COMING SOON: FULL INSTALL WRITE-UP!
Feel free to post questions and comments below!
Pre-sale orders will be open soon on the Chief Products website!
COMING SOON: FULL INSTALL WRITE-UP!
Introducing the Chief Products WK2 Roof Rack! I wanted to get some photos up here for everyone of the “Full System” configuration. In the next week I’ll be stripping it down to the Roof Top Tent layout for an upcoming trip (more about that later) so my goal for today is to highlight the different angles of this set-up and answer any questions you guys might have. I’ve included side and rear profile photos so you can see heights/clearances with the FM/satellite antennas as well (FYI, there are zero reception issues with the roof rack installed!)
Feel free to post questions and comments below!
Pre-sale orders will be open soon on the Chief Products website!
Without question one of the most popular questions I get on forums, social media, in-person, etc. is regarding the wheel spacer installation on the 2180miles Trailhawk. I installed them in the summer of 2017 while running the factory Jeep Trailhawk wheels and tires, and have continued running them with the Falken Wildpeak AT3W tires that were installed in July of 2018 thanks to a partnership with Falken.
While I can't comment on whether you can get away without using wheel spacers on your specific vehicle with your specific tire set-up, I just wanted to provide links for how to go about piecing together the kit I did! Your mileage may vary, and the availability of a WK2 specific wheel spacer kit may someday exist, but for now these are the parts required to use a United States made AlloyUSA spacers.
DO NOT SKIMP OUT ON WHEEL SPACERS - THEY CAN KILL YOU. I have run AlloyUSA products on both my Wrangler and now Trailhawk for a combined decade between the two. I highly suggest them for both their products and customer support.
Comment below with your questions, issues, or success stories!
UTILIZED PARTS LIST:
1. AlloyUSA Wheel Spacers 2. Open Ended Lug Nuts
3. Acorn Lug Nuts for Wheel Spacers 4. Lug Wrench Adapter (fits new Lugs to OEM Lug Wrench)
BEFORE & AFTER PHOTOS
Throughout 2017 I ran the WK2 with the OEM lower fascia. During the installation of the Hidden Winch Mount by Chief Products, I was able to trim it cleanly to fit their hawse fairlead, but some off-road trips and high snowfall made it pretty obvious that the Jeep needed a facelift to protect the front end from impending damage from rocks and other things that we’d be moving through and over. Thankfully Chief has thought this need out, and created their Lower Front Guard to protect the front end of the WK2 and its components. Due to the way their products integrate, I’d need to also replace my OEM Tow Hooks as they are not compatible when combined with the Chief Products Hidden Winch Mount and Lower Guard.
In preparation for our August trip with our local overland club, I spent an afternoon with my Jeep buddy Shaun installing these two products on the Trailhawk. Due to me already having the Hidden Winch set-up with my OEM tow hooks I was required to take off some of the parts that came with that system, but I skipped over that in the photos.
First up, an artsy photo of the front of the Jeep, then the new Chief Products:
Shaun and I got to work by removing the OEM Lower Fascia and front bumper. I’ve done this before to install parts so it was a familiar process, taking all of 5 minutes and requiring nothing more than a set of pliers, two sockets, and a gentle hand maneuvering the front bumper to a resting point. It took some finagling to get the factory tow hooks off the Jeep, but after we managed that it was relatively smooth sailing for the first bit of our project. Once they were removed and the Hidden Winch set-up was bolted back together, we moved towards assembling the new Chief Recovery points. These things are BEEFY and make the factory tow hooks look like children’s toys in comparison.
Comprised of three pieces of CNC cut steel and bolted together in a stack to create the Recovery Point, Chief rates these for nearly 10,000 pounds of working load strength, and a breaking point just shy of 18,000 pounds… Holy crap! I’m pretty sure the Jeep would disintegrate to dust before I hit this load amount. Add in some beautiful powder coating, and these things are as beautiful as they are robust.
One important note to point out is that upon the installation of these two products at the same time, the tow hooks attach to the Lower Guard’s chassis mounting bracket, and should therefor not be installed until that time. Unfortunately I didn’t catch this fact, so we ended up installing (and removing) the Recovery Points two or three times.
Following along with Chief’s exceptionally well-written instructions, we began by installing the corner mounting brackets to the WK2’s frame. These stick out to the driver and passenger side of the vehicle, and add rigidity behind the Lower Front Guard. From there we moved onto the (humorously final) installation of the Recovery Points with the chassis mounting brackets. From there the Center Section is ready to be attached on both sides of the chassis bracket to hang in front, awaiting more mounting bolts from the corner guards. Chief clearly lays out the tightening sequence as the final pieces of the puzzle are installed, ensuring that the Lower Front Guard is assembled and tightened appropriately. Shaun and I messed around with the idea of putting the OEM Front Fascia back on, as technically the Lower Guard is designed to work over/around the factory front end, but decided against it for the sake of aesthetics and function.
