The holidays are a magical time filled with family, friends, eggnog, weird relatives, and pure joy. Or they are a living nightmare filled with harsh weather, scrambling for last-minute gifts, fighting grown men over Dora The Explorer dolls, tons of traffic, and weird relatives. Some people enjoy the holidays, while others can’t wait for them to be over.
A significant source of holiday frustration and hair-pulling can be finding the right gift. Some people are notoriously picky and difficult to shop for. And, we have no idea what to get others. Some don’t provide lists and instead leave it up to us to somehow magically decipher what they want. The result can be a hot mess of confusion, sadness, and last-minute scrambling.
To avoid holiday hysterics and meltdowns, we have come up with a list of great gift ideas for your favorite off-roader. Even better is that this list is for all those who love the dirt. We purposely steered clear of vehicle-specific suggestions so that this list works for anyone. And, most of these gift ideas on this list are relatively inexpensive. That way, you don’t have to spend a fortune on your favorite off-roader either.
Tow straps make great gifts for lots of reasons. First, anyone that ventures off-road is eventually going to get stuck. That means your gift is going to get put to good use instead of being re-gifted. Secondly, tow straps are consumable items. They eventually wear out and get to the point where they need replacing. And, you can never really have enough of them. We love having straps in different lengths and ratings. They are just handy to have.
There are two options when it comes to tow straps. Kinetic tow straps have a bit of give to them. This give helps to reduce the shock load on a vehicle when yanking it out. It also produces some extra oomph to help extract a stuck rig as the strap springs back. A standard tow strap has no give to it, which might sound like a negative. But in a situation where you need absolute precision, like rocky terrain, a standard strap can be a better choice. We like having one of each on hand, giving us plenty of options.
D-rings are a lot like tow straps. They make great gifts because they will be used. You also really can’t have enough of them. We often loan them out to others on the trail, so we need lots of them. And, if you are thinking of getting a tow strap as a gift, a D-ring makes a great companion.
Just like tow straps, D-rings are available in a couple of flavors. Conventional steel ones have been around forever and for good reasons. They are durable, rugged, and reliable. While those are all positives, the downside is they are heavy. They can bang around on bumpers and inside your vehicle. And, while rare, if one breaks it can become a dangerous projectile.
Soft shackles are made from synthetic rope eliminating the weight of a conventional shackle. This makes them less dangerous if breakage occurs. That lack of weight also keeps them from banging around on bumpers or while stored. The drawback to soft shackles is that they wear out over time and occasionally need replacement. Carefully inspect any soft shackle before using it to make sure it is not frayed or damaged.
Hitting the trail involves a lot of working with one’s hands. Yes, there is the obvious handiwork of steering and shifting gears. But, once you step outside of your rig, the real work begins. Recovering a vehicle and working on a busted one all require using your hands. We have cut and banged up our hands and fingers countless times doing both.
Gloves are always useful for protecting our baby-soft hands, making them a great gift. We usually have at least a couple of sets always in our truck. And, we lose or destroy at least one set per year. For recovery operations, thicker leather gloves will protect hands from winch cables. But, those types of gloves are too thick to provide any feel when wrenching on a vehicle. For both winching and wrenching, mechanic-style gloves with reinforced palms are a better option.
We once famously told one of our friends that it gets really dark at night. They instantly made fun of us and thought we were a bit slow. While they might be on to something, we did actually have a point. Out on the trail and away from city lights, it does indeed get very dark at night. It can be a bit of a shock for city slickers used to lots of light pollution.
That is why LED lights make an excellent gift for anyone hitting the trail or traveling in the remote backcountry. Stock headlights don’t provide much illumination in these circumstances. Any extra lumens will be much appreciated, so any off-roader will dig them. The great thing about LED lights is they come in all shapes and sizes so they can fit on almost any vehicle. They also cover a wide range of prices, so you don’t have to spend a ton either.
