Top 10 4Runner Off-Road Mods and Accessory Upgrades for the 5th Gen 4Runner
“What Accessories/Upgrades should I purchase for my 4Runner?”
Many of us ask this question when starting out in the 4×4 world.
In this overview, we will be going over a few common off-road accessories for the 5th Generation 4Runner. This is not the official list of “best” mods as there is no one specific mod out there for each and every person.
Every owner is going to have different needs and different goals.
When buying accessories and parts, you should always balance cost with expectations. If you cannot afford the most expensive mod or accessory, that’s ok. Just remember that quality parts are usually worth their cost in this world, but not always.
One of the most important areas to not skimp on (in my opinion) would be your suspension. A suspension is a key component of your 4Runner build. Do yourself a favor and spend the extra money on a good suspension, you will be happy you did.
Again, there is no right or wrong list of mods. This is only my perception of mods and should be taken as just that. There are many other mods that are not on this list that you should also consider.
#1 – Suspension/ Level Kit/ Body Lift Kit
One of the most common upgrades and one of the best off-road mods to do is your suspension. A suspension will allow you to have higher clearance for tires, more articulation and enhanced off-road and on-road performance.
You will be able to go through deeper sections of trails and above areas you wouldn’t be able to with a stock suspension. There is a big difference between running stock suspension vs. aftermarket suspension.
You will also be able to clear tires you weren’t previously able to. For the 5th Gen, you are likely running 31″ tires. With a 3″ Suspension Lift, you can now run 33″ tires without additional trimming (depending on the tire).
Want to run 34″ Tires?
To run 34″ tires, you need to chop your body mounts (BMC – Body Mount Chop), trim your body (front well), trim the black valance caps (rear well), trim splash guards (rear well), and push plastic guards back up into your grill (front well).
- Leveling Kit: These are great for folks looking for a more affordable option to raising their 4Runner frame. You should look at this 3″ leveling kit and this 2.5″ leveling kit for better ideas on what this looks like.
- Suspension Lift: A suspension lift will help by raising your frame off of the ground which is great for cleaning difficult sections on trails. A suspension lift is the most common among kits. Check out the Icon Suspension Install for more information on a suspension lift.
- Body Lift: A body lift is great for someone who just wants a larger lift appearance. You can run a suspension lift with a body lift for an even higher lifted look. Body lifts are a touchy subject among all truck/SUV platforms. Do your research before jumping to a body lift.
- Full Lift Kit: This is when you are looking at going more than 3.5″ – 4.5″+ of lift. More than 3.5″ – 4.5″+ can be done with a suspension lift and a body lift, but if you are going over 3.5″ – 4.5″+, you should look into full lift kits. This requires a bit more work than just throwing in new shocks and springs. Fabtech and Procomp both make a 6″ lift kit.
#2 – Tires (Could have easily been #1)
In our Mods (Part 1), we touched on tires. While you can go many places using stock 31″ tires, a nice set of all-terrain tires will give you much more grip on a wider variety of terrain. All-terrain tires will also allow you to dig into mud, sand, and gravel much better.
With thicker sidewalls and deeper lug pattern tires, you will dig your way out of terrain by digging into the terrain.
If you have already installed or are going to install a suspension lift, you will want to size up your tire in most cases due to the stock tire no longer looking correct.
Tires come in any many price points and an affordable brand for a budget builder is the Nitto Terra Grapplers. They are good quality and you can pick up a set for around $500.
For a more advanced, more expensive tire, you should look at the Toyo Open Country AT 2, BFG KO2s, BFG KM3s, and the Cooper ST Maxx Discoverer.
Also, below is a general idea on pricing out tires.
Most prices are based on a 285/70R17 (32.7″).
All Terrain Tire Options
- Mud Claw Extreme M/T: $120 – Top Budget Choice
- Yokohama Geolandar A/T: $120 (Light tread depth)
- Firestone Destination A/T: $120-$150
- General Grabber A/T: $120-$170
- Nitto Terra Grapplers A/T: $150 – Top Middle Choice
- Toyo Open Country A/T: $150
- Cooper Discoverer A/T: 150 (Bad Ass)
- BF Goodrich KO2 A/T: $250-$350
- Toyo Open Country A/T 2: $260
- Toyo Open Country M/T 2: $260
- Nitto Trail Grapplers A/T: $300
- Goodyear Duratrac A/T: $400+
- Cooper Discoverer STT Pro Off Road Tire A/T: $400+ – Top Baller Choice
- Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac A/T: $400+
#3 – A Winch
Everyone Should Have a Winch, well not everyone but its nice.
A winch is a priority for any serious Off-Roading rig even if you do not own a 4Runner.
You may not always have someone there to pull you out of the hole you got stuck in. This goes for a random off-road ditch or even small rivers or creeks. Whether you have a stand-alone winch, a winch in your bumper or an undercover hidden winch mount system, these are a key accessory.
With a nice winch, you can pull yourself out of almost anything. A winch with a remote is your best friend. When trailing solo if you’re stuck, you can use the remote control to keep the cable tight as you drive your way out.
