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I might want to do some of this stuff with my truck one day, maybe when it is paid off and or no longer my daily driver. A mild lift and a set of 285s to make the truck look good.
 

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Great info here. I've the "mostly stock for a bit" approach for financial reasons as much as any. I'm curious what everyone's thoughts are about armor vs. lift as a first big mod.

My Frontier is my daily driver, and spends the weekends primarily on Forest Service roads in California. Aside from one incident in Joshua Tree (about an hour after my avatar photo was taken actually, lol) where I got in a bit over my head and scratched some paint off my rear fender, my approach has been to be absolutely sure I won't touch before attempting an obstacle. So far this has worked well for me because my skill/confidence bottoms out long before my suspension most of the time. I do have OEM skids (added aftermarket to my SV), and I have a Shrock rear bumper ordered courtesy of the jackass who rear ended me in traffic a couple months ago.

So, my current inclination is to do a ~2.5" lift first, keep building skill, and save the armor for another time. Thoughts? Should I armor up first anyway even if my lack of skill/comfort has so far kept any rocks from touching my OEM skids?
 

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It depends...my xterra I went lift and tires, then armor. My frontier, I started with sliders mainly so I could reach my daughter's seat easier (I am short so this was a necessity). Then lift, front bumper courtesy of a deer, and now looking into skids.

All of this for mainly rocky trails in Colorado.

I am a lot less worried about dragging my undercarriage. Most stuff is tucked and I have a lot of confidence in my ability. Plus the loss of mpg used to weigh on my mind. Now I am looking into a full skid set next year since I now have a company provided daily work truck now.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
So, my current inclination is to do a ~2.5" lift first, keep building skill, and save the armor for another time. Thoughts? Should I armor up first anyway even if my lack of skill/comfort has so far kept any rocks from touching my OEM skids?
I did lift before skids, but if I could do it all over again I would do the opposite. Of course, mine is an SE so it didn't even come with stock skids.

Once my truck had skids and sliders, I began to push myself much more because I was a lot less afraid of hurting my truck. I am a cautious person by nature and my skill set increased much faster once I felt less afraid of damaging my rig.

Your stock skids do add some level of protection. They won't take Rubicon-style hits but they'll take small ones. An expression I've seen around here is that the OEM skids are "good for one hit." Another factor to consider though is that the stock skids don't provide as large of a coverage area as the aftermarket ones.

You haven't hit or dragged them yet, but there's first time for everything. I think the answer to your question really depends on the technicality of the trails you ultimately wish to do. If you are content with sticking to forest service roads, lift before beefier skids is probably fine, and aftermarket skids may not be needed at all. If you want to start attempting some harder trails - well, actually, you'll probably want both before you get to that point.
 

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Awwww ..... So pretty! Although I think that Junior is much sexier now. :)

This is where I started...

Early June 2009. Brand new truck, about 48 hours after purchase, already out on the trail, me totally inexperienced and trying to figure out what the truck could do:




May 2010. Almost one year later, still completely stock (Long Trails and mud guards FTW), still taking it out as much as I could, still just barely scratching the surface in terms of learning the truck's capabilities and trying to come up with a long term plan for it:

 

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Great info here. I've the "mostly stock for a bit" approach for financial reasons as much as any. I'm curious what everyone's thoughts are about armor vs. lift as a first big mod.

My Frontier is my daily driver, and spends the weekends primarily on Forest Service roads in California. Aside from one incident in Joshua Tree (about an hour after my avatar photo was taken actually, lol) where I got in a bit over my head and scratched some paint off my rear fender, my approach has been to be absolutely sure I won't touch before attempting an obstacle. So far this has worked well for me because my skill/confidence bottoms out long before my suspension most of the time. I do have OEM skids (added aftermarket to my SV), and I have a Shrock rear bumper ordered courtesy of the jackass who rear ended me in traffic a couple months ago.

So, my current inclination is to do a ~2.5" lift first, keep building skill, and save the armor for another time. Thoughts? Should I armor up first anyway even if my lack of skill/comfort has so far kept any rocks from touching my OEM skids?
My thoughts for what they are worth .... based on your description of what you do off-road - Lift, then tires (there is no additional differential clearance without taller tires .... the lift gives you the room for bigger tires) and then rock sliders. Real sliders like those from Shrock or Hefty and some others ... not bolt-on running boards.
You will be able to tons of stuff with that combo. Leaving the mud flaps on like #JeniorNV did is optional :)
 

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Discussion Starter #27 (Edited)
Somehow I totally glossed over the sliders part of @Wintermute's question.

