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Roll Cages: When Does Your Off-Road Vehicle Need Them?

Roll Cages: When Does Your Off-Road Vehicle Need Them?

You may plan to keep your off-road vehicle upright, but things don’t always go according to plan on the trail. If you regularly push your vehicle’s limits, you could find yourself head over heels. Having an off-road roll cage can be a lifesaver when things go south during your adventures. So when does your off-road truck or Jeep need a roll cage? Let’s find out!

What Is an Off-Road Roll Cage for Trucks and Jeeps?

An off-road roll cage is a frame structure around the cab of a vehicle that protects a vehicle’s occupants, primarily during rollover accidents. These cages provide enhanced safety and can help you or any of your passengers from getting severely hurt or even killed during an accident. You can find truck roll cages and Jeep roll cages to fit just about any off-roading vehicle.

Almost all custom-built off-road vehicles and side-by-side ATVs have a roll cage that can support the weight of the vehicle upside down. Factory cars and trucks do have structures that are intended to protect occupants in most road rollover accidents but will usually total the vehicle. On the trail, rollover risk increases dramatically and a total loss due to rollover would really ruin your trip.

What Are the Benefits of an Off-Road Roll Cage?

An off-road roll cage’s largest benefit is its added protection. One wrong move while off-roading can cause you and your vehicle to roll over or down a hill. Without a roll cage, there’s a serious likelihood that the roof of your vehicle will smash in. That could result in a serious injury or fatality. Even if you don’t plan on pushing the limits while off-roading, having a roll cage is worth it.

Off-road roll cages help create a stronger and more rigid vehicle. Adding an off-road roll cage can help you to perform maneuvers and absorb impacts from forces during an accident. A roll cage can distinguish between walking away or being carried away from an accident. 

Roll cages also can help protect the vehicle. Like mentioned before most factory vehicles will be totaled in a rollover even if they protect you. Replacing parts of a cage is much less expensive. Cages can also be used to strap gear and other equipment.

When Does Your Truck or Jeep Need a Roll Cage?

Some people own off-road trucks and Jeeps because they look cool. They spend more time on concrete and pavement than they do tossing up rocks and scaling inclines. If you’re not the type to take your vehicle off-roading, it’s likely not worth investing in an off-road roll cage. In fact, a roll cage can actually make on-road performance worse because it can increase the center of gravity of the vehicle.

off-road vehicle with roll cage
Roll cages help prevent injuries in the event of a rollover accident while off-roading.

However, if you plan to spend time hitting gnarly trails and conquering boulders, an off-road roll cage is a good upgrade. Off-roading often involves driving on uneven surfaces, sometimes with little to no traction. You can find yourself in a scary or challenging situation with little notice. You’ll need to rely on your driving skills and the capabilities of your vehicle to get you out of the situation. The assurance of an off-road roll cage can help keep you calm during those situations.

It really depends on how far you push it, however. With roll gauges in the vehicle and a general understanding of the limits of a vehicle you can usually back down before you go too far. Its just essential to know when to back down before you roll if you dont have protection.

Pro Tip: Off-road tires can also provide tremendous benefits when you’re off-roading. Find out What’s So Special About Off-Road Tires?

Can You Daily Drive With a Roll Cage on Your Truck or Jeep?

Yes, there is nothing illegal about driving a truck or Jeep with a roll cage. However, you need to ensure that the roll cage doesn’t create any vision issues for the driver. A quality roll cage will provide the passengers in your truck or Jeep with maximum safety but allow the vehicle to be fully and legally drivable on all roads.

As we mentioned above, however, roll cages can add significant weight and increase your center of gravity and wind resistance. These are attributes that make on road handling worse.

What Is the Difference Between a Roll Bar and Roll Cage?

A roll bar is a singular bar that runs behind the driver and passenger seats. It provides a limited amount of protection when a vehicle experiences a rollover. It’ll do the job of keeping you alive in many circumstances, but the vehicle will usually sustain serious damage. If you’re planning on rock crawling or increasing the likelihood of a roll you’ll want to consider an upgrade to a roll cage.

It offers much more protection for a vehicle. It can handle the full weight of a vehicle should it roll over or become upside down somehow. Instead of being a single bar behind the front seats, it has several additional braces and supports to help make it stronger.

truck with roll bar
This truck has a roll bar above the rear window rather than a roll cage.

Pro Tip: Installing off-road rock sliders can protect your vehicle’s undercarriage from damage while off-roading.

What Is the Best Material for a Truck Roll Cage?

If you’re shopping for a truck roll cage or a Jeep roll cage, you should only consider cages made from CDS (Cold Drawn Steel) or T45 steel. CDS is the best option if you’re on a budget, as it’s typically a much more cost-effective material. However, if you want the strongest possible material, you want to go with T45 steel. It’s nearly double the strength of CDS but will cost you a few more pennies.

Another advantage of T45 steel is its extra strength allows you to use thinner walled steel. This means you can create a solid off-road roll cage that is a fraction of the weight of other materials. If you’re worried about the weight of your truck or Jeep, you’ll want to select a roll cage that uses T45 steel.

How Much Does It Cost to Put a Roll Cage on a Truck or Jeep?

Roll cages will cost anywhere from $500 to $2500. However, it’s important to remember that you’re typically buying a kit you must install onto your vehicle. You’ll need to be able to do all of the assembly, including welding, on your own.

If you don’t have the tools or knowledge to do this, you’ll need to pay someone to do it. If you need to pay someone, you can expect to pay $2500 to $4000 for the entire process. It depends on how much custom work or modifications you have the installer do for your unique vehicle.

Jeep with roll cage
Installing a roll cage yourself will cost between $500 and $2500.

Are Off-Road Roll Cages Worth It?

Staying safe while off-roading is extremely important. Some pretty serious and even fatal accidents could have been a much different experience had the driver been using a roll cage. Yes, it will cost you some money, and it can be a hefty price tag, but when it comes to safety, you simply can’t put a price on it. An off-road roll cage may not protect your vehicle from dents and scratches, but it can keep you and your passengers safe for many future adventures.

Does your off-road vehicle have a roll cage? Drop a comment below.

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for Hwy.co and an Arizona travel guide.

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