What’s In A Terrain? Breaking Down Common Off-Roading Terrain

What’s In A Terrain? Breaking Down Common Off-Roading Terrain

Off-roading is always a fresh experience, even when you’re on the same trail. Seasoned veterans know that the time of the year, and even mother nature can completely change the makeup of the terrain you ride on, changing the way you handle it.

Each terrain brings its own set of fun challenges, bringing a unique driving experience, and sometimes, specialized equipment for dealing with those challenges.

More often than not, you’ll come across what we consider as the five most common types of off-road terrain. We’ll talk about their makeup, what you should be aware of while traversing, how the terrain could impact your vehicle, and offer practical insights to enhance your safety, and enjoyment. 

 

Before We Begin, Let’s Talk About 4WD

One common theme that spans across any off-roading terrain is the use of four-wheel drive (4WD).

Be it mud, sand, rock, or snow, crawling without 4WD is not recommended.

Four-wheel drive offers you better control and traction in any situation by distributing power evenly to all wheels. The controlled engagement of 4WD allows off-roaders to navigate all terrains with increased confidence, knowing that each wheel is actively contributing to forward momentum.

In situations where sudden acceleration is needed to power through soft spots, 4WD provides the necessary torque to propel you through. Whether you’re engaging the 4WD low range for added torque or knowing when to lock differentials for maximum traction, understanding your vehicle’s 4WD capabilities is important to conquering the terrains.

 

Mud: Navigating the Quagmire

Mud. Slop. Muck. With its varying names, and consistency, mud poses a formidable challenge to off-roaders. From soft and sticky bogs to thick and gooey pits, concealing potential obstacles beneath its surface, mud demands a delicate balance between momentum and caution.

Techniques & Tips

Traction: Traction is crucial, emphasizing the need for aggressive tire tread patterns to shed mud and maintain grip in unpredictable conditions. If you can, clear out your treads as much as possible between deep mud sections. Tread width helps with seemingly bottomless mud and helps the vehicle to “float” on top. In shallower mud, skinnier, yet tall tires tend to dig down deep in order to grab the hard packed mud at the bottom.

Momentum: Momentum is key to avoid getting stuck, but strategic planning is necessary to navigate through deep mud safely. Take a moment to examine your route on foot as well as you can before taking the plunge.

Winches: Winches play a pivotal role in self-recovery when vehicles get bogged down in mud, providing a lifeline when traction falters, and preventing the need for external assistance.

The intricacies of mud navigation, from the importance of tire selection and aggressive tread patterns to the use of a winch to get you out of trouble, will keep you having fun in the slop.

 

Sand: Not As Easy As A Day At The Beach

Sandy terrains vary from loose, powdery dunes to compacted sand trails, and the shifting nature of sand poses a unique challenge, demanding constant adaptation.

Techniques & Tips

GPS: A critical tool you should consider investing in is a GPS. Dunes are known to change shape, even overnight, making it easier to get lost and more difficult to plan a route.

Tire Pressure: Lowering tire pressure enhances the tire footprint, providing better traction on loose sand, a crucial technique for overcoming the instability of this often warm and comfortable terrain.

Momentum: Just as it is with mud, momentum plays a key role in off-roading on the sand. Sudden stopping or slowdowns can lead to sinking, or spinning your tires. Planning your path and maintaining a consistent speed will help you stay above the shifting sands. 

Sand Dynamics: Understanding sand dynamics involves recognizing how the movement of sand affects the stability of the terrain and, consequently, the vehicle’s performance.

  • Effect of Tire Tracks: As a vehicle moves through sandy terrain, it leaves behind tracks. These tracks can actually impact stability. Following established tracks can provide a more stable surface, reducing the risk of getting stuck.
  • Sand Reclamation: Sand has a tendency to shift and fill in voids, meaning that tire tracks left behind can fill with sand over time. This phenomenon can affect subsequent vehicles, making it necessary to adapt driving techniques based on the evolving terrain.
  • Side Sloping: Driving along the sides of dunes or hills can lead to what’s called side sloping, where the sand may be less stable. 
  • Sand Waves and Ripples: Sandy terrains often exhibit patterns such as waves or ripples. These areas can impact vehicle stability, and drivers need to learn to read these features to anticipate changes in sandy terrain dynamics.

