It can be tricky to decide what size lift you need for your overland rig. Go too big, and it’ll be hard to drive on the road. Too small, and you won’t make it over that log out on the trails. You need to choose a lift that’s suitable for both on and off-road driving that fits your rig, preferences, and usual driving conditions.
What is the best size lift for overlanding?
Three inches is a good all-around lift that will fit most vehicles and situations. A 3-inch lift offers the best of both worlds when it comes to off-road capability and on-road drivability without requiring extensive modifications.
The right lift will depend on the tires you want to run. Obviously, oversized tires require an oversized lift. If you want to stuff 35-inch tires under your fenders, you might need a 4 or 5-inch lift. In short, a 3-inch lift may not work for every overlanding vehicle.
What Size Lift For Overlanding
One question will dictate your lift-size decision: What size tires will be on your rig? If you use standard-sized tires, you might want to keep your height standard and opt not to lift your vehicle at all. If you’re increasing your tire size, you might need to consider a lift, depending on the extent of the size increase.
Keep in mind that lifts are different for every vehicle. A three-inch lift on a Jeep Wrangler will accommodate a much larger tire than the same lift on an F-150. Do some research and see what lift you need on your specific vehicle to accommodate your preferred tires. Online forums are a great place to start!
Two inches is almost the minimum lift for a serious overland rig. A 2-inch lift will leave plenty of room to increase tire size up to around 32-inches.
Two-inch lifts are a great size for many DIYers because it doesn’t require specialized tools or an extreme suspension knowledge. All the parts—and tires—are manageable to maneuver in a home garage.
A 3-inch lift is the optimal middle ground between off-road capability and on-road drivability.
With a 3-inch lift, you’ll be able to use between 33 and 35-inch tires, depending on your model of vehicle. There are many 3 to 3.5-inch lift kits available on the market. This height will serve the needs of most overlanding enthusiasts.
Lifts 4 inches or more are mostly used for extreme overlanding applications. These bigger lifts might require modification to your vehicle’s chassis, but it comes with some additional benefits.
Four-inch lifts give you more than enough off-road clearance for the average overlander, and might start to reach beyond the “enthusiast” level. With this sized lift, you’ll be able to cram even more tire under your rig, up to 37-inches for some vehicles.
Six-inch lifts are one of the most extreme options available for overlanders. This sized lift goes well past the normal point of comfort for most overlanders, and will require the modifications to the chassis and suspension.
With a six-inch lift, you can extra large off-road tires that go well beyond 37-inches to get down every rocky trail and muddy creek you can find. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t go this big.
Lift and Level
There are numerous lift and leveling kits available for the home market. But what exactly is the difference between the lift and the level of your rig?
The “lift” refers to the overall height that’s increased when you modify the vehicle. The “level” refers to the difference between the front and rear axles of your vehicle. For instance, a 2-inch leveling kit will raise only the front or rear of your vehicle, while a lift kit will raise the entire rig.
Before Lifting, Check with a Professional
When you’re looking for a lift on your overland rig, the best thing you can do is see a professional. They’re the only ones who will be able to tell you what is and isn’t possible on your specific model vehicle before you spend the money.
Imagine, your shiny new lift just showed up at your house. You excitedly tear the packaging open, jack up your vehicle, and get to work. It’s only after you take off the tires and disassemble your suspension components that you realize the lift you ordered won’t fit on your rig! Oh the disappointment!
Avoid horror stories like this, and just go see a mechanic.
Lift kits are vehicle-specific. That means you can’t just order a generic one off Amazon and expect it to fit your car. Do some research and find the right kit that fits your rig’s make, model, and year.
The Teraflex is an incredible 3-inch lift kit for Jeeps. It comes complete with front and rear springs, plus all the gear you need to make your rig come to life. Best of all, this kit handles a decade’s-worth of models—from 1997 to 2006—which are some of the most desirable years for overland Jeep conversions.
Lift and Tire Size
The most important ratio to consider when upgrading is the ratio of lift to tire size. If you’re starting with a standard 3-inch lift, you should expect to be able to fit into no more than 33 or 34 inch tires. If you are starting with a 6 inch lift, you should be able to accommodate oversized tires like 36s or 38s.
It’s worthy of repeating, however, that your lift and your tire size are not the only factors to consider. Lifting a rig 6-inches will almost certainly require modifying your suspension as well.
Check out this guide to choosing an off-road suspension for more.
There’s no definitive way to say what the best lift height for your overland rig. It all depends on the tires you want to run and the make and model of your vehicle. In general, if you want 33-inch tires, you should expect to lift your rig about 2-3 inches. If you want 35-inch tires, you should expect to lift your rig maybe 4 inches or more.
If you ask us, 2-3 inches is the ideal lift size for the average overland rig. Even if you eventually decide to go higher, it’s not a bad place to start. That’ll give you the height to conquer just about any trail without making your rig impossible to drive on the highway.