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Published Sep. 19, 2021

Nearly every car on the market arrives stock with low and high beams, the former for driving in crowded or better-lit environments, the latter for navigating winding roads. But when you’re off-road at night, the stakes are higher, and the path is more dangerous. Enter off-road lights, which shine farther, wider, and brighter than your stock headlights, making sure you don’t careen off a cliff or into a ditch, even at higher speeds. To help you select the off-road lights for your purposes, we’ve compiled a list of our picks of standout examples. Let’s get lit.

The Best Off-Road Lights

The Hella 500FF Series Driving Lamp Kit is a top-quality selection for those serious about their headlights. The set comes with two circular lights that are resistant to shattering, scratches, and water. As for temperature-related issues, even in extreme heat and cold, the lights will continue to work. Unlike a lot of options, these lights are powered using bulbs and run on a switch system that will have to be mounted in the cabin. It comes with everything you need to set it in place, though, and it can be mounted almost anywhere.

Though the set comes with the necessary instructions, there is a bit of a learning curve, so be sure to set aside some time for the installation process.

Key Features
  • Comes in set of two round lights
  • Uses 55 watt bulbs
  • Operates on a switch system
  • Includes mounting hardware
Specs
  • Brand Hella
  • Model 005750941
  • Weight 1.9 pounds
PROS

Low profile for optimal compatibility

Sturdy design resistant to damage

Easy to maintain over time

CONS

Doesn’t use LED lights

Relatively difficult to set up

Light bulbs can create a lot of heat

The Zmoon LED Light Bars consist of two compact and lightweight square-shaped lights. The lights mount via a screw-on mount directly to your car’s bumper, and have an integrated wiring harness that also allows for adjustable traverse, elevation, and cant angles, which allows you to get their convergence point just right, regardless of what kind of vehicle or bumper you’re using.

The housing of the lights is made of cast aluminum, which provides rugged durability and built-in heat dissipation through the cooling fins on the body. This monolithic aluminum chassis also provides IP67 durability, meaning that it’s totally impervious to dust infiltration and can be submerged 1 meter underwater for at least 30 minutes so you can easily ford rivers or navigate sandy terrain with these. To top it all off, they’re not bad-looking lights at all, satisfying the appearance-conscious among you.

Key Features
  • LED bulbs work for 50,000 hours
  • Made of aluminum alloy
  • Set of two rectangular lights
  • Compact design ideal for off-road
Specs
  • Brand Zmoon
  • Model 1838
  • Weight 2.39 ounces
PROS

Ideal for UTVs and ATVs

Highly durable and long-lasting

Waterproof and scratch-resistant

CONS

Not large enough as main truck lights

Subject to impact damage

Wiring harness has excess quantity

Rigid Industries needs no introduction to the serious off-road driver with a name synonymous with quality. The abrupt price jump from our other picks to this option comes with the addition of numerous features like durability, range, brightness, and a killer warranty. If you intend to be traveling at a more rapid pace offroad, and your safety matters to you, these are the lights to get. Designed for driving at 20-50 miles per hour, these lights are 3,060 lumens apiece, and feature stainless steel mounts and an IP68 durability rating, which is the highest that they measure in the IPXX rating system.

The durability continues into its internals, featuring both under- and over-voltage protection, reverse polarity protection, and an overpressure vent to ensure structural integrity. They feature adjustable beam patterns and variable backlight colors, meaning you can choose to run them in a dimly lit standby mode in amber, red, white, or blue, as well as a street-legal full-power mode. You’ll have to purchase the wiring harness and connectors separately, but at this price point, you’ll likely have a very specific setup in mind. As a final note, the Amazon listing is incorrect, and these lights are designed and manufactured in Arizona, and carry a lifetime warranty against all defects.

Key Features
  • LED bulbs work for 50,000 hours with patented optics
  • Made of aluminum alloy
  • Set of two 4-inch circular lights
  • Unbeatable durability
Specs
  • Brand Rigid Industries
  • Model 36118
  • Weight 3.22 lbs in the package, including steel mounting brackets
PROS

Ideal for serious off-roaders

Redefines durability and survivability

Waterproof and scratch-resistant

Outstanding warranty and brand equity

CONS

Lack of included wiring harness

Prohibitive cost

Minimal traverse and elevation

Honorable Mention

For those looking to equip their truck with a massive set of off-road lights, the Nilight Flood Light Combo is a worthy candidate. The set includes five pieces, each incorporating powerful LED bulbs. Internally, each light features intelligent circuitry that limits the heat output to minimize damage to the electronics, ensuring product longevity. The lights are purpose-built for larger vehicles, with a large central light bar and four satellite lights for you to place wherever you want on the front of your vehicle, making this a kit that’s great for full-sized cars and up, rather than something that could work on an ATV.

