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    Resources — rock sliders

    Guide To Toyota Tacoma Skid Plates & Body Armor

    Guide To Toyota Tacoma Skid Plates & Body Armor

    Toyota Tacomas are built tough and built to last. However, if you plan on doing any serious offroading or rock climbing, damage will happen. Body panels will get dinged and the undercarriage and other components under can get damaged. Thankfully, there is a massive skid plate aftermarket to armor your Taco to take a beating.

    What Is A Skid Plate?

    Skid plates are panels made of a tough and abrasion-resistance material that are bolted (usually) onto the bottom side of a vehicle to prevent damage from occurring to the underside of a vehicle when it makes contact with the ground.

    For a Tacoma, the biggest place you’re going to want to protect would be under the engine and your front suspension. You can get carried away and cover other suspension components and beyond as well. Prices are going to range from around $100 up to over $1000. Your average price will be around $200 for just the front cover. This is very inexpensive considering what you’re protecting. Let’s get into some examples.

    Our friends over at Tacoma World have voiced their opinions on what they like running on their trucks. I have mentioned Bay Area Metal Fab on here a couple times, and they seem to be a driver favorite. BAMF doesn’t have a wide selection on skid plate sections, but they do have a heavy-duty steel IFS (independent front suspension) skid plate.

    At $325 with an option to have it powder coated for $90, this solid steel skid plate will offer protection and durability from a well-known name.

    Mobtown Offroad is also a big fan favorite, and they offer the full selection of multiple panels and metal options. They have the front, transmission, fuel tank, and transfer case skid plates. If you get all of them, you’re looking around $1125, but it depends on if you get aluminum or steel. Their front skid plate is popular due to the oil cutout it has. This allows you to get your oil changed without having to take the skid plate off. Individually, each part is around $250.

    RCI Off Road offers some great options for skid plates. Not only do they offer the variety of plates that Mobtown does, but also a rear-differential and A-arm skid plates as well. Instead of purchasing each piece, they also offer a complete package. Each part allows you to choose between black powder-coated steel, raw aluminum, or black powder-coated aluminum. Each part has a similar price to Mobtown’s prices.

    If you want to go full Toyota, there is an OEM option. As with many OEM parts, it’s going to be more expensive over aftermarket, but you’re generally assured a good fit. Amazon offers a TRD front skid plate for Tacomas for about $454. It’s still an aggressive-looking part for factory, and it should perform well, but you don’t get any options. It’s one color, and it’s made out of aluminum.

    Steel or Aluminum?

    For a lot of these, you have the option of steel or aluminum? Which is better? Which should you get? This all depends on how you are using your truck. Steel is a very strong metal. It can take a beating and keep on going. If you are doing some serious rock crawling up the side of a mountain, you will want the protection of steel. The downside is that steel is very heavy. Weight affects the performance of your truck: gas mileage, acceleration, braking, balance, and so on.

    On the other end, aluminum is very light. The tradeoff is that it’s not as strong. If you’re a weekend warrior who goes on a couple of trails that might have a hill or two, aluminum is the way to go. Weight will still be added to your truck, but far less than steel. Don’t be shy about protection: aluminum will get most jobs done the same way steel will, but depending on the thickness and how sharp the rock is that your truck just crashed down on, it could be the difference between a scratch, and a full puncture.

    Like I’ve said with tires and other modifications countless times before on this blog: know your end goal, and buy accordingly.

    Other Body Armor Options

    Skid plates protect all the expensive mechanical and electronic stuff. What about the rest of your truck? While I have your attention, let’s take a quick look at some other options.

    Brush Guards and Rock Sliders

    I’m putting both of these together because I have separate posts about them that cover the parts and options in great detail. In short, brush guards do a great job at protecting the front of your truck and sliders protect the body and sides of the undercarriage. Here are the links to those posts:

    Overlanding your Tacoma (Includes Brush Guards/Push Bars)

    Rock Sliders vs Steps

    Roll Bar

    If you’re concerned about rolling over during your adventures, a full-on roll cage might be a good option, but if you want something that looks good, is cheaper, and still offers some protection, a roll bar is a good option. You can get them for around $500.

    Bumpers

    A very expensive option, but very durable if you’re serious about off-roading would be bumpers. Stock bumpers look great but offer no protection while rock crawling. Off-roading bumpers are heavy but designed to take a beating.

    There are plenty of options to protect your Tacoma when you’re battling the Earth. It all depends on where you’re going, and how hard you’re pushing your truck. Regardless, make the investment now so you don’t have to pay the price later to replace expensive components.