As a final touch on the project I bought some ¼” edge trim from Amazon and wrapped the front lower bumper edge with it. With the fascia being removed the factory bumper edge leaves a bit of an unfinished look, but this quick $10 fix makes a world of a difference in having the bumper appear finished. It’s got a metal core and double grip edges to hold it on, making sure it’s not going anywhere once we’re on the road and trails.
In the month after installing the Chief Lower Front Guard we put nearly 500 miles on the Jeep off-pavement on a combination of difficult mountain climbing trails, long-ignored fire roads, and high-speed well-groomed dirt roads. There were a hundred times that we crossed over terrain that would have scratched up or even torn off the factory fascia as it hung low over the front end. While Chief notes the system doesn’t raise the front approach angle over stock, you can see in the photos it also does an incredible job of keeping the (undoubtedly expensive to repair) ACC camera safe from front impact and damage.
Whether you’re looking for a facelift to improve the aggressive looks of the WK2, or are in need of a system to improve the strength and resilience of the front end, the Lower Front Guard system is one-of-a-kind in its function and design. I for one spend a lot more time looking back at the Trailhawk and checking her out both on the trails, and in the grocery store parking lot ;-)
As usual, I’m happy to answer any questions about the install via the comments section below or by email - email@example.com!
So back in March of 2018 I placed an order for what at the time was known as the Gen.3 version of the “Tacoma World Group-Buy RTT”. In the time since it has been branded, and an actual company has been formed to sell these at the rate the growing demand requires. I’m proud to announce that I’m the first non-Toyota owner to run the Waypoint RTT by COE Vehicle Solutions. After a 3-month wait from order placement (this is getting faster, don’t worry) I met the organizer, Chandler Coe, as he hand-delivered the tent in his brand new Dodge 3500 diesel, lifted and running 37s, towing a 30’ car hauler full of tents. We talked for a few minutes, then he vanished into the night to finish his week-long haul of tents around the country.
**It has come to my attention that people are looking to purchase these tents. In speaking with Chandler, he's taken down the website until there's enough interest on the TacomaWorld forum group-buy list to warrant a container full of the tents coming over to the US. Once that list is nearing full he'll open the website back up to other interested parties. The TacomaWorld thread is located here.**
Moving it into the garage, it then came time to see what was inside. The box opening was labor intensive, but this thing was packaged well. I removed a bunch of plastic wrap, and excitedly opened it up for the first time as Dani looked on. The initial smell was a punch to the senses, so we let it air out in the garage for the better part of a week before moving on with installation. The tent itself is 85” long, and due to the roof crossbar spacing on the WK2, this left the front two+ feet of the tent cantilevered. To combat this design and support the front, I pieced together a Thule clamp-on crossbar kit from eBay and added what is essentially a third crossbar to hold the front end of the tent down.
The mounting utilizes 8 bolts that fit into brackets that are to be positioned inside the recessed mounting track in the bottom of the tent. Slid into place at the 1st and 3rd crossbars, I tightened the bolts down with the supplied tools (ratcheting box wrench included!) and hardware. The compressed latter opened up easily, and we climbed up to see how comfy our new home-on-wheels was.
There’s a 2.5” foam pad inside, and the entire interior is covered in a stitched fabric. The 4 gas struts to raise the roof are covered in padding, there are two hanging pockets for miscellaneous gear, shoes, etc, two overhead hooks for other stuff, and a netting suspended overhead for whatever you haven’t already found a place for. It’s incredibly spacious inside, and our two-person sleeping bag fits perfectly corner to corner. The tent itself has entry options from both sides, including mounts for the ladder to be affixed to. Each doorway (left and right) has a fabric outer door that becomes an awning, a fly made of netting, and another solid interior door for privacy at night or in the cold while retaining the awning. There are large windows at the front and back of the tent, and two 4” square ventilation pockets, one on each side. The tent is able to close with all of our stuff inside, including the sleeping bag, pillows, headlamps, etc. which will make it a dream when we’re on trips.
We’ve spent one night in the tent so far, and loved it. We’ll have to get used to climbing out if we have to pee at night, but the elevated position allows for a great breeze (wonderful on hot nights), keeps us away from little critters, and offers more privacy. While other tents charge a few hundred dollars more for a black shell, a few hundred dollars more for a larger size, and a ton for shipping, COE Vehicle Solutions has this on the market for $1,750 delivered. It was the perfect tent to get us into the RTT market while maintaining the sexy aesthetics of this Jeep build, and allowing for a minimal impact on fuel economy. A recent trip to upstate New York required us bringing the Jeep, and with both the new Falken AT/3W tires and the RTT mounted, we averaged 21.5 MPG round trip over 450 miles… not bad at all given the fact that the Trailhawk was basically expedition-ready the whole time.
Happy to answer any questions, and very excited to use this on upcoming overland expeditions.