I do think that sliders are important, generally more important than a lift. If you're pushing moderate trails in rocky terrain, you'll eventually misjudge an obstacle and come down on a rocker panel. My first bit of off roading damage was a dented rocker panel on a stock friendly trail (December 2009 when my truck was 6 months old :crying:). After adding sliders and pushing our capabilities a bit more, I discovered that rocks don't always look the same from the driver's seat as they do from the ground (for example, you can't always tell if there's a big hole on the opposite side of the rock).
 

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Great thread! My first experience to a Nissan Frontier was in 2006 when my roommate got a 4x4 nismo. With a leveling kit and some toyo mt 33s that truck scared that crap out of me offroad. In my opinion these trucks are extremely capable with very few mods. With that said the nismo factory skid plates took a beating. I would say some good mods to make frontiers "Off road worthy" would be GOOD tires, some good skid plates, and a leveling kit with some shocks.
 

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Leaving the mud flaps on like #JeniorNV did is optional :)
Leaving stiff/non-compliant OEM mud flaps on...may/CAN cause damage. Better to have flexible mud flaps instead.
 

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I think he was trying to be funny. But just so everyone is clear, I removed my mud flaps years ago, and that was after I'd already broken two of them.
Since this is an inro-to-offroading sticky, I figured it a good time/place to mention this. It was certainly news to me that OEM mud flaps could yield some serious damage.
 

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Since this is an inro-to-offroading sticky, I figured it a good time/place to mention this. It was certainly news to me that OEM mud flaps could yield some serious damage.
I have not had any issue with my factory mudflaps but I could see where they would damage your truck if they bottomed out on something. They are rigid. My old 2012 Tacoma had a similar set but they were much longer. They would bottom out going over a speed bump. I took them off not long after buying the truck. You would think all four wheel drive truck would come with flexible mudflaps.....
 

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I think he was trying to be funny. But just so everyone is clear, I removed my mud flaps years ago, and that was after I'd already broken two of them.
Nein! Humor is kaput!


You're right in what you say. Local terrain influences what you 'need' to do...

Here in New England you get a bit of everything but rocks & mud is a big component. If you want an idea look at Mountain State Overland on youtube seasons 3&4
A friend of mine is fond of saying "traction & articulation makes for a good rig, big lift/tires do not."
I'd recommend that items should be able to grow with you. Armor (skids & sliders) is a no-brainer first, as is a cheap lift (spacers & blocks) Ideally you can/should find pieces used and get the set for about $100. With armor you can (relatively) fearlessly hit the trail and learn what you are capable of AND want to do for trail-riding. In stock trim you can do stock trails here without armor even (but not recommended) REASON for cheap lift: you may find quickly that to get the articulation (if you need it for aggressive trails) you want to TS and that negates UCAs and coilovers... which is where I'm at now... I have SPC UCAs and MK84s and I really want/need more travel.
 

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Nein! Humor is kaput!


You're right in what you say. Local terrain influences what you 'need' to do...

Here in New England you get a bit of everything but rocks & mud is a big component. If you want an idea look at Mountain State Overland on youtube seasons 3&4
A friend of mine is fond of saying "traction & articulation makes for a good rig, REASON for cheap lift: you may find quickly that to get the articulation (if you need it for aggressive trails) you want to TS and that negates UCAs and coilovers... which is where I'm at now... I have SPC UCAs and MK84s and I really want/need more travel.
Travel, travel and more travel! Properly tuned.
 

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Just want to mention, just because it is a daily driver, it should not limit what you do to improve suspension.
Titan swaps are great and.it seems to be the common way to improve performance .
That is
not hardly what you can do.
My truck iwas a excellent as daily drivers. Although not having any music sucked ! Also interior is very loud
I will take 14” of travel over noise.
 

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Awesome thread and great tips from everyone. Definitely a good sticky because like many others that want to get into offroading, I contemplated how to go about it. To add my 2 cents I would say:
Stock form is very capable as many others have attested to( pro4x trim is well setup) and as such I decided to start with the cosmetic changes as they are more affordable and if you are working all the time like me you dont have time to ACTUALLY go on trails so at least you can settle with a sexy looking truck haha.
After research and watching different things on off roading the first thing to do is skid plates and bar work(rock sliders) including bumpers so you can have better approach and departure angles as well as protecting everything because eventually you are going to hit a surprise rock or as I have on the snow found a surprise drop. Recovery gear and tools is next as either you will need to be pulled or you will pull someone, it should go without saying but figured I mention it so people dont forget.
Afterwards you can mix and match performance mods and lift with tires as suspension work will involve access to headers and exhaust for example. The mix is due to bigger tires needing better gearing and while you do that you may as well put in lockers( needed for rock crawling more so but can help in other situations too).
As others have said it all depends on what you want to do and where you are going to take the truck. The moral of the story is traction and articulation so you can keep moving through the terrain and over obstacles.
 
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