Key Features
  • Includes five lights of different sizes
  • Large-scale design works on trucks
  • Features multiple LED light bulbs
  • Comes housed in aluminum alloy
Specification
  • Brand Nilight
  • Model ZH003
  • Weight 6 pounds
PROS

Waterproof structure adds durability

Creates a very bright environment

Meant to withstand damage

CONS

Not suitable for smaller vehicles

Fairly complex setup process

Face is fairly easy to scratch

Honorable Mention

These off-road lights are designed with LED technology to reduce heat and last longer, while offering a great lumen output to give you good visibility. The lights feature a durable housing that protects against both dirt and water infiltration up to IP69K, meaning these can even be pressure-washed without risking water damage. The housing is made of 6063 aluminum, which means that in addition to the durability and shock resistance, the housing will easily dissipate the heat that builds up from long periods of LED usage.

Key Features
  • Comes as a set of two lights
  • Incorporates a unique design
  • Uses LED lighting chips
  • Waterproof seal
Specs
  • Brand 4WDKING
  • Model WDK-D5-6
  • Weight 3.5 pounds
PROS

LED lights give off less heat than other options

Resistant to dust and vibration

Mounts relatively quickly

CONS

Not large enough to work as a standalone truck light

Case can rust if scratched

Relatively low heat threshold

Honorable Mention

If your focus is on driving in foul weather in a large-scale off-road vehicle, the Samlight LED Light Bar Set is an excellent way to go. These rectangular lights run on 72 watts of DC Power, powering two dozen LED chips. The lights feature a durable aluminum construction that provides ample water resistance, as well as impact resistance. The yellow tint makes them ideal for gross weather driving, rather than night driving, which makes them more of a supplement to white off-roading lights than as a primary option.

Key Features
  • Comes as set of two rectangular lights
  • Designed for use on large vehicles
  • LED lights run on 72 watts
  • Work for up to 50,000 hours
Specs
  • Brand Chelhead
  • Model SAM-42
  • Weight 2.37 pounds
PROS

Crafted using heavy-duty aluminum

Resistant to heat and water

Ideal for use during stormy weather

CONS

Too large for smaller vehicles

Adjustable component can rust

Yellow tint limits light brightness

This awkwardly named option is an entry-level pair of LED round lights, producing 5,100 lumens apiece. It features the by-now usual construction of die-cast aluminum, which provides it good shock resistance and an IP67 dust and water protection rating. One of the bigger selling points of this package is that it’s compatible with not only cars but smaller vehicles like ATVs and go-karts, meaning that it’s flexible with almost any vehicle you want to mount it on. The stated effective distance of this set is 300 meters, which means that you’ll be able to see for a good distance.

Key Features
  • Set of two lights
  • Each light has 5,100 lumens
  • Fits on all types of vehicles
  • Range of 300 meters for each light
Specification
  • Brand oEdRo
  • Model OROEBO-0009
  • Weight 4.31 pounds
PROS

Compatible with any vehicle

Heavy-duty construction

Creates bright and clear light

CONS

Large size limits applications

LED lights are difficult to replace

Vulnerable to impact damage

How We Selected Products

Off-road lights are essential safety gear for ensuring that you know about obstacles before they become an issue and before it’s too late to avoid them. The key features we looked for were lumens output, area coverage, water resistance, and mounting options. Lumens output is going to be your total light output at a specified distance, and is a good metric for how bright your lights are going to be. 

Area coverage is a bit more variable, as some light packages allow for adjustments. Premium options even have an adjustable beam spread so that you can really dial it in. Water-resistance is going to be measured on the IPXX scale. The first number after IP is going to determine dust resistance, with 6 being the highest, and the second number determines water resistance, with 9X being the highest, indicating that it can sustain continuous, close range, high-pressure water. This is an important characteristic to pay attention to if you plan to use your offroad lights while fording rivers or streams. 

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Best Off-Road Lights Buying Guide

Different Kinds of Off-Road Lights

Each different category of off-road lights is suited for a different purpose. Usually, it’s a matter of where on the vehicle you plan to mount the lights. The other aspect is figuring out what your off-road ride is—there’s a difference between the lighting needs of a UTV and the lights for an ATV. By understanding the nuances of each type, you can better select the ideal fit. 

Round

This type of off-road light is one of the most common selections for those driving smaller off-road vehicles and motorcycles. The low-profile design and relatively compact structure make them suitable for ATVs and snowmobiles. In most cases, these lights use LED chips and create an even glow. 

A benefit of these lights is that they are relatively small in most cases—you can mount them just about anywhere without difficulty. It is important to check this kind of light’s electrical compatibility to be sure that you can wire it directly to the vehicle. These are often available in better styles that stand out during the day as well. 

Rectangular

Coming in a range of sizes, you can get large rectangular lights for all types of vehicles. If the light is bigger, it is usually meant to mount to a roof rack. However, there are also rectangular options that come in pairs and go onto your vehicle’s front. The shape gives them the ability to shine very brightly. 

For this type of light to be a suitable option, it must be able to balance size with strength. Most are made with a lightweight material to prevent the vehicle from getting bogged down. However, it still must be able to withstand environmental damage. Opt for medium-sized rectangular lights for a balance of those two virtues. 

