Advice regarding winch/bumper for a new off-roader

Aranimus

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Hi everyone,

Well, it turns out that the Jeep JL Sport S (2 DR) we bought last year as a fun convertible for daily driving has morphed into an off-road obsession for my wife and I! We found that USFS "roads" up in the Sierras are a wonderful way to get away from it all, and find a trail head or stream that makes one remember why life is good!

Anyway, given that we are spending quite a bit of time off-road in rather distant locations I thought it might be reasonable to consider a few upgrades to our Jeep (although I think it is very capable as is!).

The first was tires, and I think a simple all-terrain upgrade would make me feel a bit more confident on some of the rocks/slopes. That has been ordered. However, the places we go to sometimes have debris (downed trees etc.), so I thought I would look into perhaps replacing the stock JL Sport front bumper with a winch/bumper replacement? I mean in case we needed to move something, or perhaps, worst-case scenario, get stuck. I suppose just buying belts and using the stock hooks would suffice, but I'm a bit of an off-roading noob here.

So my question is: What would you all recommend regarding replacement of the stock front bumper to include a winch system that might be useful for a problem when out on an off-roading trip? Is it worth it to consider? If so, what products do you recommend?

I just want it to be functional, I'm not modding the Jeep for any reason other than utility!

Thanks in advance for your advice!
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TIPOVR

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From my understanding warn and smittybilt winches will probably be your best bet in that department, I've seen both used but never used either personally. There's many of the forums with more personal experience though.
 

Jdsmoke

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I like Lod and ARB bumpers from a design perspective. I also like bumpers that are steel and include tow points and winch mounts. Rest is more a personal choice. My Lod bumper prevented some body damage the other day when I was out on the trail and slide into a tree. Bumper had a few scratches and that was it. For winches, Warn is typically quoted as the top on the line choice. What ever you choose, get a synthetic rope.
 

blnewt

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limeade

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The selection of JL bumpers is pretty good, with more being released all the time. A big preference should be given to aesthetics, in that does it fit your style and built to function as you need it. Secondly, if you're painting skills are lacking or you don't want to deal with a powder coater/body shop, find one that is already finished.

One of my absolute requirements for a JL bumper is it must allow for a recessed winch plate. There are a lot of bumpers which are winch ready, but the winch sits on top of the bumper. These top mounted winches block a considerable amount of airflow and are totally exposed to the environment (weather, trees, etc). I like having the winch recessed between the frame rails for security, protection, and strength.

Scour Quadratec, Northridge, Metalcloak, LOD, Artec, etc. look at everything that's offered. Pick the ones aesthetically pleasing to you and then whittle it down to those features you want.

I really like the looks and features of the newly released M.O.R.E. front bumper, but it doesn't have provisions to use the factory fog lights, which eliminates it for me.
 

Creeker

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Just my $0.015 worth...

There's cheap stuff that is junk
There's some $ stuff that is still junk
A cheap winch with a good warranty is useless if the winch breaks on the trail as the warranty will not pull you out of the hole.

Best to go with known good stuff.
For me, the Artec bumpers and Warn winches are amazing.

IMG_0813.jpg


IMG_0164.jpg
 

limeade

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Just my $0.015 worth...

There's cheap stuff that is junk
There's some $ stuff that is still junk
A cheap winch with a good warranty is useless if the winch breaks on the trail as the warranty will not pull you out of the hole.

Best to go with known good stuff.
For me, the Artec bumpers and Warn winches are amazing.

IMG_0813.jpg


IMG_0164.jpg
I really like the Artec bumper, I wish they'd tone down the front stinger a bit or offer more of a hoop (like the Maximus 3 SLP) and then I'd buy it. But if my rigs were off road only, then I definitely like the stinger.
 

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@Aranimus

i think that your question is spot on.

consider buying the steel Mopar stock front bumper. It is pricy, true. But many, including myself like the look and the fact that you can take the wings off and make it a stubby if you wish.

i am going to be putting in a Warn Zeon 10-S winch soon. Why the Zeon? Well maybe, just maybe, it is more reliable than the basic Warn and, it’s also true that when you need a winch to work, it needs to work. Period. So, I plan on spending a few extra dollars.

i will get the warn Zeon 10-S as mentioned plus a factor 55 ultra hook, winch plate, and I will also buy the warn power interrupt kit (and wire it to my aux switches) so that I can keep the winch disconnected from the battery (In case of an accident or something.... no live wire to the front of the jeep unless switch turned on).

you should also get a few shackles (steel or syn-rope), a snatch rope (I have the bubba rope), a tree strap, and maybe a snatch block.

