One of the first things most gearheads do after buying a new rig — besides washing it profusely, of course — is head straight to the internet to find a cache of aftermarket parts. This accomplishes two things: it helps customize the vehicle for whatever harebrained plans we happen to have rolling around in our brains, and it helps separate our machine from all the others. After all, shouldn’t your truck look just a little bit different than the one your neighbor brought home last month?
Those of us who spend our free time social-distancing our way through an off-road trail tend to append those aforementioned upgrades to our rides with great haste. And one of the first to get added (after better tires, of course) is gear that can help us make it up and over that next obstacle on the trail.
Arguably the best spend of money in that arena is buying a new front bumper. Most modern pickups are designed with an eye towards fuel efficiency, meaning there are often low-hanging valences or bumper extensions just waiting to get ripped off the first time you try and clamber over those rocks. This helps explain the wide array of aftermarket bumpers available to truck owners, providing options for better approach angles as well as room for bigger tires.
As with all products of this nature, make sure you’re buying the proper one for your application before shelling out the money. Some bumpers won’t play well with trucks that have adaptive cruise control, for example, while all of them are likely designed for a specific make and model.
With that in mind, here’s a closer look at the best aftermarket truck bumpers money can buy.
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Westin HDX Bumper
Here’s a stout one-piece front bumper made of 7-gauge steel (the lower the gauge number, the thicker the steel). Its fully-welded construction is capable of handling medium-frame winches that stand up to 9.75 inches tall. Note to all Power Wagon and Tremor owners: you’ll have to choose a different option, since this bumper doesn’t play well with a factory integrated winch.
What this bumper does play well with is just about every form of off-road adventure, thanks to its adjustable mounting brackets and 1”-thick shackle mounts. There is space to fit aftermarket lighting ranging from 11 to 12.75 inches in length and its textured powder coating is likely to shrug off whatever abuse you hurl at this thing on the trail.
- 7-gauge steel
- 1-piece welded construction
- Aggressive chiseled design
- Fits most medium frame 8,000-12,000 lbs. winches (up to 10.25 inch tall)
Promoted Product: WARN Ascent Series Bumpers
You’d take cooking advice from a professional chef, right? Then it only makes sense to buy a truck bumper from the company that wrote the book on off-road winching. After all, those years of experience have taught WARN exactly the type of products that are desired by off-road enthusiasts. With that in mind, the company created not one but three different aftermarket truck bumpers, each with their own distinct feature set and price point.
The low-profile Ascent bumper aims to retain, or even increase, the truck’s approach angle while providing the space to add bull bars and off-road lighting. And, naturally, it comes ready-made to accept WARN’s legendary mid-frame winches. For those seeking Superman levels of protection but still need space for a winch, check out the Ascent HD series complete with welded shackle eyelets and tapered corners to accommodate your outrageously big tires. Rounding out the WARN catalog is the Ascent XP series, which is a non-winch bumper that provides increased front-end protection and an aggressive style. The Ascent family also features a rear bumper designed to sit high for maximum ground clearance.
Whichever you choose, it’s hard to go wrong with WARN.
*This is a sponsored placement.
- Black texture powder coat
- 11-gauge steel material
- The winch-ready Ascent and Ascent HD pair nicely with WARN’s legendary winches
- Accommodates oversize tires
Smittybilt M1A2 Heavy Duty Modular Truck Bumper
This is a newer option from the pros at Smittybilt, combining a ton of desirable features with a product name that sounds like an assault rifle. The M1A2 HD Modular Bumper gives users full control to transform their truck depending on whether you want to conquer the toughest trails or simply pose at the mall.
Crafted from 1/8” steel, Smittybilt says this bumper is engineered for both strength and weight savings. Its lower panels can be removed for better approach angles and tire clearance, hence the word ‘modular’ in its official name. Once off the trails, the bumper’s modular design allows the removal of winch and plate (without removal of the bumper), permitting the install of a main light bar inside the winch cavity.
- Modular design allows front bumper to go from winch to winchless with ease
- Strong 1/8″ steel frame
- 1/4″ steel winch cradle offers increased durability and load capacity
- Winch cradle can be removed or installed without bumper removal
Fab Fours Front Full Width Truck Grumper
If you seek to intimidate everyone and everything each time you drive your truck, you’ll want to check out the awesomely-named Grumper from the crew at Fab Fours. This unit’s outrageously aggressive design won’t be to everyone’s taste, but there’s no denying it has presence. Taking the place of not just the front bumper but also altering appearance of the truck’s grille, there are no fewer than nine removable inserts, providing a wealth of customization.
Grumper has side mounting slots and tabs for various lights options (bring yer own) and can accommodate a pair of 3×3 cube lamps per side. It’s winch-ready, of course, and its profile permits more tire clearance than a stock bumper. The designers accounted for modern options as well, meaning there are integrated sensor holes for certain types of forward-facing driver aids. It even provides space for the front camera option on some trucks.
- Removable inserts for customization options
- Provides greater tire clearance
- Integrated D-Ring mounts that hold up to 7/8 shackle
- 11-gauge steel construction
ARB Summit Bumper
Rounding out our list is one of several options from well-known off-road company ARB. The company boasts they have has invested heavily in vehicle crash barrier tests to validate the performance and compliance of its air bag-compatible bumpers, which is no small matter for safety. While ARB has an array of bumpers on offer, the Summit series is arguably the brand’s most popular.
Available to fit many different makes and models, the Summit features uprights that are cut from a single sheet of steel extending from the top tube through to the bumper section. This way, it actually forms part of the bumper to chassis mount, ensuring the whole outer frame receives maximum support. There are provisions for a winch, lights, and even a CB antenna. And, knowing that off-roaders love to get ourselves into a tangle, they’ve even thought to incorporate jacking points into the design.
- Mandrel steel tubing
- Air bag compatible
- Will accommodate low mount winches
- Jack points
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