First Things First – Lift, Tires, and Rack

Toyota 4Runner with BFG KO2 Tires and OME Lift
This was from a trip up on the Georgia Traverse in the Nantahala National Forest

The First of Many Mods

I was sort of deliberate in the order, and I’d do it again the next time I do a build: lift, tires, rack. Those were my first three mods and I think it’s great start from a practicality and usability perspective.

Lift: 3″ OME Kit
Tires: BFG KO2 sized 285/70/17
Spacers: Spidertrax 1.25″
Rack: K9 2.2 Meter from Eezi Awn

The Lift – OME 3″ Kit

The very first mod I did really didn’t have a lot of forethought. I knew that I would be doing a lift, and the consensus on the forums was pretty much that a 3″ lift was the norm and that there weren’t really any “kits” out there that did more (you’d have to go a custom route at that point and change a lot of stuff that was way over my head). And as I sometimes do, I was browsing the classified section on the forum and came across a used 3″ lift OME kit (linked to here). I’d seen this come up in my searches as a respectable entry level kit that was well made, well respected and had a good reputation. The seller had it on his 4Runner for a few months but changed directions and was looking to get half of what a new kit cost.

I was sold.

A local shop that does a lot of work for our company vehicles put the kit on for me, did the alignment, and while I was riding stock tires, it looked like the 4Runner had been skipping leg day.

I rode it like this for a month or so before I decided on tires. The lift was sort of an impulse buy, but I did in-fact want it on first because I knew I the tire size I wanted to run would not fit well with the stock height.

The Tires – BFG KO2 in 285/70/17

Tires were next. I read somewhere that a good set of tires will take you just about anywhere you want to go and keep you out of most of the trouble you could get yourself into. I pretty much agree with this 100%. Makes sense right?

I felt pretty strongly after all the research that I did that the BFG KO2’s All Terrains were the gold standard in the off-roading world. There are other manufacturers that many swear by, but I just kept coming back to the KO2’s. I’m actually the guy that hates a lot of choices. Give me 3 choices, a little info and some testimonials, and I’ll make my pick. Give me 10, and I’ll start crying.

I went with the KO2’s, they were expensive, but I haven’t looked back, nor have I had a reason to second guess my decision. I’ve now bought 3 sets of them and I’m still happy. I’m sure you’re now thinking, “3 sets?” Yes, for the 4Runner, for the Turtleback Trailer (more later) and for my wife’s van (hey, they look cool and ended up being cheaper than the Michelins we were putting on it).

Spacers – Spidertrax 1.25″

When I put the tires on, I also had a set of Spidertrax 1.25″ spacers added to the mix. To be frank, the main reason was because I wanted a wider stance. Yep, I did something for the looks. But there are practical uses for that wider stance too. It’s funny though, the knee-jerk reaction to spacers is that they’re “dangerous” and “I read about this one guy’s cousin’s brother’s buddy that was running them and was driving down a highway and the studs sheared off and 14 people died”. I haven’t been able to find any cases where Spidertrax spacers on a 4Runner caused any issues, I’ve known and talked to many people who have ran them successfully for a tens of thousands of miles, I’ve personally ran them for 45k miles with nary an issue.

Wait, let me back up a second:  I have had one issue (two different shops have broke a stud) – that’s a story for another day, but to be brief, make sure you don’t go over the factory spec of 85 lbs of torque and you’ll be fine.

The Rack – K9 2.2 Meter Rack from Eezi-Awn

And this brings me to the rack. I needed a platform that was modular, flexible, strong, light, and would not rust. I needed to get it in a reasonable amount of time (heard the 12 month Gobi nightmare stories) and I needed quality. I almost went with the Front Runner rack, but the only full-length option they had was a prototype at the time and required drilling into the roof to mount. At the time, I wasn’t comfortable with that.

I felt like the K9 rack from Eezi Awn was a good solution from a reputable company. It was aluminum, I knew people that had been using it without issue for a while, and I could get it fast – like the next week fast.

The only way to get one of these racks in the US was to go through Paul May at Equipt Expedition Outfitters, who was awesome and helpful, he had them in stock and shipped it to my office (commercial only) for free. That. Was. Awesome.

An added bonus I realized after the fact was that all the cool crap that is available for the Front Runner rack (that sadly Eezi Awn doesn’t have) actually works quite well with this rack. It’s not always perfect, but it’s usually pretty close.  I’ve been quite happy with the Front Runner accessories I’ve added to the mix.

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