*Originally Posted March 2020*
So you're getting into the hobby of taking your 4x4 vehicle off road. Many people's first stop is their local off-road shop to begin the upgrades! Whats my advice? My advice is.... don't take my advice! Over landing guys will tell you skid plates, lift tires. Rock crawling guys will tell you big axles and lockers. Everyone is going to give you a biased opinion depending on what they like or do the most.There are many different aspects of the off road world. Some people love the outdoors and enjoying it with their 4x4. The art of fusing the camping life and 4x4 vehicles is defined by the over-hashtagged activity of #OVERLANDING. This term used to be defined by self contained vehicles crossing great distances through primitive areas. Now its just mild trail riding and weekend camping adventures with a dash of Instagram photo shoots. Other people started off roading for the love of driving. A lot of these people started with a street able machine and kept it mild way too long. While at the same time doing heavy upgrades to accommodate the terrain and driving style of a rock crawler. There are many levels above and below these but they are solid bench marks to note. Early on its important to keep in mind what your going off roading to accomplish. This effects my best advice I can give to an entry level person. That advice is to find a club or event that is the off roading style your aiming for. One reason for this is to see if it truly fulfills what you think you want to be doing. And the other is if you find yourself actually into it the way you hoped, see what other people are running for equipment! TOO THE POINT. Out drive your equipment before you upgrade. Skill is the first thing your 4x4 needs before getting upgraded. Lockers bigger tires, and flexy suspension will most likely just get you farther into trouble at first than they will help you. So get a winch , join a club, and see what you can do!
Before a single upgrade is made I think safety should be addressed. A winch, recovery points, highlift, shackles, straps, first aid kit, extra vehicle fluids, and spare tire. Cool tires, a lift, and lockers may work great but they will also get you further into a bad situation than your stock vehicle would have. First mod should always be winch!My sales pitch always starts with a full interrogation of what they are truly going to be doing with the vehicle. Although I can come to a pretty solid conclusion as to what the first upgrades should be, it is not set in stone. At this point my advice can only be considered an educated guess because as anyone seasoned in off roading can tell you, your initial intentions may change to something completely different once you get into it.