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For the off-road enthusiast, the right gear is important and when it comes to gear, choosing the right off road light has become a necessity. One may assume any type of light is good enough for off-roading but will quickly learn the wrong decision can lead to limited visibility and fragile or small mounting brackets. Ultimately you’ll need to replace this type of light quickly which leads to additional expense or poor experiences. So, let’s help you make the right decision the first time.
In this blog we’ll take a look at the best off road lights on the market right now and chat a bit about what makes each one special. By the end you should become well versed in the types of off road lights and the best overlanding lights. First, ask yourself, What type of off road activities do I plan to have? What conditions will I be experiencing? How much do I want to spend? Now that you’ve got your answers, let’s break down the basics.
LED light bars are a great option to add multiple lights to your vehicle using one product. They are best placed on long surfaces such as, your windshield, front bumper or roof rack. Be mindful when choosing the location though, because placement may also cause a reflection on the hood of your vehicle and affect visibility.
Pod lights are a compact option to add additional lighting to any vehicle including trucks, cars, motorcycles and boats. They offer a bright beam and their size ranges from 2 to 9 inches making it a versatile option when it comes to mounting. The most popular location for pods are the bottom corner of the vehicle's windshield as it allows lighting from a different angle than your stock headlights, providing maximum illumination.
Spot lights act as a supplemental light and features a clear focused lens which are ideal for high-speed driving in open environments. This beam pattern is best for reaching far distances in the dark. The preferred mounting location for spot beams is the front bumper facing forward as it helps avoid light reflection from the hood. Although, mounting to the top of windshield is also an option which offers more light reach.
The function of fog lights are implied in the name; they are the best options when experiencing low visibility weather conditions such as fog, heavy mist, snow. The beam features the widest, shortest and lowest lighting option and is mounted below the front bumper to allow for the most illumination on the road. This location also prevents reflection from elements like water droplets and dust particles to eliminate any additional obstacles for your visibility.
Rock lights add vibrant colours to your off road experience and is a favourite for off road lovers. They are installed underneath your vehicle and allow you to get a full scope of the terrain you’re traveling on. Drivers use this to easily identify rocks and debris that may cause damage to their vehicle and help keep themselves safe.
How do you determine what is considered “best” when it comes to your off road lights? Below we’ll highlight some of the top brands, things to look for, best features and prices but ultimately, it comes down to what is best for your personal lifestyle and budget. Some other factors to consider are the type of vehicle you have and where you want to mount the lights.
What makes ARB special is the fact it was created by a 4WD owner for 4WD owners. It was through his own experiences off road in Australia’s extreme terrains and continuous equipment damage that owner, Tony Brown realized the need for quality accessories for overland adventures. Since 1975, ARB has developed a trusted brand in the off road community with an export network through more than 80 countries and continues to develop the best in 4X4 accessories. ARB’s philosophy is quality, reliability and practicality above all else.
If the qualities that are most important to you are the brightest, most consistent beam pattern and the strongest housing, then the ARB 7 Inch Intensity LED Driving Lights is definitely one to consider for all extreme off roaders. This spot beam light was engineered in Australia and manufactured in USA using the latest in LED technology. The intensity of this off road light is nothing short of impressive; adding light comparable to daytime to even the darkest locations.
Reasons to Love This Light:
Size: 7 inches
Baja Designs has been at the forefront of off-road lighting for over 25 years. They pride themselves on being the leading designers in LED light bar, LED auxiliary lights, and the world's first Laser light bars and auxiliary lights. They are so confident about their products and their ability to revolutionize the industry, they call their engineers “The Scientists of Lighting.” They also offer industry lighting products including military lighting, infrared lighting, marine lighting, agriculture lighting & industrial lighting and are often sought out by professional race teams to develop their vehicle lighting.
The Baja Designs LP9 Pro LED Light is for our style conscious adventurers who also need the extra power. The high lumen count offers a brighter output in the colour options, amber or white. As one of the more popular lights on the market, it is a fan favourite for off roaders and speed drivers alike.
Brand: Baja Designs
Size: 8" Diameter/ 3.25" Depth
Type: Spot/ Combo
Another favourite from Baja Designs is the XL80 Pair Driving/ Combo LED lights. Unlike the other lights we’ve discussed so far, these come as a pair offering a great deal for the price. These Baja lights are compact in size and will add a little razzle dazzle to your vehicle while also providing the bright coverage you need. Featuring a 20% dimming feature and 9,500 lumen, it’s a top choice for both close and distant visibility.
Size: 4.43" x 3.65" x 4.43"
KC HiLiTES, named using the initials of Peter Kim Brown and his wife Carol Brown, was founded in 1970. After having limited lighting options back then, Peter began working on better lighting options for himself and friends for the desserts in Saugus, California. Later the company evolved and provided products to local shops and off roaders. By 1974, the company moved to Williams, Arizona, which is still its base today and is known for leading the way in new products including the Daylighter and KC FLEX ERA® product family; the industry's first three source triangular light built to withstand the rigors of heavy off road and racing use.
