Rough Country News

  • Building blocks for the perfect off-road truck

    Whether you prefer dune bashing or have a penchant for mud bogging, odds are that you'll need to make at least a few adjustments to your truck to ensure your adventures don't damage the vehicle. There are countless truck mods that can help you fine tune your ride to your exact specifications, but a few of them are universally smart ideas for all off-road drivers. While many trucks and SUVs like the Jeep Wrangler and Land Rover Range Rover are built to drive off the beaten path with ease, they will need adjustments so you don't wind up cracking an axle or damaging the undercarriage. Here are a few of the things you should consider when you begin modifying your truck.

    Lift kits
    Ground clearance is an important factor to take into consideration if you want to go off-roading. Everything from boulders to fallen tree branches can scrape along the underside of your vehicle if you do not have enough space between the car and the ground, which, may cause harm to various auto parts and lead to costly repairs. A lift kit modifies the suspension system, allowing you to install larger tires and give you some more breathing room. This truck mod will also create a wider range of travel for the vehicle, so you won't get tossed around as much when traversing a highly uneven area. You will want to find a lift kit that is best suited for the type of off-roading you plan to do, as mud bogging and desert driving will require different systems.

    Tires
    After installing a lift kit, you'll have more room for larger tires. These serve two purposes - the first being a higher ground clearance for the vehicle. Larger tires will also have more surface area, making it easier for you to get across rocky sections without fear of getting stuck while providing better traction. You can get a set of all-terrain or mud tires that are designed specifically for off-roading, and Jalopnik reports that bigger is better.

    Skid plates
    While large tires and lift kits will go a long way to preventing damage to the undercarriage of your vehicle, there are still bound to be large obstacles that might scrape up against your car as you pass over them. You can install skid plates that are designed to protect everything from the gas tank and differentials to the oil pan and rocker panels, so you won't have to worry about getting stuck out in the wilderness with a truck that won't start.

  • New list highlights the best off-road vehicles of the year

    It's never easy to try and sift through all of the available information regarding potential vehicles. With so many statistics, reviews and other write-ups out there for the public, drivers have a lot to consider when they're looking at off-road options. In some instances, you've got to turn to other sources for input, which is why lists like "The Top 10 4x4 Off-Road Trucks This Year," released by autoMedia.com, can be so helpful.

    This ranking looked at some of the best trucks and SUVs for off-road driving introduced this year. The list contains some vehicles that are traditional choices for off-roading, as well as some other options you may not have previously considered.

    "Off-road vehicles are no longer minimalist cars that have few creature comforts and are difficult to drive in everyday situations, and this new list reflects that," said Doug Hamlin, founder of autoMedia.com. "Buyers can find a wide variety of brand new trucks and SUVs in any price range, and select the one that fits their budget and sense of adventure." 

    Here are a few of the selections that autoMedia.com singled out as being among the best options of the year so far:

    2013 Ram 1500
    It's no surprise to see the Ram 1500 on this list. Through the first several months of 2013, the pickup has racked up tons of awards and accolades, including many that have cited it as being one of the best - if not the best - options of any automobile on the market. One of the calling cards of this model is its frame, which is rugged and capable of handling whatever obstacles you throw at it. An adjustable air suspension can be easily modified with a Dodge lift kit, and the impressive 407 foot-pounds of torque is standing by to get you through any kind of tough situation.

    2013 Honda Ridgeline
    There are some instances where fans of off-roading have to toe the line between heavy-duty vehicles and family-friendly options that can meet a variety of needs. Although it's not usually considered to be an off-road staple, the 2013 Honda Ridgeline has enough amenities to keep fans of off-roading happy while also serving as an everyday car. It's got plenty of cargo space for gear and supplies, as well as above-average steering and all-wheel drive. 

    2013 Jeep Wrangler
    No list of the best off-road vehicles would be complete without the presence of the Jeep Wrangler. As with its predecessors, this Wrangler was practically born to conquer tough terrain. Valuing function over flair, the ride is ready to hit the trails with or without Jeep modifications, and making even a few small changes to the ride can turn it into the off-road vehicle of your dreams. Tires perfect for mud bogging and hardcore rock rails are just two of the many included features that can enhance your time on the trails. 

    2014 Toyota Tundra TRD
    As one of the newest inclusions on the list, the 2014 Toyota Tundra TRD still has a lot to prove - but it seems more than up to the task. The TRD package is designed to offer some of the most popular off-road amenities, bringing drivers tools like Bilstein shocks. Special touches to the exterior aim to reduce drag and improve aerodynamics, while also making for a more stable driving experience - no matter what the environment. This Toyota is still in the process of being rolled out to dealerships around the U.S., but it is definitely one to keep an eye on as the year goes by. 