You have probably noticed by now that many of our gift ideas revolve around recovery. Eventually everyone that goes off-road gets stuck. We love to give useful gifts that someone will genuinely appreciate. Sure, you can get your buddy an Angry Birds grille for his Jeep. But, we can guarantee a winch is going to be a lot more useful when he gets hopelessly mired on the trail.
A winch might be on the expensive side for a gift. But you don’t have to spend as much as you might think. Just over $400 will get you Smittybilt’s new Gen3 9.5K winch with a steel cable. Spend a bit more and you can purchase Warn’s VR EVO 8 winch. Either will be a high-quality and reliable winch that will pull anyone out of a jam.
Winch Accessory Kits
What if your friend already has a winch? A winch accessory kit makes a great companion to a winch. And, it also includes a lot of the items previously mentioned (tow straps, shackles, etc.) making it useful even for the winchless. But if you have a winch, you really should have a winch accessory kit. They include everything you need to put your winch right to work. And, it all comes in a handy storage bag, so you don’t have to waste time searching your vehicle.
More basic winch accessory kits include a single shackle, some chain, gloves, and a tree strap. The more you spend, the more you get. Top of the line kits, like the Warn Epic Accessory Kit, includes multiple Epic shackles, an Epic Tree Trunk Protector, an Epic snatch block, a recovery strap, Kevlar-reinforced gloves, and a sweet backpack. It has everything you need but will set you back over $400. There are plenty of options priced below the Epic if you don’t want to spend that much.
Looking for a stocking stuffer that is under $20? Okay, it might not fit in a stocking, but every shovel 4 Wheel Parts carries is under $20. A shovel is an essential piece of recovery gear. We once spent hours digging our way out a wash while racing the Baja 1000. It was long and tedious work, but we did eventually get unstuck using nothing more than a shovel and a constant stream of profanity. A shovel can also come in handy around camp for digging a fire pit or putting out a campfire. And, a shovel is a vital piece of equipment during winter as well.
So why not just go to the local hardware store for a shovel? Well, you can if you have space for a full-size one. But most trail shovels fold up into a tiny space. This makes them perfect for storing inside of a Jeep, SUV, or any other rig with limited space. Plus, you don’t want a full-size shovel banging around the inside of your rig. Shovels are worth their weight in gold even though they don’t weigh much.
We have tried to stay away from vehicle-specific gifts for the majority of this story. But it can’t all be recovery gear. If your wife, husband, mistress, significant other, or buddy is still rocking low-budget shocks, some upgraded ones will make perfect gifts. Basic shocks might be okay for the pavement, but once on the trail they leave a lot to be desired.
There are a ton of options and price points when it comes to better shocks. A nice step up from a basic shock is a larger-diameter monotube shock. If you have a bigger budget, look for shocks with remote reservoirs. Adjustable shocks are also great for dialing in a perfect ride. For a deeper dive on how to pick the right shocks, check out our story here. Anyone who gets a better set of shocks will think of you every time they hit a bump.
There is no getting around the fact that tires are expensive. Big mud-terrain tires are the most costly, and all-terrain tires are that much cheaper. But they are the single most crucial item that an off-roader can buy. After all, tires are the only part of your vehicle that touches the ground. Or at least, they should be. Friends don’t let friends buy cheap, low-performance tires that don’t work.
The cost of a full set of tires might be a bit jaw-dropping. But don’t think you can only buy four tires. Even if you can buy only one tire, it is going to help a friend out. Of course, don’t just give some random tire as a gift. You are going to need to know what size and brand that your favorite off-roader wants. And, even if you can’t afford one, some cash towards new tires would help out.
A Gift Card
You should have some great gift ideas after reading all of this. But what if you are still completely stumped? We don’t blame you. Picking out a gift for an off-roader can be as painful as selecting the perfect gift for a teenager. If you have truly hit a wall, think about getting a 4WP gift card. They are available in $25, $50, $75, and $100. And, if you act now, you can be entered to win a $5,000 gift card when you buy a $50 one. That is a lot of scratch!