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23 Good Gifts For The Penny-Pinching Giver

Posted in Product Reviews on November 28, 2014
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Most of us don’t have a lot of spare funds during the holiday season. But you don’t have to resort to giving a hand-drawn crayon portrait as a gift. Here are some ideas for great gifts that won’t put you in the poorhouse.

1. What: Give the gift of long-lasting slipperiness. Amsoil synthetic lubricants are one way to ensure your vehicle lasts almost as long as you. The company makes engine, transmission, differential, and any other oil you need to add to your vehicle, as well as its own line of grease, high-quality filters, and more. We like the company’s 75W-90 gear lube.
How Much: $15/quart
Where: Amsoil, 800/956-5695,

2. What: If you’ve ever pulled your valve cores to air down, only to have the core whiz over your shoulder into the dirt, you’ll appreciate Extreme Outback Products’ No Loss Valve Caps. They cinch tight and offer an airtight seal, even with no valve core in the stem. As a bonus, the caps attach to the stem so you’ll never lose them.
How Much: $14/set of four
Where: Extreme Outback Products, 866/447-7711,

3. What: Used military ammo cans are immensely useful to off-roaders. You can build them into a center console, lock your tools or spare parts inside, keep recovery gear, or whatever you like. They come in a wide array of sizes and feature heavy steel construction with O-ringed latching tops. We like the 50-cal versions. You can find them surplus, or if you’re not into foraging, Quadratec carries them in several sizes.
How Much: $5-up (surplus) or $19 (Quadratec)
Where: Quadratec, 800/745-5337,

4. What: Space in your modern vehicle’s interior is almost at as much a premium as underhood space. That’s why Daystar’s Dash Switch Panels make it so much easier to put switched accessories in your modern vehicle. The company has vehicle-specific panels for JK Wrangler, Ford, and Hummer vehicles, with universal applications as well.
How Much: $20
Where: Daystar, 800/595-7659,

5. What: Aside from those of you in Colorado and California, if somebody asks you for a good joint, they’re talking about a genuine Spicer U-joint. With a cold-forged body and quality grease throughout, each Spicer U-joint will give you a lifetime of service.
How Much: $20-up, depending on application
Where: Spicer, 800/621-8084,

6. What: It’s only the most useful off-road tool ever invented. And it’s been in use and proven for so long that cave paintings in France clearly depict Hi-Lift jacks being used to lift mammoth kills. If your off-roader doesn’t already have one, put a 48-inch version under the tree.
How Much: $60
Where: Hi-Lift, 800/223-2051,

7. What: It’s been called hillbilly fuel injection. That’s because a properly operating Q-Jet four-barrel or Motorcraft two-barrel runs so well at crazy off-road angles it’s the cheapest alternative to an expensive injection system. You can find either from a junkyard nowadays for as little as $15. Add in another $25 for new gaskets from a rebuild kit and you’re in business.
How Much: $15-up
Where: Local junkyard or online community

8. What: Charging systems can be problematic things. A one-wire alternator will vastly simplify things. We like Summit Racing’s 100-amp alternator (PN 811001). You only need to hook up a charging lead from the alternator to the Positive terminal on the battery. Easy, done.
How Much: $91
Where: Summit Racing, 800/230-3030,

9. What: Long the mainstay of the educated airer-downer, the Currie Enterprises Tire Deflator is an all-inclusive air-down system that captures the valve core so it can’t escape. A quality brass fitting, chuck, air gauge, and flexible hose allow you to quickly and accurately air down each tire without the fear of losing a valve core.
How Much: $32
Where: Currie Enterprises, 714/528-6957,

10. What: If you have a project that’s not going anywhere in a while, get some Harbor Freight car dollies so you can push it out of your way from time to time. If nothing else, it’ll make you feel like you’re making progress on your languishing project.
How Much: $60/pair
Where: Harbor Freight Tools, 800/423-2567,

11. What: The welded-steel Flowmaster 50 Series muffler sounds as good as it is bashable. And it is definitely bashable. The Flowmaster increases exhaust flow while sounding great, and its heavy steel construction allows it to absorb monster damage while continuing to function perfectly.
How Much: About $89, depending on application
Where: Flowmaster, 707/544-4761,

