View Full Version : Hi-Lift vs The Stock Bottle Jack

01-01-2009, 11:21 AM
I know that the Hi-Lift is widely accepted as one of the essential off-roading tools but I'm trying to find a way to leave mine at home. I have a thread started on a couple of other forums but on those threads I was asking for actual first hand experience using a Hi-Lift. What are your thoughts and theories about when a Hi-Lift is necessary and not replaceable by a combination of the stock bottle jack, winch and another vehicle? There's the gap between the bottle jack and the bottom of the frame, A arm, or Axle that would be a good idea to fill with an extension or base plate but other than that I'm not coming up with much where I can't get the job done without the Hi-Lift. I would definitely carry it if I were to go wheeling alone but it'd be a blue moon when I would do that. Your thoughts?

01-01-2009, 11:30 AM
the Hi Lift is a last resort, IMO. I think they're sketchy, especially when the one being used is always stored outside on a bumper, never maintained, the owner only sorta knows how to use it, etc. :rant:

However they can also be darn useful, and I do carry one for that reason. But I'd only pull it out if we'd exhausted all other options. IMO the typical flat tire can almost always be changed faster and safer with a bottle jack, and that will remain my first choice if needed. So leave yours at home, but know on that blue moon you may be relying on someone else's that may not be in top shape, and you're going to wish you brought yours. Take it with you everywhere, and you'll probably never need it- I put it in the same category it the umbrella in the golf bag, as long as that's in there it won't rain.

01-01-2009, 11:45 AM
personally I prefer the hi-lift over the bottle. Call me a weirdo :D I've considered removing my bottle jack for more storage space. I like the fact the hi-lift can be used from more locations on the truck. Bumpers sliders, etc.. You can lift two wheels at once if needed. Hard to do all that with a bottle. Easier not to have to crawl under the truck to place the jack.

01-01-2009, 11:52 AM
Just to make sure the conversation is balanced, I'll put in my .02. I am a big user of my Hilift.:D

IMO a bottle jack can be just as dangerous if used on a sloping or uneven surface. In fact the last time I saw someone try to used the bottle jack on trail it would not raise the axle high enough and we ended up going with the Hilift. Also, the small contact point on the bottle jack leaves something to be desired unless I'm sitting dead level in the garage. (the last time I used mine was in between the axle and frame to swap springs :hill: )
I prefer the options a Hilift gives "on trail". Like any tool, knowledge and respect for the dangers go along way in preventing accidents.

Maintenance is key and I make sure my HiLift is cleaned and lubed monthly now that it sits on the front bumper (at bit less when it was more protected).

I own most of the accessories and over the years I have used all of them to lift, winch, bend, push or pull myself and/or others when nothing else would have worked.

You wondered about a situation where a winch or 2nd rig might not be enough, here is the story behind why I own one:
In the mid/late 80's I wheeled a mildly modded Bronco II. One winter day I went with a group of friends up to the Central City area. While crossing a frozen bog I dropped into some wheel ruts deep enough to end up on the frame. No sweat, one of the guys had a Ford F-250 with an Ox Superwinch. We hooked up and start to pull all we did was drag that big F-250 right across the ground. After securing the F-250 it turned out the I was so stuck that the high load on the alternator would stall the truck. Finally we used a HiLift on the bumper to raise the Bronco and stack logs under the tires so it would roll out. No way would I have gotten out otherwise. I bought my first HiLift the next day.

Last year while wheeling with a group on MSV we headed up to Coney Flats. One of the local Toyota Factory reps driving his FJ cruiser got hung in the rock garden after ignoring his spotter. He slid down into a place where dragging him forward or back would result in body damage. Again my HiLift was used to raise the rear axle high enough to stack rocks under the tires so he could move it forward without further damage.

In both cases a bottle jack was useless.

I don't use American Express but I never leave home without my HiLift :thumb:

01-01-2009, 12:02 PM
We wheel with our Hi-Lift. Both jacks have different applications. You say that you have a gap where your bottle doesn't reach? I would think that even with your 33"ers it would reach the axle and A arm. You have me thinking now. I think I'm going to build a base for my bottle jack. It'll increase the height and make it more stable on uneven ground. Another thought is... Would the plastic Hi-Lift "Off Road Base" work with your bottle jack? Maybe a combo of a 2x2 frame base and the ORB.

You need to build a mount for your Hi-Lift to go on your "Satellite Dish". I just saw a thread on Quick Fist. (http://www.endroad.com/page/page/711712.htm) They have some possibilities.

