Like many of you reading this post, I have been waiting and waiting for the Jeep Gladiator to hit the market and now that it is finally here, my list of must-have Jeep Gladiator Accessories has gotten longer than my son’s Christmas list! I bought my Gladiator from a local Jeep dealership in Colorado, I had been on the waiting list for a Launch Edition Rubicon. At the same time, I was looking at the Ford Raptor and Toyota Tundra and Tacoma. I wasn’t in love with Tundra’s size and the Tacoma did not seem like a good fit for me personally. It came down to the Raptor and the Gladiator, but after a few test drives of the Raptor, a few glances at the price tag, and how easy Ford was (or wasn’t!) to deal with, I was sold on the Jeep Gladiator.
I have always loved Jeeps, but truthfully they were never very functional for me. Low towing ability and not a lot of storage capacity led me to look elsewhere for my vehicle of choice. However, in 2019, the Gods at Jeep finally woke up and bestowed upon us the Gladiator. I felt for the first time that I could finally join the Jeep family and feel welcome. Of course, when I got the Jeep, I jumped right into the deep end with the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon.
Where does the Jeep Rubicon get its name? If you see a Jeep Gladiator with “Rubicon” printed on the side of its hood, they are named after the Rubicon Trail, a 22-mile route in California through the Sierra Nevada Mountains outside Lake Tahoe that is full of some of the most technical, breathtaking off-road driving in the world. The Jeep Rubicon (allegedly) was the first stock vehicle (no modifications) to make it over the Rubicon trail – and that is how it got its name (or at least that is what my Jeep expert buddy told me and it sounded real good so I am going with it).
When I finally received my Jeep, I immediately had a list of upgrades that I wanted to complete as well as a long term upgrade plan. Also right now, there are limited number of options because the Jeep accessories market has not fully caught up with demand but I expect they will get the notice that the Gladiator is here to stay. So my list of Jeep Gladiator Overland Accessories upgrades include tires, LED lights, winch, winch cover, mud flaps, center console safe, rock sliders/running board, and tonneau cover.
Jeep Gladiator Overland Build
Tires – The nice thing about the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon is that you can go up to 35” tires without putting on a lift. Now the Rubicon comes stock with 33” tires which look OK and will do the trick to begin. My friend told me that when I get my Gladiator, I will kick myself for not moving up to 35” tires. He was right. Within two weeks of getting the Gladiator, I put the larger size tire on and have been much happier ever since. For the tires themselves, I read a lot of reviews and talked to other Jeep enthusiasts and decided on the 35″ Nitto Ridge Grapplers. The street ride on these tires is really impressive for a large aggressive tire. I can also report that on the many trips I have taken off road in the Rocky Mountains they have never let me down at all. To be fair, I have not had other brands to compare them to, but I am very happy with Nitto Ridge Grapplers so far.
Pillar Lights – Sometimes on a moonless night when you are out on a Forest Service road in the middle of nowhere, the stock Jeep Gladiator lights are just not enough. Mopar makes great bolt-on accessories to upgrade your lights and turn back the darkness. These Mopar pillar lights are fairly easy to mount and you will see the world in a different light no doubt. The LED lights emit an extraordinary actual output of 4,800 lumens for each 5” Light. In my opinion, these LED lights provide superior performance without any noticeable black spots while giving increased visibility for a more secure off road driving experience. I have been very happy with them so far.
Winch – Now, in the famous words of Clarence Worley (Christain Slater’s character in True Romance) “If there’s one thing this last week has taught me, it’s better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it.” This is exactly how I feel about a winch. You rarely need a winch but when you need it, holy cow it is a life saver! I went with the tried and tested Warn winch. It has been great and I can honestly say that it has pulled me out of a few jams. After a lot of forums research and talking to Jeep people, I went with the Warn Winch Zeon 10S. I have nothing to compare it to but I can say that it has saved more than one trip by pulling me out of trouble.
Winch Cover – What? How did this make the list? I got a pro tip from one of my buddies who does a lot of rock crawling with a traditional Jeep JL. He said get the winch cover because if you are using your rig as a daily driver, the sun, road salt, etc will deteriorate your winch rope quicker and it is only $20. I can tell you that on the times I have needed my winch, the rope pulls out nicely and it is dry and free of debris.
