Hi-Lift X-Treme Jack - The Greatest Off-Road Tool Ever?

Jan. 31, 2013 By Jaime Hernandez

The multi-tool knife can be found in the hands of many off-roaders around the world.  Versatility, function and utility make it a great addition to any off-road tool kit. The same can be said about the iconic Hi-Lift Jack. Just head to your local 4x4 trail and you’re sure to find a Hi-Lift strapped to a truck, Jeep or 4WD.

The rugged Hi-Lift Jack helps off-roaders survive in the most demanding situations with the ability to lift, push, pull, winch and even clamp. With a series of attachments available, the function of the Hi-Lift Jack can be multiplied exponentially—making this one of the best off-road tools to own. We don’t go on any off-road adventures without it.

Last year we rebuilt our 1980s vintage Hi-Lift Jack with genuine Hi-Lift Fix-It-Kit service parts (see related story Hi-Lift Jack Service & Rebuild). Hi-Lift read our story and appreciated that our 20-plus-year-old jack was still in use and on the trail. It’s a little rusty and shows its age, but still works like a champ. Truth be told, it’s been very handy on more than one occasion.

To help bring us into the 21st Century, Hi-Lift sent us their latest X-Treme off-road jack.  This model has many improvements over our old 1980s model, and even some special features that are different than their standard Cast/Steel line of Hi-Lift Jacks.

Established in 1895, the Bloomfield Mfg. Co. began manufacturing mechanical jacks in 1905 and is one of the oldest companies in the state of Indiana. Founded by the late Philip John Harrah, the company is still owned and operated by the Harrah family. The original jack built by Bloomingfield Mfg Co. was commonly known as the “Handyman” or “Sheepherder's Jack.” It was years later that they renamed it the “Hi-Lift Jack.”

The evolution of the Hi-Lift Jack spans over 100 years, and its history shows it is a great example of American ingenuity (Photo compliments of Hi-Lift).

The current Hi-Lift Jack models are the most advanced, offering a rated capacity of 4,660 lbs. (2114 kg) and a tested capacity of 7,000 lbs. (3175 kg). The Hi-Lift jack comes in either an all-cast or cast/steel construction. The All-Cast Jack is made with all cast parts, while the cast/steel jack has cast parts, along with 4 stamped steel parts.  Both jacks have the same features and weight capacities of ANSI/ASME 4660 lbs. (7000 lbs.), but the all-cast jack will last longer when used frequently. Both jack models are very durable, as our 20-plus-year-old cast/steel Hi-Lift is a testament to that.

Not sure which Hi-Lift is right for you? Maybe this video can help.

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In recent years, there have been a number of imitation I-beam-style off-road jacks surfacing. At first glance they look very similar to a Hi-Lift Jack, but take a closer look—they are very different.  Here are some features that set the Hi-Lift Jack apart:
• Hi-Lift says that only its Jacks are made with a two-piece handle and socket design that is built for extended life.
• Steel handle is made of 14-gauge high-yield structural tubing with minimum yield of 55,000 PSI. 1 5/16" diameter x 30" long.
• Steel bar is manufactured of specially rolled extra-high-carbon steel with 80,000-pound minimum tensile & carbon .69 to .82.
• Steel bar can be reversed for extra long life.
• Climbing pins are made of specially processed steel with 125,000 PSI tensile strength and 100,000 PSI yield.
• Safety bolt is designed to shear at 7,000 lbs. (3175 kg)
• For speedy disengaging, lifting unit automatically drops away when load is removed.
• 4 1/2" (11cm) long lifting nose for positive contact with load.
• Low pickup of 4 1/2" (11cm).
• 28-square-inch base plate with optional off-road base available.
• Every Jack comes complete with an adjustable top clamp/clevis for use in clamping and winching.
• Fully serviceable
• Made in USA

The X-Treme is the latest model from Hi-Lift. It was specifically designed for the serious Hi-Lift user, offering the "top of the line" all-cast version (48" or 60" sizes) with special features that include, charcoal-metallic powder-coat finish, gold zinc-coated hardware and handle, and a special top winch-clamp-spreader attachment.

Gold Zinc-Coat Hardware on the Hi-Lift X-Treme ensures the greatest rust resistance from extreme use for all the hardware, the unique winch-clamp-spreader attachment, and the handle (Photo compliments of Hi-Lift).