Off Roading on the sand can be as fun as a day on the beach as long as you make a plan and be aware of how the sand is laid out. Don’t forget your goggles to keep the sand from your eyes!

 

Rocky Terrain: Nature’s Obstacle Course

Rugged and uneven (but a whole lot of fun), rocky terrains demand precision, careful maneuvering, and planning. Vehicle durability is tested against the abrasive nature of rocks, making tire selection and proper driving techniques high on the list of importance. 

Reinforced sidewalls, slow and controlled movements, and strategic tire placement take center stage in conquering rocky landscapes. Let’s talk about navigating nature’s obstacle course with finesse.

Techniques & Tips

Tire Selection: Tire selection should prioritize reinforced sidewalls for protection against punctures from sharp rocks, ensuring durability and reducing the risk of flats.

Driving Technique: Slow and controlled driving prevents damage to both the vehicle and the terrain, allowing for careful tire placement to negotiate obstacles. 4WD vehicles with an available low range typically have an advantage here.

Ground Clearance: Ground clearance and approach/departure angles become your main focus for preventing the vehicle from getting stuck or damaged, requiring careful consideration of the vehicle’s positioning to ensure safe passage.

Many people think of slow rock climbs when they think of off-roading, and for good reason. It’s one of the most technically difficult, and most rewarding terrains in all of off-roading. Mount up.

 

Snow: Driving Through The Winter Wonderland

As winter blankets landscapes in snow, off-road enthusiasts face yet another new set of challenges. From deep-powder passes to compacted trails, snow requires specialized planning.

Snow or winter tires with distinct tread patterns, the advantages of four-wheel drive, and a heightened awareness of hidden obstacles beneath the snow are essential elements in navigating winter wonderlands.

Techniques & Tips

Tire Selection: Most off-road tires are rated well for snow travel. Just be sure that your tire size and ground clearance are ideal for the depth of snow that you plan to traverse. Snow or winter tires with specialized tread patterns provide enhanced grip and maneuverability in icy and snowy conditions, ensuring safety and control. Much like mud, tread width helps with deep snow, and helps the vehicle to “float” on top. In shallower snow, skinnier, yet tall tires tend to dig down deep in order to grab the hard packed snow at the bottom.

Four-Wheel Drive: Four-wheel is used on almost all terrains, but reserves a special place in the snow. By distributing power evenly to all wheels, 4WD offers better control and traction in the snow.

Obstacle Awareness: Hidden obstacles beneath the snow, such as rocks or tree branches, is a quick way to turn a good day into a bad day. Analyze the path you’re on as much as possible, on foot if needed, to ensure you won’t end up damaging the underbody of your vehicle.

 

Dirt/Gravel Trails: Commonly Found Fun

Dirt and gravel trails, likely the best choice for beginners, or those interested in high speed, can still come with their own set of nuances. Varying degrees of compactness and loose sections demand a balanced approach.

All-terrain tires, adapted to a mix of on-road and off-road conditions, come into play. Confident yet cautious driving through loose gravel and a readiness for unexpected obstacles form the core of this section.

Techniques & Tips

Tire Selection: All-terrain tires strike a balance between on-road and off-road  performance, suitable for a variety of conditions encountered on dirt and gravel trails.

Steering Control: Navigation through loose gravel requires attention to steering control to prevent sliding, so find a balance between control and adaptability.

Confidence: Compacted dirt trails offer the fun of higher speeds. Be confident and always be looking at what’s up ahead. Doing so will allow you to reach higher speeds than any other terrain, and really get you hooked on off-roading (as if you weren’t already).

 

General Tips: Off-Road Wisdom for Every Terrain

Beyond the details of each terrain we’ve discussed, a set of universal tips serves as a foundational guide for off-road adventurers.

From tire selection considerations to the importance of upgraded suspension systems, understanding approach and departure angles, and honing essential off-road driving skills, there are universal insights applicable across the terrains.

Tire Selection: We’ve mentioned it numerous times, so we hope you’re catching on. Choosing the right off-road tires for the specific terrain, whether mud terrain (MT), sand terrain (AT), all-terrain (AT), or snow tires, choosing wisely helps ensure optimal performance and fun.

Suspension: Upgraded suspension systems help absorb jolting shocks and maintain stability over uneven terrain, providing a smoother ride and reducing the risk of damage to the vehicle.

