Monday, October 30, 2017

How to Choose the Best Rock Sliders for Your Rig.

The various rock slider designs you will encounter all have specific pros and cons.  In this post I will cover the main areas of trade off and hopefully get you closer to the right slider for your rig.  The following questions are important to ask yourself before you make your decision.

Are you going to be on the rocks often or is this mainly insurance for less aggressive overlanding?
Do you have kids or less mobile individuals that will be in and out of your rig?
Do you have any specific sliders that you just love the looks of?

Make Sure They're Sliders
When picking a slider the first thing you need to do is ensure that the slider is truly a slider.  Many step bars out there are not designed to support the weight of the vehicle and under that kind of load will buckle.  If all you need is something to get in and out of your vehicle a step rail of this type may be fine for you.

Box Steel and Tube
Depending on the vehicle you have you might only have a few sliders to choose from to over a dozen.  Most sliders are constructed of some sort of box steel that is the main slider protection and tube steel is welded to this to protect the roll pan and side of vehicle.  

Here is a good example of what I am talking about.
There are also sliders that are all box steel but I don't see too many of these.
Not all tubing is created equal.  The manufacturing process determins the strength.  DOM and HREW are choices that some slider manufactures offer others are one or the other.  It is important to know which you are looking at so you are sure to be comparing apples to apples.  Bottom line is DOM is stronger.  If you know you are going to be bashing some rocks or like the peace of mind then DOM is the way to go.

Here is a description I found concerning the differences between DOM and HREW from  (The Steel Tube Institute)

Hot-Rolled ERW (HREW) is rolled into a tube at elevated temperatures. This process produces more malleable (easier to form) tubing, which is not as strong, covered with scale, and not as uniform in dimension as cold-rolled tubing. It is, however, the most inexpensive option.
Cold-Rolled ERW (CREW) follows the same manufacturing process, except at room temperature. Compared to HREW, CREW is stronger because of the improvement in the crystal lattice structure from improved grain size, shape, and orientation. As a result of these characteristics, the finished product is straighter, has a much smoother and more uniform surface finish, and is made to tighter, more consistent dimensions.
Drawn-Over-Mandrel (DOM) tubing basically starts its life as CREW. After shaping, the weld is tested for integrity and cut to length for further processing. The tube gets cleaned and annealed and is then drawn through a series of dies and over mandrels. This reduces the diameter of the tube and thins its walls to the required dimension. Close dimensional accuracy is achieved through tight control of both outside and inside diameters.  Drawing improves the tube’s concentricity, tensile strength, hardness and machinability. The cold-drawing process creates a uniform, precision product with substantially improved tolerances; superior surface finish and tensile strength; increased hardness; and good machinability.

Bump Out vs Straight
A bump out is designed to push the vehicle away from the rock as it reaches the rear of the vehicle.  This can pivot the vehicle and keep the rock from hitting the tire or rear end of the vehicle.  I am sure this can be a positive but not sure how often this will matter.  Probably a nicer feature if you are rock crawling a lot and maybe less of one if your more of an overlander.  However, it does look pretty cool in my opinion.
Angled with Bump Out

Straight without Bump Out

Angled vs Level

Angled sliders give a little more protection a little higher up on the rollpan.  The angle can also serve to slide/picot your vehicle away from a rock. The angled also looks pretty cool in my opinion.  The real advantage of the straight is it is more useful as a stable step surface.  I think angled is the way to go for those that are going to be in more serious rock sliding situations or just like how they look.

Step vs No Step

Whether angled or straight many manufacturers offer diamond plate or a non-skid plate that covers the opening of the rock sliders. This makes the slider more useful as a step.  Some also offer a plate cover just over the bump out.  If you opt for the bump out the open area is easy to slip your foot through which could be pretty nasty.  If you have younger children or for older folks having a non-slip surface without places for you feet to slip into is especially valuable. The only down side to covering the slider that I can think of, is it will be an easy place for mud to accumulate and not necessarily easy to clean up.

Paint vs Powder Coat
Powder coat is a low maintenance highly durable coating until it's not.  Once a slider is slide over some rocks and the coating is cracked or scraped then it will likely be a little bit of a pain to keep nice.  Spray paint won't always bond to the damaged powder coat and sometimes the coating will tend to flake and crack after the initial compromise.  For this reason many opt for spray painting aka rattle caning.  Everytime you hit a rock just pull out your spray can and your good to go.  Again this is a personal choice but if you suspect you will be balancing on rocks every trip then spray canning is the way to go.  If your rock sliders are good insurance for you mild offloading and overlanding powder coating is probably the best choice for longevity.