    Image Credits

    BAMF - Courtesy of BAMF

    Mobtown - Courtesy of Mobtown Offroad

    RCI - Courtesy of RCI Metal Works/Off Road

    TRD Factory - Courtesy of TacomaWorld user tacopromatt

    Everything You Need to Know & Buy For Overlanding In Your Tacoma

    Everything You Need to Know & Buy For Overlanding In Your Tacoma

    Toyota Tacomas are very reliable trucks, but if you want to do some serious overlanding, you may need a few upgrades to have the best experience. This guide will tell you all about overlanding in your Tacoma, why we love it, and what you need to get it done and love it too.

    What is Overlanding?

    Overlanding is a journey to remote destinations across the open land. This isn’t your typical weekend rock crawling. This is a journey where you are one with your vehicle, your lodging is typically camping, and nature is all around you. The destination is the journey. It is one heck of an experience!

    Why do Tacoma Owners Love Overlanding?

    Ask them! If they are using their trucks for their intended purpose (no, it’s not to get groceries), then they realize how good these trucks can be at braving the wilderness. The guys at Decked mentioned the proven 300,000 mile plus lifespan, inexpensive ownership, durability, and reliability. Others talk about safety, good looks, and the vast amount of selection of aftermarket parts. The Taco, with a little help, is beyond capable for an overlanding expedition. Let’s find out what you need.

    What Overlanding Equipment Do You Need?

    The Tacoma is a great truck, but if you’re going to be out on the open land for days or maybe weeks at a time, there are a few things that you need to do. What you get will depend on the terrain and how long you will be gone for. Will it be rocky, snowy, sandy, muddy, or flat? Do you have to worry about rivers? Will you be driving at night? There are a few key things to get dependant on the answers to those questions.

    Suspension is huge as it’s usually always good to have a little extra clearance. You’ll also want to protect your vehicle, especially if you’re in rocky conditions. Rock sliders, push bars, and cages are excellent additions for that. Snorkels help for river crossing and aggressive tires help for the terrain, but don’t forget about you! Where are you going to sleep and eat? What about gas for your truck and lights? These are all things to consider.

    Suspension

    There are tons of suspension options available for the Toyota Tacoma, but it’s important to remember that when overlanding, you’re generally not attending a SuperCrawl event. Clearance is always a good option if you have some bumps or rivers to get through.

    I cover this topic heavily in my Ultimate Tacoma Lift Kit Guide, but it would be a good idea to start out with a basic lift kit. A coilover kit would be your best option overall for overlanding.

    Coilover kits are one unit (piston and spring) that are plug and play. Simply take your stock spring and piston out, and place the new one in. While these are more expensive over spacer lift kits, which simply stretch your stock spring and piston, coilover kits are far more durable. Durability is what you are after for overlanding, hands down.

    Coilovers can be ordered in various heights including adjustable heights, and there are plenty of name brand options to choose from. You can expect to spend anywhere from $1200 to $4000 for a complete kit, but it’s worth it.

    Protection

    Your ride will get beat up and get dirty as your overlanding life continues, but there are steps you can take to cut down on serious damage, especially if you’re dealing with rocky and hilly conditions. Rock sliders, push bars, and cages take the impacts so your body panels don’t have to.

    Rock sliders bolt to your frame and are designed for protection. The average cost is going to be around $250 to $550 depending on brand and material. Some sliders offer built-in steps as well, which will aid you in getting in and out of your lifted ride. Keep in mind that when you’re shopping you’re getting sliders and not steps. Steps are usually just meant for your feet and don’t offer the same protection that sliders do.

    Push bars/grill guards go on the front of your truck and can be as simple as a small trapezoidal tube in the middle, or a complete network of tubing and mesh designed to protect all your lights and grille. These range from $250 to over $1000, but you’re generally looking around $400.

    If you’re at risk of rolling, you may want to look at a cage for your truck. This is most likely a rare occurrence for overlanding, but know your environment. This generally has to be custom made, so do a search around your area for someone who offers that kind of service. 

    Snorkels

    If you think you might be crossing some rivers, a snorkel might be a wise investment. Snorkels move your engine’s air intake closer to your roof. While you will need to cut holes in your truck’s body to make the modification, it’s better than hydro locking your engine (seizing your engine because water gets sucked in). These will run you about $300 to $700.

    Tires

    Tires and the amount of air in them depend on where you are going. Mud, snow, sand, and dirt might all need different tires. A while back, I did a post called The Ultimate Toyota Tacoma Wheel and Tire Guide that covers all this in depth. Know where you’re going, and plan accordingly. A typical set of off-road tires will run you around $600.

    Lights

    There will be no streetlights where you are going. Stock headlights and high beams work well, but you’ll need more in the pitch black darkness you’ll experience. I cover lighting terms and options in my Guide to Tacoma Light Bars, but in short, it would be wise to invest in an LED light bar. LED light bars are extremely efficient, durable, and bright. They will flood the area in front of you with bright and clean light, which is terribly important if your overlanding trip requires you to drive at night.