Is this overkill for your needs? Probably. But it really might help you in a pinch or allow you to help someone else.

also consider some tread boards. They are often a very simple way to get yourself unstuck and they cost nothing if you get a brand like x-bull on Amazon.

hopefully all that makes sense.

there is a dedicated sub-forum for this stuff if you wish to dig deeper.

good luck and have fun!
 

danotje

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There’s a ton of bumper options out there, so it really comes down to aesthetics, features like recessed winch plate and maybe width. I wanted more tire available to the terrain, so I went with a mid/stubby that opens the front of the tire up. It also came raw, which I wasn’t over the moon about, but I coated it with POR15 and finished it with Rustoleum bed liner. Super tough, and if it gets scratched or faded, a quick spray will have it looking new. Very easy to get an even finish with, too. The choice of bumper really came down to shipping to AK. Barnes 4wd was one of the only companies that did without calling, etc. I also liked the added skid.

The reason for the bumper is, like you mentioned, a functional upgrade to have a winch just in case. I struggled with the high cost of Warn vs it’s reputation, and ultimately decided I wanted the best chance of it working when needed, so I bought a Zeon 10s. I think Smitty would be fine as they have great reviews and many, many people have them, but I couldn’t get away from why Warn is at the top of the segment and a lot of high end rigs all run them. I haven’t needed it, yet, but I’m confident it will work when called upon.

Good luck with your search!

418AD3EF-A005-478C-A779-D3A2E104653B.jpeg
 

Dkretden

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There’s a ton of bumper options out there, so it really comes down to aesthetics, features like recessed winch plate and maybe width. I wanted more tire available to the terrain, so I went with a mid/stubby that opens the front of the tire up. It also came raw, which I wasn’t over the moon about, but I coated it with POR15 and finished it with Rustoleum bed liner. Super tough, and if it gets scratched or faded, a quick spray will have it looking new. Very easy to get an even finish with, too. The choice of bumper really came down to shipping to AK. Barnes 4wd was one of the only companies that did without calling, etc. I also liked the added skid.

The reason for the bumper is, like you mentioned, a functional upgrade to have a winch just in case. I struggled with the high cost of Warn vs it’s reputation, and ultimately decided I wanted the best chance of it working when needed, so I bought a Zeon 10s. I think Smitty would be fine as they have great reviews and many, many people have them, but I couldn’t get away from why Warn is at the top of the segment and a lot of high end rigs all run them. I haven’t needed it, yet, but I’m confident it will work when called upon.

Good luck with your search!

418AD3EF-A005-478C-A779-D3A2E104653B.jpeg
That’s a very nice looking Jeep.
 
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Aranimus

Aranimus

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Thanks very much for your advice everyone --- very helpful!
 

cosine

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as for the bumpers stay away from cheap bumpers because they tend to not be able to handle a winch load. i've seen them bend, crack, and or rip right off the mounting point. i'd say with a bumper that is made in the usa because they will fit better. oversea productions tend to have issues as far as fitment and quality of materials.

as for the winches, same as above. stick with a company that deals with winch technologies. like warn, ramsey, superwinch. smittybilt looks like a decent winch but its not on top of my list. any of the other winches that are made in china, i'd stay away from.

i would look at all the bumpers that are available for the jl. same for the winches. get an idea of a budget that you want to spend. then put a couple of combos together and post it here and see what posters has to offer. from there you will have an idea whats good or not and have a style / combo that you like. keep in mind you will want to add a recovery strap, tree saver strap, snatch block and a couple of shackles.
 

Whiskeybiskit

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If you're on a budget (like me), this deal is pretty sweet, just ordered one myself!
https://www.amazon.com/Smittybilt-97495-XRC-Winch-Capacity/dp/B00JXS3BXI
And I just received this bumper (in the stubby version), will wait until I get the winch before I install it, gotta say the bumper is very stout and welds are very good, and IMO looks just perfect on the JL :)
https://www.quadratec.com/p/quadrat...wrangler-jl-gladiator-jt/stubby-without-winch
Good choice in bumper. I have the warn m8000 installed on mine.
Screenshot_20200805-173040_Gallery.jpg
 

blnewt

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Good choice in bumper. I have the warn m8000 installed on mine.
Looks great! ^^^
Just did a test fit on mine, very happy w/ the fit & quality, can't believe the price! This stubby is stout for sure, that 6 gauge plate will handle most anything you could throw at it.

Seen bumpers at twice the price with thin steel plate, poor welds etc. Very happy I went w/ this stubby :)
Winch coming tomorrow so should have pics soon too :)
 

Rubycon50

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Lots of good bumpers out there, probably not the same story for the winches. Lot's of good advice here to take from folks that have the experience with the issue you are trying to solve. I put a Poison Spyder on mine and recessed a Warn winch into it. ARB, LOD and plenty of other great companies out there. One thing I did not consider before buying mine is an opening in the bumper to insert your Hi Lift or ARB jack, I know ARB bumpers have them, I'm sure others do as well.

I'm a rookie as well so take it all with a grain of salt. This is just what I picked up along the way and I'm sure I'll have different ideas after a while.

ARB

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LOD
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Poison Spyder on my jeep

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