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Choosing a 4WD & Accessories for the Complete Off-Road Experience

A lot of people are feeling stuck in the urban and suburban jungles lately. For most, the reason for that is the pandemic, and before the pandemic, there were bushfires. It’s not been an easy time for outdoor enthusiasts who used to spend a weekend or two every month camping, caravanning or off-roading in general. But we can kind of see the end of the tunnel, and better days are ahead. 

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast who can’t wait to get back on the road, now is probably the best time to invest in 4×4 gear online, or at least plan how you’ll go about it, so that once all the restrictions are lifted, you can jump in the action as soon as possible.

Choosing the Right 4WD

The vehicle you have will play a crucial role in what you can and can’t do off the beaten trail. I personally own a Toyota Prado, which I’m very satisfied with. Some other very capable 4WDs are the Nissan Navara, Triton, Pathfinder, Holden Colorado, Toyota HiLux, LandCruiser, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Pajeros. The first four are on the more affordable end, whereas the latter four are slightly more expensive. But even though the HiLux, LandCruiser, Ranger and Pajero are on the more expensive end, they’re far easier to equip for the off-road. This is mainly due to the fact that they’re more popular among the off-roading community, so there are a lot of aftermarket parts and accessories available to choose from. Plus, they’re still in production.

The reason I bought a Prado is that it has a decent gross vehicle mass rating and it came equipped with a quality Toyota Prado roof rack that allowed me to just pack my things and be on my way. While they aren’t a significant investment, Toyota Prado roof racks are the most versatile aftermarket accessories you can get.

 If you’re looking for a second-hand 4WD, pay attention to what type and how many accessories are fitted onto it. If it’s fitted with a decent number of accessories, it usually means that it was used off the road for the most part, which means it’s gone through a fair amount of abuse. Furthermore, having more accessories isn’t always great. While the previous owner might have made the most out of them, you can find yourself having to remove some, messing up the setup in the process. However, a well-put-together 4WD setup might save you money instead.

So Which Accessories Do You Truly Need?

Bullbar for Front-End Protection

Bullbars are accessories that every off-road 4WD vehicle needs to be equipped with. One of the top reasons to install a bullbar is that it offers front-end protection from collisions with animals, airborne objects flying your way, branches, and anything else you may come across in the vast Australian outback. Furthermore, a bullbar can come in handy if you’re trying to push a fellow off-roader out of a sticky situation. There are literally hundreds of different bullbars available nowadays, no matter what type of vehicle you own. They come in a wide range of designs and can be made from a variety of materials. 

The materials the bullbar can be made from are the most important factor you need to consider next to fit. Quality bullbars designed for off-road use are either made of steel or aluminium alloy. Steel bullbars are the strongest, most durable option, but they’re also very heavy, weighing anywhere between 70 and 100kg. Aluminium alloy bullbars, on the other hand, are still pretty strong, but they are far more lightweight, usually ranging between 30 and 50kg. However, aluminium options are also usually more expensive.

Roof Rack for Extra Storage Capacity

I briefly talked about why I see Toyota Prado roof racks as one of the most valuable off-road accessories you can get. Your 4WD may come with factory standard rails that you can add crossbars to and carry some cargo. However, in off-road settings, these types of roof racks may slip, and you won’t be able to carry as much cargo as the roof rack is rated for. In some cases, you’ll only be able to carry about 50% of the stated allowance. For that reason, consider getting an off-road-ready roof rack drilled in. Your factory roof rails will still be there beneath it all, and you won’t have to go through the taxing process of removing them, which can be quite expensive.

Just like bullbars, roof racks can be made from steel and aluminium. Steel is more durable, but heavier, whereas aluminium is lightweight, yet more expensive. Most seasoned off-roaders will tell you to go for aluminium roof racks, as they allow you to put more cargo on them. But at the end of the day, only you know how much you need to carry and how important durability is for your specific style of off-roading. 

Recovery Equipment

If there’s one off-road accessory nobody should leave town without, it’s definitely recovery equipment. After all, there’s a number of tricky situations you can encounter when off road, like getting stuck in mud. So, being prepared with the right 4×4 recovery solutions will allow you to continue your adventure and get back to town safely. 

You can buy recovery 4×4 gear online, which is available in a wide range of shapes and forms, and choosing the ideal one, or preferably two, will come down to a few factors, and budget is the main one. From winches to high-lift jacks and recovery tracks, there are quite a few options. Winches are the most sophisticated and thus, the most expensive one you can get. They require minimal manual effort to get the job done. However, you have to make sure you have a mounting point on your 4WD for the winch. Many bullbars provide mounting points, and if yours doesn’t, you may not be able to install and safely use a winch. 

In that case, you may want to consider high-lift jacks. High-lift jacks are completely mechanical pieces of recovery equipment that you can use to lift parts of your 4WD to get it unstuck. High-lift jacks can be quite dangerous, and you’ll need high-lift points on your vehicle to use it safely. On top of the high-lift jack itself, you may also want to consider accessories like a high-lift jack platform to ensure the jack can be stable on the ground you use it on. 

If you aren’t convinced that high-lift jacks are a suitable option for you, your last resort should be recovery tracks. Recovery tracks are affordable pieces of recovery equipment that can double down as shovels. All you need to do is dig around the tyres that are stuck, place the tracks under the tyres and your 4WD will be able to get some traction and momentum to get out of mud, snow or any other sticky situation.

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