Confidence & Skill: Develop off-road driving skills, such as proper throttle control, effective use of differential locks, and a keen understanding of the terrain, enhancing safety and confidence in navigating diverse off-road landscapes.

The best way to do so? Keep off-roading.

Ready to plan your next expedition? Check out our full range of indestructible, high-quality, off-road lighting. If you’re ready to outfit your ride, find a retailer here. 

Indestructible Lights vs. Standard Off-Road Lighting – Which Stands Stronger?

The (m)power of Indestructible Lights
You’re here because you love off-roading—you crave open air, extreme adventure, and rely heavily on durability. You need equipment that’s been put to the test, has a proven track record, and is built to perform under any condition. When it comes to the off-road lighting (and accessories) market, there’s a lot to choose from—but it’s not all created equally.

We put our indestructible lights up against standard off-road lighting available on the market, and the results speak for themselves.

The Matchup: Indestructible Lights vs. Standard Off-Road Lighting
The mpower® products feature the first LED lighting technology, using an optic-grade, patented silicone lens that’s virtually shatterproof, putting it at the top of the industry in performance and durability.

Similar products use polycarbonate lenses that don’t stand up to water, dirt and rocks the way ours do. When you’re out exploring, the last thing you want to worry about is your lighting not rising to the challenge of the surrounding elements.

Compared to leading competitors, mpower lighting is 50% thinner, measuring at only 1” thick. A clear advantage when considering bulk, without sacrificing durability or longevity. If that wasn’t enough, mpower’s lightbars gives you 50% more LEDs within its inboard modules.

All of this while remaining near-indestructible.


Disclaimer: Photo used for demonstration purposes only. mpower® shall not be responsible for any damages resulting from customers attempting to run over or destroy lights, as such actions are against the intended use of our products.

Elements and Impact
Whether you adventure in frigid, snowy conditions or the dry, hot desert (or somewhere in between), your off-road lights and accessories should be able to stand up to everything Mother Nature has to offer.

mpower® was born out of 30 years of experience in providing lighting to emergency vehicles nationwide. Our vehicle lighting continues to be the trusted choice of departments that need durable lights to hold up against extreme speeds, potential impacts, and inclement temperatures—something industry-standard polycarbonate lenses cannot do.

The cutting-edge technology used in our emergency vehicle lighting was adapted to develop our current product line—with a smaller footprint but just as powerful and reliable.

Our silicone optical molding takes what used to be separate parts, and combines them into one piece. The result is being able to create complex shapes easier, withstand heat, crazing and fading better than typical plastic.

Reducing the number of parts reduces the worry of malfunction compared to standard lights where more parts can be found in the optics, housing and weather sealing.

High Power For High Performance
Our power spotlights will light up the darkest of nights.

Each of our mountable 2×1 and 6×1 light kits contain a 6 watt LED per inch, allowing you to pump out 1,382 to 4,161 lumens, respectively.

Our lightbars, which come in sizes 12 inch, 18 inch or 24 inch, also featuring a 6 watt LED per inch. This let’s you utilize 8k, 12k, or 16k lumens.

Not a single lumen will struggle to shine through thanks to our Silastic™ moldable optical silicone elastomers. These allow for high light transmittance for extra optical clarity and long optical length.

In addition, if a light gets too hot internally, our thermal foldback technology allows the light to self-regulate its power output, meaning less worry for you.

Longevity and Performance Over Time
Until recently, there was a gap in the market of off-road enthusiasts struggling to find off-road lighting and accessories that are proven, dependable, and built to last.

Our off-roading lights are just…tougher. The silicone lens and optic design deliver a durability that standard off-road lighting (and their polycarbonate lenses) can’t. Not to mention, our lights beat out the competitors in raw lumen output without dulling. How is that possible? The silicone used contains high UV and thermal stability, meaning the more the light is out in the sun, the clearer the lens gets, keeping your spot and flood output shining brighter (and longer).

The results: the mpower® indestructible off-road lights outshine standard off-road lights in raw power, durability and longevity.

mpower® off-road lighting products deliver an unparalleled experience for those of you who find your happy place by going off the grid. Having the right lighting while you’re out on rough and unpredictable terrain is paramount for any enthusiast.

