Aftermarket front/rear bumpers: Yay or Nay

ns7i

Member
I'm on the fence about adding a steel front/rear bumper to my build. I also think this makes for an interesting discussion around weight and what we actually need out of our trucks.

Some context: I've got an 06 (1st Gen) Double Cab Toyota Tundra with an OVRLND camper on order (~350lbs). I'll eventually build out the interior (think benches/cabinets/fridge). I've also got steel sliders and skids. I live in Wyoming where wildlife are on the roads and camping, exploration, and solitude are ubiquitous. I'm not into crawling but I am into mildly technical (think Moderate) trails down in Colorado and Utah. Mostly I'm interested in getting away from the herds of RVs that seem to get worse every year. I'm more and more interested in exploring some of the remote parts of Utah and have done some trips like White Rim Trail and Alpine Loop. I think a trip to Baja is in the more immediate future.

On my previous build (2016 4Runner) I had a Shrockworks front bumper with a Warn 9.5XP-S winch. It only got spooled out to inspect/respool and occasionally for yanking deadfall out of the road. On this build I'm thinking harder about weight/GVWR but I waver on the utility of front/rear bumpers. For the front, I feel like a winch/pullpal could come in handy one day since I generally am a rig of 1. I do take MAXTRAX with me though. Also the factory recovery points aren't amazing on the 1st gen Tundras and who doesn't like better light mounting options? Lastly, there's the wildlife on the road here. On the rear, I've already taken some mild trail damage where a rock yanked off the tow plug harness. I'm mostly interested in a place for carrying extra fuel/water/MAXTRAX of course getting some extra clearance/recoverability from moving the tire to the rear is a plus.

I'm planning on getting a Deaver leaf pack to match the weight once things are finished. I'm also running Load Range E tires (285/70/17) and will probably eventually do the big brake mod (GX460 calipers) for some additional stopping power. Even with 33s, I feel like I've got plenty of power and don't expect that to change much. With all this said, steel front/rear bumpers would bring me pretty close to GVWR once everything is all said and done.

What would you do? Am I just drunk on sexy #overland rigs with full armor from Instagram? Should I keep it simple and light or add some additional capbility with steel bumpers? Are people too quick to install bumpers?
 

Jacobm

Member
You could split the difference and see if someone offers an aluminum bumper option. It'll cost more though. For me, I'm planning on some steel bumpers but I fully admit a big part of my desire is the look, and I'm not too worried about the weight because I have plenty of payload for what I do.
 

billiebob

Well-known member
I used to do custom bumpers but I like the lighter factory bumper, the factory finish is almost always better and the big plus, the factory bumper is designed to be pedestrian friendly. If you want a winch which you use once a year consider a receiver mount and a removable winch. Those can be used on either end.

Spare tire under the truck..... for the wheeling you do I doubt you'll need the extra clearance and rear steel bumpers with tire carriers are anything but convenient. I'd keep the spare out of sight..... In 40 years I've had 4 flats and none off road. Lots of options to mount MAXX Tracks. And they are soo light the mount can be light too.
 

PirateMcGee

Expedition Leader
I would vote no. Don't out drive your headlights. Get a Wyeth Scott power puller with synthetic line. Carry a decent bottle jack and shovel and call it a day. Heavy trucks suck to drive especially on the way to the trail which is where you will spend the vast majority of time.

You can easily mount your accessories to your ovrlnd camper. That's what I'll be doing.
 

ns7i

Member
Lots of great points brought up here.

One question I keep coming back to is Technical Trails vs Remote Trails and the needs of aftermarket bumpers on each. The recovery points on the front of the 1st Gen Tundra are not ideal especially for a dynamic recovery.

You could split the difference and see if someone offers an aluminum bumper option. It'll cost more though.
I wish there were more aluminum options for the 1st Gen Tundra. There's only Coastal Off Road for bumpers and I think their rear bumper looks pretty crappy. Their front bumper looks good though and would likely be a great solution. I'd be looking at Brute Force Fab with a single swing out.

You can easily mount your accessories to your ovrlnd camper. That's what I'll be doing.
With the way I'm building it out there won't be many ways to do this. Also it'd mean making my already wide rig even wider.
 

krick3tt

Adventurer
I have had several Toyota trucks, got a new Tundra when they first came out. only took it off road a few times, it did well.
When I sold it I got into ex military vehicles, Mogs and Pinzgauers. Stock they were exceptional. Now I have a 2007 LR3 and the first thing I did was take off the cheap plastic bumpers and install an ARB front and a Tech4x4 rear with a swing out tire carrier.
They are both steel. I consider it a good purchase.
There are lots of opinions so you have to do what is best for you.
 

