What you need to know before buying
- I'm not fond of rock crawling and I do my best to avoid those situations. Why? Because I rely on my Jeep for a living. So, I don't tend to take risks too often. But sometimes, water fording or rock crawling is necessary because there's no other way or you face some sort of emergency. If you are a Jeep owner getting a job in the remote wilderness or planning a serious expedition, you better add some protection right off the bat because you never know what you will face (eventually).
The Rugged Ridge black thermoplastic rocker guard is not the best product on the market. If you are new to Jeeping, you must know that the rock crawling scene prefers the rock sliders/rails made by Deegan, Barricade, ARB, RedRock 4x4, Poison Spyder, or even Addictive Desert. But on my side, the Rugged Ridge Rail remains my favorite for the following reasons :
1. It's affordable! Yes, you can find that product for $99 (and even $89) online. If you want to compare, the steel brawler rockers from Poison Spyder are sold for $700.
2. It's tough for real. It's really hard to damage because it's constructed with black diamond plates. It won't bend or crack unless you start hitting it like crazy with a sledgehammer.
3. It's light. Some rocker panels weigh up to 40 lbs. Want to know the weight of the Rugged Ridge? 4 lbs. (for a pair!) That's it.
4. It's UV protected. The matte black color won’t change over time or with exposure to the sun.
5. It's a Direct Bolt On installation. No mods necessary, no hassles. First, there's an ultra strong double sided tape designed to attach the rails to your Jeep's body (reliable and strong adhesion). Second, use the included screws to secure everything in the pinch seam. Takes about 45 minutes to install. No extra hand or mechanical skills required.
6. It looks great. The design is agressive.
7. It covers damages already done. If you have been wheeling for a while without any armor, your pinch seams are probably dented and scratched. Make it disappear.
8. It's fits sidesteps. That product is designed to fit with most "standard" running boards and steps made a Wrangler JK 2-Door. So you can have both steps and rocker guards if you want. Don't forget to add door step protection covers to keep rocks, sand and slush away from the door sills (as an extra layer of safety for the paint).
Water fording takes its toll on the pinch seams
Rivers and creeks are full of surprises. Unless you decide to swim in it, it's sometimes hard to see what's really hidden in the water (fast current, muddy waters, rain, snow...). If you plan to travel/work/wander in an area scattered with creeks and rivers, I warmly recommend you to install some sort of (cheap) rocker guards.