01-01-2009, 12:24 PM
IMHO both are equally dangerous. I usually go to the bottle jack first but it depends on the situation and size of your rig. I can see trying to get rid of the highlift due to the size but the bottle jack is pretty small and doesn't take up much room in the stock location. :twocents:

01-01-2009, 12:33 PM
You could get an Air Jack. (http://www.air-jack.com/default.asp) (only 425.00) Or ARBs X-Jack. (http://www.arbusa.com/Products/Tow-Straps-And-Recovery-Gear/Exhaust-Jacks/46.aspx) ($213)

Glen, You should get one and we can try it out for you!

01-01-2009, 12:36 PM
Without trying to threadjack, anybody have a recommendation on a (cheap) bottle jack that will fit in the stock location, and should have enough range for when I eventually lift mine?

01-01-2009, 03:19 PM
Something like this would do it http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=5531 and yes, the hi lift base can work with the bottle jack, just test fit everything in the driveway so you're not in a rock garden the first time you find out for sure.

And I've also used hi lifts in recovery situations, and don't get me wrong there's one inside my truck. But it's still the last resort, after strapping, winching, and the bottle jack have been ruled out.. as exampled above. :beer:

01-01-2009, 05:06 PM
I see too many people carrying a high-lift with no way of lifting the rig from the factory bumpers present on the vehicle, making it useless for that particular job. I think they are very dangerous to use. Needless to say, I carry one all the time.

01-01-2009, 05:52 PM
You need both

01-02-2009, 07:19 PM
I agree, having both is the way to go. I prefer the longer highlift(60in?) to the shorter (48"?) seems like when need the high lift you need the length. Also, I believe it is more stable using a lesser portion of the total length.

01-04-2009, 09:10 PM
that and fizziks...

go measure your bumper height on flat ground. Then add in your droop. Then subtract that figure from the workable range of your hi-lift... you'll be wanting the 60"

01-04-2009, 09:40 PM
with the Hi-Lift you won't have to crawl UNDER your truck to put it on an axle or something - that's gotta count for something. On my stock-ish 40 I've never run out of room on my 48" Hi-Lift, but a couple times I was kinda wondering...

problem is storing a 60" jack in an FJ40 - even the 48" one is hard to place sometimes. I gotta get a good rear bumper that can hold it in place - but then I'll have to keep up on the maintenance, especially before a wheeling trip.

Since most 40s don't come with a factory bottle jack I've been fine getting by with a Hi-Lift, but someday, when the priorities get sifted out a bit a bottle jack will come up and will be purchased. I think.

01-05-2009, 10:48 AM
that and fizziks...

go measure your bumper height on flat ground. Then add in your droop. Then subtract that figure from the workable range of your hi-lift... you'll be wanting the 60"
Agreed, you need both and I carry both. But... a strap for the axle obviates the need for very high lift height. Werks goot.

01-05-2009, 10:50 AM
You need both
Yup. So many different uses and not just for changing tires.

Edit: Just thought of something, without having both the Hi-Lift and the bottle jack (and a strap for the axle) this repair would have gone from significant PITA to major PITA.


03-12-2009, 04:47 PM
FWIW after lots of great input from many folks out there, and as much as I want the weight and space savings that leaving the high lift would provide, I think it's too important to leave at home. I replaced a CV recently and that would have been a real PITA without a highlift and the bottle jack. I also got my self unstuck a time ago when a winch could not have. There are certain dangers to the hi-lift just like most any tool. I won't stop using an angle grinder because of the dangers of being cut, a welder because of the dangers of being shocked, or a gun for the dangers of dying. I respect all those and with a little luck I won't end up dead from my own stupidity. If it is my time I suppose it'll be my gift to you all since there will be a rig or parts on the cheap. :D

03-12-2009, 06:21 PM
Broken Jeep on the exit of Patriot trail. That's a 4 foot ledge.
No amount of winching would get the Jeep out since it was pulling the broken right front INTO the ledge, not UP the ledge.

We used a 60 inch hi-lift to lift the right front up by the wheel's rim to get the tire up on the ledge. It was easy winching from there.

After that trip, I put my hi-lift back into my truck. I think you would have needed a 5 foot tall stock bottle jack to do the same.

Winchless solo wheeling. (yeah yeah, but it happens.) Little mud hole. planted my 4runner. Used the hi-lift and a chain (plus my strap around the tree to save the tree and for length) in "winch mode" to self-extract. It took about 5 sets to pull myself out. That would be about 50 bottle jack re-sets IF you could get the chain to stay on the jack.