Embarking on an off-roading trip requires careful preparation, and selecting the ideal tire jack is a crucial part of the process. This essential tool can make all the difference when you need to change a tire in the great outdoors. Learn more about the best jacks for overlanding activities below.
Hydraulic “Bottle” Jacks
Hydraulic or bottle jacks are undoubtedly the most effective recovery tool for off-roading enthusiasts. Their name derives from their bottle-like shape, and they typically feature a compact and portable design. However, don’t get fooled by their diminutive appearance; these jacks are powerhouses designed to lift heavy loads with ease. Unlike more common jacks, these use the force of hydraulic pressure to elevate your vehicle automatically. The ample base stabilizes uneven surfaces, while the simple pumping mechanism ensures a quick and safe lift. Remember to place it on a solid, flat surface to avoid it sinking into softer ground.
Off-roading enthusiasts with highly customized 4x4s, such as significantly lifted Jeep Wranglers, typically require a jack with higher height settings. Thankfully, high-lift jacks are for high-ground clearance automobiles with lift kits and specialized tires. These jacks operate using a ratcheting mechanism, which allows for both lifting and lowering operations with minimal effort. As the handle moves up and down, the jack climbs the bar, raising the vehicle incrementally until it reaches the desired height. Despite their impressive height, high-lift jacks maintain a slim and portable profile – perfect for stashing in the back of your 4×4!
Air “Exhaust” Jacks
For those frequently in sandy or muddy terrain, air ‘exhaust’ jacks can be a lifesaver. These distinctively designed jacks use the vehicle’s exhaust to inflate a large, durable bag that lifts the vehicle from beneath. They are particularly useful in off-road situations where traditional jacks might sink into the ground. With each burst of your vehicle’s exhaust, the jack inflates, effortlessly raising your vehicle. Despite their unconventional method, air ‘exhaust’ jacks are surprisingly easy to use and highly effective, offering a practical solution for tricky terrains. Importantly, you can easily store one or two of these jacks in the trunk of your 4×4 as a dependable backup to your bottle or high-lift jacks.
Safety should always be your utmost priority when using any type of jack. Start by ensuring the vehicle is in “park” and engage the emergency brake to prevent accidental movement during the lifting process. Always use jack stands in conjunction with your jack; these devices provide added stability and reduce the risk of the vehicle suddenly dropping. It’s also crucial to place the jack at the correct lift points on your vehicle, as indicated in the owner’s manual, to prevent damage or instability. Lastly, never put any part of your body under the vehicle when it’s supported only by a jack.
Determining the ideal tire jacks to bring on your overlanding adventure is one of the many pre-off-roading trip considerations you must make before departing. Thankfully, this equipment helps with recovery in the most challenging terrains and environments!