The unique winch-clamp-spreader attachment replaces the standard Hi-Lift clamp-clevis. This special attachment offers one position for all winching, clamping and spreading. It is also rated at full 5,000 lbs. capacity of the jack. The standard clevis-clamp is only rated for 750 lbs. clamping or 5,000 lbs. winching.

Some additional features to this unique winch-clamp-spreader attachment is the ability to secure recovery chain with its 3/8-inch chain slot. It is also possible to secure a 7/8 shackle. The special attachment can be placed anywhere along the steel bar (Photo compliments of Hi-Lift).

The special edition Hi-Lift winch-clamp-spreader attachment is only available with the X-Treme model and is not sold separately.  
The Hi-Lift Xtreme with special edition attachment can also be used as “Jaws of Life” should the event ever arise (Photo compliments of Hi-Lift).

Our old Hi-Lift Jack was a 48-inch cast/steel model from the ‘80s. We opted for the new 60-inch Hi-Lift X-Treme Jack to be able and lift our 80 Series Land Cruiser and most lifted 4x4s, pre-runners or Jeeps we encounter that may need help. The extra foot length of travel on the steel bar is real nice. It gives us the flexibility to do more.

Our new 60 inch Hi-Lift Xtreme Jack fits perfectly on our Baja Rack. We just had to adjust the mounting brackets slightly from the old settings.

Overall the look and feel of the Hi-Lift X-Treme is much more solid. We really like the darker color and hope the powder coat finish will help it stay this way longer. We’ve had our Hi-Lift Ex-Treme riding on top of our roof exposed to the elements. It’s been exposed to freezing temperatures, heat, dirt, rain and snow with no issues or signs of rust so far.

With a full-range of specially designed accessories, the Hi-Lift jack is just about the most versatile piece of off-road recovery equipment you can buy. Shown here with the optional off-road base that provide a larger foot-print for lifting stability.

Some significant changes we noticed in the latest generation of Hi-Lift Jacks is that they have a much longer lifting nose, measuring 4 1/2" (11cm). It’s about .5" longer than our old one. This extra half-inch helps make sure there is good surface contact when lifting, pulling or clamping. They also gained 660 lbs. of lifting rated capacity over earlier models, a big improvement.

In addition to everything the Hi-Lift jack does on its own, we really like the fact that their are a number of accessories available from Hi-Lift and the off-road aftermarket to further expand the functionality of this great tool. Every Hi-Lift Jack comes with a one-year warranty. They also sell parts for repair and maintenance, something knock-offs can’t match. Most common Hi-Lift Jack accessories and service parts can be found at a good off-road shop or online at http://www.hi-lift.com/hi-lift-jacks/parts-services.html.

Rick Strawn worked wonders with the Hi-Lift Jack on the Rubicon this past summer. There were a few times when the Jeep lost traction or got stuck. Rick simply got his Hi-Lift Jack out, attached the Lift-Mate, lifted his wheel high-enough to stack some rocks underneath, and off we went. Traction accomplished.

One thing hasn’t changed much: the challenge finding a good place to safely carry this tool. On average the cast/steel models weigh around 30 lbs. The all-cast X-Treme weighs 31.8 lbs. for the 48-inch model and 33.6 lbs. for the 60-inch model. You can’t just throw it in the back of the truck or Jeep; it needs to be safely secured. Fortunately many of the leading off-road bumper and rack manufacturers have found creative ways to incorporate mounting points for the jack. Hi-Lift also has some modular solutions to secure your jack to a solid surface.

Overall we are really impressed with the latest Hi-Lift family of Jacks and the X-Treme model. The Hi-Lift is very much a part of what we do, no matter if you wheel in the snow, rocks, dirt or mud. It should be part of your off-road survival kit, mounted on your rig.

The Hi-Lift Jack is in our humble opinion, one of the best off-road tools on the trail. The first time you use it will make you wonder why you didn’t get it sooner.

So if you’re still messing around with the factory bottle jack that won’t lift your lifted truck, or maybe you don’t own a winch or any recovery gear, its time you get yourself a Hi-Lift. Even if you own an older model like we did, the new design improvements Hi-Lift has made to increase the rated load capacity and functionality are a good reason to add a second to your first.

See you on the trail.

Hi-Lift Jack Company
(800) 233-2051

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