For owners of the things, buying a Jeep TJ bumper ranks pretty high on the list of priorities. Any advantage one can get in terms of clearance or attack angles is a good one – especially when there are ample choices from which to select in today’s market. Whether you’re after a particular look or functional simplicity, there’s an excellent chance the aftermarket can provide a front or rear bumper for your TJ that fits your requirements.
And, before you ask, the hack job your Uncle Leroy welded together from scrap metal and Cheez Doodles doesn’t count. Nor does the piece of wooden 2×4 you bolted to the frame rails in a fit of frustration after that unfortunate business with a sharp rock outcropping. The options presented on this list are built in actual factories with real tools, neither of which are generally found when the decision is made to put lumber on the front of your Jeep.
With hundreds, if not thousands, of off-roading hours under the belts of our staff, we came together to select some of the best Jeep TJ bumper options based on our experience in the wild. Here are the top choices we picked just for you.
Feat image courtesy Pavel Vaschenkov / Shutterstock
Table of contents
- 1. Editor's Choice: ARB Deluxe Winch Front Bumper
- 2. Best Front Bumper w/ Stinger: Smittybilt SRC Front Stinger Bumper
- 3. Best Rear Bumper Option: Nilight Rock Crawler Rear Bumper
- 4. Best Bumper / Winch Package: Smittybilt XRC Rock Crawler Front Bumper and Winch Package
- 5. KML Front Bumper with D-Rings and Winch Plate
1. Editor's Choice: ARB Deluxe Winch Front Bumper
If you’re investing in a new Jeep TJ front bumper, it’s tough to go wrong with any product from ARB. The brand has been around forever, building off-road accessories for rigs like the TJ. Bumpers rank high on their list since they tend to provide noticeable upgrades both visually and functionally. After all, spending the better part of $700 on parts no one is going to see can be a bit deflating to those of us with Type A personalities. This bumper is crafted with cold-rolled sheet steel, 0.250 heavy-grade wall tubing, and is compatible with the airbags that appeared when the TJ was introduced. It has a gloss black finish and space for a winch.
2. Best Front Bumper w/ Stinger: Smittybilt SRC Front Stinger Bumper
On par with – or ahead of, in some circles – the ARB brand is Smittybilt, at least in terms of recognition for stout off-road gear. This is a front bumper unit that fits TJ models (and YJs, it must be said) and is built to provide maximum approach angles. It can be used with various winch plates on TJs, since the base plate is 3/16-inch cold rolled steel, while integrated D-ring mounts pepper the edge. Corners and sides are reinforced for strength when you misjudge that obstacle, and its deflective angles are said to protect the Jeep’s hood in a rollover should you get the approach to that tough rock face completely wrong. This bumper will place 60 pounds on the front of your Jeep.
3. Best Rear Bumper Option: Nilight Rock Crawler Rear Bumper
After taking care of the front, smart owners then save up for a Jeep TJ rear bumper. After all, what’s the point of getting your front two wheels over an obstacle if you’re only going to get hung up on the exit? This textured black unit features some high-strength D-ring mounts and a couple of LED lights built right into the thing. As a bonus, it includes a 2-inch standard receiver hitch for those times you use a utility trailer to haul home even more junk. According to the seller, this bumper is of a convenient bolt-on design, installing quickly and easily using common tools and without requiring any modification to your vehicle. Its steel measures the same thickness as the other top-tier bumpers on this list
4. Best Bumper / Winch Package: Smittybilt XRC Rock Crawler Front Bumper and Winch Package
After perusing the options presented, you may have come to the conclusion that many customers choose to plunk a stout winch on their snazzy new bumper. Aftermarket companies have caught on to this as well, deciding to sell both as a package should a TJ owner decide to pop for both at once. This bumper and winch combo is from Smittybilt, finished in a 2-stage textured black powder coat on top of its cold-rolled steel of standard thickness. Note the D-rings are not included. What is included will be of interest to most off-roaders, showing up in the form of a Smittybilt-branded winch that has a 6-foot cable and 4-way fairlead. Its 3-stage planetary system is rated for IP64 water resistance, meaning you can briefly dunk this thing without too much worry.
5. KML Front Bumper with D-Rings and Winch Plate
For ease of installation, this Jeep TJ front bumper is engineered to be a bolt-on replacement for a stock Wrangler bumper. Reusing the factory mounting points, a bumper like this would make a good ‘first mod’ for noobs – assuming your battered TJ still retains its factory mounts, and they haven’t been hammered into oblivion by twenty years of wheeling. Also, take good care when removing factory bolts of that age. This bumper’s sheet steel is ever so slightly thinner than that of the other units on this list, though the built-in winch plate is said to be good for up to a 12,000lb winch. This difference in steel makes for a lighter weight, tipping the scales at 50 pounds instead of 60 or more.
How do you install a Jeep TJ bumper?
Carefully, and with friends. Most of the options on this list are heavy brutes, weighing the better part of 50 or 60 pounds. Even if you spend your days at Muscle Beach and are able to handle that amount of weight without issue, bumpers tend to be an awkward shape to wrangle into place on one’s own. Read the instructions, take your time, and install should be a breeze.
Do bumpers make installing a winch easier?
In 99 and bunch more 9s per cent of the time, yes. While the factory TJ bumper is wide and flat back to the Jeep’s grille, giving the illusion it is a perfect place to plunk a winch, its overall construction is not conducive to that purpose. These all-steel bumpers make the installation of a winch much easier since most of them are designed with this purpose in mind. The last thing you want when trying to extricate yourself (or your moron buddies) is for the winch itself to let go and make a bid for freedom.
Become an Off-Road insider. Get the latest news first by subscribing to our newsletter here.
We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.