  • Show off truck mods in a SEMA contest

    Think your truck modifications are impressive enough to stand out among some of the best mods in the U.S.? Those drivers who believe the truck mods they've made are up to snuff will have a chance to pit their vehicles against rides from across the country as part of the upcoming Royal Purple contest, done in partnership with the 2013 SEMA Show

    The contest
    A revamped contest from Royal Purple, a manufacturer of synthetic oil, is scheduled for the 2013 SEMA Show. The new setup will provide truck owners with their own class to compete in, which is a change from years past. Previously, the competition, called "Show It Off At SEMA" and conducted by the manufacturer, selected some of the best modified vehicles from a pool of entrants and brought the winners out to the official SEMA show. This year will be a bit different, as the company has expanded the classes to include one specifically for trucks. 

    "Royal Purple has an incredibly diverse customer base that includes enthusiasts of just about every type of vehicle imaginable," said Marlena Soloman, a communications specialist for Royal Purple, as quoted by Mopar Muscle magazine. "By adding this new truck class, it enables thousands more enthusiasts to be a part of our most successful contest." 

    All drivers have to do to enter their ride is submit photos of their truck through a special contest app. You can download the program and submit your truck pictures starting Aug. 1 at 12 a.m., with the deadline coming one week later, Aug. 8. Car owners can then enter from Aug. 8 to 15. Once that period has closed, Royal Purple will select five vehicles from each class for further consideration. A panel of experts will then judge the automobiles based on their modifications, and the winners will be brought to the SEMA show and given their own display to showcase their rides. 

    About SEMA
    The 2013 SEMA Show is slated for Nov. 5 to 8 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nev. It is one of the largest specialty product trade events in the world, drawing in thousands of guests and vendors eager to check out the latest and greatest products and designs. With seminars, discussions, demonstrations, entertainment and more, the show is one of the coolest and most eye-opening events for fans of off-roading and vehicle modifications. 

  • Ram Truck named 'Most Ideal Brand' by AutoPacific

    Each year, AutoPacific gives out awards to various vehicles and brands that have earned "most ideal" ratings, and the Ram Truck brand took the top accolade for 2013. With a title like "Most Ideal Popular Brand," it's easy to see why Ram is so beloved among people who love off-road driving or have heavy-duty jobs to do.

    Drivers love their Ram trucks
    The AutoPacific Awards are decided by drivers who fill out surveys that aim to find out how likely the participants are to change vehicles based on 15 different categories. More than 52,000 car and truck owners revealed how they feel about their current rides in terms of power, acceleration, storage and more. Ram owners were the least likely to want to change vehicles, which indicates they're the most content with their current rides.

    "The Ideal Vehicle Awards show that marketers, product planners, researchers and engineers have developed and launched a vehicle executed best for their target market," said Dan Hall, vice president of AutoPacific.

    Jeep saw some success too
    In addition to Ram, the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee was recognized for its high quality and driver satisfaction. The off-road vehicle received the award for "Most Ideal Mid-Size SUV," marking the third consecutive year the model has won this accolade. Since Jeep and Ram are both sub-brands of Chrysler Group, their respective wins - coupled with the Chrysler Town & Country's "Most Ideal Minivan" award - highlight the top quality that the auto manufacturer is offering drivers. Whether consumers want pickup trucks or SUVs built for off-roading or they need minivans to cart their families around, Chrysler is a brand worth checking out.

    What's next for Ram?
    Ram recently unveiled its next big thing - the 1500 Rumble Bee concept pickup - at the 2013 Woodward Dream Cruise in metropolitan Detroit. This vehicle was modeled after the 1960s Super Bee, and Ram engineers started out with a 2013 Ram 1500 R/T. They added truck modifications such as "Drone Yellow" paint and a glossy black stripe that fades into honeycomb. The "bee" theme is echoed inside the passenger cab as well, with black and drone yellow leather seats and an amber-encased bee on the shifter knob. Not all the truck mods were about appearance either - they gave the pickup larger tires and dropped the suspension 2 inches to improve handling and performance.