Ready to plan your next expedition? Check out our full range of indestructible, high-quality, off-road lighting. If you’re ready to outfit your ride, find a retailer here.

Because what doesn’t bend—breaks.

mpower® Takes on the Mountains

As soon as the mpower® team arrived in Lake George, Colorado, we knew we had to give our followers a behind-the-scenes look into our photo and video shoot. Known by off-roaders for its many amazing trails, we took in breathtaking rides and stunning views at Badger Flats Vicinity OHV Trails. These trails truly offer something for every rider: they are accessible for beginners but offer climbs, curves and the ability to find speed for more experienced riders. Read on to hear how we equipped our vehicles for this adventure. We hope to give you ideas and inspiration for your next trip!

 

Check out a loaded Bronco and Polaris taking on the trails at Badger Flats in Colorado!

 

Colorado Mountain Trails: a playground for off-roaders

Located in Pike National Forest, the Badger Flats offer over 100 miles of mostly hard packed soil surrounded by thick pine trees. Before heading out on the trail, Kyle Kreymborg, District Sales Manager at SoundOff Signal, and his wife Sara outfitted their two vehicles with mpower lights from top to bottom. Sara is the proud owner of the 2023 Ford Bronco, Outer Banks Edition with Sasquatch Package with 35” factory tires. Kyle drove the Polaris RZR.

 

Outfitting for maximum satisfaction on the trail

Starting with the forward-facing lights, the Ford Bronco was outfitted with an mpower ORV 4″ Fascia Light in green, which is silicone molded to prevent water damage, discoloration or chipping. Kreymborg says it cuts through dust really well on the trail, which is key to increase visibility at higher speeds on the flat trails at Badger Flats.

This light joined forces with two more 4” spot lights on the rear as well as the amber mpower ORV 18″ Lightbar to achieve what Kreymborg describes as an optimal ride: “daylight at night.” With a sleek design and no built-in fans, this lightbar is perfect for tight spaces and looks great below the grille of the Bronco.

The low profile mpower ORV 2×1 Lights are mounted to the a-pillar, illuminating high intensity light at mid-level on the vehicle. Kreymborg says their hybrid 10° spot/flood beam pattern was especially helpful when navigating the vast number of trees on the trail. As a bonus, he was also able to integrate this light into the Bronco’s factory wiring for fog light operation.

Moving downward, mpower 4” Fascia flood lights in white were mounted in each of the wheel wells and served two important purposes: safety and ambiance. The outpour of light created a “footprint” for the vehicle, which served Sara well when she was crawling at slow speeds, allowing her to spot rocks and boulders. These floods also came in handy anytime she stepped out of the vehicle, especially when setting up camp.

 

Achieving top-to-bottom light for unforgettable night rides

With the Polaris RZR, Kreymborg focused on outfitting everything from the roof, a-pillar, to bumper level. He aimed to create “multiple layers of light” to achieve more enjoyment and safety on the trail. Starting at the top, he went big with an mpower ORV 24″ Lightbar, which produces over 16,000 raw lumens of light. With its rugged aluminum housing and a compact shape, this lightbar fits just right on the RZR.

At the top back corner of the cab, Kreymborg tucked the mpower ORV 2×1 Dual Stacked Kit in white. With double the power of our 2×1 light pointed at a 45-degree angle, this light was perfect when he was climbing after dark and needed to have a 180-degree view of the trail.

 

Ready to see some of our action on the trails? Check out our highlights.

 

 

Want more Colorado content? Keep an eye out on our Instagram and Facebook

The mpower Guide to Sedona, Arizona

Book your next adventure and take us along!

 

Why travel to Sedona?

Many of us in the Midwest are already planning getaways to look forward to during the long winter. If you’re an off-roader, you have adventure in your blood, so we’re willing to bet you’re always thinking about your next trip. You might already know that Sedona, Arizona is famous for its jaw-dropping red rocks whose colors deepen in the sun as well as its beautiful and exciting off-road opportunities. Read on to learn about the best locations to go driving with your mpower lights, and we’ll also help you find a place to grab a bite to eat afterward!


