Best Off-Road Jacks: Save Your Bacon on the Trails

Using one of these trail-ready solutions could end up being the high point of your day.

byPeter Nelson| UPDATED Nov 10, 2021 12:23 PM

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Best Off-Road Jacks: Save Your Bacon on the Trails

Best Off-Road Jack Reviews & Recommendations

This steel bottle-type jack works best on vehicles where clearance is lacking. This variety of in-vehicle application is quite handy, especially for folks who own some land and want to safely lift their car, truck, ATV, UTV, or farming implement. The jack is heat-treated in high-stress areas for durability, meets ANSI/PALD standards and is simple to use, with easy-to-follow instructions and little if any maintenance. 


It's a far cry from the scissor-style jack that's commonly found in cars and trucks from the factory. There's a reason those are often referred to as widowmakers. The extension screws can be adjusted and can accommodate many different work heights, including for off-road use. It also features a built-in bypass system to prevent the ram (the part that pushes up out of the bottle) from over-extending. The base, however, is small, and although the extension does raise the working height, it still might not be perfect for your application.

Specs:

  • 7  5/8 inches tall
  • 4-ton capacity
  • Weighs 8.0 pounds
Pros:
  • Easy to use compact size with low maintenance
  • Extension screws adjust to accommodate desired work height
  • Won't over-extend
Cons:
  • Base is small
  • Loses pressure if you leave the car on the jack overnight
  • May not go as high as you need

This Torin is a handy option, featuring a smooth, glide-action pump to minimize strenuous activity. The adjustable screw top increases overall versatility as well, saving you time and effort getting vehicles of different ride heights safely in the air. This model features forged alloy construction as well as reinforced stress points for improved durability. Its rugged base enhances stability and strength, meets ASME safety standards, and has a lifting range of 7 1/2 to 14 5/16 inches with a 4-ton capacity. 


Its welded structure ensures that its hydraulic fluid won't leak out under pressure or over time, and the saddle — the surface that touches the vehicle to raise it up — is a sturdy serrated design for maximum grip and safety. Finally, all of this stows nicely inside a black plastic case, making carrying and loading into the trunk, back seat, or truck bed simple. Anyone who has done any degree of off-roading or camping and wants to be amply prepared knows space for tools and gear is precious.

Specs:

  • Measures 11 x 7.4 x 4.3 inches 
  • 4-ton capacity
  • Weighs 7.3 pounds
Pros:
  • Carrying case and compact size makes it an easy stowaway solution
  • Easy to set up
  • Comes with a long two-piece hand crank
  • Constructed with alloyed steel
Cons:
  • Base isn't very big
  • Extension isn't long enough for highly lifted vehicles
  • Despite its fully welded casing, it can leak hydraulic fluid

Smittybilt's Universal Trail Jack is a reasonably priced option for off-roaders who are looking for something simple with no frills. It’s tall and thin, so it doesn’t take up all that much space wherever you decide to mount it, and it has a solid-cast-steel design that stands up to the elements. This jack will lift 4,660 pounds and is 54 inches tall, which makes it perfect for mounting to the side, roof rack, or hood of your go-everywhere vehicle.


While it's a reasonably capable option, many other jacks on the market lift more. Also, while the powdercoated and zinc-plated hardware help reduce corrosion, rough and tumble use can still lead to corrosion. It's still a great overall unit for the price and includes a sturdy base, which makes the buying process much easier. Why buy separately when it's included here?

Specs:

  • 54-inch height
  • 4660-pound lifting capacity
  • 56 x 6 x 8 inches
  • 6.82 pounds

Pros:

  • Powder-coated protection
  • Zinc-plated hardware
  • Compact design

Cons:

  • Can still corrode
  • Can be difficult to use
  • Weight capacity is lacking

How We Selected Off-Road Jacks

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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We came to this selection of off-road-ready jacks by comparing and contrasting more than 20 units, all with a good range of features, sizes, and options. We kept to just two types of jacks with bottle and trail since we personally don't find scissor jacks to be an ideal solution, and conventional floor jacks won't cut it. We've also done a good amount of off-roading ourselves, and while we haven't needed to make any lengthy or complex repairs on the side of a trail, we have certainly familiarized ourselves with both bottle-type and trail-type jacks.

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Buying Guide/What to Look for 

When searching for the right off-road jack for you, there are a few things to take into consideration, such as the jack's size, load capacity, operation, type, maintenance, and weight. If you need something compact that you want to be thrown in the back of a smaller off-road rig, a bottle jack is hard to beat. Though, if your rig is lifted up pretty high, the bottle jack might not cut it.