  • Guinness World Record for pickup truck parade on the line in Indianapolis

    Who doesn't like seeing big groups of trucks together? You may enjoy checking out truck mods that fellow drivers have implemented or seeing how certain models that could be perfect for your next off-road vehicle run. No matter what you appreciate at these gatherings, there's a good chance you get a thrill from seeing so many top-notch trucks together in one place. If that's the case, then the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the place to be at the beginning of August, as organizers are trying to break the Guinness World Record for the World's Largest Parade of Pickup Trucks. 

    To honor the launch of a new SiriusXM channel called Rural Radio, promoters are attempting to rally pickup truck owners in the Midwest to participate in the parade. All vehicles must circle a minimum of 2 miles at less than 5 miles per hour, with all participating rides completing the full length of the route to qualify for the world record. 

    The current world record for the Largest Parade of Pickup Trucks is 273. It was set Aug. 25, 2013 at the Dresden Raceway in Ontario, Canada, but if all goes according to plan, this upcoming event should surpass that mark.

    Aside from the procession, visitors will be able to check out the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, examine some of the coolest truck modifications on display and enjoy the live entertainment offered at the event. Additionally, about 20 classic tractors will be showcased to go along with the Antique Tractor Parade, PickupTrucks.com reports.  

    All are invited to head to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to take part in this event, and drivers are encouraging to decorate their pickups in whatever manner they see fit. Of course, some will likely want to keep it simple so their truck mods are the highlight. 

  • Truck from 'Back to the Future' reappears on the market

    When car fanatics think of the rides in the film series "Back to the Future," their minds are probably immediately drawn to the DeLorean, the futuristic-looking vehicle used by the main characters to travel through time. However, that was not the only vehicle used in the movies. In fact, the character of Marty McFly, played by Michael J. Fox, drove around in a 1985 Toyota SR5 Xtra Cab 4x4 truck when he wasn't time-hopping through the decades, and that truck has recently reappeared in the public eye. 

    About the truck's history
    This Toyota pickup truck has been on quite a journey since its time on the "Back to the Future" movie set - its real-life adventures may even rival those from the film. Jalopnik reports that the people in charge of the restoration say the truck was originally stolen years ago before being transported to Mexico. The vehicle was eventually recovered by police and shipped back to the U.S., where it began being treated for several of the bumps and scrapes it picked up during its time south of the border. 

    Redone to be resold 
    The Toyota SR5 Xtra Cab 4x4 has undergone several repairs in the past few years. Its truck modifications include a rebuilt drivetrain, new starter and new brake master cylinder. This vehicle also has a fresh coat of black paint and a refurbished interior designed to make it comfortable enough for any driver, regardless of their decade of origin. The Toyota suspension has been raised and tires ready for off-road driving have also been installed, making the machine ready to handle whatever adventures you throw at it. 

    Before you can get behind the wheel of this vehicle, however, you'll have to see if the price is right. Its current auction price on eBay sits at $14,500, but that could rise over the course of the next day. While the seller maintains that the price is merely half of what has been invested in the truck, the ride has still accumulated nearly 30 years of use and traversed more than 280,000 miles, AutoBlog reports. However, it does boast four-wheel drive and off-roading capabilities, and it could be a one-of-a-kind option for someone searching for the ultimate off-road vehicle. 

    Regardless of who ends up with this truck, it will remain a piece of movie memorabilia forever. 

  • Jeepers Jamboree brings off-roaders together

    Few vehicles capture the off-roading lifestyle quite like a Jeep. Whether you're behind the wheel of a Wrangler, a Cherokee or anything in between, you can take advantage of all of the Jeep modifications you've made to an off-road vehicle to explore an off-road trail that is both challenging and rewarding. Of course, these adventures are occasionally more fun when you're not alone, which makes some gatherings, such as the Jeepers Jamboree, alluring for many drivers. 

    Jeepers Jamboree
    For more than 60 years, campers and off-roading enthusiasts have been flocking to the western U.S. to participate in the annual Jeepers Jamboree. As one of the oldest and most popular treks in the country, the Jamboree takes up to 500 Jeeps and other automobiles across the Rubicon Trail in California. 

    Over the years, more than 35,000 off-road vehicles and 102,000 drivers and passengers have participated in the Jamboree. Everyone who takes part in the event has to be ready to handle anything, as the trip features late nights, loud music and a festive environment. Trail guides are stationed along the way to make sure all drivers stay safe and to provide guidance when it's needed, allowing anyone from beginners to expert off-roaders to join the Jamboree. 

    Drivers can choose from three- or four-day runs of the Jeepers Jamboree. A Vendor Show is on site to highlight some of the coolest accessories for all vehicles, but only a few models are allowed to participate in the trek. Jeeps, Land Cruisers, Toyota pickup trucks and a handful of other select automobiles are permitted, while others must be approved prior to the trip to ensure they won't harm the wilderness. 