The 6” Gravity LED Pro6 was inspired by endurance racing and features KC HiLiTES’ advanced Gravity Reflective Diode (GRD) technology. These KC lights come as a pair and provides 972 meters of beam distance. Definitely the most versatile option on our list so far with Spot, SAE/ECE Driving Beam or Wide-40 beam pattern options.
Reasons to Love This Light:
Brand: KC Hilites
Size: W - 6.00" x H - 7.00" x D - 3.125"
KC HiLiTES also offers a great light bar in the 28” Chase LED Rear-Facing light option. Durability is no question; with its weather resistant and shatter proof lens, it’s perfect for extreme conditions. These KC lights makes it safe for drivers with its blinker and strobe capacity.
Brand: KC HiLiTES
Size: 28 inches
Location: Bumper, Overhead, Rear, Back-up
Rigid Industries is considered by many as the best manufacturers of off-road lights in the market. The company is known for providing innovative products for your truck, jeep, SUV or ATV. The company was first created as JST Performance, Inc. named after owners, Jason Christiansen, Taylor and Seth Anderson. Now known as Rigid Industries, they offer the highest in quality and durability for LED products.
The E-Series Pro 50" Spot/Flood Combo is one of the brightest and most efficient light bars on the option and versatile to say the least. Not only are the Rigid lights ideal for off road but it’s also a great option for marine, power sports, general automotive use and first response needs. It also has a longer lifespan and delivers more raw lumens than the average light bar.
Brand: RIGID Industries
Size: 50 inches
The D-Series SAE Fog Light features an impressive 80-degree spread offering phenomenal light output not only off road but during regular road travel as well. These fog lights offer close to daylight brightness make it a great decision for low visibility conditions. The design was created with an impact resistant polycarbonate lens in a high-grade alloy housing. In terms of quality and performance, it is a difficult option to beat.
Size: 3"X 3"
Type: Fog lights
Cali Raised Off Road is a go to brand for your vehicle modifications whether they be subtle or extreme. They are located in Buena Park, California and considers themselves a one stop shop for not only LED light options but all vehicle upgrades. Cali Raised is popular among off roaders who want quality products without breaking the bank.
The LED 43” Amber/White Dual Function LED Light is an affordable light bar option which offers reliable lighting. It is a great choice for low visibility conditions and dark off road activities. Since it is a universal light bar, you can use the Cali lights with any of your off road vehicles using the standard mounting brackets.
Brand: Cali Raised Off Road
Size: 43 inches
Type: LED Light Bar
The Cali Raised LED 3x2 18W LED Pods adds a bright spot beam to light those dark trails and foggy journeys. It features a PMMA lenses, diecast aluminum housing, and boasts a IP rating of 67 which makes it small but durable. The price is tough to beat and it’s super easy to install, making it a best seller among off road enthusiasts.
Brand: Cali Raised
Size: 3”X 2”
We’ve given you a lot of information to digest but you know the saying, “knowledge is power”. Now you should be equipped with all the resources you need to make the best choice when shopping for your off road lights. If nothing else you should take away the differences between the various types of road lights and when to use them.
The products we’ve noted are just some of the amazing LED light products you can choose from at different spending ranges, but you can also do some more research on your own and browse through our other off road lighting options. Remember to always keep in mind where the lights will be used. Let’s say your next off road adventure is expected to take you through some inclement weather in terrain that could potentially cause damage to your vehicle, what type of lights should you be shopping for? That’s right! You would need fog lights mounted to your front bumper to help you guide through and some rock lights installed underneath to add visibility through those super rough terrains. Great, now you’re all set!
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So pretty much for the ikamper’s it would seem all they have done is changed the outer colors of their RTT’s and the pricing slightly. The shell covers are the same, same retractable ladders which is to be expected, the map on the 3.0 is the same as the 2.0 but the price point is higher for the 3.0 than the 2.0. It would also appear that the X-cover would have the same foot print and the previous model. The only noticeable difference are outer window which no longer detach rather are fixed now and crossbars were already on the older model so this is not a “big” improvement. Being an ikamper owner myself, I personally say they could have made better improvements on their newer models than they have shown so far. I personally wouldn’t buy another ikamper only because of the weight, strong chemical smell when the tents are in the summer heat and overall they can be pretty easy to setup and take down they do tend to have some struggles and need to be closed “just rite” in order to closed ALL the way! This is based on their Skycamp 2.0 version. I do really like the X-cover version’s having all the great view you can get which is a big plus, and having the flat top with crossbars are great but can only hold a very small load on top, so keep that in mind. Overall we do like ikamper and they are very tents, but even with that said I prefer other RTT’s over the ikamper personally that can provide some slightly better options and that come with some accessories vs having to literally pay for everything which is already at the top price point already. Their overall construction is very good I will say but again I do believe they could’ve done a little better with the newer models and made more features.
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