What’s the best jack for off-roading? Is the mighty Hi Lift still the best or are there better options out there?
In this article we’ll give a low down of the best jacks on the market and what to look for when choosing one for your 4×4.
What Makes an Off-road Jack Different than Regular Jack?
When you’re looking for an off-roading jack, there’s several things to look for that’ll differ than your regular jack that you keep in your trunk or in your garage. These include:
- Lift-height: Often with a larger 4×4 you’re changing bigger tires so you need more life height
- Lifting-capacity: Again, you’re lifting a large, heavy 4×4, not a Toyota Camry
- Uneven/soft ground: When you need to change a tire in the bush, you’re normally doing it in (at best) uneven ground or, worse, soft ground like mud or sand
Jacks come in one five basic types and only two are really good for off-roading (more on that in a second):
- Farm/Hi-lift Jacks
- Exhaust Jacks
- Floor Jacks
- Bottle Jacks
- Scissor Jacks
Ultimately, your typical bottle or scissor jack just ain’t going to cut it in the bush. To cut straight to the chase, you probably are going to want either some type of Hi Lift Jack (otherwise called a farm jack) or Exhaust Jack.
Getting your hands on the right off-road jack offers real convenience on various scenarios. Because of this, it’s also important that you’re aware of the different types of off-road jack.
Hi-Lift Off-road Jack (Farm Style)
Most off-roaders are familiar with the Hi-Lift. But is it worth it?
The hi-lift is so popular because of the vertical height it can lift: up to 60″ whereas your standard floor jack doesn’t even lift 20″.
Another positive of the Hi-Lift is its Amazing versatility. Not only can it be a jack it can also serve as a clamp and as a tire bead breaker.
The Hi-lift can be a pain to store though given its height and normally necessitates some kind of mounting bracket.
Hi-Lift Off-road Jack Pros & Cons
ARB Off-road Muffler Jack (Exhaust Style)
The ARB 72×10 Orange Bushranger X-Jack Kit exhaust jack is the ultimate jack on soft and sticky surfaces such as mad and sand.
The ARB jack gives a reasonable amount of ground clearance (around 30″) to prevent your vehicle from sinking. And with its triangular-shaped feet, it’ll further secure your vehicle in place.
Getting it to work is either through the exhaust or portable air compressor. Yes, this is safe.
This air jack also comes with a mat that you have to place on top of it, to protect it against sharp items below your vehicle that may damage it.
ARB Off-road Jack & Cons
Pro-Lift Off-road Jack (Floor Style)
Every off-roader needs a floor jack for around the garage. While of little use while on the trail, the Pro-Lift F-767 Grey Low-Profile Floor Jack is great for at home or at the shop.
What makes this floor jack fit for the task is the fact that it’s equipped with a patented bypass device. This bypass design acts as a filter that ensures you only raise your vehicles to an optimal level to prevent dealing with the dangers of over pumping. And because it’s made from heavy-duty steel, it’ll last for many years.
It can accommodate a minimum clearance of 3.5″.
Torin Off-road Jack (Scissor Style)
Most of us have love hate relationships with scissor jacks but regardless they can be invaluable in a bind. The Torin Big Red Scissor Jack is one of the best in its class.
The scissor jack is designed with an extra-wide base that provides additional stability on the ground.
Aside from its valuable support factor, it has a reasonable lifting capacity. Although it’s not meant for hardcore off-roading, its other variant, the jack screw, is capable of performing minimal 4×4 tasks.
This scissor jack is made from a steel material for a longer lifespan. It’s portable and you can use it as a spare jack for emergency cases, requiring quick and easy solutions.
Common Mistakes in Using Off-road Jacks
Once you finally set your eyes on your chosen off-road jack, it’s time you become aware with some common mistakes in using off-road jacks. Believe it or not, some people still have a tendency to improperly use their off-road jacks. That’s why, it’s important for you to know how to avoid such mistakes as early as possible.
1. Carelessly Dragging the 4×4 Backwards
Sure, off-road jacks like Hi-lifts can be used for winching. But if you’re into the idea of backward winching more often than necessary, you’ll end up damaging your 4×4.
This is because if there’s an obstacle below your vehicle, it’ll just scrape its underside. Experts say that instead of using your off-road jack as a winch in this situation, use it to lift your 4×4 and remove the obstacle below.
2. Not Using All Protective Gear
Sometimes, feeling lazy to use all protective gear that comes with an off-road jack is normal. But did you know that by giving in to such a temptation, you’re only increasing the chances of destroying your off-road jack?
In this case, if you’re using an air jack to lift your 4×4, make sure you also put its protective mat on top, to prevent it from popping due to the sharp objects underneath your vehicle that can prick its surface.
3. Using an Off-road Jack on Uneven Surfaces
Unless you’re using a jack specifically intended for uneven surfaces (re: exhaust jack), doing a lift in uneven ground can have disastrous consequences.
Look for a place with a flattened surface when possible. But doing so helps you avoid the risk of a tipping or sliding jack that can cause your 4×4 to abruptly go down with more than just a bump.
4. Using an Off-road Jack with Insufficient Lifting Capacity
There are still some people who fail to properly lift their 4x4s because the lifting capacity of their off-road jack is lower than their vehicles’ weight.
Take note that an off-road jack’s described lifting range on its package is more or less just a default capacity. So, if your vehicle weighs five tons, then get an off-road jack with a lifting capacity that’s greater than its given weight.
These are the 5 best off-road jacks. By wisely choosing and using the off-road jack that fits your needs, you not only address any immediate problems you can also avoid creating additional ones. What do you think is the best off-road jack? Let us know below.