    The Rubicon Trail
    The undisputed star of the Jeepers Jamboree is the setting. Known as the Rubicon Trail, this off-roading route stretches 22 miles from its starting point in Georgetown, Calif., to Lake Tahoe. While the bulk of the trip is challenging - requiring a lot of focus and driving skills to complete - the end destination boasts a calmer setting that's great for relaxation. 

    One of the aspects of the trail that makes it attractive for some off-road driving enthusiasts is the fact that it's always changing. Harsh winter storms regularly alter the route, adding obstacles to an area and making it a new experience for drivers every time they hit the dirt. These unknown elements mean that it takes quite a while to get through the path, with most of the vehicles moving along at 3 to 5 miles per hour. On the bright side, this leaves you with plenty of time to appreciate the spectacular surrounding landscape. 

    "The Rubicon Trail is the mecca of trails for the Jeep world and a perfect spot to get away from everything," Jamey Paine, a manager at an off-roading supplier, told the Tahoe Daily Tribune. "You spend your whole day wheeling on this scenic trail. It's indescribable." 

    A number of gatherings use the Rubicon Trail. In addition to the Jeepers Jamboree, there is the annual Jeep Jamboree, which welcomes a maximum of 200 vehicles, as well as the Toyota Land Cruiser Association's Rubithon and the Marlin Crawler Round-Up, each of which hosts 150 to 200 off-road vehicles. 

    No matter what brings you to the Rubicon Trail, you can enjoy traversing the miles while pushing your vehicle to the limit. As long as you have the proper tools and knowledge, as well as a will to complete the route, you can enjoy all aspects of the Rubicon Trail and the Jeepers Jamboree. 

  • Could plastic be the latest trend with truck exteriors?

    It's natural to want to protect an investment - especially if that investment happens to be a truck. Once you've poured time and money into a vehicle, whether for maintenance, truck mods or simply time spent driving, you form a connection with the truck. At this point, there's a good chance you'll want to take every possible precaution to protect the off-road vehicle, and for many, this includes installing a bedliner. 

    Benefits of a bedliner
    A bedliner is a protective covering designed to guard against damage in a truck bed. The basic idea is that the covering prevents cargo, whether it is sharp tools, sand or other freight, from scratching the surfaces or interfering with the inner workings of the vehicle. 

    Bedliners are available in two styles: drop-in or spray-on. Sprayed bedliners are the most popular. Although it can be difficult to apply this tool properly - the weather and materials used play a major factor in the process - the end result is a durability that most fans of off-roading or heavy-duty work appreciate. 

    Rugged looks
    While some would consider installing a bedliner purely for its practical uses, there are a number of other advantages that make it an even more alluring option. USA Today reports that many drivers are applying spray-on bedliners to the exterior of their trucks, as the coating provides a tough, rugged look perfect for off-road driving. 

    Once the liner has been sprayed onto the exterior of a vehicle, the machine appears to have a matte finish, which generally evokes a sense of durability and, in some cases, a military-inspired feel. As an added bonus, the coating protects the exterior of the vehicle from nicks or scrapes that would otherwise damage the paint, allowing owners to focus on off-roading instead of keeping clean. 

    "We are definitely seeing an increase in customers asking about the outside of their vehicles being sprayed," Jenny Clifford, spokeswoman for Line-X, told the news source. "They think it looks cool or gives the vehicle a rugged, tough factor ... We always love to see new and different applications with our product, when it's done correctly." 

    This trend is still in the beginning stages, so there's only a small chance you'll see one of these coated vehicles on the roads or trails in the near future. Still, the additional protection is something off-road enthusiasts may want to consider and could even become the next big trend in truck modifications. 

  • Make sure your off-road driving etiquette is top-notch

    You've learned a lot about how to equip your off-road vehicle so it can handle anything in its path. What occasionally goes unrecognized is the fact that you have to be armed with the right knowledge to handle your own obstacles. Knowing the etiquette rules for off-roading is a must, and even having a grasp of a few key elements can help you figure out what to do in a few common situations. 

    Yield to non-vehicles
    There is a good chance you will run into other people on public off-roading trails. Mountain bikers, horseback riders and hikers are just a few of the adventurers who frequent parks and open spaces you may be driving through, so it's important to know how to interact with these individuals for a peaceful and respectful meeting. Always let these groups pass by you first - you both know your truck mods make you a formidable thing to run into while off-roading, and allowing others to get some distance and choose their route can keep everyone safe. 