    Carrying Your Gear

    If you’re going to be gone for a long time, you need supplies: spare truck parts, food, water, first aid, survival gear, and extra fuel. While our trucks can hold a lot, space runs out fast when you’re getting all of your supplies together.

    Bed Racks

    Bed racks are one of the best options for carrying more gear. These mount onto your bed and either give you a full length “roof rack”, sidewall storage, or both. Prices range from $250 to over $1000, but you’ll be able to pick the one you need for the amount of storage that you require. Some come with modular panels and containers designed to attached to the side. They are great ways to store spare water and fuel. If you're looking for a great bed rack for your Tacoma, we carry a great one from Cali Raised.

    Bed Drawers

    While these take up more room in your bed, they are a good way to organize your gear, and keep it out of the way. These install in your bed, and raise the floor of your bed by adding a row of drawers underneath the new bed floor. The price range is the same as the bed racks.

    Headrest Pouch Kit

    These don’t hold much but are a great way to keep small things in a place you know they will be. A great option is a first aid kit. Blue Ridge Overland Gear actually makes a complete headrest first aid kit. Prices range from $30 to $80 depending on what you get: empty, first aid kit, size, attachment, and so on.

    Keeping Yourself Comfortable

    When overlanding, there are no resorts, no hotels, and no cabins. You are on your own, so you want to be comfortable. Regular old tents are an inexpensive and easy option. They are tried and true, and they don’t take up much space. However, if you want to be fancy and camp in style, there are options made specifically for our Tacomas.

    Bed Tents

    If your trips are short and your bed isn’t loaded down with equipment, a bed tent can be a good option. These are designed to fold out in your bed to give you a, well, a bed. Compared to other options, these are relatively inexpensive. Prices range from $150 to $500.

    Roof Top Tents

    When you want the ultimate amount of personal space, luxury, and room in your truck’s bed for storage, roof top tents are the best option. While they can be pricey ($250 - $2000), they are amazing options if you’re serious about overlanding. You sleep up high, which not only gives you better views, but it keeps you safer from any lurking creatures. Some come with an annex room that goes from the ground to the sleeping section. They are great for a multi-person party, or a “living room” if you want it. Some of these annex rooms have “backdoors” that allow you to access the inside of your truck (through your side doors) giving you an incredible setup.

    A good note: many roof top tents also have supports that can double as bed racks.

    Overlanding Trailers

    If you are going on a long trip on flat land, you might need a trailer. Trailers are a great option to carry a bunch of other gear for an extended journey, but only on flatter land. You can get a specific overlanding trailer, and while more expensive, they are designed for harsh off-road environments.

    Trailers can be your tent, leaving your bed available for more storage, or they can hold all of your extra gear and leave your bed available. A good overlanding trailer will cost you over $2000 and can be as high as $12000. If you’re all about the overlanding life, it could be a wise investment, but most weekend warriors won’t have a need for the extra space.

    While fuel mileage isn’t the main concern while overlanding (beyond making sure you have enough), pulling a heavy trailer will result in the use of more fuel. You will also limit where you can go.

    Where To Find Overlanding Groups

    Going out on your own or with people that you can fit in your truck can be a lot of fun, but sometimes hanging out and going on an adventure with a convoy of like-minded people is a lot of fun. Not only can you form bonds with people who share your passion, but someone could save you or your truck with if you’re in trouble. If you’re a novice, or this is your first time, I would highly recommend going with other people.

    Facebook is a great way to find like-minded people/groups. There are many overlanding groups, and some Tacoma/Toyota specific ones for New Jersey and Pennsylvania (USA). Forums like Overland Bound, Tacoma World, and even Reddit have diehard fans when it comes to overlanding with Tacomas. Reach out to these people through these mediums and find out what’s happening next and where. Go out and have some fun with some like-minded people!

    Conclusion

    While an incredible experience and lots of fun, overlanding is a serious and potentially dangerous adventure. However, rest assured knowing your Toyota Tacoma can be up to the challenge with some light modifications. Remember, a good overall, mid-range priced package to get your truck ready would consist of the following:

    • Moderate height coilover lift kit ($1200)
    • Tires ($600)
    • Rock sliders ($350)
    • Push bar/grill guard ($350)
    • LED light bar ($200)
    • Bed rack/tent ($500)
    • Fuel cans, water cans, and other incidentals/extras ($250)

    All in all, you could be looking around $7500 for a complete kit. Keep in mind that this is mid-range. You can get much more expensive gear, or cheaper. Most of these things are one time investments as well. The only things you would need to replace are your tires. Anything else just needs to be replaced if it gets damaged.

