Backwoods Adventure Mods Front Bumper With New PreRunner Bull Bar: Hybrid Design With Both Steel & Aluminum – Detailed Review & Overview
We decided to run the Backwoods Hi-Lite Overland Front Bumper with the Pre-Runner Bull Bar for several reasons, but our biggest draw was the company itself.
Backwoods Adventure Mods is an off-road parts manufacturing company in Springdale, Arkansas. The company is notably known for manufacturing van-life products: Sprinter, Transit, etc. However, they’ve been in the Toyota space with a focus on the 4Runner and Tacoma for the last five years, and they’ve been crushing it.
Backwoods has front/rear bumpers, rock sliders, roof racks, and other off-road accessories. Everything is designed and manufactured in the USA. Not only do they provide a very high level of manufacturing with robotic welders, but they also have some very unique designs.
Each in-house manufactured part/product is welded and buffed using robotics to ensure consistency. If you’ve seen any of their videos on Instagram, you know the company is dialed when it comes to producing a very high-end fabricated product. Plus, they have stock quantities on hand – no more waiting 2-3 months for a bumper shipped to your door. We ordered our hi-lite and received it five days later in Northern California.
Go check them out on Instagram to see what they’re up to.
Now that we know what Backwoods is all about, let’s jump into the top features of their new Hi-Lite series for the 5th Gen 4Runner.
Find It Online:
The HiLite series is a plate design with weight savings in mind. Not only have they made the hi-lite crazy light compared to other plate-style options on the market, but they also provide a large flat surface area on top of the bumper for drilling/customizing light pod placement. With the flat surface area in the center and on the wings, you can easily drill into the aluminum plate and place pod-style lights or light bars virtually anywhere.
Notable Specs On Finish & Design:
- Durable Black Powder Coat Finish (included)
- Simple One-Man Installation
- Compatibility with Factory TSS
- Steel Winch Cradle
- Lightweight Aluminum Outer Shell
They offer three versions of the Hi-Lite:
- No Bull Bar
- Overland Bull Bar
- Pre-Runner Bull Bar
Pretty simple, right? The steel cradle and aluminum shell are the same on all variants. However, the hoops can vary depending on your preferred look. The “no bull bar” is clean with no hoops. The “Pre-Runner Bull” features one lower profile center hoop with slanted tubing on the sides of it. Lastly, the “Overland Bull Bar” features one full-height center hoop with large tubing wings that span the distance of the shell around the headlights. They all look great, but we decided on the Pre-Runner bull bar (pictured above).
Each option has the same steel cradle, welded 1/2″ recovery points, winch access ports, aluminum outer shell, and lighting cutouts. The only thing that changes in each option is the bull bars. We will either launch another post showing our lighting setup or update this post here in the future once all our lights are mounted.
Each shell provides two square light cutouts to fit most aftermarket pods.
The opening is 3.2″ in width and height and features a massive flat surface plate on top with a directional slot for precisely positioning your preferred light pod. In addition to the two cutouts, the hi-lite is aluminum, so drilling holes on top of the shell for additional light pods is simple.
On most of the hi-lite equipped builds pictured around the web, you will see light pods on top of the surface. If drilling for top-mounted light pods on top of the plate isn’t your style, you can drill a hole next to the 3.2″ cutout to mount light pods via an extension bracket off of the main flat surface that’s already in place for extra lighting.
Are you ready for the most impressive feature? Look at these weight specs!
No Bull Bar
- Aluminum Outer Shell – 28lbs
- Steel Winch Cradle – 55lbs
- Total Weight – 83lbs
Pre-Runner Bull Bar
- Aluminum Outer Shell – 30lbs
- Steel Winch Cradle – 55lbs
- Total Weight – 85lbs
Overland Bull Bar
- Aluminum Outer Shell – 31lbs
- Steel Winch Cradle – 55lbs
- Total Weight – 86lb
Compare that to other steel plate-style bumpers ranging from ~135 lbs. with no bull bar to 155 lbs. with full hoops. The weight specs on the Hi-Lite are very impressive and one of the main reasons why we went with it.
After building over six Toyota trucks (4Runners and Tacomas) over the last 10 years, one of the biggest goals is to reduce the rig’s weight overall. After all, weight is the enemy of these Toyota SUVs and pickups.
You’re looking at 28-31 lbs in weight, depending on your chosen model. Not only is this a huge weight saving for your daily driver or weekend warrior, but it’s also a nice feature when you go to remove your shell or service.
There have been a few times when I have had to remove my bumper on other builds to service a winch or install another aftermarket part. You never know when you’re going to have to pull a bumper off, and being able to easily lift the shell with one arm is freaking amazing – especially if you work solo like me.
The one question you could argue against aluminum, and believe me, I am a big fan of steel, is the strength. That said, over the last 10+ years of wheeling these late-model Toyota trucks, it’s very rare to smash the sides or front end of a bumper when wheeling. Can it happen? Yes. Does it happen often? No.
Now, if you live in an area where deer, elk, and bears are crossing roads often, then you may want to consider a full steel option. It would be interesting, though, to see how this aluminum shell would hold up under a 60 mph head-on impact with an animal or, worse, an oncoming vehicle. At least, so long as the cradle holds, you might only need to replace the shell itself. Something to think about.
What’s protecting you, though, is the steel winch cradle behind the shell. So, let’s jump into that next.
Steel Winch Cradle
Each Hi-Lite has a steel winch cradle that can be optioned with additional steel frame support brackets. These supports are a must-have for winching. The cradle fits up to 12,000lb winches and can be easily accessed via the two access ports on both the driver and passenger sides through the main aluminum shell.
The cradle can be mounted to the 4Runner first, and then you can mount the winch afterward. That’s an awesome feature because usually, you have to mount your winch onto the bumper and then lift the weight of a steel bumper + the winch onto the truck – all while trying to align six bolt holes (three on each side). Ask me how I know.
Like most bumpers on the market, the cradle and shell accept all Hawse and some roller fairleads. Most of us run the former, so you should be fine there. If you’re running a roller fairlead, step into 2023 with us, please.
Like most hybrid and plate-style bumpers on the market, the HiLite features a high clearance design for excellent approach angles/large tire fitment. On our 5th Gen 4Runner, you can see that the 37X12.5R17s are clearing even at full bump with the wheels being pushed forward an inch, thanks to the JD Fabrication lower arm pivot kit.
Previously with our C4 Fabrication hybrid, we had to cut off the extension tubing that wraps around the fender. The Hi-Lite, on the other hand, seems to have about 3-4″ of less material around the wings next to the fender/fender flares.
Connector Skid Plate
Backwoods Adventure Mods offers an optional aluminum connector skid plate that fills the gap between the bottom of the bumper and the front cross member. Their skid plate is compatible with most front skid plates on the market, including the factory TRD skid plate.
If you don’t like that raw aluminum look, the skid can be optioned with a matte black powder coating finish or in bare steel.
This is a killer option if you’re looking for a lightweight, high-clearance plate-style front bumper for your 5th Gen 4Runner. You can confidently run this bumper off-road, knowing that it features a steel cradle and reinforcement plates for winching.
One drawback is that it doesn’t have many lighting options pre-cut in the face of the shell. However, since it’s aluminum, you can easily drill into the shell and mount your own set of light pods or bars in a few different configurations.
All in all, it’s a great-looking lightweight option from a dialed company that you can depend on for consistent manufacturing with fast shipping.