Get yer tuggin' dun with the new Bubba Rope recovery rope. This synthetic rope is design specifically as a yank strap. Hook it up to your stuck buddy and slowly pull him out of his predicament. If that doesn't work, back up and put a little momentum into the tug. The momentum stretches the rope, and as it rebounds it multiplies the force of the extraction.
The Bubba rope is available in three sizes and ratings. We threw the $110 30-footer in our truck for a weekend wheeling and mud tire test trip. Then afterward we simply hosed it off and stuffed it in the mesh carrying bag in anticipation of the next trail.
Information: Bubba Rope, 877.499.8494, www.bubbarope.com
The first rule of using any recovery is make sure you have strong solid recovery points and rated hardware. Our 30-foot bubba rope was rated to 28,600 pounds, and the hardware and shackles need to be highly rated also. Do not loop the rope over a tow ball, as they can break and become a projectile hunting driver's heads.
Notice how this little flatfender can extract a four-door Wrangler twice its size from a mud hole. The momentum of the little Jeep combined with the elasticity in the rope can often overcome the grip the mud has on the stuck vehicle, even if that stuck vehicle is heavier than the pulling vehicle. However, it is helpful to have the stuck vehicle's tires driving forward should they gain traction.
We all toss junk into the back of our 4x4 SUVs-it's just part of it. So why not protect your cargo area with an affordable drop-in liner? Quadratec has serviced the Jeep community for many years and is now offering drop-in cargo liners for '87-current Jeep Wranglers. These heavy-duty floor protectors fit nicely into your rig and work great to keep grease and oil from penetrating the carpet.
All liners are easily removable and can be hosed off. And for JK owners, Qudratec even has a small drop-in liner for the rear trunk portion of the tub.
Information: Quadratec, 800.745.2348, www.quadratec.com; $69.99.
Hoodlift for AEV hoods
HoodLift gas-operated strut systems are a great solution for lifting and holding Jeep hoods. The systems have fitments for Jeep CJ, YJ, TJ, and JK and are now available for the Wrangler JK with an aftermarket AEV heat-reduction hood. The HoodLifts make lifting hoods much easier and will hold it up without the factory prop rod.
The AEV heat-reduction hood is heavier than the factory hood, so the folks at HoodLift redesigned the struts to handle the additional weight. The system has easy-to-install struts. Installation requires measuring from the inner cowl of the engine compartment to the inside of the hood. Once this is done, two holes are drilled, one in the hood and one in the cowl, then the ball studs are bolted in and the struts installed. The HoodLift kit retails for $84.95.
Information: HoodLift Ltd., 916.0206.0309, www.hoodlift.com
Ingersoll Rand Portable Power!
Power tools on the trail are a luxury. Imagine heading to your local mud bog with a private chef to make you whatever you want for lunch-battery powered tools on the trail are that good. We've been carrying a full kit of different Ingersoll Rand IQv Series rechargeable handtools, and they get more use and abuse than just about any other tools in the shop or on the trail. Oftentimes we'll bring them along to 4x4 shops where we are working on projects and they'll quickly become the choice for impact and drill duty, as they don't require dragging a hose behind them and offer almost identical torque (with a fully charged battery).
The batteries of the IQv Series cordless tools are available as nickel cadmium or lithium ion, but we only tested the lithium ion. These batteries are lightweight and have an internal microprocessor that protects the battery, optimizes the charging, and feeds a digital display that indicates the battery charge remaining. These batteries are available in 7.2, 14.4, or 19.2 volts, though we only tested the bigger two.
We have been testing the 1/2- and 3/8-inch impacts, a 3/8-inch ratchet, a 1/2-inch drill, and an adjustable work light. Each tool varies in price, but on average each tool is $100-$200, batteries are $60-$140, and the charger is roughly $80.
Information: Ingersoll Rand, 800.866.5457, www.ingersollrandproducts.com
The 1/2-inch IR Cordless drill is only 41/2 pounds but packs a punch as strong as 660 in-lb. With a variable 0-1,300-rpm speed and multiple driver or drill settings, this tool is great for any sort of hole punching needed. We do wish it had a small Philips/flathead bit and holder integrated for screwdriver duties, but most of the time we simply carry the drill and a step bit/unibit for trail and simple repairs.
The other most useful tool of the bunch is the 1/2-inch drive cordless impact. This gun rattles off lug nuts, tightens suspension bolts, and won't lose a charge while you're changing a flat tire. The only upgrades we would like to see is a small LED light to point at the bolt or nut being tightened, and a 12V charger so the batteries could be charged in the truck.
Sitting on Easy Street
Comfortable seating on and off the road is pretty dang important, but what about those poor schmucks who sweat it out in the office? It's true: We sit far more in an office chair than behind the wheel of our favorite 4x4, so why not enjoy the comfort of the trail? Luckily for us we found the Jeep Comm ander office chair. The seat is modeled after a real Jeep seat, and although our Commanders have flown the coop the office chair takes a stately position in our new offices. Of course the chair has lumbar support, tilt, adjustable height, perforated leather, and all the upscale features we like putting our tushes on. It's available in black or cream (sorry, no olive drab canvas like we wanted) and only costs about 1/4 ton of cash.
Since almost everything the staff at Petersen's 4-Wheel and Off-Road does in one way or another relates to differentials and gearsets, we're always looking for ways to protect them and extend their lifespan. Believe us when we tell we've broken and abused more than our fair share of gears. So for a little added protection we tossed in some of Amsoil's new SAE 190 and SAE 250 Severe Gear Synthetic Gear Lube.
We feel good about using the new Severe Gear Lube given the track record of Amsoil's products. Amsoil tells us that these new gear lubricants are engineered for off-road truck racing, rock racing, rockcrawling, and high-horsepower and and high-torque conditions where centrifugal gear lube sling-off is encountered and where a heavier-viscosity gear lubricant is required. The lube is designed to cling to gears and bearings for the best possible protection during shock loading, high g-forces, and where pinion gears are installed at steep angles.
Giving the lube unscientific finger test, we could feel its clingy viscosity and can see how it might stick to a gearset better than other lubes at high rpm. There's nothing special to do to the differential other than drain and clean out the old diff fluid, and then add the Severe Gear Lube. A quart of Severe Gear retails for about $15.
Information: Amsoil Inc., 800.777.8491, www.amsoil.com
5.11 Quick Light
5.11 tactical makes all types of great stuff for the people with an action-packed lifestyle, such as belts, glasses, knives, hats, and clothing that is easy to move around in and that has lots of pockets. Now 5.11 has a really cool flashlight that is perfect for four-wheelers. The 5.11 Light for Life flashlight is different from other flashlights in that it uses a capacitor instead of batteries. This allows the flashlight to fully charge in just 90 seconds and then run for up to one hour before needing a recharge. Plus the light comes with a charger that runs off 12 volts so you can wire it into your truck, mount the charger on a flat surface, and always have light for an after-dark trail fix or walk home.
The $160 price means you won't be picking one up at your local gas station like the cheapo flashlights available these days, but having that rechargeable security may be worth the extra ducats, plus it can be recharged 50,000 times, doesn't require buying or disposing of batteries, is designed to last 100 years, and only weighs 1 pound.
Information: 5.11 Tactical, 866.451.1726, www.511tactical.com