What Are The Best Off Road Lights? (Guide) – 2020 Reviews
Is anything better than bounding and rolling through outdoor terrain in your four-wheel vehicle? While off-road driving is tons of fun, it also requires specialized equipment – like lighting.
Off-road lighting increases your options for when and where your truck or SUV can travel. Plus, lighting increases occupant safety behind the wheel.
You have a few different choices when choosing lights for four-wheeling. Here’s a closer look at your top options plus a complete guide explaining which lights are best:
Quick Picks: Our Top 3 Favorite Off Road Lights
- Best Choice – Auzkin LED Light Bar
- Best Cheap Option – Nilight Off Road LED Lights
- Best Value for the Money – Hella Driving Lamp Kit
- Honorable Mention 1 – LED Off Road Pod Lights
- Honorable Mention 2 – LED Light Bar by Nao
- Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Off Road Lighting
- Vehicle Specifics
- Type of Bulb
- Amp Draw
- Beam Pattern
- Ease of Installation
- Warranty / Manufacturer
- Off Road Lighting FAQ
- What are the Benefits of Off Road Lighting?
- What are the Different Bulb Types?
- What are the Different Beam Patterns?
- Spot Beam
- Driving Lights
- Fog Lights
- Flood Lights
- Where Do I Mount Off Road Lighting?
- Front Bumper
- Windshield Pillars
- How are Off Road Lights Different than Lights Used in the City?
- In Conclusion
Best Choice – Auzkin LED Light Bar
Your best all-around option is this 7″ LED light bar which uses a combination of spot and flood lights.
- Combines benefits of spot and flood bulbs
- Die-cast aluminum housing protects lights from damage
- Provides bright, white light in all weather
- Mounting hardware could be stronger
Bright and versatile, Auzkin’s LED light system is a spot/flood combo. It has a middle 170-degree flood light surrounded by two rows of smaller spotlights.
Over 6000k of bright, white light illuminates both far in front of the vehicle and panoramically. It cuts through fog, rain and more.
The die-cast aluminum housing and shatterproof lenses stay safe on the roof of your vehicle in practically any situation. Plus, it’s the best waterproof option. Auzkin tests the bar by submerging it completely for five days in a row.
Best Cheap Option – Nilight Off Road LED Lights
An affordable, reliable set of LED lights with an adjustable mounting bracket and concentrated spot beam pattern.
- Powerful LED light bars
- Includes universal fit mounting brackets
- Waterproof and durable
- Waterproof abilities can be questionable
- Corrosion resistance is weak
This two-piece set of LED light bars and mounting brackets can be mounted on either the front bumper or the roof. The bracket can be adjusted 45 degrees for easy and precise direction changes.
The lights are both dustproof and waterproof. They have a waterproof rating of IP67, which lets them withstand up to three feet of water for 30 minutes.
Additionally, aluminum alloy cooling fins help dissipate heat. The estimated lifespan of the bulbs is 30,000 hours.
However, while the casing is generally waterproof, it still isn’t the best choice for consistently wet weather.
Best Value for the Money – Hella Driving Lamp Kit
Bright and durable, Hella’s driving lamp kit increases visibility by boosting your vehicle’s existing
- Durable, weather-resistant housing
- Includes complete setup kit with instructions
- Effective in severe weather
- Not as durable as earlier 500 FF series
Bonded glass lenses and high-impact black ABS plastic housings provide plenty of durability for the price. Aluminum vapor-coating adds an extra layer of scratch resistance.
The kit includes two 500FF halogen driving lamps, two stone shields, two bulbs, and all wiring harness and setup materials including detailed instructions. The beam pattern works with your existing headlights to cut through snow, fog, dark and more.
However, if you’re looking for a replacement for an older series 500 FF from Hella, you might be disappointed. The models from recent years are often considered weaker than the original design.
Honorable Mention 1 – LED Off Road Pod Lights
Industrial-strength but easy to mount, these LED pod lights are a great choice for trucks, SUVs and other off-road vehicles.
- Bright LED spotlights
- Durable aluminum housing
- Waterproof and dustproof
- Might not withstand heavy water exposure
- Mounting screws can be loose
With an output of 5100 lumens, these seven-inch, round LED spotlights add focused illumination at far distances.
