Off-roading at night can be a great time as long as you have right lights on your off-road truck. Like steel bumpers and suspensions, there are a few different kinds of aftermarket off-road lights you can put on your truck, each with a different purpose and beam pattern.
Before you buy, learn about light beam patterns and how they affect what you see. Then choose and use your lights correctly for a fun, safe night ride.
On-Road Lighting - OEM Headlamps
Every vehicle sold today has some form of headlamp to light the road in front of it. Some trucks that are used as off-roaders have only standard headlamps, while others have standard headlamps and additional driving lights. Some driving lights have a pencil beam option as well.
While they perform basically the same function, these three options do generate slightly different beam patterns:
- Standard Headlights – This is a cone-shaped beam that illuminates straight ahead while also fanning out to the sides to light up the entire road. Standard headlights have a low beam and a high beam. The high beam shines a brighter light that illuminates further but at an angle that could be blinding to oncoming drivers.
- Driving Lights - These lights have a thinner, more precise cone-shaped beam designed to light further ahead without spreading to the sides. Driving lights are used in conjunction with standard headlamps on the trucks that have them.
- Pencil Beams - This is a narrow beam option on some driving lights designed to illuminate straight ahead at an even further distance than the driving beam.
Fog Beam - OEM and Aftermarket Fog Lamps
Fog lamps are positioned low on the front of an off-roader, below the headlights. They provide more light directly in front of the vehicle as this area receives minimal light from the headlights or driving lights. Some vehicles come with OEM fog lamps and others don’t. They can be easily added to off-road trucks and some people even prefer to replace the OEM fog lamps with larger ones for better close-up lighting.
Spot Beam - Aftermarket Spot Lamps
Spot beams are long-range forward beams designed to light up the area in front of the vehicle similarly to standard headlights and driving lights. Spot lamps are designed mainly for off-road use since they are mounted over the top of the windshield or some other location high on the truck or Jeep.
Spot lamps shine a concentrated beam at long distances and can be adjusted and pointed as needed to gauge the trail and spot embankments, objects in the field or on the trail, and more. Some spot lamps can also be adjusted to a thinner, more concentrated pencil beam like some driving lights to spot even longer distances.
Flood Beam - Aftermarket Flood Lamps
Floodlights are another type of off-road only lights that act like a combination of fog lamps and spot lamps. They are also positioned high on the vehicle and put out a wide beam of light around the front of the truck, but for a greater distance than fog lamps. Floodlights are typically mounted on the roof and are available as lamps or light bars, with the latter illuminating a larger, wider area. Like spot lamps, flood lamps should never be used on-road.
Although your truck or Jeep may be well-equipped with bright factory headlights and fog lamps, the OEM lighting may not be enough if you frequently go off-road at night. Aftermarket spot and flood lamps are a great option when you need more light over a larger area or the ability to focus in on one specific area.
Just like the right tires, suspension system, and steel bumpers help your off-roader have more fun on the trails, the right lights can help you enjoy the excitement of nighttime off-roading and stay safe while doing it!