Rear Bumpers for Expedition Travel
The primary function of an aftermarket rear bumper is to provide impact (trail) and collision protection for the back of the vehicle. Within the first few miles of my expedition into Batopilas Canyon Mexico, my travel partners UZJ100 Land Cruiser was hit by an out of control (drunk) driver. The full size Chevy slammed into their Kaymar rear bumper at nearly 20mph and the bumper deflected the blow with very little damage. Had the stock bumper been fitted the damage would have been severe!
1. Rear collision protection
2. Spare tire mount
Getting the spare tire out from under the vehicle is a big safety advantage, allowing quick access to the spare in deep mud, rocks or the narrow shoulder of MEX1. This also makes the spare easy to inspect and service. Many SUV's and trucks cannot accommodate a larger diameter tire in the stock storage location, making a spare tire mount mandatory. In my case, moving the tire onto the carrier allowed for the installation of a 22 gallon aux. fuel tank in place of the spare tire.
3. Jack Mounting
Having a place to safely mount the Hi-Lift jack is critical. A provision that allows for secure, theft resistant and accessible mounting provides a big advantage in recovery situations. The one downside is exposure to the elements, which can be compensated with regular servicing of the jack or purchasing their all weather version.
4. 1/4 Panel Protection
While not required, 1/4 protection can help save valuable sheet metal from trail damage, a separated tire or light collision from another vehicle. It can also allow for a jacking point. Properly designed (as in the case of the Demello unit), the 1/4 panel protection can tie into the frame and stiffen the entire structure and help prevent the bumper from rotating.
5. Recovery and Towing
The rear bumper should include recovery points and a 2" receiver. While many of the bumpers are not rated for towing, it allows for a recovery point, multi-mount winch or solid way to tow a small trailer. I prefer that the bumper have two, widely spaced recovery points to allow triangulating the load of the pull.
6. Aux lighting and fluid mounting and other ideas
The rear bumper with swing-out can allow for mounting of auxiliary lights, antenna, water and fuel cans or even small, flip down work surfaces. The swing out can also mount rear vision cameras, bike racks and various other adventure equipment.
Word of Caution
It is extremely tempting to bolt everything possible to the rear bumper. Dual spares, fuel cans, jacks, bikes, etc. However, It is critical to keep in mind the leverage all of this weight behind the rear axle has. Make sure the frame is rated for the load and strengthen accordingly, and keep the weight to a minimum.