyester with stainless hinges, anodized aluminum poles, and features a 60mm foam mattress, screens, and an LED strip light in the interior.
How much: $800
Where: Smittybilt, 888/717-5797, smittybilt.com
14. What: LED lights have increased in durability, brightness, and options. Packing 50 Cree LEDS into a 50-inch-long 6063 aluminum housing, the Pro Comp SR48 single-row LED suck 178 watts to throw a scorching 15,360 lumens of light power. The flood/spot/comp pattern lightbar comes with two sets of mounting brackets, wiring harness, switch, and relay. Just wire and fire into the night.
How much: $925
Where: Pro Comp, 800/776-0767, procompusa.com
15. What: If you’ve got an ’07-up JK Wrangler, ’99-present ¾- or 1-ton Dodge, or ’92-present ¾- or 1-ton Ford, Dynatrac has a solid upgrade for your front axle wheel wobble problems. Built from heat-treated billet steel, fully greaseable, rebuildable, and with Teflon-coated internal wear points, these will definitely be the last ball joints you’ll need to buy for your 4x4, no matter how hard you wheel it or how big the tires.
How much: $560/set
Where: Dynatrac, 714/596-4461, dynatrac.com
16. What: Ever seen a factory cast knuckle break? We have, especially with high-steer arms. The Reid Racing knuckles for Dana 30, 44, 60, and GM 10-bolt axles are built from super-stout ductile iron and employ features like flat tops drilled and tapped for high-steer arms (three-to-five bolt holes depending on application), special conversion hub knuckles for Jeep Dana 30/44 Unitbearing applications, and many other upgrades over stock.
How much: About $600/pair, depending on application
Where: Reid Racing, 925/935-3025, reidracing.biz
17. What: If you’ve added a larger-than-stock tire to your JK’s factory tailgate-mounted carrier you’re most likely deal with rattling, hard closing, the tailgate flexing and allowing dust into the cabin, or all of the above. The TeraFlex JK HD Hinged Carrier and Adustable Spare Tire Mounting Kit replaces the factory carrier with an adjustable unit able to accept up to a 37-inch spare and a reinforcement plate that ties into the tailgate hinge location. The unit is built of lightweight cast aluminum and allows retention of your current factory or aftermarket bumper.
How much: $720
Where: TeraFlex, 801/713-3314, teraflex.com
18. What: Like power? Who doesn’t? Better mileage? Well, yeah. Rust? Nobody likes rust. That’s why you should give a present of a stainless steel Borla exhaust system. Cat-Back systems, including muffler and tailpipe, are available for virtually any vehicle worth its weight in fuel. Add in a stainless header and intermediate pipe and you’ll have a free-flowing exhaust that’ll last ’til the dinosaurs come back.
How much: $500-up, depending on application
Where: Borla, 877/462-6752, borla.com
19. What: Wheel hard enough long enough or with enough people and sooner or later somebody is going to have to get welded up to get off the trail. The Premier Power Welder is a completely integrated onboard welding system that includes a high-amp alternator to replace your factory unit, control box, wiring harness, throttle control assembly, and battery clamp. As an added bonus, there’s even a 115-volt AC power outlet.
How much: About $1,200, depending on application and model
Where: Premier Power Welder, 970/963-8875, premierpowerwelder.com
20. What: You can never go wrong with a wad of cash, but if that seems a bit too impersonal, you can always go for a gift certificate from 4 Wheel Parts and let your off-road enthusiast browse the world of aftermarket upgrades from tires and wheels to lights and bumpers ’til their heart is content.
How much: $500-$2500
Where: 4 Wheel Parts, 800/257-5629, 4wheelparts.com