The Wilco Hitchgate came to my attention almost two years ago now when I began to research building a Trailhawk into a capable overland vehicle. Since at the time almost no information existed about really overhauling a WK2, I found myself with a ton of dead ends, and compiling information from different truck/SUV builds for future reference. Coming from the world of a Wrangler where there were a billion and a half aftermarket accessories, one of the most impressive non-vehicle specific parts I found was the Wilco Hitchgate, a trailer-hitch mounted spare tire carrier for ANY vehicle.
I booked-marked their website and kept it in the back of my mind as my Trailhawk build progressed. Once it came time to install a second battery in the trunk space, I knew that the spare tire was in need of a new (and more accessible) place to live. Revisiting Wilco’s online store and pricing out the needed add-ons, I finalized my order and eagerly awaited delivery day. One of the most impressive things about Wilco is that they are a proudly owned and operated American company, with all of their customer service, sales, and welding being done out of a southern California warehouse.
The production time took a little longer than I expected, and ultimately arrived just days before we left for a week-long overland trip through northern Maine’s remote Allagash Wilderness. For reference, I placed the order on May 12thand it was delivered on July 5th…. They make an exceptional product but the wait-time can be somewhat substantial, especially in the world of Amazon Prime where we all expect things in two days time, ha! Needless to say it was without a doubt worth the wait. The welds are gorgeous, the powder coating robust, and the product itself worthy of the acclaim it receives.
Of the three Hitchgate Solo models available (Standard, High-Clearance, and XL) I specifically chose the high-clearance version. From what I’ve seen on social media I’m in the minority with this decision, but it was made deliberately in order to not block my recessed Rigid SRM reverse lights in the rear bumper. After having friends take measurement of their WK2s I was able to roughly guesstimate that the top of the main bracket’s steel boxing would line up with the lip of the rear bumper where the tailgate opens… good news – as you can see in the photos, it’s a PERFECT fit.
The Hitchgate Solo is comprised of two main pieces, a lower arm that fits into the trailer hitch receiver and a tire-carrying-swing-arm with an impressive bushing for the lower arm mounting. Inserting the lower arm into the receiver, a socket set and extension arm allow you to tighten down their proprietary WedgeLock system, responsible for keeping the whole assembly tight when you’re cruising down the highway or crawling over some tricky terrain.
Greasing the supplied hardware and fitting the swing-arm bushing into the lower arm’s bracket, I tightened down the bolt and lock-nut to an appropriate tension to allow a “just right” amount of tension when swinging the tire carrier open. Mounting the add-on RotoPax fuel carrier bracket and license plate bracket, I took my time and was done with the install in about 45 minutes… a pretty quick project with a great return on investment!
Long Term Review:
After a year and nearly 10,000 miles with the Hitchgate Solo fully loaded – 32” spare tire set-up, 3 gallons of fuel in a Rotopax, and a steel HiLift jack, the Wilco unit has performed phenomenally. Even on the worst washboard roads, even with standing on the cantilevered end of the swing-arm, even with using the main brace to help load the roof-top tent, the Wilco has without a doubt been worth every single penny I spent on it. Having a spare tire on the rear end of the vehicle not only makes it look infinitely more bad-ass, but also is one of the most practical moves any overlander can make. Easy access to the spare tire, especially when compared to digging it out of the trunk space when we’re fully loaded, makes a world of a difference when stuff hits the fan and you’re left needing to swap in a spare deep in the backcountry.
Questions? Use the comments section below!
After a few months of behind-the-scenes work, I'm excited to announce a new partnership with Falken Tires. The WK2 now has the OEM Goodyear Adventure tires replaced with the new Wildpeak AT3W all-terrain tires. While the Grand Cherokee can actually fit a larger tire than what I went with, I wanted to keep the appearance aggressive but not overdone, so I chose the less-popular 265/65R18 size, equivalent to a 31.6" tire. It's about an inch and a half larger in diameter than the factory tire, and has a great aesthetic and functional improvements for the Jeep.
I brought the Jeep to a local Firestone Tire center and for the whopping cost of $79 had the four main tires swapped, as well as the 5th OEM rim I bought back in April mounted up with the new spare and TPMS sensor. A Jeep friend bought the factory tires from me for his wife's WK2, so they're off to a new home!
Initial impressions with the AT3W are stellar... After taking the Jeep up to New Hampshire for some wheeling in the woods the weekend we had them installed, I got 24-25 MPG during the two hour ride up, and I know without a doubt that the Wildpeaks gave us better traction than the Goodyears ever could have on more difficult terrain than I've ever taken the Trailhawk on.
I'll give a long-term review as the time comes, but for now here are some photos of the install...
WK2 Ride Height Settings: 265/65 R18
The full parts list will be updated once the project is done, but currently is as follows:
- Universal Battery sealed 100ah AGM
- Wirthco 150A Intelligent Battery Isolator
- Blue Sea Systems 12-post fuse block w/ negative bus
- 8”x5” ABS plastic project box
- 2x InstallGear 150A in-line fuses
- 2x 10-foot sections of 4AWG wire in red & black
- Crimp-on 4AWG cable ends
- Battery terminal ends