After using the Smittybilt XRC Atlas Bumper and Tire Carrier for several years, I’ve learned the strengths and weaknesses of this popular off-road and overlanding bumper. In this review, I’ll get into what I like about the Atlas Bumper and what I don’t like – and why I decided recently to remove it from my Jeep Wrangler.
XRC Atlas Bumper Overview
In case you are looking for a quick take on the bumper, my conclusion after using the bumper for overlanding and off-roading is that it’s a sturdy, highly functional bumper, offering the ability to carry a spare tire, two jerry cans, and a Hi-Lift jack and other tools. This all comes with a cost, which is the bumper’s weight (241 pounds).
If you are looking to check a lot of boxes for carrying gear on your bumper, and aren’t too worried about the weight (you have stiff suspension, for instance) this might be a great bumper for you. If you are looking to keep the weight of your rig as light as possible, you can find lighter options for bumpers and racks for carrying gear (though perhaps at a higher price).
If you are mostly focused on overlanding and need to carry lots of extra fuel and water, the Atlas offers a convenient way to store these cans, with its integrated jerry can brackets. On the other hand, if you are mostly focused on technical off-roading, the bumper’s weight and size aren’t ideal. My Wrangler’s suspension, for instance, compressed 1.5 to 2 inches under the weight of the bumper, compared to a full bumper “delete” where the Jeep has no bumper.
The XRC Atlas Bumper has several features that are worth noting:
The swing gate on the Atlas bumper includes an adjustable spare tire mount that allows you to carry a large spare tire on the rear of your vehicle. The carrier can hold up to 37” tires.
The bumper has a Class 3 rated hitch receiver for 2-inch x 2-inch hitches, which allows you to attach a variety of hitch accessories and gives you a gross tow weight of 6,000 pounds–which exceeds the towing capacity of a Jeep Wrangler by several thousand pounds.
One of my favorite features of the Atlas bumper was two brackets for carrying Jerry cans – whether filled with fuel or water – inside the swing arm. This is a really handy way to carry fuel and water.
Hi-Lift Jack Mount
On the top of the swing arm is a built-in mount for holding a Hi-Lift jack. The mount uses two bolts to hold the jack in place.
The Atlas bumper has two D-ring attachment points for use in vehicle recovery and towing. These come in handy when trying to rescue a stuck vehicle – or get rescued yourself. The bumper also has openings on either side that allow you to use a Hi-Lift jack or other jack to lift the rear end.
Overview of the Atlas Bumper
The Atlas Bumper is made of powder-coated cold-rolled steel and mounts directly onto a Jeep Wrangler’s existing mounting points using heavy-duty Grade 8 hardware. The lower bumper mounts first, then you add the swing-out gate, which holds the spare tire, jerry cans, and Hi-lift Jack.
The gate doesn’t attach to the Wrangler’s back tailgate door, so swings open independently. It’s not a big deal, but it can be a bit inconvenient to have to open and close both the bumper swing arm and the rear Jeep door every time you want to get into the back of the Jeep. To be fair, this is a common problem with aftermarket bumpers that’s not exclusive to the Atlas bumper.
Installing the lower part of the bumper isn’t too tricky, but you will need to figure out a way to lift the bumper into place. I used a combination of a floor jack and jack stands to position it. I recommend having two people for the job, as lifting and positioning the bumper is difficult on your own.
The swingarm is a bit trickier to install, as it requires lining up the pivot mechanism and a mechanism that allows you to adjust the arm up and down so that it opens and closes smoothly. Overall, it took me about four hours to remove the stock bumper and install the Atlas bumper (which is about what I’d expect of any bumper with a swing arm).
I was initially skeptical about whether the adjustment mechanism on the bumper would keep the swinging gate positioned correctly, given the weight of the gate. But I never had any issues.
I used the XRC Atlas Bumper for more than 3 years and found it to be a sturdy product that provided a lot of functionality. After installing a new suspension lift on my Jeep that included fairly soft springs, I found the weight of the bumper was causing my rear coil-over springs and shocks to compress. If I had installed a stiffer, more overlanding-oriented suspension lift, this probably wouldn’t have been as much of an issue.
If you are looking mostly overland with some light off-roading, this is a great bumper for the price. For people who have softer suspensions or want to tackle some challenging trails, the weight and bulk might not be ideal.