So, a winch is a must-have trail accessory if you can afford one. But, make sure when you purchase one, buy name brand quality because you’ll be counting on it.
Buy a Name-Brand Winch – Don’t Go Cheap!
For winches, if you’re wanting a great winch, the two top brands we would recommend are Smittybilt, Warn and Badlands. Badland is a great winch for budget builders do to the fact that they combine dependability and affordability.
We just bought a C4 Fab Bumper with a Smittybilt x20-10 Comp Gen2 which is a waterproof winch that has a synthetic rope and aluminum fairlead. This winch supports 10,000 lbs.
Warn Winches and Smittybilt, on the other hand, are a bit more expensive but will last the test of time. These companies have been around for many years and are highly depended on in the Off-Road community.
Even if you are a Fire-Road enthusiast, it is always nice to have something dependable, just in case.
Top Options for an Off-Road Winch
- Harbor Freight Badland 9000 (9,000-lb)
- Kodiak Bruin (9,500-lb)
- Summit Racing SUM-930002 (9,000-lb)
- Superwinch EP9.0 (9,500-lb)
- T-Max EWI9500 (9,500-lb)
- Warn 9.5xp (9,500-lb)
#4 – Skid Plates
General Armor Protection with a Skid Plate
Skid plates are a must-have for anyone who wants to do mild/heavy trailing. Whether you grab a TRD skid plate or a more advanced aftermarket skid plate, they are an important piece to the armor list.
Skid plates protect your undercarriage. If your doing small light-weight fire-roads, the stock skid plate has got you covered. But, for the adventurous types who do more technical terrain, that’s when you want an aftermarket skid plate.
You don’t want a rock, stump or metal to tear up your undercarriage if you’re doing creek/river crossings. Skid plates are great for situations like this and many others.
When you can’t see exactly what is under your truck and you have to push through anyway, a skid plate can really save you headaches in the future.
Pushing Your Limits without a Skid Plate?
A common occurrence is having a rock pierce the gas tank skid plate destroying your gas tank which other than being an expensive fix could leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere. Skid plates are also something you can make at home fairly easy if you know how to fabricate.
Making your own skid plate?
The perk of making homemade skid plates is that you can decide on the thickness of the metal, along with where it is braced and what it covers. I have seen homemade skid plates that cover the full undercarriage.
The downside to skids like that, whether you purchase them or make them yourself is that full skid plates must be removed and washed so you don’t have mud rotting your frame or salt rotting it in the winter. But a nice set of aftermarket skid plates is a must have for anyone doing mild to heavy trails.
Top Brands for Front Skid Plates & Full Skids
- Toyota TRD Pro
- RCI Metal Works
- C4 Fab
- CBI Off-Road
#5 – CB Radio or General Communication
A CB Radio is another must-have for everyone even if you’re doing small trails and Fire-Roads. You may not always have cell service so a CB radio is your backup way of communication in case you become stranded, injured, or you have gotten yourself lost.
A CB radio is something you can get for Around $100 and it will be quality. Many manufacturers do sell high-end CB radio’s but for most cases, a cheaper one will do the trick. If you are doing desert trails or state park trails invest in a wide range CB radio just to play it safe.
Amateur (HAM) Radios
Get your license at MyOffRoadRadio.com
If you head out with a crew of people, you MUST-HAVE a set of Ham Radios. Not only does a Ham Radio make you feel like a kid again, they help you navigate with the crew more efficiently. There are hundreds of two-way radios that you can grab on Amazon or anywhere for fairly cheap.
Our top pick is the BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio.
You really need to grab two of radios and two antennas. That way, when you go out and someone doesn’t have them, you have them covered. This happens all the time.
What Are those Two-Way Radios Again?
You can get the BaoFeng UV-5R Dual Band Two Way Radio with a short antenna or a long range antenna. We would recommend the long-range Nagoya NA-771 15.6-Inch Whip VHF/UHF (144/430Mhz) Antenna for BTECH and BaoFeng Radios.
Also, this is the most common Ham that everyone has. So, if you go out and meet up with people, more than likely they will have a set of BaoFengs you can sync up with. If not, hopefully, you have a set and have them covered for communication on the ride.
#6 – Steel Plate/ Tube bumper’s
While steel bumpers are not a necessity for offroading, we would rank them in the top 10 Off-Road Mods and Accessories because we have seen many pictures of friends stock bumpers completely mangled on trails.
The first scratches you will start to see are on your rear bumper quarter panels. After these start to add up, you will want a bumper.
There are a handful of fabricators and manufactures for front and rear bumpers.
Again, going back to the topic of quality, you should only buy a quality product when looking at the front and rear bumpers. This might be a little more expensive but well worth it in the end for sure.
Top Companies that Manufacture Bumpers
For a full list of front bumper options, take a look at this post.
- C4 Fab
- 4×4 Labs
- Pathfinder Outdoors Rockteck Bumper
- Southern Style Off-Road (SSO) Previously SSS
- Hefty Fabworks
- Addicted Off Road
- Expidition One
#7 – Sliders / Nerf Bars
Sliders and Nerf Bars, while not needed as well, are another Item we would rank in the top 10 Off-Road Mods and Accessories. A nice set of sliders or bars will protect your rocker panels from being dented or gouged beyond repair.