Aluminum housing helps protect the bulbs from damage. Plus, an IP68 waterproof and dustproof rating keeps the lights on even in wet weather.
Honorable Mention 2 – LED Light Bar by Nao
This LED light bar uses both spotlights and floodlights to illuminate wide areas at far distances easily.
- Lightbar with both spotlight and floodlights
- Produces bright, white light
- Long lifespan
- Mounting components can be fragile
- Customer support can be difficult to reach
Nao’s two-piece light bar combines benefits from both spot and floodlights. Over 6000k of bright, white light is produced by the middle flood light and the dual-row spotlights.
The all-new housing is made from aluminum and polycarbonate. An integral heat sink maximizes bulb efficiency and lifespan. They’ll last over 50,000 hours. Plus, the lights are rust-resistant, dustproof, and safe for use in severe weather.
Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Off Road Lighting
The lights need to fit the shape and size of your specific vehicle. You’ll want the lights to span the width of the roof. They should illuminate a wide field of vision in front of your vehicle.
Type of Bulb
Three different types of bulbs are available:
- Halogen – An affordable option, although they’re not the brightest
- LED – An energy-efficient option available in multiple colors
- HID – A compact, durable bulb which produces the brightest light
We dive into the pros and cons below. However, note that you can mix and match different types of bulbs on one vehicle to combine their benefits and minimize their drawbacks.
The amp draw is the amount of energy required to power the lights. Unless you plan to use them for an extended period when the vehicle’s engine is off, you can choose lights with a fairly substantial amp draw. A large amp draw creates powerful and consistent illumination.
Headlight brightness is measured in lumens. Halogen bulbs average between 700 and 1,000 lumens. However, LED and HID lights can be significantly brighter. They typically range from 2,800 to 3,200.
Bulbs are available which go well beyond 3,200 lumens. You can find lights with 5,000, 6,000, or even 10,000 lumens and more. Generally, a rating of 6,000 lumens is when the brightness level starts to become a significant safety hazard.
You have a few different options:
Each has a different width, brightness, and use. Driving lamps cover the widest range, while fog and flood are better for focusing light in rough weather. We’ll cover the details below.
You never know where the off-road will take you. The lighting on your vehicle needs to withstand scrapes, bumps, and obstacles. Lighting systems should be made of tough materials like metal and heavy-duty plastic.
Even the bulb should be durable. Halogen bulbs are made of glass, making them fragile (although secure housing can help protect them). LED and HID lights are both more durable than halogen.
Ease of Installation
Lights can be installed on:
- The bumper
- The roof
- On windshield pillars
Installation difficulty depends on where you’re installing the lights and the specific construction of the kit. Mounting lights on the bumper is similar to installing standard headlights. However, installing roof lights typically requires mounting a roof rack.
Warranty / Manufacturer
You’ll find a huge variety of lights. For the most part, it’s hard to determine the quality. Always consider the brand behind the light. Are they known for reliability and customer satisfaction? Do they have a long history of developing automotive parts?
Also, do the lights include a warranty? You’ll want at least one year for any potential manufacturing defects.
Off Road Lighting FAQ
What are the Benefits of Off Road Lighting?
The biggest benefit is increased visibility. While bright lights are useful for driving at night in any vehicle, they have increased importance when four-wheeling. After all, driving off-road means driving in areas without pavement or streetlights.
Additionally, lack of light can be an issue even when off-roading during the day. Forests and mountains frequently contain areas which are shady or downright dark.
Bright lighting improves safety, too. The clearer you can see the terrain, the easier it is to navigate. Also, lighting helps you identify potential causes if your vehicle is ever stuck.
What are the Different Bulb Types?
Three different options are available:
Halogen bulbs are the most affordable option. They use a heated tungsten filament. It’s the same type of light found in most home lighting. Most halogen bulbs last about 1,000 hours.
However, halogen bulbs produce the least amount of light compared to the other types. They’re not ideal for focused spotlights. Also, halogen lights struggle to illuminate in rainy and foggy conditions.
Halogen lights are a reliable, inexpensive option for infrequent off-roaders. But they’re probably not the best choice for serious four-wheeling enthusiasts.