12. What: Not to toot our own horn, but the 2014 Top Truck Challenge DVD is about the most awesome present one human being could give another. With killer footage of this year’s event, plus a ton of extra footage not found on our website or YouTube channels, it’s worth its weight in gold. Get yours at your local 4 Wheel Parts store.
How Much: $26
Where: 4 Wheel Parts, 800/257-5629,

13. What: Keeping your cooler from flopping around means you got to cinch it down with a strap, but then every time you want to grab a drink or snack, you have to uncinch it. Magnacool (formerly Stick-It Magnetics) offers its Magnacooler—a cooler with a magnetic base. Just plop it down on any steel surface and it’s not going anywhere until you yank it away.
How Much: $50
Where: Magnacool,

14. What: Give them that special gift you know they’ll love—a greasy SM420 transmission. They’re not being made anymore, but you can still find them in junkyards for around $100. Just look in any GM pickup from the 1960s to early 1970s. Or, if you’re hard up, Novak Conversions offers fully rebuilt models.
How Much: $100 (junkyard), about $1,500 (Novak fully rebuilt)
Where: Novak Conversions, 435/753-2513,

15. What: Want to make your Warn winch stand out? Trick out your recovery bag with some of Warn’s new Premium line of recovery equipment. The high-end shackles, snatch blocks, tree savers, and even winch hooks can be purchased individually and really stand out in looks and performance.
How Much: $42-$75 depending on product
Where: Warn, 800/543-9276,

16. What: There’s nothing worse than a sloppy toolbox, and of all those sloppy drawers, nothing is more offensive than tangled wrenches. Available from a variety of manufacturers, these wrench organizers can be just the thing to straighten up the toolbox clutter and decrease time spent searching for the right tool.
How Much: $6-up
Where: Most local tool stores

17. What: If you’ve built a tube buggy or just want a cool-looking and secure way to hang something on your ’cage, Rugged Ridge X-Clamps are the ticket.
How Much: $24/ea
Where: Rugged Ridge,

18. What: Craigslist, Jeep dealership, or your local off-road warehouse’s dumpster. If that’s the answer, the question must be, “where can you find factory JK Rubicon shocks?” They’re valved very soft and make a great, cheap upgrade for many off-road-going vehicles’ suspension. We don’t know why the Jeep guys are so anxious to get rid of ’em.
How Much: Free to $10, used
Where: Craigslist or a dumpster

19. What: Dedicated shop gloves are expensive and wear out rather quickly. In lieu of the expensive padded ones, use heavy welding gloves for big chores. They cost about the same as the fancy padded nylon gloves and wear forever. For finer jobs, a pair of TIG-welding gloves allows more finesse.
How Much: $34
Where: Miller Electric, 920/7349821,

20 What: A cheap carabiner can’t be used for climbing, but you can sling a bunch of closed-end wrenches on one so they don’t get lost in your trail toolbox. Or, use one as a handy clip to keep your car keys on you so they never get dropped on the trail.
How Much: $1
Where: Most hardware and auto parts store

21. What: It’s got a hollowed handle with a screw-on cap and lanyard just like Rambo’s knife. It’s light weight, easily maneuverable, razor sharp, and comes with a cool sheath. Smittybilt’s Trail Ax is a great addition to any off-road-going vehicle, or just get one and keep it in the garage.
How Much: $29
Where: Smittybilt, 888/717-5797,

22. What: As great as Hi-Lift Jacks are, adding a Jack Mate base from Rescue 42 makes it even better. The Jack Mate adds clamping ability, accepts D-ring shackles, has sharp jaws to bite into uneven surfaces and avoid slipping, and tons of other useful features. It slides right on the end of a Hi-Lift in place of the factory base and is secured with an attached pin.
How Much: $42
Where: Rescue 42, 888/427-3728,

23. What: Not all of us can drive our 4x4s all winter long. If you’ve got to put your toy away for the winter or it sits for prolonged periods of time, the Auto Meter Battery Extender charges and maintains your 12 or 16-volt battery all year long, constantly switching a token 1-amp trickle charge off and on.
How Much: $82
Where: Auto Meter, 866/248-6356,

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