Mounting style
A few sliders have unique mounting styles that have a U bracket around the frame that allow for max smoothness over rocks.  Most are attached with heavy U-bolts around the frame.  The more mounts the better but in most cases I don't think the differences in mounting are too pronounced to have an impact on your choice.

I have only looked at sliders for Land Cruisers and 4Runners and seen many for Jeeps in my research.  On the 4Runners there are over a dozen to choose from and maybe many more.  On Land Cruiser 100 series there are maybe a half dozen.  For 100 series land cruisers most sliders are within $100 of each other and about $1000.  For 4Runners I have seen them from $500-$1000.  In the end I suspect you get what you pay for. I would recommend zeroing in on all your other requirements first and making the cost comparison the last step.  We spend so much on our rigs getting the best for your needs is the best route.

Most of these factors are based on how much you expect to actually be sliding on rocks vs accessibility in your rig.  Answer all the key questions up front and that should help you hone in and a few.  Check reviews and user experiences on forums also.  There is generally tons of helpful info on sites like or

A few manufactures I have looked at that get pretty good reviews:

If you have a 4runner this post gives an awesome run down of different brands

Thursday, October 26, 2017

How to use an air down tool and not break the bank!

Hey guys, when you hit the trail one of the most important things you can do is air down your tires.  This will improve traction by extending the footprint of the tire.  It also increases the survivibility of your tire by allowing it to wrap around rocks and sharp obstacles.  In this video we show you how to use an air down tool.  In a future post we will talk air pressures and when to use them.  While we could have gone lower we were only airing down to 28 psi from about 45-50psi.

We are extremely happy with the generic air down tool in the video.  You can get it on amazon for $20 vs the ARB version which is about $40. Here is a link to the one we are using.  Oh by the way the case this one comes in is trash.  Stick the tool in your air tool bag and throw the provide case in the garbage.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Not the all-terrains I expected!

I have been trying to wear out the tires that came on my Land Cruiser for a year now.  About 6 months ago I picked up some tundra wheels with some off size tires and planned to use them on an off road trailer.

Then a few months ago I saw a set of steel wheels with some bfgoodrich  33" rough terrains on them.  They only had 5-10K left in tread but I figured I could get some use out of them and try out some 33s on the land cruiser.  There are a lot of people out there who prefer steel wheels off road due to their durability.  My opinions on that are evolving but I'll save that for another post.

I headed out to this little tire shop with the stealies for sale with the hopes of making a deal.  The guy at the shop said he usually didn't trade but he was interested.  I agreed to make an even swap if he gave me a deal when I came into get some all-terrains in a few months.  He was happy with that and it was a deal.

While I was there I got some prices on a couple different KO2 sizes.  The owner pulled up some prices on a some Falkin Wildpeak AT3s as well and told me that was what he was recommending.  These were easily going to save me $500 on the set over the BFGoodrich's.  I have used KO2s for the better part of the last 20 years so I was skeptical.  I left that day but did plenty of research on the wildpeaks.  When it comes to the raw stats the wildpeak AT3s and KO2s are nearly identical.  The wildpeaks have a 55K warranty and as far as I can tell youtube reviews are proving out the longevity.  

I wore out the Rough Terrains and headed in for the new set before hunting season and snow in the mountains.  Good to his word the owner gave me a great deal.  The shop is an old country family owned place and is a fun little place to watch in operation.  The man worked as an efficient team.  I had them place my original tires on the stealies as a reserve set and the Falkens back on the alloys.  I took them out to the mountains the very next weekend and they preformed flawlessly.

Here is a video of them being mounted and a little walk around right after they were installed. Check out the Land Cruiser 33" Falken WildPeak AT3Ws!

I'll be sure to let everyone know how they perform down the road but so far I am very happy with them especially considering I can almost get a second set with the money I saved over the KO2s.  Not the all-terrains I expected but a new favorite for me.

If you live in central Virginia and are interested in check out this shop shoot me an email and I will point you to them.  They are worth the visit.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The story of "The Bear and the Beer"

In the video linked below  you'll hear one of many great stories from my dear friend Joe. Joe is more than a friend but a generous teacher who knows and shares more about living in the mountains and off the land than anyone I have ever met. I hope to video many more Joe stories but caught this one and it is one that manages to come up pretty regularly. The bear that is the focus of this story managed to steal about 35 busch and miller lite beers.  After a long search the boys found evidence of a bear beer party.  The pictures below are a few Joe caught of the bear one night on his porch you can see how he ripped off the freezer door looking for treats. I hope you enjoy this story of the bear and the beer and please give us a thumbs up if you do.