 

 

Top off roading locations in Sedona, Arizona

 

Coconino National Forest 

Does over a million acres of ranging elevations and conditions, from forest to tundra to desert sound like music to your ears? The USDA Forest Service calls Coconino National Forestone of most diverse National Forests in the country,” so it’s safe to say a visit should be on every off-roader’s bucket list. One of the most popular trails at the forest is Devil’s Bridge Trail via Dry Creek Road, as it offers breathtaking photo ops at the top. Veteran off-roaders recommend taking the scenic route up and beating the crowds by starting before sunrise, so mpower’s hybrid flood/spot optics would be the perfect addition to the drive up there, with a spot beam for seeing far into the distance and a flood beam for lighting up a wider area. Check out our 2×1, 2×1 Dual Stacked and 6×1 Lights

 

Broken Arrow Trail  

Ready to tackle some fun obstacles and climb down Devil’s Staircase, all with unforgettable views? This is ranked a must-do trail for off-roaders, and for good reason. Experienced drivers say that novices should be careful to follow a map because sometimes the trail can be difficult to follow. The trail can also be narrow, so it’s important to be ready to pull over regularly to allow for the passage of other vehicles. The 12,” 18,”or 24” lightbars would provide the perfect amount of beam for those tight situations.

 

Schnebly Hill Road 

This rocky yet amazingly scenic trail, with red rock against forest is a bit over thirteen miles. The forest service saysthere are some magnificent red rock views for the first 0.75 miles which is unshaded.” Most experienced riders say this is one of the bumpier rides around, but it’s nothing a 4×4 can’t handle and the views justify the ride. Expect to meet mud and snow at the peak, as well as the occasional thunderstorm. Bring along mpower’s 4″ Fascia in amber to cut through the rain and dust. 

 

Grab some post off-roading grub 

Take a break from off-roading at one of the most popular restaurants in Sedona (Click the names to see more).

 

Elote Cafe 

Ready for an inviting atmosphere to unwind? Elote offers high quality tex-mex, which they describe as “timeless recipes of Southern Mexico meet the bold, farm-fresh flavors of the American Southwest.” Start with top shelf tequila flights or freshly made margaritas. Then dive into the hearty and imaginative menu. Diners rave about their Elote appetizer, which is Fire roasted corn with spicy mayo, lime and cotija cheese, or their Buffalo Mole Poblano – Braised buffalo short ribs in a traditional mole poblano. 

 

Cowboy Club Grille & Spirits

Have the rough trails made you hungry for cactus fries and rattlesnake sausage? Get ready to take in cowboy art adorning the walls of this spot that “features ‘High Desert Cuisine’ showcasing the best of the Southwest.” Their menu favorites include the Bison Burger, with muenster cheese, caramelized onions and sweet potato fries, or the ribeye, with cowboy butter and garlic mashed potatoes. 

 

The Golden Goose American Grill 

Looking for a spot that has a beautiful bar and reliable crowd pleasers like surf and turf? Golden Goose American Grill says they are known for “friendly hospitality, masterfully prepared steaks, creative seafood dishes and outstanding burgers.” From Chicken Masala to meatloaf, their menu offers a bit of everything to satisfy after your trip, as well as a great atmosphere. Golden Goose even welcomes dogs on their patio for al fresco dining. 

Now that we’ve done the planning, who’s booking a trip to Sedona? 

Living the mpower Life

Get to know our off-road enthusiasts

At mpower®, we don’t just talk about chasing adventure, we live it. Through a long personal history with off-roading, our team uses mpower products for their explorations as they push the limits. As a result, our hands-on experience with our lights pushes us to never settle for a mediocre product. We aim to embody pure grit, not only as we develop and test products, but also in supporting our customers in their use of our products. Read on to learn more about some of our team members and how they live the mpower life. Maybe you’ll meet them off-roading sometime!

 

Michael Edgemon

District Sales Manager – North America

Michael has decades of experience off-road, and his favorite mpower product is the 18″ Lightbar. He appreciates mpower’s top-notch durability: he says the silicone lenses do not yellow or fade, and they hold up to dirt and sand blasting into them from vehicles in front of him when he rides in groups. Based in Phoenix, Michael‘s family loves to ride in the desert areas in Arizona—that’s where he grew up riding. He’s been driving off-road vehicles ever since he received his first three-wheeler when he was around eight years old. 

