EEXP: Buckstop Classic Winch Bumper

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The Buckstop Classic Winch Bumper is ready for adventure!

When building an adventuremobile for solo vehicle off-road travel you must make sure it has solid recovery points, a solid reliable winch mount and engine protection from impacts with wildlife, other vehicles and off-road obstacles. The best option on the market for the EEXP build was the Buckstop Classic Winch Bumper. It is designed for superior protection, to handle a large winch and to flow with the body lines on the Dodge Ram. Install is an easy bolt on operation, which doesn’t require any drilling or welding.

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Cruising near Moab in the EEXP. (Photo: Matt Scott)

An important thing to consider for RTW travel is the traffic habits, wildlife and off-road obstacles you might encounter on your travels. Traffic in many countries around the world can be quite chaotic and stressful, especially in densely populated cities. When maneuvering a relatively large vehicle through the mayhem you want to be confident that if you hit a vehicle, or if someone hits you, at least in the front of the vehicle, that it will not be a trip ending collision, for either the vehicle or its passengers. You’ll also encounter a variety of wildlife on your overland travels, many of which can cause quite a bit a damage to a vehicle when impacted. On top of the traffic and wildlife you are also sure to encounter trees, boulders and other obstacles that you might come in contact with when traveling off-road. For all of these reasons it is extremely important to have a solid front bumper that is properly mounted to the frame rails of your vehicle, and can hold up to these demanding situations, in order to preserve both the vehicle and its occupants.

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Sarah unwrapping the Buckstop Bumper.

Self recovery is important when solo vehicle off-road traveling, as well as having trail clearing abilities. For a relatively large overland adventuremobile like the EEXP you need to carry a large winch, in order to handle its mass appropriately. The Warn 16.5ti is arguably the most reliable and heavy duty electric winch on the market, for non-commercial purposes, and the Buckstop Classic Winch Bumper was built and designed with this massive winch in mind. A winching system is only as strong as its weakest link, and you want to be sure that the weak point isn’t the mount to the vehicle. The Buckstop Classic Winch Bumper also provides a fully enclosed winch location, which helps to keep sun, dirt and debris away from the winch itself, while the top access hatch offers great access to the winch when it needs to be used.

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Sarah was able to use the directions and a few pointers from experienced bumper installers to get everything sorted and installed properly.

I decided to forgo the included OEM tow hooks that install under the bumper, on the frame rails, and instead have Buckstop include two tabs on the bumper itself that are solid recovery points. This makes for closed system winching, as they are holes for shackles vs hooks, which is a safer way to tow and recover a vehicle. It also allows for a better entry angle, as you don’t have hooks hanging below the bumper. This bumper also includes a standard built-in 2″ hitch receiver, which also makes for a quality recovery point and/or place to install hitch mounted accessories like a gear basket, motorcycle carrier or a bicycle rack.

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It’s a good idea to lay out all the bumper parts before starting the install.

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You must install the winch before installing the bumper on the vehicle.

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A forklift makes short work of the install, but a few good jacks and/or good friends can get it done as well.

The Buckstop Classic Winch Bumper comes standard with two 6″ recessed light buckets, and has the option of two additional 6″ or 4″ buckets. I installed the PIAA LP560 6″ LED Driving Lights and the PIAA LP530 4″ LED Fog Lights on the EEXP, which has been a solid combo. For a little more throw, mostly for driving at night on forestry roads and the like at higher speeds, I also installed two PIAA 10″ RF Series LED Light Bars on top of the bumper. The install is quite clean, and the lights are fairly well protected from impacts.

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Such a clean install!

The brush/grill guard on the Buckstop Classic Winch Bumper offers great protection for the radiator and headlights, goes well with the lines of the truck and offers a great location to mount a Hi-Lift. I used Hi-Lift’s adjustable tube mounts to mount the Hi-Lift X-treme along the top rail of the grill guard. Overall this is a good mounting location, but the ends of the Hi-Lift can catch you in the ribs if you come around the front of the vehicle too quickly without paying attention.

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A dirty EEXP after nearly 1,000 miles of Dalton Hwy travel.

With all the Buckstop Classic Winch Bumper’s quality functional features it also really looks good on the 2001 Dodge Ram, which the EEXP is based on. The wraparound design and grill guard shape follow the body lines of the truck nicely and provide a clean and tough look. You can order the bumper in a huge variety of colors to best suit you application, and Buckstop even offers an exclusive two tone option for true customization.

I’ve been impressed with how well the Buckstop Classic Winch Bumper has held up over the past year of overland travel. It has been used a number of times for recoveries, but I’m thankful that I haven’t had to test its collision capabilities. In the end, the bumper is confidence inspiring and finishes off the aggressive looks of the EEXP build.

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A little off-road adventure outside Grand Junction, CO.

(Disclaimer: Buckstop Truckware provided the Classic Winch Bumper for the EEXP build.)

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