Recently TAP decided to do some further upgrades to our 2014 JKU. Our Rubicon does double duty as an overlander and rock crawler, so the build has to work for both, without too much of a compromise in either direction. Not always an easy task, but we think we’ve accomplished what we set out to achieve.


TAP_Rubi Build_1
Cargo space is the main issue in the JKU, so we started to look for ways to maximize our ability to load Rubi up. We chose a couple of upgrades here.
Goose Gear: First step was to install a Goose-Gear plate system that includes lockable cubby space on the bottom and both sides of the trunk. We opted to do a half build as we still consistently use our back seats for family day use. We also installed a Tembo Tusk Fridge slide for the times when the Jeep is used on solo trips.

JKU upgrades
Owner Brian Fulton and Mitch installing the Goose Gear JK build out.

GCP-1: This system fully utilizes the wasted cargo space in the roof area of trunk. The storage unit bolts up into the roof and swings down when the side lockable handles are disengaged. Many people use this system as a lockable gun cabinet. For us it’s the perfect place to keep all our recovery straps, shackles etc. One thing we learnt over the years is that when a recovery happens, emotions and adrenalin run high. The ability to access our gear quickly and efficiently helps tremendously.

You can order them from Rebel Offroad.

JKU upgrades
The GCP-1 fits snug along the roof.
JKU upgrades
Excellent place for all my recovery gear. Velcro on the back with holds (many use this system for guns) keeps everything in place.
JKU upgrades
It’s a solid, lockable unit.

Snorkel upgrade: We switched out our AEV Snorkel Kit that included an Air Ram inlet for AEV’s Pre-Filter Assembly that’s designed for for dry, desert terrain where dust is likely. This suits our SoCal wanderings.

JKU upgrades

Roof Rack Rail: We had the AEV rack installed for over 12 months, but decided to add the side rails to help with up top loads safety and capacity. The only negative so far has been added freeway noise at speed.
See the kit here.

TAP_AEV roof rack rail
The roof rack rails help secure our ARB awning and Max Trax.

Rock Crawler:

Our JKU is primarily used by our Editor. She’s an adrenaline junkie, so the ability for Rubi to handle the rocks efficiently and safely was paramount. We took the approach that when we purely overland, the Taco is the workhorse and cargo carrier. This allows Rubi to compromise her build, with features focused on difficult terrain capability.

Beefing up and upgrading stock parts: Rubi has 50k mile on her over 3 years, so parts are beginning to wear or have actually broken. Rather than replace them with stock, we decided to do some beefed up upgrades. All work has been carried out by Rebel Off Road  who we highly recommend if you live in SoCal. They are based in Laguna Hills and are right off the I-5.

We have upgraded our:

Steering stabilizer (after sheering the bolt attaching it on the Monache Trail, Sierra)

JKU upgrades
Teraflex JK Steering stabilizer

Ball Joints: they were just about blown out

JKU upgrades
Teraflex JK ball joints

-Tie rod and Drag link

JKU upgrades
Teraflex JK tie rod and Teraflex JK drag link

We chose Teraflex equipment for their quality reputation. The front end of the JKU now feels solid and reliable again. Death wobble is not our thing.

Tires: These were upgraded to 35” Falken Wildpeak MT’s. We went with 35’s rather that 37’s, as we didn’t want the potential of having to upgrade too much other componentry. **In full disclosure, these tires were provided to us gratis from Falken, but I think it is important to mention that we only accept product that is recommended by peers or is widely known to work well on the trail. Using a poor product and getting stuck is not an option.  So far, they are working out great, both on and off-road.

The Adventure Portal_Falken Tires
AEV 4.5 inch lift and 35″ Falken Wildpeaks MTs

Wheels: We’ve been running stock Rubicon Unlimited wheels for 3 years and decided to upgrade to AEV Savegres and added the AEV yellow logo center cap. Have to admit these won’t make us better overlanders or rock crawlers, but they do make Rubi look awesome at the mall… 😉

TAP_Rubi Build
AEV Savegre wheels with AEV Logo center cap.

Re-Gearing: With the heavier Mud Terrains and all the extra weight we’d added, we were definitely beginning to suffer with our stock gearing. As we don’t have plans to move up to 37’s and on the advice of AEV and Rebel Off-Road (who did the install), we went with 4.56. So far, so good and it seems to be the right choice.