 

Heather Stuecken

Electrical Engineer

Based northwest of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Heather‘s favorite place to take her Jeep is Silver Lake Sand Dunes in Hart, Michigan. As a child, she went on the Mac Wood’s Dune Rides and loved it so much that her family decided to rent a Jeep the following years, and later owned a ’97 Blazer. In 2013, she got a Jeep of her own, which she still has today, and has been going every summer since. Her favorite mpower product is the 2×1 Dual Stacked Lights. She likes that they are compact and stealthy but provide a lot of light out to the sides—and they pair great with her 24″ Lightbar. 

 

Aaron Cochran

District Sales Manager – North America

Aaron is based in Midland, Michigan and has been driving off-road vehicles for about 10 years. His favorite place to ride is Silver Lake Sand Dunes (which seems to be a popular favorite among the mpower team). Running up and down the dunes, he finds mpower’s silicone lenses have lasted longer and burned brighter than other lights. He says that while sometimes the front or rear bumper will hit the dune and scrape the lights, neither the 6x1s on the front or the 4 Fascias on the rear, have any scratches or issues at all. His favorite mpower product is the Interior Lightbar, because it makes such a unique statement anytime someone sees it. Fellow off-roaders often ask him about it! 

 

Brandon Dickerson

District Sales Manager – North America

Based in southern Arizona, Brandon has been off-roading for more than 25 years and enjoys both sand dunes and mountain trail riding. He says both provide a diverse riding experience; mountain trail riding is slow and relaxed, versus desert riding, which is a high-speed adrenaline rush. He loves mpower’s Fascia Spot Lights the most. His lights have been through sandstorms at the dunes, covered in mud and torturetested in the scorching hot summer months in the Arizona desert. Brandon loves the versatility that mpower lights offer. He says that the quality and attention to detail put into the product are what set mpower lights apart from competitors, along with how sleek the lights are. 

Dependable Under Pressure

It can be overwhelming to figure out what matters most when buying an off-road vehicle light.  

If you’re anything like us, you love researching new products that will enhance your next ride. You can be found spending hours comparing and contrasting features, imagining how exactly the product will impact your experience on the road. But sometimes it’s hard to know which product is the “best.” That’s why we want to give you an insider’s view of what goes on behind the scenes at mpower® lights, far before our product is marketed or even packaged in the box.

 

Built Tough with Silicone  

We’ve all been there: you thought you made a wise purchase and yet had a product break sooner than expected. It’s frustrating, time-consuming and maybe even makes you question your trust in that brand. At SoundOff Signal, our drive for a flawless customer experience fueled the development of SoundOff Signal’s mpower Silicone Lighting: lights that don’t crack, scratch or buckle under pressure…Yes, it’s possible.  

SoundOff Signal’s mpower technology is the first optic-grade patented silicone lens that is virtually shatterproof, making it the most durable light on the market. This technology is a versatile, high-performance lighting system that is designed to be used in a wide range of applications. While we began this product development for police cars, firetrucks, work trucks, tow trucks and other commercial vehicles, when we pivoted to serving off-roaders, we knew we had to vet our lights by replicating the tough conditions they encounter.

 

Tested Extensively

Unlike delicate pieces of jewelry, complex electronics or other premium products that demand a light touch, each time you open a box from mpower, you can be confident they’ve been thoroughly beat up. And why wouldn’t they be?  

Darrin Kunkle, test validation specialist, says that when the team immerses all products in these extreme temperatures and conditions, they push the product to its limit to ensure the durability off-roaders are looking for. At our headquarters in Hudsonville, Michigan, many employees are off-roaders themselves, which explains our extra level of attention to detail and passion. “These people care about what they are doing,” Kunkle says. 

Expect your light to undergo these tests:  

Environmental testing: evaluating the behavior of a device or system to obtain assurance that it will not be compromised by environmental conditions or fluctuations when operating outside the normal environmental operating range. Testing helps identify if there are any weaknesses in a product’s design or performance that could occur particularly at extreme hot/cold levels.  

Thermal Shock Testing: simulating a products’ life cycle by exposing the product to rapid changes of temperatures ranging from -60°C to 170°C. This is completed by using a dual climate chamber that will transfer the product from one temperature extreme to the other, in less than 30 seconds. 

UV Testing: carried out to understand how polymer materials withstand the damaging effects of UV light. This includes color change, reduction in performance characteristics, brittleness and much more. Typically, when a new product is developed and its resistance to sun rays needs to be verified, some samples are subjected to accelerated UV testing in a UV testing lab, which artificially recreates a long period of time under UV radiation bombardment in a short and convenient timescale. 

