How to shop for bumpers??

rcadden

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I'm shopping for steel bumpers and really having a helluva time trying to understand what I should be looking for, how to tell the difference between similar bumpers, etc.

I know the features/styles that I want:
  • Full or mid width
  • Includes or is able to take a bar
  • Sunken winch mount
  • OEM foglights
  • Prefer if it has a matching rear bumper
Within that, there are dozens of options, with prices that range from ~$400 all the way up to ~$1.4K+, not including Amazon knock-offs or off-brands. I've tried to read as many threads as I can here, but am still coming up short on the *how* to shop, what to look for, etc. I understand "buy once cry once" but I also know that cost doesn't always equal quality.

Going to reputable sites like 4WP or ExtremeTerrain or Quadratec, I get this massive range. The cheap ones like Barricade or Rugged Ridge seem to have great reviews. Barricade in particular says it's built with 5/32 steel and a 2-stage powder coat - both things that seem to set it apart.

Is there something that the $1K+ bumpers have that these cheaper models don't? It's a pretty massive difference (2-3X the cost) so it doesn't seem like just a brand markup.

What am I missing?

Planned Usage - in case usage is relevant, I'm a total 4wd noob. I definitely plan to hit some trails, but don't intend to go hard - I've literally never owned an offroad-capable vehicle, nor have I ever taken a vehicle offroad. Usage will likely include weekend trips to local parks, staying on the easy trails, maybe heading out to Colorado next fall. Not likely to hit Moab or Rubicon or anything. This is my DD, so I need to be able to drive it to and from the parks. Requirements above are more aesthetic than functional.
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Jjirish

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I'm shopping for steel bumpers and really having a helluva time trying to understand what I should be looking for, how to tell the difference between similar bumpers, etc.

I know the features/styles that I want:
  • Full or mid width
  • Includes or is able to take a bar
  • Sunken winch mount
  • OEM foglights
  • Prefer if it has a matching rear bumper
Within that, there are dozens of options, with prices that range from ~$400 all the way up to ~$1.4K+, not including Amazon knock-offs or off-brands. I've tried to read as many threads as I can here, but am still coming up short on the *how* to shop, what to look for, etc. I understand "buy once cry once" but I also know that cost doesn't always equal quality.

Going to reputable sites like 4WP or ExtremeTerrain or Quadratec, I get this massive range. The cheap ones like Barricade or Rugged Ridge seem to have great reviews. Barricade in particular says it's built with 5/32 steel and a 2-stage powder coat - both things that seem to set it apart.

Is there something that the $1K+ bumpers have that these cheaper models don't? It's a pretty massive difference (2-3X the cost) so it doesn't seem like just a brand markup.

What am I missing?

Planned Usage - in case usage is relevant, I'm a total 4wd noob. I definitely plan to hit some trails, but don't intend to go hard - I've literally never owned an offroad-capable vehicle, nor have I ever taken a vehicle offroad. Usage will likely include weekend trips to local parks, staying on the easy trails, maybe heading out to Colorado next fall. Not likely to hit Moab or Rubicon or anything. This is my DD, so I need to be able to drive it to and from the parks. Requirements above are more aesthetic than functional.
I suggest protecting your tires since its your dd... so full width. Also pay attention to the thickness like you commented on. I just put the fab four "lifestyle" (worst name i know) with winch on my 392 and on my daughters rubi bc i was so impressed with it. I have seen some bumpers in the 600 range that appeared to be good so price can very. Enjoy the research and shopping!!! I love it!
 

BigGreen

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Some places are definitely high on their own farts with some of the pricing they put out. I'm pretty sure those Barricade's are made in China, along with a lot of the others you'll find on the big retail sites. Bumpers and skids aren't something I'd chance quality on, I'd stick with American made.

CavFab has some good looking bumpers at real reasonable costs.
https://www.jlwranglerforums.com/cavfab-rampage-and-crawler-series-bumpers-for-jl/

Rusty's does as well
https://www.rustysoffroad.com/jeep-...r-front-full-width-trail-bumper-series-2.html
 

Friday2322

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All I will say is... the skys the limit and there are tons of options out there from cheap to expensive. The forum has a list of bumper vendors that is pretty extensive but even that one leaves out some reputable companies. I personally have experience with JCR front bumpers and Rugged Ridge HD rear bumpers on my JKUR. I prefer rock crawling and have beat on both of them quite a bit and was very happy with how they held up. FInd the look you want then start researching reviews of the people that have actually bought that particular model. Good luck.
 

blnewt

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Don't forget to check @Northridge4x4 they have a great selection and do a good job for us here!

Sometimes you can find Rubicon steel bumpers on the site here for a decent price, the Rubicon rear bumper isn't as good as the great front bumper but still a nice set w/ factory fit.
 

jadewolf

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I think a lot of the cost difference comes down to quality of the build and where it was built. You're going to pay significantly more for a bumper made in the US than you will for one made in China. And a lot of the lower cost bumpers in general may be skimping on the workmanship to get that lower price point, so do some research and read plenty of reviews.

Things to look for would be quality of the welds, thickness of the steel, and quality of the powder coating. Also check reviews for ease of install, I notice that some of the lower cost options occasionally have issues with bolts lining up according to reviews.

Personally, I have experience with Warn bumpers (on my JK) and LOD (on my JL) and have very positive experiences with both. Both are made in the US and both are going to likely be in the $1000+ range for full/mid width & recessed winch options, but you're getting quality for the price. Both also work with stock fogs (extra adapter needed if you have stock LEDs for the LOD, but they offer that in the configurator)

I beat the hell out of the Warn bumper over eight years and had absolutely no complaints. It was solid through and through. There were a few very minor rust spots where I had dented it and missed touching up the coating afterwards, but otherwise no issues. Still looked great when I sold the JK.