    You also have to determine what you need. If you’re driving through the Sahara, you probably don’t need a push bar or rock sliders. That’s $700 taken off right there. If you are only going on weekend trips, you probably can get away with an inexpensive tent set up independently from your truck, and you won’t need a bed rack. That’s $500 gone.

    There is no this-is-how-you-have-to-do-it way for overlanding. There are two rules to overlanding: get from Point A to Point B, and have fun doing it. How you accomplish it depends on how much money, time, and effort you want to put into it. Determine where you want to go, find out the best way to do it, and build and plan accordingly.

    The Toyota Tacoma is a safe, durable, and reliable truck. Use it, be safe, and have fun.

    Image Credits

    Cover Picture - TRD USA

    Lift Kit - Defcon Brix

    Sliders and Bumper - C4 Fabrication

    Tires Snorkels and Lights - Rigd Supply

    Bed Rack - Leitner Designs

    Roof Tent - Offroading HQ

    Trailer - Defcon Brix

    What's The Difference Between Rock Sliders & Steps / Nerf Bars For Your Tacoma?

    What's The Difference Between Rock Sliders & Steps / Nerf Bars For Your Tacoma?

    A common upgrade that Tacoma owners absolutely love to put on their trucks are rock sliders or side steps. Because of this, many Tacoma owners have the question... what’s the difference? The difference is HUGE, and which one you decide to go with really depends on your needs.

    In short, steps generally bolt to your body of the truck and provide easier access to getting into your truck. Sliders generally bolt to your frame and offer protection to the body panels of your truck when doing some serious off-roading. Let's dive in a bit deeper.

    STEPS

    Steps are just that: steps. If you've added a decent lift to your Tacoma and need a little extra help getting in, these give you that extra bump you need. There are plenty of options to choose from depending on your budget and needs. Here are some of those options:

    Single Hoop and Nerf Bars

    Hoop steps and Nerf bars may come as a single, or a double set attached to a tube. Single steps can be an affordable option (around $50), but you may have to drill to get the to fit properly. 

    A set that will fit for sure would be an OEM Predator Tube step.  I'm seeing a lot of dealerships installing these before selling the truck to the public. These are about $548 on Amazon. A cheaper aftermarket Nerf bar can also be had for around $180.

    Running Boards

    Running board are usually one long step that run from your front door to the back of your rear door. Running boards can have hoop steps like nerf bars. Some companies interchange the names, but there are different styles. An average price would be like these iBoard Tacoma running boards for around $220.

    Retractable

    Retractable running boards or side steps are very expensive, but add a very luxurious feel and style to your truck. These stay tucked flush against or under your truck until you’re ready to get in, then they will lower electronically. AMP Research makes a set for around $1500, and that is a typical price.

    ROCK SLIDERS

    As mentioned before, rock sliders bolt to your frame and are designed for protection. If you do some rock crawling or extreme off roading, you run the risk of the rock slamming into the bottom of your truck near the edges. If that happens, you can seriously damage your side panels, and it could even lead to your doors being misaligned. If you play hard, you need to have protection. 

    Note: Some rock sliders have steps, but if they do, they resemble running boards. Hoop and Nerf type steps would snag on rocks and potentially get you stuck.

    The average cost for rock sliders is going to be around $250 to $550 depending on brand and material. Remember that while they may look good, the are supposed to be able to take a beating so you don’t need to get body work done later. Here are a few that you might consider as you're doing your research:

    First, let's start with the Cali Raised rock sliders that we carry here at Empyre Offroad. These things are amazing. They are build extremely well and look so good installed on your Tacoma. The cost on these is $500 without any customization such as powder coating, the ability to bolt them on vs welding etc.

    Bay Area Metal Fabrication (BAMF) makes a set of sliders for around $450. A lot of people talk about these on the forums, so they must be really solid and do their job well.

    Another popular choice is from SOS Off Road Concepts. These are a little on the higher end at around $580, but people are happy with them. Both these and the ones from BAMF offer running board-style steps. 

    4x Innovations makes a cheaper solution at $245, but you do have to get them welded on. So unless you have a welder laying around your garage or a neighbor who welds, it could end up costing you a bit more. 

    As you can see, there are plenty of options out there, and this guide should help point you in the correct direction to help you understand the difference between sliders and steps, and what to get for your truck.

    Image Credits

    Single/Nerf “Predator” Step - Tacoma World user HardCase

    Running Boards - Aries Automotive

    Retractable - Truck Access Plus

    BAMF Sliders - Bay Area Metal Fab

    SOS Off Road Concepts Sliders - SOS Off Road

    4x Industries - TTORA user Scuba

    Cali Rasied Slider - Cali Raised

    * Please note that some of these links are Amazon affiliate links and we make a small commission if you purchase the product.