IPX Waterproof Testing: exposing a device to water using standardized tests applied to obtain an IP rating IPX-1- through IPX-9. The IPX standard gives a clearer picture of how water resistant the item is.   

Electrical Testing: evaluating the parametric, functional or timing performance of a component when electrical power is applied. Tests can range from simple, manual measurements of electrical continuity for the component’s inputs or outputs to complex functional tests. 

Photometric Testing: Measurement of the quantity, color and spatial distribution of light sources. 

Corrosion Testing: determining the resistance of materials to corrosion under certain environmental conditions, including temperature, humidity and salt water.  

Durability Testing: pinpointing the characteristics of a system under various load conditions over time. This testing helps us to identify the stability of transaction response times over the duration of the test. 

All these tests assess product reliability in controlled environments, including high temperature, and high humidity, Kunkle says. The goal is to simulate conditions that could lead to the failure of a new product, so when they get in your hands, you know they won’t fail.  

Damon Mirate, product director, explains that these tests actually take into account the extreme conditions that off-roaders experience. As an off-road enthusiast himself, Mirate envisions the actual experience of off-roading in rough terrain and the situations that could arise. He then considers questions such as: is the bracket going to hold up? Is the light going to stay straight? How does the vibration of the vehicle affect the light? And perhaps most importantly, how does the actual light look after the test is conducted? Mirate then carefully plans tests to measure these conditions. 

 

 

Delivering What Matters Most: Top Performance 

Testing is well and good, but in the end, off-road enthusiasts just want to know the answer to one question: how will the light perform? Because mpower lights are made to be so durable, you can expect the light to last longer and stay looking bright and clean due to the sun’s UV rays feeding off of the silicone properties. But don’t just take our word for it. 

Terry L. Abel, fire chief and emergency management director with Islamorada Fire Rescue, says that mpower ORV lights are reliable, time and again. ”The lights draw next to no power, run for hours on end through the harshest conditions of rock, mud, sand and water, never stopping and continuing to shine bright,” he says. “A simple wipe of the lenses and the mpower lights are good to go for another round.  Friends and family love riding with us as we light the trails up so everyone can see what’s going on. Riding the trails, trailside repairs, whatever the need, the mpower ORV lights never disappoint.”  

For Adam J. Geaneas, southeast regional trainer and personal user of mpower Silicone Lighting, the lights stood up even when his truck’s paint job didn’t. “The Jeep has hit trails, weathered extreme temperatures and traveled thousands of miles with ZERO issues. The Jeep has already had to have paint work done from road damage, but these ORV lights just shrug off the debris thanks to the silicone. I have been so happy with the mpower line I added them to my van as well, since we travel cross country with it. I know I will have dependable, reliable lighting any place I may go.” 

 

Ready to experience mpower? Click here to check out our lights today!

Do You Really Need an Interior Lightbar?

Four Reasons Why Off-Road Enthusiasts Say Yes

We get it: whether you’re planning to head out on your next trip or simply outfitting your truck with accessories, you’re always on the lookout for the best possible lights. As off-roaders ourselves, we know that lights need to do more than perform the basics to illuminate our path. They also need to weather tough conditions, be easy to install and illuminate exceptionally well in the dark. Enter our Interior Lightbar.

After we noticed that exterior bars were the predominant offering for most off-roading Jeeps, trucks and SUVs, we realized we had the chance to offer a new light that would stand up to the elements and provide excellent optics. Now our best-selling product, we leveraged our 30 years of experience in emergency vehicle lighting at SoundOff Signal to create an Interior Lightbar that serves the unique needs of off-roaders.

Read on to hear what’s unique about our lightbar and why Brad “Jeepin Bubba” Cohron tried out our lightbar on his Jeep.

 

Sleek look, protected from the elements

According to our customers, much of the appeal of our interior lightbar lies in its stealth character. With this lightbar being mounted internally, it is no longer vulnerable to damage on the trail. mpower® wanted to offer a light that was protected but powerful.