    Watch behavior on hills
    Few things are more rewarding than hearing the rev of a souped-up engine as you accelerate up a hill. When you're pushing your truck to the limit to get it up a steep incline, the last thing you want is another vehicle coming out of nowhere and stopping you in your tracks. So if the situation is reversed and you come to a hill that another driver is trying to climb, you should yield to him or her. That truck or Jeep may need the momentum to reach the top of a hill, and making them come to a complete stop could throw that off. 

    Pull over when you stop
    At any pit stops or breaks during your off-roading experience, you should be sure to pull over so your vehicle is completely off the trail. That way, if anyone speeds around a corner or loses visibility, there is little risk of hitting your ride and causing damage. When looking for the perfect parking spot, try and stay away from tall grass or dry areas. Tall grass may be hiding wild animals or obstacles that could cause damage to your vehicle, while dry areas could be easily damaged by your vehicle - even catching fire because of a catalytic converter, Off-Road.com reports. 

    Don't litter
    It may seem self explanatory, but it can't hurt to remind yourself that littering in nature is a no-no. Make sure you bring along a garbage bag to contain any waste you produce during your adventure, whether it's water bottles or cigarette butts. There is no telling what kind of harm even the most innocent of mistakes can do, so properly disposing of all waste is a must. If you forget to bring a bag along for your trash, try to check in at a park's visitor's center or ranger station. Often, these facilities will have what you need free of cost. 

    Make sure your vehicle is up to snuff
    Setting out on a difficult trail with a vehicle that doesn't have all of the necessary Jeep or truck modifications is a recipe for disaster. While you may be eager to push your vehicle to the limit and see exactly what it's capable of, that doesn't mean you can head out into the wilderness without knowing you are completely prepared. If you do, you may end up causing damage to your ride and potentially even to others, not to mention any type of stalling can negatively impact others on the trails who are stuck behind you and have to rescue you. 

  • Strategize for an off-road race with these tips

    Some truck modifications aren't made to sit in a garage. When you make alterations to an off-road vehicle, you're going to want people to see them, and you'll also want to the chance to test out the changes. There's no better way to do that than as part of an off-road race. These events pit drivers against each other in a mad dash for the finish line, and in many instances motorists have to test their vehicles' capabilities to complete the course quickly. 

    Scout the area
    One of the most essential parts of preparing for an off-roading race is scouting the course. Whenever possible, you should take a trip to the location and conduct a practice run. A map may give you a general idea of what to expect, but lots of things can change in a short amount of time, and seeing the area for yourself is the best way to understand a course. 

    Try to head to the course at the end of the day after many other drivers have already made their way across the land. This way you'll be on terrain that is similar to race conditions - it may be torn up and muddy, but it could also be an accurate depiction of what you can expect on the day of the big event. 

    If for some reason you can't get to the trail before the start of the race, search for other ways of getting information about the course. See if there are any write-ups from people who have driven on the trail in the past to find out about certain areas you should watch out for. 

    Be prepared for anything 
    Off-road racing means pushing your vehicle to the absolute limit. When you're doing this, there's no telling what type of hiccups might happen along the way, so you need to be ready to handle whatever comes at you. Have a well-stocked tool kit with all of the basic equipment you'll need to do repairs on the fly. Recovery straps are great to keep close in case you get stuck, and spare tires are an absolute must-have in case you hit a patch of land that damages a tire. 

    Organize your gear
    Once you have collected all of the tools and parts that could be needed on the trails, you should organize the gear in a way that makes sense to you. Giving everything a proper place - one that feels natural to you - you can easily find what you need in a short amount of time. Some items you may want in the glove compartment, a tool box in the truck bed or thrown in the trunk of a Jeep, and stocking up ahead of a race will guarantee you know where all of the gear is. 

    Make sure you conduct one final check the night before the race and have everything securely stashed in your vehicle. Taking care of this in the days prior to the event ensures that you won't be scrambling to complete these tasks the morning of. 

    Be aware of weather conditions
    You can know the course like the back of your hand and have all of the top gear, but if you don't prepare for certain weather conditions, it may all be for naught. While most drivers may prefer a clear or partly cloudy day, the odds of getting your ideal weather are slim. Be sure to research in the days leading up to the event to see what the forecast is like, as this may influence your strategy for the race as well as what type of tools you bring. Something as simple as packing sunglasses for a sunny day could make a big difference. 

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