Nerf Bars are far less expensive than rock sliders. Nerf Bars come in at around $350 while premium rock sliders come in at $900-$1200+. Whatever you decide, getting rid of your stock running boards is a must.
#8 – Light Bars/ Pod Lights
When it comes to light bars or light pods, lights are something we personally think all 4x4s that do any type of trails should have. At the very least, you should run both pods and a light bar on your rig.
You never know when you will need your light bars or light pods. If you go out on a trail and get stuck while nights approaching, lights come in handy. For example; if you get stuck and you can only use your winch to pull yourself out, your headlights/taillights just won’t cut it. They may help you see a little bit but compared to having pods or an LED light bar they are pretty useless.
Light bars are something you can buy fairly cheap now of days so they are worth it. But, for lights, you should only be buying products that are made in America or extremely high quality. Quality electrical is key in aftermarket parts on your 4Runner. No one wants electrical problems on the trail. The problem we have is finding a slim, sleek look with your LED light bars or light pods.
And, this is where roof racks come in so handy. If you have a well-built roof rack, you can mount lights almost anywhere.
#9 – Jerry Cans & Miscellaneous Accessories
Jerry cans (metal gas cans) are something you should have at least one of if you go off-road. Fuel solutions really only come in handy if you are planning a lengthy trip, but it never hurts to be prepared.
Would you rather have extra fuel on the trail or get stuck in the middle of nowhere?
When using your 4wd system you burn up more gas then you typically would on-road. The same goes for pressing the gas pedal more in order to push through ruts, steep inclines, and rough terrain. Additional fuel storage like Jerry Cans and RotoPAX cans will ensure that you have enough gas to make it out of your trail system.
Fuel storage solutions vary in prices. You can grab fuel storage for $20 a tank all the way to $100 per tank. It just depend’s on the brand. Personally, we recommend finding military Jerry Cans because they’re typically higher quality and cheaper. You can find lots of these things on Craigslist for super cheap.
Just be patient with these, you can find some pretty cool stuff on Craigslist. You don’t have to buy brand new everything to hit the trails. Check out our other post on 4Runner Accessories and Gear that you should be carrying with you when you go out.
Miscellaneous Off-Road Accessories (Camping Accessories will Overlap)
- Panel for Gear (Rago Fab / Orange Boxx)
- Fuel Storage (Jerry Cans/ RotoPAX)
- Shovel/ Axe/ Hammer
- Jumper Cables
- First-Aid Kit
- Bic Lighters/ Matches
- Fire Extinguisher
- Tow Straps/ Recovery Straps
- General Tools (Metric for 4Runners)
- Small Pocket Knife/ Large Travel Knife/ Utility Knife (razor)
- Flashlights (Small, Lage and Medium – Light is KEY)
- Toilet Paper/ Paper Towels (Also KEY)
- Air Deflator/ Air Inflator
- Hi-Lift® Jack – Or an Off-Road Jack W/ Stand
- Off-Road Recovery Tracks
#10 – Roof Rack
Last but not least, and certainly not the least important, Roof Racks. Roof Racks come in many different shapes and sizes. You can get full-length roof racks, 3/4 length roof racks, basket roof racks, factory mount system roof racks and many others.
Roof Racks are one of the most popular add-ons for 4Runner owners because they serve much more than an “Off-Road” purpose. Roof Racks will be incredibly helpful in many situations of your life.
Most racks allow for increased storage, RTT (Roof Top Tent), advanced lighting set-ups, and general storing capacity. With a nice rack, you can decrease the clutter in your cabin and throw the big bulky items up top.
- Full-Length Racks: You can fit the most gear on a full-length rack and there are a ton of options. Sleep on them, stand on them, post up a beach chair and watch the stars if you want. With a full-length rack, the options are endless.
- 3/4 Length Racks: These racks for the soul who needs a rack, but typically has no RTT (Roof Top Tent) ambitions. With a 3/4 Roof Rack, you can achieve much of the same with a full but you lose about 2.5′ of storage ability. You can mount an RTT to a 3/4 but your options are a little slimmer.
- Basket Racks: Basket racks are typically super affordable and give you the option to throw a ton of stuff up top. Baskets usually mount to factory rails so little no modification is needed.
- Factory Mount Racks: This racks can be anything from 3/4 racks to basket racks, flat racks, and much more. Factory mount racks use your roof rails to mount. These are a great option for people not looking to spend an arm and leg and still have rooftop storage.
What Mods should you start with?
There are 100’s of other upgrades you can do to your 4Runner but these are our top 10 Off-Road Mods and Accessories/Upgrades you should purchase for your 5th gen 4Runner or any 4Runner for the most part.
Again, be sure to always buy quality parts when it comes to Off-Road Mods and Accessories of any type. I hope this Top 10 guide helps you when building your rig. Always remember to stay safe and always have fun out on the trail!