What Are The Best Types of Off-Road Lighting?

August 12, 2022

Off-Road Truck and SUV Lighting Guide

The ability to get to your destination safely while traveling off road at night mainly depends on one thing: whether or not you can see. Sometimes - well, actually a lot of times - we joke about the guys who have triple stacked light bars facing in every direction possible, but there are many situations where being able to see where you're going is even better than having the traction to get there.

Not being able to see the trail obstacles ahead of you at night could potentially lead into some pretty dangerous situations, so the inevitable question is: "Where do we even start with off-road lighting?" There are many different available lighting sources on the market today that vary in sizes, shapes, mounting positions, power output, lumens, the types of bulbs used, and even the lenses themselves can make a drastic difference in light output quality and shine distance. So, today we wanted to give you a quick rundown of all the different types of off-road lighting we offer so you can make the right decision for your rig.


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2021 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon with KMC KM235 wheels

What To Look For When Choosing Off-Road Lighting Kits

While many drivers add aftermarket lighting kits to explore while off-roading at night or to improve visibility in bad weather, they can also illuminate an outdoor party or campsite too. Plus, the off-road lights can help with the aesthetics of your four-wheel drive vehicle as well, really giving it that look of meaning business while out on the trails.

Picking out the right set of lights for your rig really depends on three things - your budget, the lights' functionality, and their looks. So, we'll start by going through each off-road bulb type and see where they most excel.

Everything You Need To Know About The Different Off-Road Lighting Types

Halogen Lights

Halogen off-road lights are ideal for those that don't go off-roading often or are on a budget, because replacements are affordable and often pretty easy to find. Halogen bulbs aren't going to throw as much light as an LED or HID, so they're not gonna be the best light for optimized visibility - also, they're the least efficient with energy and do not have as crisp of a light beam. That said, they shouldn't be used as flood lights where the goal is to have a very focused lighting system, but in a pinch, a halogen setup can do most jobs pretty well.

LED Lights

LED lights are typically the most popular that you'll find - they use a tenth the amount of energy that halogens use, and they're compact, more durable, and longer-lasting than any other bulb. In addition, off-road LED lights are stylish and they can be made in different colors and shapes. It's important to follow the specific amperage and resistor guidelines when installing your own LED lights, though, because systems can often burn out prematurely due to improper installation. LED lights are great for light bars and for the frequent off-roader who needs to see long distances clearly at all times.

HID (High-Intensity Discharge) Lights

HID - or High-Intensity Discharge - lights have the best illuminating capabilities of any other light source. In fact, they generally shine about twice as far as LED lights. So, if brightness is your main concern, these are a great option to have, albeit the costs are generally much higher than some other, less bright options. HID lights are especially useful for those who travel at high speeds at night.


Read More: What Are The Best Do-It-All Off-Road Tires?


2021 RAM 2500 with KMC KM544 wheels

Everything You Need To Know About The Different Types of Light Patterns

So then, knowing our different lighting types, next is to figure out which type of light pattern is gonna work best for us. There are four different pattern types, which we'll touch on in greater detail below: Spot, Driving, Fog, and Flood.

Spot Lights

Spotlights produce a more focused beam of light that can travel a far distance ahead of the vehicle. These types of lights are extremely bright, but illuminate a smaller area, as the light beam is not as spread out as other types of lighting. These lights are typically used for commercial, agricultural, and racing applications, and shouldn't be used on the highway.

Driving Lights

Driving lights are designed to supplement your high beams by illuminating an area further and wider than your headlights are capable of. These lights are great for off-road trail riding, as well as night driving on the roads for greater visibility.

Fog Lights

Fog lights are mounted below the headlights to project a beam that lights up the pathway ahead without catching fog, rain, dust, or other particles in the air that make it difficult to see, especially in adverse weather. Another great way to help see in those crappy visibility conditions is by using amber colored fog lights or lens covers to cut back at the glare of light particles, especially in snow and fog. These are to be used with your primary headlights for optimal illumination.

Flood Lights

Flood lights illuminate a large, wide area within a short distance. They're typically used as work lights or backup lights to help see the broader area nearby, and can also be used in tandem with normal headlights for better visibility in rough areas that you need to see all of.


Read More: Are Light Bars Legal?


Where To Mount Off-Road Lights On Your Rig

The ideal mounting position of your new off-road lights will depend on what type of light you're adding to your Jeep or truck. Light bars are generally mounted on your roof, bumper, or grille because they are designed to shine light far out in front of your vehicle while also flooding light outward on the edges.

Flood and fog lights, on the other hand, are almost always installed low on the front bumper to help you see the area immediately in front of you. Spotlights are often mounted on top of your vehicle as they shine a lot further ahead - they are, however, not very useful when driving at high speeds.

Shop Aftermarket Off-Road Lighting Kits and Accessories at TrailBuilt Off-Road

Now that we've covered all the different types of off-road lights you can install on your rig, it's time to get a set for yourself. The best news for you here is that our lighting store is full of the best lights in the business from the top manufacturers in America, so check them out today and let us know if you have any questions before you buy. We're happy to get you taken care of with the set of lights that'll help you see further, stay safer, and look better than any other rig out there. Shop online today!

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