You just bought your new vehicle, now what? Well, it depends on the planned use when it comes to modifications and outfitting. However, there are a few upgrades that I would recommend for pretty much any adventure vehicle, regardless if it will ever leave the pavement.
Either a portable or hard-mounted air compressor is recommended as one of the first accessories. One of the first skills you should learn is deflating or airing down your tires when leaving the pavement. Reducing the air not only increases traction on loose surfaces but also increases ride comfort. Trust me, my Jeep has leaf springs on all four corners, the ride improves.
When returning to the pavement, you need to air the tires back to the highway pressure. To do so, you need an air source. Several companies out there offer air compressors, both in a portable solution as well as hard-mount. The size of the tire and the need for extra CFM will determine what size is best suitable for your application.
Unless you picked up a vehicle with an off-road package, such as a ZR2, TRD, or Rubicon, more than likely the tires are subpar and really are only designed for street use. Even if your travels will mainly be on the pavement, upgrading tires to an all-terrain tread pattern with a properly rated weight rating will increase the stability of the vehicle when loaded with all of your travel gear. Everyone has their favorite brand of tire and is usually loyal to the tire based on experience. If you don't have a favorite brand yet, lots of website and print magazines do long-term testing in all traction situations. This should be a great starting point in choosing a tire for your vehicle.
Depending on the vehicle, how it is equipped, or the amount of gear you carry regularly will determine wether or not an upgraded suspension system is needed.
Companies like Old Man Emu and Teraflex have engineered suspension systems that not only improve the ride-quality but also improve payload handling. These companies offer a variety of heights to work with factory sized tires or to allow the fitment of larger tires
If you are planning on leaving the pavement, quality recovery gear is a must. At a minimum, every vehicle should have a rated snatch strap, bow shackles, and gloves. If your vehicle doesn't have a factory recovery point, receiver hitch links will work in a pinch. If you have a Toyota Tacoma, 200 Series Land Cruiser, or new Ford Ranger, ARB offers a rated recovery point that attaches directly to the chassis.
With just a few key upgrades and accessories, you are now ready to start exploring. Next up, we will go into a few more advanced modifications as your exploring becomes a little more technical or remote.
Blog Post by Steven M. Bisig - Mule Marketing Dept.