Only had the LOD on my JL for a month or so, but I'm impressed thus far. The wait time was about 30 days for LOD to ship, but worth it. Install was straightforward. Quality is great. Highly recommend.

Bottom Line: Do a lot of research, read a lot of a reviews, and good luck!
 

tk1700

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Some of the cheaper ones are stamped steel vs plate welded steel for the higher priced ones. I had an EAG front from Amazon on my JK. It didn't get abused but was well built, plate steel and recessed winch mounting. I know they also make rear bumpers.

I put a Warn Elite rear on my JLUR and it's very well built. I have the matching front from Warn on order. It was ordered in Jan and should be shipping in a few days.

Good luck! You have lots of choices and even more opinions and ideas on this forum.
 

wibornz

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Things to consider when ordering your front bumper.....

Will the winch you plan to buy fit in the bumper?

I have a Roam front bumper, love it, but upgraded from my Smitybuilt winch to a Warn winch. The Warn winch will not fit into the bumper, So I just ordered a new bumper yesterday. Can't really return the winch, I scratched it while trying it get it to fit under the Roam bumper. I prefer the winch to be mounted between the frame rails as low as possible. The Roam bumper would not clear the Warn winch.

This is with the smitybuilt winch. You can see how low the winch is mounted in the Roam bumper.
1627559988171.png


#2 do you want the winch on top of the bumper or do you want it between the frame rails.

I like th winch mounted between the frame rails. I do not like the winch on top of the bumper. I like the Jeep having unrestricted air into the cooling systems with out the winch being in the way. like it is on my buds JLUR with the JCR bumper.

1627560175032.png


#3 What length bumper do you want to run, full width, medium width or a stubby. We run stubby bumpers so that we have better approach angles when off roading.

#4 does your bumper come with a winch plate and a skid plate. If not, this can easily turn a $300 bumper into a $800 bumper. Then you still have a low quality bumper. A warn winch plate by itself is almost $300.


#5 what kind of recovery points does the bumper have and how strong are they? We have all most likely seen junk bumpers ripped off a Jeep during recoveries on Youtube. Also with cheaper bumpers, they can fold, aka taco bumper if you hit something while off roading own on roading.

#6 do you want to use the stock Jeep fog lights and will your fog lights fit in the bumper or is it something you will have to also purchase?


So I had to ditch the Roam bumper, really to bad as I loved it. I ordered this in its place.

1627563111799.png


Ace Engineering & Fab bumper

I already have their rear bumper and stand alone tire carrier and they have been excellent. The fit and finish and overall toughness has been exceptional. The front bumper check all the boxes that needed to be checked. Came with a winch mount and skid, the Warn VR-EVO 12s winch will fit in the bumper and will mount the winch between the frame rails out of the way of the cooling system. The factory fog lights will mount into the bumper, not really important to me, but hey it is there.

Now to play the 6 to 8 weeks of waiting for it to arrive.
 

conFUcius

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Just to throw another brand out at you, Motobilt is made in AL and has great quality. You’ll have to paint or clear coat it but agree with all aforementioned points. The Crusher is what I have and has a recessed winch position along with an included winch plates, bull bar, and integrated skid plate. While I lost the OEM fog lights, I do like its matching rear bumper and will pick that up the next time they have a sale (typically on Black Friday, they do 20% off).
 

545moose

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Things to consider when ordering your front bumper.....

Will the winch you plan to buy fit in the bumper?

I have a Roam front bumper, love it, but upgraded from my Smitybuilt winch to a Warn winch. The Warn winch will not fit into the bumper, So I just ordered a new bumper yesterday. Can't really return the winch, I scratched it while trying it get it to fit under the Roam bumper. I prefer the winch to be mounted between the frame rails as low as possible. The Roam bumper would not clear the Warn winch.

This is with the smitybuilt winch. You can see how low the winch is mounted in the Roam bumper.
1627559988171.png


#2 do you want the winch on top of the bumper or do you want it between the frame rails.

I like th winch mounted between the frame rails. I do not like the winch on top of the bumper. I like the Jeep having unrestricted air into the cooling systems with out the winch being in the way. like it is on my buds JLUR with the JCR bumper.

1627560175032.png


#3 What length bumper do you want to run, full width, medium width or a stubby. We run stubby bumpers so that we have better approach angles when off roading.

#4 does your bumper come with a winch plate and a skid plate. If not, this can easily turn a $300 bumper into a $800 bumper. Then you still have a low quality bumper. A warn winch plate by itself is almost $300.


#5 what kind of recovery points does the bumper have and how strong are they? We have all most likely seen junk bumpers ripped off a Jeep during recoveries on Youtube. Also with cheaper bumpers, they can fold, aka taco bumper if you hit something while off roading own on roading.

#6 do you want to use the stock Jeep fog lights and will your fog lights fit in the bumper or is it something you will have to also purchase?


So I had to ditch the Roam bumper, really to bad as I loved it. I ordered this in its place.

1627563111799.png


Ace Engineering & Fab bumper

I already have their rear bumper and stand alone tire carrier and they have been excellent. The fit and finish and overall toughness has been exceptional. The front bumper check all the boxes that needed to be checked. Came with a winch mount and skid, the Warn VR-EVO 12s winch will fit in the bumper and will mount the winch between the frame rails out of the way of the cooling system. The factory fog lights will mount into the bumper, not really important to me, but hey it is there.

Now to play the 6 to 8 weeks of waiting for it to arrive.
Bumper and winch look great and good explanation. So it's safe to say that if a bumper say it'll fit a Warn model "X" in particular, anything at or less than those winch dimensions are good to go? I'm wanting to try a ComeUp this time around, similar style/shape as the Warns are. Superwinch is always an option too, but their service blows now that Westin owns them :(
 
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