35s, Lockers, And Trails From Hell

The stock 245/70R17 tires that came off my Jeep in May have been gathering dust in my garage. I took them off the Jeep when it had under 300 miles. So the tires were pretty new. Someone in the Cumberland Crawlerz group posted on Facebook about what to do with OEM tires that are removed when modifying a Jeep. I hijacked the thread to offer the tires to anyone who can come and get them. Luckily a couple buddies showed up the next day to remove them from my garage. I now have more space!

My Jeep is currently sporting a set of 285/70R17 BF Goodrich KO2s, mounted on the stock aluminum wheels. I went with this size because my garage entry is not very high, so that’s as big as I can go if I want to park the Jeep in the garage. I will need to move to 35s for the June trip to Moab>Rubicon, so I bought a used set from a buddy. Pro Comp steel rims with Nitto Grappler 35×12.5x17s mounted on them. They’re in good shape, with more than half the tread left. I plan to swap the wheels in May, so I can wheel with the group a couple times to get used to the different size.

I was in denial for quite a while, regarding 35s being considered a mandate for the most extreme trails. I mean, if Jeep sells a Rubicon model Jeep, why does it come with 285s, and why is it marketed as suitable for The Rubicon Trail? Well, I should have known, having spent a few years in branding/advertising environments. While it is possible for a stock Rubicon to survive The Rubicon Trail, it is also possible to roller skate from New York City to Los Angeles. Get it?

My trip will include half a dozen hard trails in Moab. The one I have high hopes for is Hell’s Gate at Hell’s Revenge. I wanted to do the climb on my trip last August. Nobody wanted to spot me since I didn’t have 35s and at least one locker. It was a heart breaking lesson to learn, since my entire trip was built around that challenging climb. I’ll be more than prepared when I go back in June. I now have 35s, and Rubicon take-off Dana 44s (M210/M220) axles, which both have electronic lockers. They had <7,000 miles on them when I bought them.

An even more extreme example of the importance of having (at least) 35s and lockers, is the infamous, gut wrenching, trecherous The Rubicon Trail. The June trip is focussed on this tail, the only one in the US that is rated a 10 on a 1-10 scale of difficulty. Its considered a bucket list trail for serious wheelers. This time, I did my research, and I will be totally prepared. From tires, to axle lockers, to overlanding style kitchen and storage build, I’ll be more than ready.

For an overview of The Rubicon Trail, check out these two videod by one of my favorite bloggers, TrailRecon.