Anatomy of an Off-Road Bumper
Off-road driving is not only a tremendously fun activity in itself, but a way to explore new areas unreachable by ordinary vehicles. Certain stock trucks and SUVs do well off-road right off the line, but are limited by their factory parts & clearance. A modified truck, Jeep, Bronco, or SUV remove those limitations and open the horizon for adventure. Naturally an upgraded suspension, lift/level, wheels, and all-terrain tires are the foundation of any off-road build. Once a good foundation is established, we can then focus on the front-end, starting with a good off-road front bumper. With a range of different bumper styles and features available, it's important to identify what type will suit your style and needs best. We cover them all in this guide.
There are a number of different bumper styles, suitable for various off-road environments. Some bumpers are designed primarily for the best approach angles, others for the lowest profile, and then some have the sole purpose of protecting the front end.
The stubby style front bumper is probably the most popular choice for rock crawling Wranglers. The bumper ends before reaching the wheel-wells, allowing the largest of tires to be used and maximum articulation across small boulders. DV8 Offroad offers a number of stubby bumper options for your Jeep.
Mid-width front bumpers, similar to stubby, are a great choice for rock crawling. They extend partially past the grille, but not all the way to the edge of the body.
Center Mount Bumper
A center mount bumper is similar to a stubby bumper in it's width, but they are much more low profile. They generally also have a winch mount that sits within the bumper, rather than on top of it. Part of what makes these a great option, is that they alleviate the need to cut the front end in order to install it. As seen with our most popular center mount front bumper for the 2016+ Toyota Tacoma.
As stated in the name, full-width bumpers span the entire width of the front end. These are the best option for those looking for full protection on the trail. Although this style is less popular among rock crawlers, these are the most common type of off-road bumper on the trail. Many standard off-road builds include a full-length bumper, due to the protection they offer and the style they bring to the ride.
This style of bumper is made primarily of steel tubing. There is a top tube running the length of the front end, with a steep-angled skid plate down the center. A prerunner bumper takes up as little space as possible, and is very popular among Baja style desert racing. It's minimal construction is not as effective at protecting the front end for things like rock crawling. It's purpose is meant more to maximize approach angle when racing across whoops or dunes, and to protect the undercarriage rather than the body.
These bumpers are concerned only with protecting the entire front end of the truck, and not for overland adventures or rock crawling. They are full-width, with bull bars and brush guards that loop upwards to protect the grille and headlights. Occasionally you'll see these on a daily driver, but they really are meant to protect hard-working trucks on a ranch or farm.
There are various components that make up an off-road bumper, starting with the welded steel plates that make up the body of the bumper. Generally these are made from 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch plate steel. Here are the most common optional components present on a range of different bumper styles.
- Winch Plate/Mount & Fairlead- This is the mounting point for a recovery winch. Most often it sits atop the bumper, but in some styles it is located within the bumper. The winch plate is a forward facing plate with an opening for the cable to feed out of. At the front face of the plate, a fairlead is installed to protect the winch cable from rubbing against the edge of the winch plate. If you're doing some serious off-roading, you'll want to be sure to choose a winch-capable bumper for you adventures.
- Bull Bar- A bull bar is a tubular steel bar at the center of the bumper that offers a little more protection to your grille from things like tree branch or other obstacles. Frequently, pod lights or a LED light bar can be mounted to the bull bar for supplemental lighting options.
- Stinger- A stinger is an extruded bull that is generally 1-3 feet in length. This is meant to not only protect the front end from things like branches, but to also keep your ride from tipping forward on it's nose when on a steep decline. These are found most often on stubby and mid-width rock crawling bumpers.
- Skid Plate- A skid plate provides protection to the undercarriage at the front end. Some off-road bumpers include a skid plate, while others offer an optional skid plate. The skid plate attaches to the bottom of the bumper, and most often extend down and back to the front differential.
- Light Mounts- There is a wide range of light mount locations on various bumpers. Anything from factory fog light mounts, to light pods and light bars can be mounted to supplement your lighting on the trail in low light conditions. If there's a possibility you will still be on a trail as evening falls, be sure to have a little extra lighting to prevent hitting obstacles in the dark.
- Modular Wings- Some bumper styles offer optional wings to convert your stubby or mid-width bumper into a full-length bumper. These wings often have additional light mounting locations.
- Relocation Brackets- Some vehicles require the relocation of the adaptive cruise control sensor model, or oil intercooler in order to install aftermarket front bumpers. An ACC relocation bracket often relocates the sensor module to a position behind the grille. The intercooler relocation bracket often relocates it to a new position in front or underneath the radiator, and is protected by a skid plate.
- Clevis/D-Ring Mounts- These mounts allow you to install a pair of D-ring shackles, which provide additional recovery options on the trail. These are almost always included in an off-road bumper.
- Brush Guard- These are normally made from tubular steel, and are the staple feature of a ranch style bumper. It extends from the top of the bumper and provides protection to the grille and headlights of the truck.
- Powder Coat Finish- Nearly all aftermarket bumpers come finished in a black powder coat of some kind. This is not only an aesthetic feature, but it protects the steel of the bumper from scratches and more importanly rust.
DV8 Offroad strives to provide bumper options for all occasions across a number of different make & model trucks & SUVs. We recognize that folks have various goals for their off-road adventures, and we work hard to provide aftermarket solutions for crawlers, mudders, mall-crawlers, & overlanders alike!