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Discussion Starter #1
Here’s the thing, my Xterra (2012 S) will likely never be an awesome armored lunar combat rover. I don’t have the time, money, or strong desire; although I do think they’re pretty cool. My Xterra is largely a daily driver, with any increased functionality aimed at weekend camping locally and longer vacations in the western US when time and money allows. I just want to be able to leave the gravel roads when I head out. There’s lots of cool stuff to see in the wilderness. Because of those goals, there are a few mods I have in mind. I’m looking for recommendations products, but mostly for strategy of implementation, i.e. what things should I get first and why?

Trailer hitch: Cheapish and super useful, gives options for towing a trailer, as well as a hitch mounted bike rack or cargo tray.

Roof Cargo Tray: I’ve seen a few of different types, basically I’m looking at a basket that fits between the stock bars. Despite being the S trim-line (it has the allow wheels and waterproof coating in the trunk), the guy I bought it from didn’t have the crossbars for the roof rack. I was thinking about getting some second hand, but now I’m thinking of just getting an aftermarket roof rack to store camping supplies. Also, way in the future I’d like to buy a canoe. Would a cargo tray interfere with a canoe mount?

Trail Protection: I’m not sure about the skids and sliders. Part of me doesn’t like the reduced mileage, and I’m not intending to hit any extra difficult trails. Part of me, however thinks that I probably won’t be in a group when I go off-road, so a little insurance in case something happens is a good idea. Are there any thoughts on the capability of the lightweight stock plates I could get second hand from a Pro-4x owner vs. the full strength plates from a fabricator given my intended usage?

Bumpers: Not intending to do any serious rock-crawling, I wasn’t planning on an upgraded front bumper, but I kind of love some of the rear bumpers out there. The swing-away tire carrier is something I want, although I don’t know how much it really is better than the underneath carrier position. I also like the possibility of jerry can holders on the bumper (although they could be put in a trailer or hitch-mounted cargo tray). Another thing is that a lot of aftermarket bumpers come with trailer hitches installed, so if I am doing the rear bumper route eventually, maybe I should move it up instead of getting a hitch, then removing the hitch when put the bumper on.

Lifts: I wasn’t planning on lifts, as I don’t think I need big tires, but I think that after you add a certain amount of weight, lifts become important to keep your wheel clearance. So how much weight can I add before I really need to start thinking about a body or suspension lift?

Anyway, if you’re still reading, I thank you, and any insights or advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Screw all of that terrestrial business! You should be driving an awesome armored lunar combat rover. We're going to start you with solid fuel boosters - I hear NASA is clearing out some back stock. That'll knock your lift out too.

Next, on board air. Don't leave atmosphere without it.

Finally, I would double up some Hefty skids if you plan on coming back to the spinning blue ball, reentry is a *****.

You've got some solid ideas, but you gotta think outside the box!
 

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Sounds to me like you are more than well educated enough to decide what it is that you need for what you do. You know all the available options (and I'm sure you will want the all as time goes by - many of us do).

That said:

1) Trailer hitch - Curt model - do it and you'll never regret

2) Dephep - same - you'll never regret

3&4) Depends how capable you want to be - option for future mod

5) Lift is like getting a new truck. Also helps avoid the need for skids and sliders - if you clear it, you don't need protection. Does not make you a rock crawler though (as I'm sure you know)

I'll add that better tires are often regarded as the #1 best mod you'll ever do. That's pretty much where the rubber meets the road (pun intended).
 

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Hitch = yes

Roof cargo = Dephep drop in; forum member, awesome product. Worry about canoe when you buy one.

Trail Protection = stock skids better than none, Sliders also make nice "steps" for wife/kids.

Bumpers = Remote camping? Might want to think about having a winch, and other gear, for unplanned self recovery.

Lifts = You can run a 33" tire with a "melt mod"(search how-to section). You can also swap to better coilovers in stock height, rear springs will sag over time.

Looks like you have a pretty solid grasp on what you want from the truck, just think about some of the items as insurance(skids,sliders,recovery gear).
 

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two wise men (Killswitch and skyfaller) once told me when it came to mods:

first sliders, then skids, and then tires. I of course did not follow that progression because I am 26 and think I can do whatever I want. I will say though - I really wish I had listened to them . . .
 

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You'll get differing advice based on each member's experience and the type of terrain they offroad on. Ask yourself which part of your truck is likely to fail or get damaged first based upon what YOU want to do and where YOU want to go. That is the one you want to mod as soon as you can.

Just like flying, you are addressing the most likely point of failure and moving forward from there.
 

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Sliders both help and hurt. I have been on the same trail with and without them.

