Once you've got the truck, it's time to kit it out for your particular off-roading passion. There are two basic routes to take: factory accessories and after-market products.
Factory accessories can be added to a brand-new truck when you order it. These are usually packages like we discussed earlier -- cold climate gear or off-road driving amenities like skid plates. You could also make sure your new truck has a trailer hitch right from the start. Getting these factory packages when you buy the truck can take a lot of hassle and repair shop time out of the equation.
Stores that sell after-market products, however, are like candy stores to off-roading enthusiasts. Bed liners, rock-chip protection, lift kits, massive tires -- you name it, someone sells it. Some of the more common accessories include towing equipment, shock absorbers, front winches and inflatable jacks, which can potentially get your 4x4 out of an off-road jam.
The first thing owners usually swap out on a new 4x4 are the tires. Huge tires do more than look cool around town; they also add clearance. A knobby, aggressive tire will grip sand, snow, mud and whatever else you can throw at it, but it'll also return seriously awful gas mileage and they're noisy on the road, too. Off-road tires will often have widely spaced channels and side lugs, making them easier to clean out as you drive, much like the tread on hiking boots.
Then there are the grille and taillight guards, running boards, headlight and taillight covers, mud flaps, fender flares, bed liners, cargo baskets, decals and hundreds of other accessories that are useful in protecting your ride and your gear -- or maybe they're just cool. It's hard to tell the difference sometimes.
For more information about 4x4 trucks, off-roading and other related topics, follow the links on the next page.