Top 10 Exterior Mods: Part 1

Hello Everyone!

Today I am going to cover some basic details about my 2017 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. Instead of doing this by describing EVERY SINGLE THING I have done, I’m going to cover the top ten exterior mods I have done to the Jeep. Whether or not you have a Jeep, these MODs can be applied to many different vehicles. You will see here that I am a VERY utility driven person and if the item does not afford me any utility, It probably gets eliminated from my setup. These are in no particular order other than this is how it made sense to talk about them. Everyone is different so you decide what to implement in what order. These are just my favorites and why.

10. Armor

Okay, I have learned this lesson through a few situations I have ended up in. I may or may not have rear-ended someone at one point… BUT I had a SINGLE scratch in my bumper where their entire back bumper was trashed. I also enjoy not having door dings from idiots in parking lots because their door impacts my steel side rails before it ever reaches the door. Since I have a tent on the roof and would store things up there if I had a rack, I use the bumpers to crawl all over the jeep to reach the roof. From a utility and protection standpoint, they are invaluable.

Smittybilt XRC Gen 2 Front Bumper
ACE Engineering Side Rails
Quadratec QRC Rear Bumper


9. Roof Top Tent

There are roof top tent haters out there and I get it. They are terribly expensive and impractical for a lot of people. I did the ground tent thing for a long time because of the expense but there is one thing that won me over and that was me having to have back surgery and therefore needing a decent place to sleep. To sleep on the ground I would have to carry so much crap to try to be comfortable that the back of my Jeep was packed full of comfort items and really limited the utility of my Jeep. I did a lot of research and I found that the best setup for me was going to be a Freespirit Recreation Manual 55″. I was researching these tents and found one on sale from their site so I snagged it up with a considerable discount. Well worth it.

Freespirit Recreation

8. Rack System

To carry anything on the roof of a jeep, you have to have a rack system and I am not a fan of having a bunch of metal hanging off the Jeep like an exoskeleton. I much prefer a low profile system that still remains useful. I saw someone with a Rhino Rack roof rack and began researching how that worked and how it was able to support weight. It turns out that there are bars that run on the inside of the hard top and bolt through the top. DRILLING THROUGH THE TOP!!!! NO WAY!!!! Yea, so I did that and it has worked out amazingly well. I did not go with the rack but went with their aero bars which support the tent just fine. I did start with only two bars since the tent only connects to two bars but I ended up getting the middle bar for support as well. In full disclosure, I did have an issue where one of the bars would unscrew itself from the cleat but after using some loctite (that I should have used from the beginning), everything has been fine and has not budged through many very rough roads, highway driving, and sleeping up there.

Rhino-Rack Backbone

TENT RACK-min.jpg

7. Lights

Before getting into lights too much, this is one area where I went with quantity over quality. I realize that they will probably go bad or fade sooner than later but I needed lights and didn’t have the $ for something crazy.

I have lights just about everywhere and I make sure I use them. The first light that ended up on the Jeep was a double row curved LED light bar on the windshield. I went curved because the Jeep stock lights are a pretty narrow beam that doesn’t illuminate the side of that road at all. When trying to see a road or an offshoot trail at night on early in the morning, that just doesn’t work. The dual row bar was just too much for me though and when I started looking at the output between a single row and a double row, there really wasn’t that much of a difference to justify the extra row. So, I bought a single row straight bar that I have been EXTREMELY happy with. It is much quieter than the double and looks better too.

MICTUNING 50″ Light Bar

I also have a light bar on the rear that shines behind me. I use this mostly at camp to illuminate the area behind the Jeep where I do all of my cooking and working. When the rear glass is up, this light shines off the glass and lights up my working area perfectly. One thing that should be noted with all of these lights is that they attract every bug for the surrounding twenty miles and bring them right to your vehicle. I have better luck with them in the winter and try to avoid using them in the summer or near wet areas.

MICTUNING 31″ Light Bar
ZROADS Bracket

The last set of lights I use are my rock lights. These are VERY cheap and I think I just picked them up off Amazon. I wired them all up and they are AWESOME around camp at night. They light up a nice area around the Jeep without being too bright or shining in your eyes. They are more of a mood light for safety than a useful light for cooking or working on anything.


6. Dual Batteries

I have not NEEDED my dual battery setup but I did it for a few reasons. I run a lot of electronics and I mostly wanted it for peace of mind. I travel a lot on my own so charging two batteries that could crank the Jeep should one quit working, adds a little extra peace of mind for me. Instead of getting a nice kit that was ready to bolt in, I decided to go the cheaper (still not cheap) and buy a battery tray separate from the rest of the electronics and cabling. If I were to do it again, I probably would have bought the Genesis Dual Battery Kit. But I didn’t and I have not had any problems so far. One reason I wanted to do everything separately was because I wanted to keep my factory battery since it was almost brand new. Turns out that didn’t work anyway so I also had to get TWO optima batteries to complete the swap. …such is life with Jeeps.

Optima Group 34 Red/Yellow Top Batteries
Mountain Off-Road Equipment Dual Battery Tray
Dual Battery Isolator Kit

DUAL BATT-min.jpg

This is getting pretty long so I will split this into two parts. Thanks for reading and keep checking back for more content. I’ll only get better at this by getting your feedback so don’t hesitate to leave a comment or use the “Get In Touch” page.

One Comment on “Top 10 Exterior Mods: Part 1

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Exterior Mods: Part 2 - Mission Overland

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