Without them I hit the frame once. With them I hit the sliders multiple times. It's a give and take situation. I'd much rather hit the slider than take the chance that I hit the body.

For me next is tires and a radiator skid( already dented over half the stock ones and I already have the rad skid) then comes the lift and more skids.
 

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My thoughts -
Hitch or bumper hitch, use OEM wiring harness - do bumper right away.
If going places that need sliders and heavy skids, shouldn't be going there alone. I consider my stock skids as warning plates - if I hit I'd better be thinking about turning around. Only you can decide where your going to take it. Driving/vacationing in the west requires lots of miles of traveling - armor, lift, big heavy tires will get you further off-road but you will pay dearly in mileage for the 1000 of miles of highway to get there and back home. But, should go Load C tire for added strength with small weight gain - I like tall skinny tires and would rec. Toyo Open Country A/T for great all purpose. And, remember, there are lots of areas in the west that have no cell phone coverage at all. If you travel in winter, have a set of tire chains - at times and places you may not be allowed to continue on the Interstate without them.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
RMZ-Eq: That's an excellent point about traveling alone. Second-hand Pro4x skids might be the right move as a warning mechanism, but to keep it light for long distance travel. Everybody here seems to run big fat tires, but upon your suggestion, I've spent the last hour or so reading up on skinny tires, and I think they're probably what I need. Thanks for the suggestion. Tires and new shocks were definitely on the upgrade list also, I'm not sure why I didn't list them earlier.

obi_krash: Do you know the rational behind that order? I'm curious.

marksmatter: Excellent point, I guess I'm not yet sure what my biggest point of failure will be. Also, any reason for the Curt over other brands? Any opinions on a regular hitch vs. hitch on an aftermarket bumper?

PlasticOne: You forgot solar power panels! Gas is soooooooo pricey on the moon.
 

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To reiterate, this will all depend on where you plan to wheel and what you plan to do.

Many people have told you to go sliders first. I disagree........and agree.

I put my lift on first, then tires because I wanted the lift to clear the tires. Where I was wheeling, (Alaska) I had not use for sliders and never came near the rocker panels.

When I moved to west texas with the military, I realized that even with my lift, Sliders are essential down here. I have since ordered some. Keep in mind that they will reduce your ground clearance so if you lift the truck 2-3 inches youll be back to your stock ground clearance......ish.

For what its worth. Again, my stock skids maintained what I was doing in Alaska as its mostly mud but my radiatior skid took a beating. If you had one skid to choose, thats the one I would recommend. Most of the aftermarket front bumpers come with one though, except for the ARB. So buying one and then getting a bumper (other than the ARB) would just be a waste of money.

I feel the same way about the hitch and the rear bumper. Most aftermarket rears have a hitch built in. If your planning on a rear bumper in the future, you may as well get it because buying a hitch and then taking it off because you have one on your bumper is a waste of money. Also, a hitch reduces your ground clearance. Ive hit mine many times. Cant wait to get rid of it and get a rear bumper.

Roof rack. I have a Yakima and while its nice, I wish I was aware of the DepHep. Having seen one on a friends rig, I want one. The reduced roof height with the Dep Hep is nice for guys like me who only use it on a minimal basis. The nice think about the Yakima load warrior is that you can put an extender in it if you continue to fill it to capacity and need more space.

Also, keep an eye on the for sale section on here. Guys like me who will be doing things like bumpers and skids are always selling our stock stuff. For example, I will sell the skids off my Off Road and the stock hitch for cheap when I upgrade. Thats a ways down the road though for me.

Either way you go, the Xterra is an extremely capable vehicle and arguably the best overland vehicle out there. Going full armor and overland equipment first, or going big lift and tires first, is just based on what you do. A perfect example is my rig and Frijoles X (forum member). You can see in the pic below that he is fully armored, not lifted, and still running stock size tires. Im running a full titan swap and 33s with about 4 in lift. We did the same trail in the pic below and he only needed help on one obstacle that I was able to clear unscathed. His sliders helped him push over anything I cleared without contact.

 

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obi_krash: Do you know the rational behind that order? I'm curious.

QUOTE]

Umm, well if you have stock skids you are kinda safe right? So you figure, first thing you remove those step rails and replace them sturdy, solid sliders. Then you replace those stock skids cause now with your sliders you have gained some confidence to hit some harder stuff. Now with your sliders and skids - more than likely you have been wheeling so your tires are getting worn, also you hopefully have the fever to go harder - so a beefier tire is a great next move I would assume. I mean, I pieced together a PML from members selling used parts. But now I wish I had atleast saved and done sliders and skids, got quite a few dings and nice dent in the oil pan.
 
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