Trail Armor

Taking your 4runner out on the trails can be exciting but it does come at a cost when you venture out on some of the more difficult trails. Even though the factory armor is sufficient for the easy to moderate trails, it is not built to handle the more difficult trails. Since I have a strong appetite for a great challenge removing the stock armor and getting strong and beefier armor was a must.


Sliders are the most basic armor available that is a must do for anyone that wants to hit the trails. It is versatile in that it can even double as a step (running board). All slider designs are build to protect the rocket panel (along with the door panels) - Basically all bady panels.

I enlisted the help of This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it at Demello Offroad in Santa Ana, California. We both discussed options on how we can improve every aspect of the 4runner can came up with some wonderful products.

Featured below are the one courtesy of Demello Offroad. They feature a hybrid design wich comes with a 2" x 2" square tubing for the base and a 1.75" round tube angled up for higher clearance. Close inspection of the photos below will show that the foundation of the sliders themselves are all built by the 2" x 2" square tubing. Demello put a lot of time into this design and the final product gives you the best off-road protection possible. Plenty of bracket support along with a stout plating for welding directly to the frame. Just looking at the design, it's meant for abuse!

Front Bumper....

Creating a custom front bumper was cruicial as the stock bumper just did not hold up to par with the trails I encountered. With the heavy modifications to the front suspension by Total Chaos Fabrications, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it had to come up with a slick design that complimented the front suspension as well increase approach angle and accomodate for a winch. With that in mind This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it developed a 2" round tube bumper utilizing a 2" x 2" square tubing dimple dyed subframe. This tube bumper is bolted on in several key areas to strengthen the bumper as well as support the Warn M8000 winch. Tabs for additional auxiliary lighting are also available. This front bumper comes available with and without the winch mounting plate. The front aluminum plate is used to cover the winch as well as lighten the bumper's total weight.

Rear Bumper....

Building a rear bumper was a whole different animal. After researching various vendors and even personal sites on the different types of rear bumpers, I went in and asked Bruce if he was interested in developing a custom rear bumper for my 4runner. Based on his skills and design of his bumper on his 4runner, I knew that this was the best all around design available. The simplicity of the design that made the bumper look stock yet abuseable for the trails sold me. Click here for his write up on his bumper.

Building my bumper was pretty much the same as the one he developed for his except for one key difference. The 3rd generation 4runner does not have a last cross member integrated into the rear bumper whereas the 4th generation 4runner does. This meant that I either had to work around this design or completely cut off the last cross member. Since the departure angle on the 4th generation was terrible and I knew that this was going to be an issue on the trail, an executive decision was made to chop off the rear section. In the end a good 6-8" of the rear frame was removed thus improving the departure angle significantly.

< insert photo of cut frame here >

Aside from this irreversible modification, the build up process is similar to the 3rd generation 4runner build. The only difference is that the 4th generation 4runner is slightly larger than the 3rd generation 4runner which meant that I had to build a cardboard mock up from scratch. Regardless, building with a cardboard mock up is a good idea to give you a physical representation of what the final product will look like.

List of materials used:
2" x 4" rectangular tube 3/16" thick
24" x 24" x 3/16" steel plates for the base bumper mount + integrated skid plate
4" x 12" x 3.16" steel plates for the support frame
10/11ga steel for the side and top
2" x 2" receiver bar with a forged collar and chain hoop (item number #80908,80851) from
2 - shackle hangers
Misc weather stripping

Skid Plate....

I once had a Downey Offroad skid plate but unfortunately this was only a directly stock replacement skid plate. It will suit for most users but for the trails I conquer, but a more sophisticated skid plate was needed. Mike (AZrain) built 2 prototype skid plates and I was one of the lucky souls to get a hold of this. It features a complete skid that covers everything all the way back to the center of the rig. This meant that I would have a complete belly skid which would be ideal for rock crawling. Check out the comparison and you'll get an idea. Keep in mind that this skid covered not only what Toyota's factory skid covered but also the transmission.