Mud Flaps – If you are rocking the Gladiator with 35” tires, you will be glad you invested in mud flaps. If you are getting a Jeep Gladiator with 35’s, take my advice, get mud flaps! For the first 5 months with my truck, I did not have mud flaps and the amount of dirt and grime on the door handles was impressive to say the least. If it was a nasty day outside, I would have to wipe my hand clean on something once I got inside the car due to the amount of mud, snow or grime on the door handle. It was a little painful. Even my passengers would complain. I was thinking about just having a towel inside my truck to wipe your hands on – but then I got smart. I did my research and found Rokblokz mud flaps for the Gladiator… problem solved! In some states, you are required to have rear mud flaps on your truck, and if you are Overlanding with friends they probably won’t let you lead unless you have mud flaps. What I really love about the Rokblokz is the quick detach feature. I mostly only use the front mud flaps and leave back mud flaps stored in case I need them. The initial installation was easy, takes about an hour. The size I chose based on Rokblokz size chart was XL/Original. The quick release feature is awesome, you can have all four rokblokz mud flaps off or on in a matter of minutes.
Center Console Safe – Keeping your personal security items or valuables secure but accessible is always a tricky proposition. I was glad to see that two companies – Tuffy and Locker’Down) immediately offered center console safes for the Jeep Gladiator (mostly due to the fact that the Gladiator JT center console was almost identical to the Wrangler JL center console). I went with the Locker’down version. The product seems OK but my experience with the company has been anything but good. Maybe try Tuffy first.
Rock Sliders / Running Board – After spending a few months driving around the Jeep Gladiator off road, I felt a little exposed on the side of the Gladiator – especially in tight spots on the trail. I also had an issue with my young kids getting dirty every time they tried to climb in and out of the truck. Adding traditional Mopar running boards was not an option because then you lose the Rubicon rock sliders, so that idea was out right off the bat. After some extensive research, I decided on the Rock Sliders from Ace Engineering. What I love about these sliders is that they go on over the top of the stock Jeep Rubicon sliders for added protection and they stick out just far enough to provide a good foot step like a running board to make getting in and out of the Jeep Gladiator super easy. With these Ace Engineering sliders on the side of your Gladiator and the stock Rubicon bumpers, you are truly surrounded by steel. I will tell you that putting these on was a two person job and make sure you have a good impact wrench or torque bar. Breaking those body mount bolts on a Jeep can be a pain.
Tonneau Cover – I have been really happy with the performance of my tonneau cover. It keeps all of my gear dry and secure. I would recommend one for anyone getting a Gladiator and getting ready to do some serious Overlanding adventures. When the weather changes, it is nice to have a place to store gear that does not get all wet. Want to haul a bunch of larger stuff? No problem, roll the tonneau cover up in about 10 seconds and it is out of the way. I was disappointed that more companies did not offer Jeep Gladiator toppers when the truck came out. I ended up ordering one from RLD Designs out of South Africa. As of this article, it has not arrived yet but when it does I will post a review of the product.
Hitch Key Safe – Nothing can ruin an overland adventure faster than losing your keys. If you are not using your hitch for pulling a camper or bike rack, the Hitch Key Safe is a pretty sweet trick. What I really love about it is that when I do have to use my hitch, the Hitch Key Safe pops off in under 30 seconds and goes back on in about 45 seconds. I haven’t had to use it yet but I did have an overlanding experience with a friend back a few years ago where we each had a set of keys to access the truck and somehow they both ended up in the truck in our jackets and the truck auto locked. Luckily for us, I had a 3rd set of keys zip tied under the bumper of the truck. “1 is none, 2 is 1, and 3 you are really planning for failure“
Long Term Jeep Gladiator Accessory Upgrade Plan
Many of my long term plans are either not available yet or I do not have the funds to spend on them yet – but I am planning and saving. My long term plans for my Gladiator definitely include an extended gas tank. One thing I have noticed on Overlanding trips in the mountains: the Gladiator’s gas tank size is wanting. I would definitely love an extra 15 gallons in the tank. The next upgrade will be lockable truck bed storage. I don’t need this very badly yet because I do not have my topper, but once I do, lockable truck bed storage will be key. More LED lighting around the truck. I am not going to go overboard but a few more lights around all sides of the truck would be nice. CB or HAM radio – no explanation needed, you can’t rely on cell coverage. Rooftop Tent & Awning, not sure if need both but I like the idea. Supercharger: the Gladiator’s stock 3.6L V6 engine on the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon is OK, but there are some cool superchargers out there that add 200 horsepower and 150 lb-ft of torque and can also add 2 to 4 MPG at the same time (I saw it on YouTube, I swear – it must be true). Maybe a snorkel, not sure yet. It might be overkill for the adventures I am looking to take on.
So far I can report that I love the Jeep Gladiator for overland trips. It is my first Jeep and it has been a blast to drive around on different adventures. I am excited about the growing accessory market and the coming adventures.