DaveInDenver

Luddite
It's a trade-off between utility and weight with body armor like this.

Sticking with stock bumpers is fine, waiting until you see if you actually push the limits far enough to damage them. The downside to this is of course you may find the limits to the point you damage the body.

That's what happened to me with my rear bumper, which dragged over rocks exploring an unknown trail to the point I put in a small dent in the rear quarter panel and broke a tail light. Relatively minor but wholly unnecessary trail scars.

But another thing is Toyota for some reason doesn't like to put on dedicated recovery points on their trucks, which you can gain with a bumper.
 
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ChasingOurTrunks

Well-known member
Rear bumpers are totally optional and I only consider them on my rigs when I need to carry stuff back there (i.e. on a jeep, a rear bumper/tire carrier is a great spot for an extra couple of fuel cans).

For animal protection a front bumper is a must, in my book. It's not quite as simple as "don't outdrive your headlights" as PirateMcGee said; we're not discussing static objects and animals can and do regularly jump out in front of people in broad daylight, or they "zig" when they should have "zagged". This is especially true on mountain tracks where there can sometimes be steep hills that obscure an animal until it effortlessly "pops" out in front of you. A bumper won't prevent a strike, but it will make the difference between hitting a critter and driving home again, or having to call a tow truck, which depending on where you are when you hit the critter, might be a massive challenge. This is about mitigating the risks of remote travel, and a good Bullbar is one of the best investments you can make that will help you get home again. The winch mount on a front bumper is a secondary consideration - handy, but the main focus on the front Bullbar is animal strikes.

Everything else PirateMcGee said I agree with though - try to keep things light. If you don't need to add a rear bumper to carry stuff, then don't. If you can add an aluminum front bumper, go for that; at the very least don't just go with a fly-by-night fab shop; pay a bit more and get one that's actually engineered for the job (I've seen a few "custom" bumper builds made with 1/4 inch plate which is entirely unnecessary as the strength of the Bullbar should come from the design, not the material).
 
I've typically (ok, pretty much always) had replacement bumpers on the front and rear of my trucks.

I like the sturdiness and utility. And look.

Bump and push things. Mount winches or lights.

I also drive 3/4 tons, so weight is less of a consideration.
 

Speedphreak

Active member
Aftermarket bumpers for winch and spare tire are a must for me personally. I go solo a lot, and when I get stuck, it's generally in such a manner that it is very difficult to use other get-unstuck methods like traction boards or bottle jacks. I need a winch, and strong attachment points. Same with underbody spares, if I get stuck and get a flat, I've got a lot of horrible work to do to fish it out from underneath.

Having said that, I'm also in a heavier duty vehicle, with a diesel, so weight isn't as big a concern. IMG_20200802_124333~2.jpgPXL_20211111_162707108~2.jpg
 

craig333

Expedition Leader
I got rear ended with my stock rear bumper. Two weeks later I dented it again backing into a tree. I'm pretty sure I won't dent the new steel bumper.
 

DaveInDenver

Luddite
I got rear ended with my stock rear bumper. Two weeks later I dented it again backing into a tree. I'm pretty sure I won't dent the new steel bumper.
That's the thing. A rear bumper doesn't have to be a big monstrosity with swing-outs and side wings.

I run a low profile All-Pro rear. With the integrated receiver I added about 30 lbs over the factory bumper (which was pretty thin) and factory hitch (which was pretty heavy, in fairness) but now in town traffic accidents, sliding over a rock or backing into a stump is going to be shrugged off. It won't take constant punishment on the Rubicon, though. If there was an affordable aluminum option or even a simple tube bumper (if you don't mind the cosmetics) would been more than acceptable.

But I figure that the bumpers the OEM uses are intended to deform with 5 MPH bumps in parking lots. Bumpers the factory or dealers put on pickups aren't the same simple hunk of steel as they were in the 1980s. So I don't necessarily see adding a few pounds on each end for something reasonable but more intentional for the task as a total penalty.

I did the ARB in front for a couple of reasons, not least of which was being in a fairly serious accident with one on my old truck and having almost no body damage to my truck. I was also willing to play along with ARB's claim to be air bag "compliant," whatever exactly that means. As I understand it just means your air bag timing is unchanged but seemed like an important aspect with respect to safety and insurance.
 
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