The key is to find something in your price range that will fit your vehicle's size, that you're comfortable handling, and that won't get in the way. A cast-iron, manual trail-type jack is great, but they can be a bear to wield around and take up a lot of space.

What to Consider When Buying an Off-Road Jack

Types of Jacks

Trail

Trail jacks, also known as farm jacks, handyman jacks, and manual jacks, are the most versatile and work on various types of road surfaces. These jacks are fairly basic and are typically designed to work in conjunction with a wide, flat base, with all applicable wheels chocked. One of the advantages of these jacks is they're easy to use leverage in a mix of terrain, including gravel, sand, rocks, mud, and snow.

Floor

If you want a very strong hold, then a floor jack will do the trick. However, this type of jack works best on flat surfaces. While some brands have wheels and can technically be used in sand, snow, and mud, they can be difficult to move around. They are not the best choice for off-roading.

Bottle

Bottle jacks are also known as hydraulic jacks. Those with wide and grippy bases are best for off-roading. Still, bottle jacks are most efficient if they're used on flat surfaces. They also aren't always able to reach certain points because of their compact design.

Scissor

Scissor jacks are very simple to use but are often not ideal for off-road use since they need a flat and stable surface. While simple to use, they're also annoying to use. It can take a long time to jack one up to the proper height on any vehicle, let alone a lifted off-roader. These are commonly found as automakers' emergency jacks, they're OK in a pinch and when the surface is flat, but generally any other type will be more versatile.

Key Features

Safety

Safety is top priority when you're shopping for the best off-road jack. The more you can do to minimize risk, the better. Make sure that what you're buying is designed to meet the needs of your particular situation. Look for safe jacks that come with protective features, such as shear bolts, built-in weight limits, locking-pin systems, and safety bars. Also consider buying as wide of a base as you can find, as well as wheel chocks.

Vehicle Compatibility

Not all off-road jacks work with all vehicles. Do your research and make sure the jack you purchase is designed to work with your particular rig. Check the lifting capacity and whether it can easily fit under your car, truck, or SUV. Also, make sure it'll easily be stored inside or outside the vehicle.

Construction

The best off-road jacks are heavy-duty, sturdy, and durable. They should be constructed of high-grade steel or cast iron, so they can withstand the stress of off-road use. Most of the above highlighted high-quality jacks are powdercoated, which protects them from rust and corrosion and extends their lifespan. 

Versatility

Some jacks are more versatile than others. While many brands are geared towards road use and are perfect in the garage, some can also operate in the mud, sand, or gravel. An on-/off-road jack is convenient because you can use it in a variety of situations.

Tips and Tricks

Along the way, you pick up a few tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product and using it. That’s the case with us and off-road jacks. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.

  • Use the jack according to its designed purpose. Trail jacks are designed primarily to get your vehicle out of a tight spot — they can be used as manual winches to some degree — or be jacked up in a tight spot. 
  • For all jacks, never crawl underneath the vehicle unless it's been secured with jack stands.
  • Try lifting your car with the off-road jack before you hit the trail to confirm that it works well. It’s important to find out about any working issues before you actually need to use the jack.
  • Use the jack according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some parts may get damaged if not used correctly, compromising the safety of the device.

FAQs

Q: What type of off-road jack will support my vehicle?

Most jacks can support a car that weighs between 1.5 and 4.0 tons. Look up the weight of your car and compare that to the weight that the jack will hold. Buying something that will support your car quite easily, such as a 4.0-ton capacity jack lifting up a 2.0-ton vehicle, is never a bad idea.

Q: How much does an off-road jack weigh?

Jacks have different weights and sizes. For off-road use, make sure the jack is not too heavy for your physical ability, and that it will fit in tight spaces if you need to use it.

Q: Will off-road jacks fit in my trunk? 

Off-road jacks usually do not fit in the space where your car’s original jack fits. You’ll need to do a bit of measuring before purchasing, although you can always store them in a storage box, attach them to a roof rack, or keep it in your truck's bed.

Q: Does my off-road jack require any maintenance?

Be aware that many common jacks, especially of the hydraulic variety, have maintenance requirements. It's best to consult your model's manufacturer for the best guidance here.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes, the simple and low-tech approach is best, and that's why we chose the Hi-Lift Jack as our best overall pick. It's easy to use and provides plenty of lift clearance. If you want the top of the line, though, the best of the best, we recommend the Torin Big Red.

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