Back in the '80s adding lights to your truck was more important than a winch, lockers, or lower gears. Luckily times have changed and we've all realized that performance outweighs the good looks of 10 Beam Blasters on a triple-double rollbar above your regular cab pickup (plus, most of us have cut off our mullets). That said, lighting is still very important. Just try and go on a night run without it. Off-road lights are now available in every size and shape to fit your wheeling rig and the terrain you're looking to cross after the sun goes down. Whether you want a big long pencil beam to see hundreds of yards in front of you or a wide flood to fill in every crack and crevice just beyond your hood, there is something on the market for you. With the technologies constantly growing in halogen, HID, and LED (more on these later), the choices can be overwhelming and exhilarating. We spent a few days in the shop wiring up and mounting some different styles of lights and then hit the dirt after dark to help you see better when trying to choose your next set of night lights. 1. The most common off-road lights use halogen bulbs just like standard headlights. These have a tungsten filament or wire inside a small sealed quartz bulb that is filled with a gas from the halogen group, such as bromine or iodine. When electricity runs through the filament, it emits a bright light and the small bulb gets very hot. These PIAA 520 ATP Xtreme White Lamps use a halogen bulb and are an affordable slim lamp.1. The most common off-road lights use halogen bulbs just like standard headlights. 2. High-intensity discharge (HID) lights are the "be all end all" of off-road lighting. These lights work with a pair of electrodes inside a bulb filled with a mixture of xenon gas, mercury, and metal halides. In addition a ballast sends a precise high-voltage charge through the electrodes to make an extremely bright light. HID lights often have a short warm-up time but then burn very bright and as such are the choice for most desert racers. These new PIAA Cross Country HID Lamps have a small internal ballast, making them easy to install on motorcycles and UTVs or to tuck in tight on rollcages or bumpers to protect them from trail abuse.2. High-intensity discharge (HID) lights are the "be all end all" of off-road lighti 3. The external ballast for use with KC HiLites' HID draws less amperage than a standard halogen light but emits more light; however, HIDs do have an amp spike as they warm up. There are HID conversion kits on the market that allow swapping a ballast and HID bulb into a standard lamp.3. The external ballast for use with KC HiLites' HID draws less amperage than a stan 4. The differences between lamps are bulbs, lenses, reflectors, and bodies. This 5-inch KC HiLites HID light looks like a regular old work floodlight. A remote ballast packs a punch and feeds a HID bulb through a textured lens, making it a great rock light or camp flood, or a good single headlamp for an old Jeep or truck. Though expensive, this little flood is one of our favorites.4. The differences between lamps are bulbs, lenses, reflectors, and bodies. This 5-i 5. The latest craze in off-road lighting is LED, light emitting diodes. LEDs are small semiconductor plates that emit light when electricity is run through. Efficient, vibration-resistant and lasting much longer than halogen or HID, they make great off-road lights. We installed this Baja Designs LED driving light, which houses 18 individual lights, on the roof of our buggy with a Mercenary Off Road light bar. On either side of the LED are two PreRunner internal ballast HIDs also from Baja Designs.5. The latest craze in off-road lighting is LED, light emitting diodes. LEDs are sma 6. When you're digging around in your truck, Jeep, or buggy it's nice to have a light to illuminate the cockpit. These small LED dome lights from Baja Designs are perfect for the job. They can either be bolted to a flat panel, or they have a tube adapter that can be zip-tied in place, and they have a small on/off button at the light.6. When you're digging around in your truck, Jeep, or buggy it's nice to have a ligh 7. We also tested some Baja Designs LED rock lights. It's amazing how much light these emit. They are small, so they can be easily protected from rocks or mounted underhood for nighttime engine repairs.7. We also tested some Baja Designs LED rock lights. It's amazing how much light the 8. Before you purchase any off-road lights it is important to look into what is included in the package. Does the lamp come with the complete harness and switches? Also check the laws in your area regarding auxiliary lights. For example, the Light Force HIDs on our Dodge are down low and only used off road or with the high-beams. A high spotlight is a definite no-no on the road. In some cases you can wire your lights as foglights, but they'll need to be aimed downward for street use.8. Before you purchase any off-road lights it is important to look into what is incl 9. This is the view from the driver's seat of our off-road buggy. The distant light circle is from our two roof-mounted Baja Designs HID spots. Below that is the blue-white light circle from the single Baja Designs LED driving light. The redish-yellow light below that is from the halogen Hamsar snowplow lights we use for street driving. The light on the left lower side is from our KC HID flood rock light.9. This is the view from the driver's seat of our off-road buggy. The distant light 10. Mounting lights above the windshield causes a lot of light to wash over your hood. Our buggy's aluminum hood glows from the three roof lights, so we may paint it flat black or green to fight the glare.10. Mounting lights above the windshield causes a lot of light to wash over your hoo 11. Running your lights below and in front of the hood means there is no glare bothering the driver, who is trying to watch for boulders and ditches.11. Running your lights below and in front of the hood means there is no glare bothe 12. The light from our rock lights alone is often plenty for slow trail riding. Plus, it doesn't blind our buddy on the obstacle in front of us.12. The light from our rock lights alone is often plenty for slow trail riding. Plus 13. In case you're looking for something really extreme when it comes to off-road lighting, check out the Surefire Hell Fighter auxiliary HID. Designed for military use, this spot light is often attached to large-caliber machine guns. If the Surefire light doesn't stop the baddies, the big guns will likely send them to "see the light."13. In case you're looking for something really extreme when it comes to off-road li 14. The story ends with the tail end of our ride, where some LED taillights from Truck-Lite glow. LED turn signal lights often require a special digital flasher or resistor. The lighted license plate frame is from Poly Performance and helps keep us legal when headed across asphalt after dark.14. The story ends with the tail end of our ride, where some LED taillights from Tru SOURCES Mercenary Off Road Sun Valley CA 91352 www.mercenaryoffroad.com Hamsar Diversco 5320 Downey Street Burlington OR 800-567-5483 www.hamsar.com SureFire 18300 Mount Baldy Circle Fountain Valley CA 92708 800-828-8809 www.surefire.com KC Hilites P.O. Box 155 Williams AZ 86046 928-635-2486 www.kchilites.com PIAA 3004 NE 181st Ave. Portland OR 97230 800-525-7422 www.piaa.com Baja Designs 185 Bosstick Bouelvard San Marcos CA 92069 760-560-2252 www.bajadesigns.com Poly Performance 245 Tank Farm Road Units L & M San Luis Obispo CA 93401 805-783-2060 www.polyperformance.com LightForce Performance Lighting 208 Jason Court Corona CA 92879 714-460-4247 www.lightforce.com Truck-Lite 310 E. Elmwood Ave Falconer NY 14733 800-562-5012 www.truck-lite.com ANZO USA 5150 Eucalyptus Avenue Unit A Chino CA 91710 888-360-3696 www.anzousa.com By Fred Williams Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!