Double-Row

Usually, this type of light is made with LED lights, making it the most heavy-duty option. It is best suited to those using the lights for professional purposes. It adds a level of safety to things like tractors and tow trucks. If the focus is on getting the maximum amount of lumens, this is a good way to go. 

It doesn’t, however, work for smaller off-roading crafts. The large structure needed to support both rows of lights makes it a bit too big for open rides. These are better when mounted higher off of the ground (like on a roof) so that the most light can hit the area ahead.

Single-Row

Off-road lights with a single line are one of the most versatile selections. You can find these in a square or flat design. Because there is only one row of bulbs or chips, the entire case doesn’t have to take up as much space, enabling you to install the lights on any vehicle type. 

When choosing your single-row lights, investigate the kind of bulbs used. Single-row lights are some of the easiest to maintain since changing the individual lights is easier. That said, to slow down the rate at which you need to swap them out, opt for LED over halogen. 

What to Look for When Buying Off-Road Lights

When assessing the lights, there are a few essential things to look at: first, you want to make sure that it is actually bright enough to make a difference. Consider that the light will work together with your existing headlights. Look at the lumens offered by each option and choose something that will be bright enough. Pick something of the right size. There are a lot of options, ranging from rock lights to massive overhead panels.  

Next, consider the strength of the lights themselves. If the light breaks, it won’t be any good. Be sure that it is waterproof, heat-resistant, and able to withstand a fair bit of wear and tear. Off-roading is notorious for rough terrain, so the light’s wires need to be able to handle a lot of shaking without losing their hold. 

Finally, check that the lights are compatible with the wiring of your vehicle. Look at the electrical specs and be sure that the voltage matches your auto. Check the size of the lights and make sure that they fit onto your off-road vehicle. So long as you look out for these things and pick a reputable manufacturer, you can get the most benefit possible. 

The Most Important Features of Off-Road Lights

To work as an off-road light, there are a few standards the setup needs to meet. While each different set of lights will have a unique shape and wiring structure, they all share some things. Identifying and assessing these features gives you the chance to determine the most viable solution. 

Light Bulbs

Naturally, an essential feature for any off-road lighting setup is the bulb itself. There are quite a few different types of bulbs, ranging from halogen to LED. Halogen options are less common, though still fairly prominent on the market. Generally, these light bulbs burn out quicker but are easier to change. 

LED lights are the most common. These chips powerfully illuminate the surroundings and limit the amount of heat the system creates. Lasting longer than other technology, the number of chips will be directly proportionate to the light’s strength. The light bulbs should be sturdy and firmly fitted to the casing of the light. 

Housing

This feature details the part that holds the light bulbs in place. It refers to both the backing and the clear part at the front. In terms of the base, it is usually made out of aluminum. This metal doesn’t carry much heat and isn’t prone to warping. It is, however, pretty sensitive to impact. While many use aluminum, there are other available alloys on the market. 

The other aspect of the housing is the front of the light, the part through which the beam shines. You want this part to be easy to clean and as transparent as possible. In most cases, this polymer is fairly scratch-resistant. The tougher the face of the light is, the better quality lighting you will get. 

Mount

Another critical component of any off-road light is the part that attaches to the vehicle itself. In almost all cases, the light drills directly into position. Some are designed to be put on the front of the vehicle, above the bumper. Others are meant to go on the top of your truck. Be sure that the mounting design matches the vehicle you plan to use it on.

The mounting also refers to the electrical components of the lighting system. Most come with a wiring harness that is color-coded for installation ease. The relative straightforwardness of this part will directly impact the ease of setup. Choose something where the wires are well-insulated and firmly connected to the light housing. 

Best Off-Road Lights FAQ:

Though the function of off-road lights is relatively straightforward, there are many nuanced differences between each selection. As a result, even the most experienced drivers still have questions about finding the right fit. To help you along, we’ve addressed some of the most common inquiries related to off-road lights. 

Q: What is the best option for off-road lighting?

Of our picks, the Hella 500FF was the all-round champion in terms of versatility, performance, and price. Other options may work better for you, so be sure to give them a look.

Q: What’s a lumen?

A lumen is a measure of how much effective light is produced, and how much of that illuminates what’s in front of you is dependent on things like beam focus. All lumens are not created equal, and in general, higher quality lighting options will often mention their “Lux at (distance)” specification, which is a better indication of the beam focus and effective lumens.

Q: What is an IP Rating?

IP stands for “ingress prevention” and refers to how resistant the device in question is to dust and water infiltration. Water resistance is going to be measured on the IPXX scale. The first number after IP is going to determine dust resistance, with 6 being the highest. The second number determines water resistance, with 9X being the highest, indicating that it can sustain continuous, close range, high-pressure water.

About the Author

Matt Sampson is an 0861 in the Marine Forces Reserve and a Virginia native. In his past life, he worked in tactical gear retail and is an avid firearms enthusiast. The farthest the Marine Corps has sent him from home is Oklahoma.

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