The adventure portal rebel off road regear
Rubi at Rebel Off Road getting a re-gear

Skid Plates: We bit the bullet and went for full coverage. In order to keep the weight to a minimum, we opted for aluminum plates from Rock Hard 4×4. We’d seen a set that had just successfully completed the Rubicon Trail and despite numerous scrapes, had held up well. We’ll update our thoughts after they’ve taken some real abuse this year coming.

Rock Hard 4×4 skids being installed at Rebel Off Road


Do you have some upgrades you would like to share with us? Go to TAP Forums and let us know what you’ve done and how it’s working out.

TAP into Adventure!

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New York born to SoCal via Puerto Rico and San Francisco, partner in crime and co-founder of The Adventure Portal, Lori has over 15 years experience in partaking of adventures in the American southwest, primitive camping, hiking and exploring in her Rubi. She welcomes new challenges and is always pushing the envelope of adventure in her Jeep.


  1. Love these articles….I am a newbie to modding my Jeep (2014 JKU Rubi-X) but love wrenching on my cars (restored a ’72 Nova which while it was a massive challenge, I loved every minute of it)…Last year I did a ton of upgrades to my Rubi all by myself (not a lot of options in Northern Illinios) but one of the things I did was go up to 35″ BFG KO2’s…how is the regearing on gas and what not? We did a 3500 mile road trip last summer and I love overlanding and exploring to find new fishing and hunting spots but don’t wanna totally compromise my highway driving ability either. Do the 4.56’s seem to offer a good blend of on and off road capability? I am seriously considering upgrading my gearing but I’m on the fence as to what to go with…love to hear your feedback…thanks all.

    • Hi Jeff, glad you like the articles. Regarding gearing, we were hoping to avoid having to re-gear when we changed up to 35’s, however after a few trips up in the altitude of the Sierra and general freeway use, we bit the bullet. We went with advice from both AEV and Rebel Off-Road and both agreed that 4.56’s would suit our needs. They also said to go to 4.88 if we ever believed we’d go bigger to 37’s. We didn’t think we would, so stayed at 4.56. Since re-gearing the over-reving has decreased substantially and in general it feels the right gear ratio both on and off road. Hope this helps.

  2. Awesome…we drive frequently up into the Smokys of Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina so while it’s definitely no Sierras, it’s still some good climbs up to 6-7k feet…I highly doubt I’d ever go up to 37’s either, the 35’s seem like the perfect fit for my needs and even though I did the Pro-Cal re-programming after my AEV lift and other mods, I’d welcome some of the pep and minimizing of the over revving that it sounds like it definitely helped you guys out with. Thanks for the reply and look forward to future articles and endeavors…stay safe!

  3. I got interested in overlanding after a friend asked me to travel the Burr trail in Utah. I went on my first Keep Jamboree that same time, so balancing overlanding and trail capability eventually came to mind. So far I’ve added skid plates (only need gas tank skid to be completely covered), winch, bumpers, boatside sliders, roof rack, engine tuner, and trail lights.

  4. I have 2 one AEV JKUR350 the other is a built Overland/Crawler JK. Both have front shock relocation, AEV on the bottom and the built JK, I did top and bottom. May switch it out with Metalcloak GC 6 packs this summer and relocate the rear.

  5. Very nice article and build. One thing that I’d mention with respect to keeping your recovery gear in the GCP 1 is that it doesn’t appear like it’s accessible except from the rear. This can be a problem if, for example, you’ve slid backwards into a tree, rock or something else that prevents you from opening the rear tail gate and window. In that case you may not have access to your gear when you really need it to, say, winch yourself free. Another problematic situation is if you are stuck on a steep uphill and don’t want to place yourself in back of the Jeep and open everything up when the vehicle is unstable and could roll back on you. I’ve always tried to make sure that my recovery gear is fully accessible from within the Jeep so that I can quickly and easily get at it in any situation. Though the chances that keeping your gear in the GCP 1 will actually cause a problem are small, it’s at least worth considering.

    • Very good point and thanks for bringing it up. We pretty well always travel with two rigs and have recovery gear in both, but certainly it’s a point worth remembering when the Rubi is out on her own. Thanks Gordon. TAP Team

      • You’re welcome. We have a 2007 2 door Rubi with 35’s, 4.88 gears, 3.5″ lift, full skids (the steel versions of what you installed), winch, air, bumpers, rock rails, upgraded drive shafts, Hilift, Pull Pal, roof rack, comm and nav, etc. We do a lot of travel by ourselves and try to be over prepared for trouble wherever we can. It was real life experience that made me rethink where I stored our recovery gear, so I thought I’d pass it along in case it’s helpful to someone else.

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