Also called Xenon lights, High-Intensity Discharge bulbs produce a much brighter light than Halogens. They only require a small amount of power to operate, making them the most energy-efficient option.
HID lights are available in a wide range of colors. The most common is a bright white-blue light, although they’re also available in blue, purple, and more.
However, they also cost more than Halogen bulbs upfront – sometimes significantly more. Also, the bright light can distract other drivers, especially when mounted high on the roof of your vehicle.
Xenon lights are often the best option if you want either a colored light or a bright white one. Check out the best HID Headlight Conversion kits here.
Light Emitting Diodes are the newest type of headlight. They produce up to 200 times the light brightness of halogen bulbs but only use about a tenth of the power.
They’re also the most durable option. Their solid housing protects the bulbs from damage. Additionally, they’re easy to install into light bars.
While Halogen and HID bulbs diffuse light, LED bulbs emit directional light. It’s a specific type of beam pattern which cuts through fog, rain and pitch-black darkness.
LED lights are usually the best overall value. They’re strong enough to withstand tough off-roading conditions. Plus, they provide a sharp, bright beam pattern, which is ideal for driving on uneven terrain.
What are the Different Beam Patterns?
The type of light impacts its brightness and field of vision. Five different types of bulb patterns are available:
- Spot beam
Spotlights create a bright focused beam pattern. They only illuminate a small area. Typically, they’re used for commercial, agricultural and law enforcement purposes.
Although a single spotlight mounted on the side of your vehicle can help you target small areas, spotlights shouldn’t be used as the main light source for your four-wheeler. They don’t provide enough illumination for safe night driving.
Driving lights are usually the best option for off road adventures. They augment your existing headlights by increasing the width and brightness of the illuminated areas. Driving lights are the best and most common type of off road lighting.
Harsh, heavy rain and fog require fog lights. They’re mounted underneath the headlights. Special construction allows these lights to penetrate thick, humid air. They’re used alongside other headlights.
Want to learn more? Check out our Fog Light Round-Up here.
These lights shine a large, bright light across a relatively short distance. They’re frequently found on construction sites and similar commercial purposes.
But they’re also useful on trucks and SUVs, especially if you like to drive off the beaten path. They work great at lighting up campsites.
Many off-road lighting systems combine features. For example, you can often find light racks which include driving lights, fog lights, and a spotlight.
Where Do I Mount Off Road Lighting?
Off-road lights are typically mounted in one of three places:
- Front Bumper
- Windshield Pillars
Lighting can augment or replace the factory-issued lights in your front bumper. Adding more lights to the front bumper is a great way to increase the overall brightness.
On the downside, lights in the front bumper aren’t always the best option when driving on uneven surfaces, which is obviously a common occurrence when four-wheeling. Hills, logs, and other obstacles can block the brightness when your vehicle isn’t on level ground.
Spotlights, flood beams, and other lights can be installed on a roof rack. Roof lighting can’t be obstructed by objects like bumper-mounted bulbs can be. However, roof-mounted lighting does increase the vehicle’s height. While that might not be a problem in the outdoors, it can cause problems when driving around town (or when using the drive-thru at any local fast-food place).
Windshield pillars fit in the nook between your side mirror and front windshield. You can control their direction from the driver’s seat. Smaller spotlights are the most common type used here.
Each kit will include specific mounting instructions. Usually, mounting lights to a bumper or on the roof is a fairly simple process. Many bumpers include pre-scored holes for adding extra headlights while mounting a bar to the roof usually involves installing a few brackets.
You’ll also need to connect the lights to your vehicle’s electrical system. Many light systems include separate, wired controls.
How are Off Road Lights Different than Lights Used in the City?
Off-road lights can be significantly brighter and more powerful than headlights made for use in urban areas. After all, rural areas have no street lights, buildings, or other cars.
However, most off-road lights will be too bright and dangerous for use in the city. Plus, the long-range lights will bounce off buildings, making them ineffective.
Don’t let bad weather or lack of light keep you from exploring the outdoors in your truck or SUV. From spots to floods and more, a variety of off-road lighting options are available. The right lights increase off-roading safety and fun!