Jeep - 2016 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
2016 jeep rubicon red


It all starts with a Jeep and for my needs I picked the Rubicon Unlimited. I already wrote an article about the process of choosing which Jeep to buy so I won't go into it here.

Axles - Mopar / Spicer Ultimate Dana 60
 spicer ultimate 60 set

Mopar Dana 60 Axle Set

If your going to go with 37" tires and do any kind of wheeling, your going to need to upgrade the axles. I went with the Spicer Ultimate Dana 60s. You can read more about them in my Dana 60 Revolution article along with comparisons to other Dana 60 axle offerings. You can read about the installation at my Ultimate 60 Install page.

Suspension - MetalCloak 3.5" Game Changer
metalcloak game changer 35

I think determining which lift kit to buy has been by far the hardest thing to decide. There are many characteristics of a lift kit that can''t be quantified with the information you can find from the vendors. I went with the Metalcloak Game-Changer Rocksport Edition, but I did have some apprehensions about it. I have wrote an article about my decision making process I like to call Suspension Suspense.

Wheels - Method 105 Beadlock in Matte Black
method 105 wheel

I started with the ATX 195 wheel because I really like the look, but once I found the Method Racing 105 I jumped ship to that wheel immediately. The look is similar, but with the Method 105 I get a true beadlock. The big kicker is that at $300 each they are only about $100 per wheel more, very affordable for a beadlock. Because I have heard of some 17" wheels not fitting over the massive brakes of the Dana Ultimate 60's I called Method and they confirmed that both the 101's and 105's in 17" fit just fine. They took 8 weeks to get but they look great.

Tires - Kanati Trail Hog
kanati trail hog

I picked the Kanati Trail Hog in 37X12.50R17LT. I was looking for something that was very affordable and I think I found an amazing value in the Kanati's. When deciding on a tire I was very torn between mud-terrain and all-terrain. Since I'd be lucky to get the Jeep on the trail 15 days a year I wasn't sure if I wanted to put up with the noise of a mud-terrain the other 350 days. Also, mud-terrains are usually not the best on snow and ice and living in Wisconsin I'll spend months driving on snow and ice.

The first affordable tire that I found and liked was the 37x12.50R17 Federal Couragia M/T. The price is right and tread looks reasonably aggressive without being so agressive that the road hum would be unbearable. However I kept looking and eventually stumbled on the Kanati Trail Hog. Kanati calls the Trail Hog an all-terrain tire but it has possibly the most aggressive tread of any all-terrain tire I've seen, certainly more agressive then the likes of the BFG T/A KO's, Goodyear Wranglers, or Toyo Open Country A/T II. I think the Kanati looks like a hybrid tire, all-terrain tread pattern down the middle and mud-terrain along both edges. What really sold me on the Trail Hog over the Couragia M/T is the extensive sipping. Sipping has a major impact on a tire's performance on icy roads and since I'll be spending more days driving on snow and ice than mud it makes sense to select this tire. I wrote a short piece about selecting tires called Get a Grip.

You can find my review of the Kanati Trail Hogs here.

Tire Carrier - Rugged Ridge Spartacus HD Spare Tire Carrier
rugged ridge spartacus

I ended up going with the Rugged Ridge Spartacus HD spare tire carrier. The fit and finish of it is outstanding. I really couldn't be more impressed with how well it installed and how close all the tolerances are with all the parts. I wanted the tailgate mount carrier (versus a bumper mount or body mount) because it doesn't add any additional steps to opening and closing the tailgate. Bumper mount and body mount tire carriers require a two step process to access the rear, one to swing the tire out of the way and another to open the tailgate, then two steps to close. If I didn't access the back often or if I ran a soft top I might not mind it but that isn't the case for me, I'm in and out of the tailgate daily.

I was going to go with the Teraflex HD spare tire carrier but I heard good things about the Rugged Ridge. After having installed the Spartacus I am very happy with it. The Teraflex might also be great but the price difference is huge. However, I have to give props to Teraflex for making theirs in the USA.

Fender Flares - Nemesis Industries Odyssey/Notorious

nemesis odyssey

Nemesis Industries Odyssey front fender

After a fair amount of deliberation I decided on the Odyssey/Notorious fenders from Nemesis Industries. You can read my research about all the fenders I considered in my articles about metal fender flares and non-metallic fender flares.The Nemesis fender flares won me over in five ways:

  • They are aluminum. I'd prefer steel if I didn't live in the rust belt, but since I do aluminum became my first choice.
  • The outside skin of the Nemesis flares is continuously welded into one big piece meaning there are fewer points where salt can penetrate the finish. Most tube-style fender flares have a seam between the tube and the sheetmetal that is only stitch welded. These areas are ripe for the finish to crack and corrosion to begin.
  • I like that they look similar to stock flares, blending in perfectly with the stylings of the Wrangler body in a very refined way.
  • They were available ready to install, I didn't have to deal with sending them out to get painted or powder coated.
  • Most importantly, they look like they fit the best. Look at the picture above and tell me that you've seen a fender that follows the lines of the Jeep better and distorted the sheet metal less. Even if I could, I wouldn't change the Nemesis fender flares in any way.
odyssey finishTextured powder coat finish

Rock Rails

metalcloak overland rocker stepsMetalcloak's reversable rock slider is a great idea!

I haven't looked into this much yet but if I go with the MetalCloak fenders it's almost a sure thing I'll go with their rock sliders as well. I'm OK with steel here because removing rock sliders is relatively easy. If they start to rust I'll just clean them up and repaint them.

There is also a chance I might just make these myself as well.


LOD front bumper


I picked the LOD Off-Road bumpers, Signature Series Mid-Width Bumpers in the front and Signature Series Full Width in the back. There are several reasons I like these bumpers;

  1. Low winch mounting surface
  2. Fog lights are spaced wide
  3. Hoop has light tabs 
  4. Hoop is not obnoxious
  5. It has a textured powder coat option that matches my fenders
  6. The back bumper has accommodations for lights
  7. The back bumper has a 2" receiver
  8. Made in USA


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© Mike Riley 2016.