Off Road Armor
Off road bumpers can be a functional way to make your vehicle stand out while giving it protection from on or off road hazards. The first generation Tundras never received much aftermarket support and for a long time the ARB Sahara Bull Bar was the only option. Over the years a few smaller companies have come to meet the relatively small demand of these trucks. One such company is Brute Force Fabrication who specialize in Toyota bumpers, rock sliders, bed cages, skid plates and other custom metal fabrication. Brute Force's Tundra bumper really looks great compared to the other offerings. With options to customize both the front and rear bumper they really stand out above the rest for a 1st gen Tundra.
New Front and Rear Bumpers
The bumpers arrive in a bare metal state and require powder coating before you can install them. While this adds another step and some logistics I actually found this to be an advantage. I was able to further customize the bumper and tweak a few things before they were carried off to be powder coated.
Front Bumper Installation
Front bumper installation is fairly straightforward. Once the old bumper is removed there are four factory bolts sticking out which you can slide the new bumper onto. We wanted to test fit the bumper before getting it powder coated. Drilled a few holes for mounting lights and made sure the winch fit. The winch's control box actually didn't fit well so we made up a bracket to relocate the control box. There was also a large gap between the front grill and the inside edge of the bumper so we enclosed that with some grated metal sheeting.
Rear Bumper Installation
The high clearance rear bumper is a bit trickier to get installed. The rear bumper actually comes up into the body of the truck to give you a much better departure angle. This requires cutting into the rear fenders/bed of the truck. We masked off with painters tape and went at it with an angle grinder. Once the material was cut away we test fit the bumper to make sure it would fit. Then off to get powder coated.
With an added custom front bumper comes many places to mount things like lights, a winch, recovery points, antennas, air hose coupling, you name it.
An off road bumper gives you so many mounting options
Like mentioned earlier a winch is one of the main reasons you might get an off road bumper. With a ready to go place to mount it and the added strength of a steel bumper it makes it much easier to mount. Be sure to check out the article I put together on our winch to get a more in depth look. In addition to the winch the bumpers have 5/8 steel plate recovery points that fit a 3/4 shackle. These allow you to quickly and easily connect shackles so you can interface safely with your recovery gear. I've opted to go with Mega Duty D Ring Shackles from GearAmerica pictured below. These are relatively inexpensive, have a working load limit of 17,000lbs and have held up to the elements well for being so inexpensive and made of steel.
The next priority item to mount would be lighting. This front bumper comes with optional two or four mounting holes to mount standard pod style lights. I decided to fill the included holes with the Rigid Industries D-Series Pro DOT/SAE Fog Light with selective yellow lenses. I'm really impressed with the amount of light 4 of these put out together. They have a very good cut off so you do not blind other drivers (which can't be said about other fog lights on the market).
The fog lights showing the way in snowy conditions
The selective yellow filter has also been such an upgrade to stock lighting. Selective yellow was specifically developed for dust, fog, and other low-visibility conditions. The way the human eye process the yellow light in longer wavelengths as opposed to shorter wavelengths like blue and violet reduces glare, enhances definition, and improves contrast, allowing you to see farther than traditional white or amber lighting.
A fun commute
While working the winter in Telluride I would get off work after a night shift and drive back to our apartment in the middle of the night. As you can imagine in my commute at 10,000ft in the middle of the night I would constantly be driving though a foot of snow or more while also trying to see the road with those fat Colorado flakes coming down. It's amazing how well the yellow light really gives you a high contrast view in the snow making it so much easier to see the edge of the road in even the most heavy snow fall.
At first I thought the selective yellow might just be marketing but after some real bad weather and dark nights I can say I'm very impressed. If you're looking for a fog light in this form factor I'd take a good look at the Rigid D-Series SAE Selective Fog Light.
Fyrlyt LUXSIS 5000
In addition to the fog lights I have installed some inexpensive spot/driving lights from Fyrlyt. These lights are manufactured in Australia and provide long range light in front of the vehicle for a low cost compared to more popular lights on the market. The lights utilize older halogen technology that have much larger power consumption however have a much more nature color that's easy on the eyes compared to a lot of cheap LED lights.
They have two modes; spot and flood. However I find even the flood setting to be quite a narrow beam and would have appreciated a wider beam of light. I think if I had three total lights it would be better. An alternative light the Baja Designs LP9 Pro is one I considered purchasing but at more than 3x the cost it was hard to justify such a light.
These light gave me quite a bit more confidence driving at night in Alaska while looking out for the random moose trying to cross the road. While not the very best light they provide great value with enough light for most off road adventures or even driving remote roads looking to keep clear of wild life.
On Bumper Air
Another handy thing the bumper provides is a mounting point for the on board air. In the above photos you can see both the front and rear bumpers have quick connects for easy access when airing up tires or helping others out. The front bumper has the ARB coupler while the rear bumper has an almost hidden standard quick connect right below the tailgate. Both go back to the ARB On-Board Twin Compressor and fills tires fast without an additional air tank.
The rear bumper comes with a 2" receiver for towing but the license plate has to be removed to use it. I found this great license plate holder made by Rugged Ridge. It allows the license plate to be lifted up easily to access behind the license plate. As you can see from the photos it doesn't interfere with the hitch and also allows access to the trailer wiring and my AC charging port (article on vehicle charging system here).
Rear Bumper Swing Arms
Last but not least the rear bumper swing arms. The rear bumper packs quite a bit of utility in a nice tight package. On the passenger side you have the spare tire along with the mounted spare tire bag. On the driver side the bumper came with a jerry can holder which I've since modified to do a bit more. I've added a 15lb aluminum marine propane tank and bracket from Power Tank. The propane is for powering the stove and BBQ. In between the two you have the diesel tank for the heater.
More about the diesel heater here. Below is an updated photo showing the new bracket my brother welded together for me so it's no longer strapped to the top of the jerry cans but now permanently mounted.
New Heater Bracket