Jeep gear update: getting taller and more capable

I have now taken my Jeep about 36,000 miles in just over a year and I’m getting ready to head out on another several month long journey. Here’s how my current gear is holding up along with some new upgrades.

New goodies

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I finally finally FINALLY got my Gobi Ranger rack installed. I have been daydreaming about this thing for months. Not only does it look sharp, but it will hold 250-300 pounds gracefully. This will free up so much space within the Jeep and allow Keya, Zag, and myself to travel a bit more comfortably. I also got the tool box and some additional accessories that help keep it stable and from damaging my Jeep. I will likely be using it to store an extra gas tank (will purchase when needed) along with some surf boards and/or a canoe.
While waiting for Gobi to carefully fabricate the rack, I had my eye out for a specific cargo box. It needed to hold a fair bit of gear, while not taking up too much precious roof rack space. I settled on this Yakima Skybox 12 because it’s light, slim, and could even hold my skis. I set up a Craigslist alert and waited. Eventually I picked one up for about half the cost of a new one. Unfortunately, my rack wasn’t finished yet so I had to load it inside the Jeep (tight fit, but doable). So far it seems to work pretty well.
My tires were just about bald and fairly cupped since I didn’t do the best job rotating them early on (lesson learned). I picked up a new set of five slightly larger tires. They are the newest version the BFG Muds because the last set did extremely well in many conditions. And since I got bigger tires…
I got a 2″ lift. It’s nothing particularly flashy, but will be necessary with the added weight. I got stiffer variable rate coil springs meaning we won’t bottom out nearly as much when in fun places like the Maze District in the Canyonlands. It’s also a couple inches added distance from rocks which is always nice. Oh, and my mother can still get in my Jeep without a ladder so that’s well and good.

Going strong

tool roll and blanket
I have both the Shop Tool Roll and the Wool Camp Blanket from the Adventure Tool Company and both are holding up extremely well despite the abuse I’ve given them over the last year.
I use the tool roll to hold screwdrivers, wrenches, maps, zip ties, and some spare lug nuts. It’s super handy and I keep it tucked between the roll bar and the window of my hardtop.
I have use the blanket for all sorts of things. I use it to cover the gear in the back of my Jeep rendering my gear mostly invisible when looking through the windows. I have used to line my hammock on cold nights, to keep myself and my dog warm and occasionally as a picnic blanket. The thing is tough and when I do wash it, it just gets softer and more amazing.
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My Zeon 10s winch seems to be doing well, though I don’t have to use it all too often (a good thing?). I mostly seem to be using it to help move larger trees out of the way when on trails that haven’t been used much.
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My Maximus 3 rear tire carrier is doing extremely well. It’s been through some gnarly stuff and shows no signs of strain anywhere. It’s been lugging around two bikes, a small gas tank, a high lift jack, and my shovel for almost a year now. Props to the Maximus team.
Both of my Firestik antennas are holding up well despite the parking garage abuse I have given both of them.

Sorta busted, but still working

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The speaker in my Cobra 75WXST CB radio went out somewhere in the woods in Canada. Not so great. When we finally realized what the problem was, I rigged up this setup on the spot using a speaker I had in my tool bag and a phone tripod I was planning on using as a phone tripod. It works fairly well considering I’ve been using it like this for six months, but I’ll likely need to rig up something more permanent.
My Bestop RoughRider Black Diamond Tailgate Organizer is still a little troubled in that both bags no longer stay locked on. However, neither have slid off and seem to be holding steady since the last update.
My Yakima spare tire bike rack that came with the Jeep is still working well enough. I had to grind the plate down a bit to fit the bolt pattern of the Maximus 3 tire carrier (slightly different than stock). The bikes move around quite a bit more than I’d like, but I have yet to lose one. We’ll see how it does with the new tire over the next few weeks.

Gone

Hitch
I have given away the hitch tow point to my father as it was largely superficial. Now we have a good way to pull his vehicle out of rough spots if needed.
High lift jack mount
I replaced the original high lift jack mount when I installed the Maximus 3 tire carrier. I’ll be donating it at some point.
I was using a black plastic bin in the back to store my Jeep gear (recovery straps, tools, etc), but it was a pain to move around when needed and kept falling apart. With the addition of the cargo box, it’s no longer needed.

What’s next

I’m thinking of either replacing the bulbs in my stock headlights or adding some big goofy spotlights. The stock headlights are pretty dim, which is unfortunate because I actually like the design of them. I could use any ideas or suggestions in this area.
 

Jeep gear update: tailgate organizer and rear tire carrier

Tailgate organizer worries

After two months of using the Bestop RoughRider Black Diamond Tailgate Organizer that I wrote about in an earlier post, I have to say I’m a little worried. It’s starting to wear a bit faster than expected. It’s designed so the bags are removable by undoing a little loop and sliding them off a plastic rail. The loop that holds the bags on isn’t doing a great job. It’s sagging just a little. It also has bent up my rubber floor mat, though I’m not super worried about the mat being bent. I have even lightened them further. They have only very lightweight things in the bags like toilet paper, first aid kits, and other emergency items.

Rear tire carrier upgrade

In that earlier post, I mentioned I had installed a high lift jack mount and an antenna mount on the tailgate along with my bike rack. After reading some horror stories about bent hinges and popped welds, I learned that the tailgate of the Jeep is not supposed to hold more than 50 pounds. This includes the spare tire. The spare tire that comes with a Rubicon is a bit over that by itself. I think it’s probably fine on the road, but as much as I’m hitting the trails now, I wanted something a bit sturdier.
I didn’t want to replace my bumper as I quite like its aesthetic. After researching a variety of tailgate tire carriers, I settled on the Maximus 3 tire carrier for a few reasons. Before I get into that, I want to explain why I didn’t get one that attaches to my bumper’s swing point. There are only a few options that work with it and they are either incredibly expensive or they are poorly built and would be pretty unreliable. The Maximus 3 had great reviews and moves the weight from the tailgate to the frame while also opening with the tailgate rather than separate from it. The site says it will hold a 40″ tire and I found out, after chatting with them on the phone, it will handle 300 pounds. Frick yes. It also has two antenna mounts, has an option to carry a high lift jack, an option for a shovel mount (attaches to the high lift jack so not really a tire carrier specific thing, and an option to carry a small pax gas can (or water). I think there may even be more options, but those were the only ones I’m interested in.
I might cover the install in a future post so I won’t get into it. It went fairly smoothly even though the instructions were cryptic at times. Here it is installed and some photos of it in the wild!