By Sammy Sievert
Originally published in Issue 25, February/March 2019
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A common misconception is that it is impossible to have a hardcore off road vehicle without a trailer, and that it is nearly impossible to daily drive a vehicle on large tires, wheel some of the most insane obstacles and drive it home. Sure, it’s easy to bash off obstacles, but our friend Chris has a super clean Jeep JK Wrangler that goes places that, if we were to tell you, you may not believe.
If Jeep offered a JK that was for someone who wanted to do just about everything, they would have built what Chris did. His 2014 Jeep wrangler started off as just a bone stock Wrangler Rubicon. From there, he added dual Dynatrac Pro Rock Dana 60 axles while only on a 3 inch suspension system with dual bypass Radflo shocks. If you happened across him on the trail you would assume his tow rig is sitting at the trail head. That is where you would be wrong. While he does have a Dodge diesel pickup, he does not own a trailer. Rather, he drives his Jeep to every trail it goes on. After a long day on the trail, his Jeep does what not may others on such large tires will do- It drives home with the AC turned on at interstate speeds.
Local to Northern California and to such famous trails as Rubicon and Fordyce, Chris and his girlfriend, Erin spend many weekends exploring and camping around the Sierra Nevada trails. If the Jeep isn’t found cruising around in the sticks, it could be found on nearly any interstate there is, going to the grocery store, retrieving dinner and potentially showing off in parking lots for this photographer (and possibly maybe getting stuck in that parking lot and needing to lock the hubs… Long story, Sorry Chris, I had to!) Chris also is a driver for Wheelers for the Wounded of CA, where he helps take veterans on the trail.
Chris has been into Jeeps since he was 13 years old and able to drive a YJ to haul yard waste to the compost pile with his dad, Art. From there, Chris has had numerous Jeeps, including a very clean CJ7 buggy that would go anywhere, but he was tired of needing to trailer it everywhere. That was sold in favor of a 2 door JK, which he found too small for camping with Erin and their 2 dogs, so the 2 door was scavenged for its 1 ton axles and swapped over to this 4 door. Chris enjoys this Jeep, calling it his “home away from home on the trail” and has driven it across the country, across the border, and across some of the toughest trails on the west coast.
Aside from the Pro Rock Dana 60’s stuffed with ARB Air lockers, the next thing you’ll notice are the massive tires, a 42” BF Goodrich on 20” Trail Ready bead lock wheels. The tires are bold and functional, with plenty of clearance on the body due in part to a reciprocating saw. Chris also has one of the first pair of Rock Slide Engineering power slider steps, meaning when the doors open, a step descends down. A very nice feature. The back-cargo area is occupied by a Front Runner slide and ARB fridge with a Synergy Baja Basket over with plenty of room for a tent or a change of clothes. A Ripp supercharger calls the underside of the hood it’s home, providing a much-needed increase in power over those tires. Speaking of under the hood, a very trick feature that Chris has installed is a Synergy Sit-Shower-Shave kit, which uses a plate style heat exchanger plumed to the heater system to heat up fresh water to take warm showers.
The front of the Jeep provides plenty of light from Baja Designs pods on the bumper and A pillar, and in the form of a custom curved light bar that matches the radius of the windshield. Along with those, a Warn Powerplant winch is set in the bumper and adorned with a Factor 55 ultra hook. Although all that is nice, Chris is of the firm belief that you can’t go crawling without the tunes, so the entire stereo system has been updated and includes a massive single sub. The audio sounds excellent coming down the trail or sitting in camp.
You don’t need an aftermarket suspension and massive tires to go have fun on the trail, but sometimes it’s just as fun to drive a monster Jeep around town. Happy trails!