Jeepin Bubba said it delivers on this count. “The features that stand out most to me is that the lightbar is not in the line of sight, and it snugs to the glass, not allowing light to flood into the cab,” he said. “I like the convenience of it being mounted on the inside of the windshield, it limits the ability of wind noise or theft, and I can still use an automatic carwash!”

Available for several models of leading off-road vehicles, the mpower Interior Lightbar in-cab mounting eliminates annoying wind noise and drag. As you take on the trail, you can focus on the experience, knowing that your light is not interfering with your aerodynamics. Unlike exterior lightbars, our lightbar is not going to change the airflow heading over your vehicle, nor cause any unwanted wind turbulence or buffeting in your soft top.

 

Increased visibility, for nighttime off-roading

Available in a one piece or two-piece split models, the lightbar offers intense forward and off-axis illumination. So, what does that all mean? The light harnesses a combination of a flood and spotlight and provides the best of both worlds for off-roaders. With over 10,000 lumens in the one piece and 8,000 in the two-piece plus a spread over a 90-degree pattern, you’ll get light delivered in the front, as well as to the left and right.

What’s more, the lightbar offers dual function: with 60 amber LEDs for dusty environments and 60 white scene LEDs for intense illumination. A switch to shift colors is located right on the lightbar itself, above the driver’s seat. Wondering if the light limits your view through the windshield? Most users report they don’t notice any obstruction, and some say that the bar takes up far less space than a sun visor.

So how does this all play out on the road? Expect an intense white that illuminates 100 meters or more ahead, or a huge spread of dust cutting amber.

Jeepin Bubba said the dual function gives him peace of mind in terms of safety. “I love that it not only has a bright white option, but it also has an amber option that helps when it’s dusty on the trail,” says Jeepin Bubba. “Most of the mountain roads we take tend to get tight, windy and foggy/dusty. As the one who is typically the trail leader, I like to run the amber setting in both day and nighttime, as it’s not overwhelming but helps give oncoming traffic more warning.”

 

Easy to install

With simple plug and play wiring, the lightbar mounts directly to the interior using the sun visor clips. So, unlike exterior lightbars, there is no need to drill through the roof or A-pilar. As you open the box, you’ll see only a few wiring components in addition to the lightbar—don’t be intimidated, with a few tools and an hour or two, you’ll be ready to take the light on a ride. A detailed instruction sheet is included with every lightbar.

 

A thrill to take on the trail

Here’s what Brad “Jeepin Bubba” Cohron had to say when he took the mpower Interior Lightbar out on an adventure:

“I recently went to Coppinger Cove for the first time. It has a reputation of being a place you can get easily lost in and is not where you want to get caught in the rain, due to MANY water crossings. My group was trying to find the exit when a heavy thunderstorm came on and it suddenly went from looking like day to nighttime. The interior lightbar helped me to navigate the obstacles ahead, not to mention it looked absolutely epic during the storm. I absolutely love having it on my Jeep.”

Check out the video below, or learn more about the Interior Lightbar here

LUMENS, LUX OR CANDELA?

5 ways to cut through lingo and make sense of specs when shopping for off-road vehicle lighting

Have you ever been confused when shopping for lights and looking over the specifications? Ever wondered “are lights with more lumens better”?  Well, you’re not alone. It can be hard to sort everything out, especially since there is such a specialized vocabulary in lighting. There’s also misleading or incomplete information out there. We hope this guide helps you to make an educated purchase. 

For the remainder of this article, we will be referring to the lights as lamps so that we can provide accurate information. Light is the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible. Whereas a lamp is a device that emits light.  

 

Defining the basic terms

Raw lumens, otherwise known as total available light, indicates the complete light output radiated from the LEDs. In other words, it’s the raw potential of the lamp. However, it does not take into account the design or engineering of the lamp such as the shape, reflectors used, lens material, optic design, etc.  

 

 

Lux, otherwise known as light at a distance, really gets to the point of what an illumination lamp is all about. Lux describes the amount of light on a surface at a specified distance. The closer to the lamp, the higher the lux values, and further away you get the lower the lux values. But what’s important to remember when you’re shopping and considering lux numbers is beam pattern and what you’re trying to illuminate. If you’re looking for a flood lamp, your lux numbers may be lower compared to the numbers you will see with spot lamps, since spot lamps concentrate light to a smaller surface area

 

 

Understanding how we measure lux

In the lighting industry, ABC measurements are used to describe the performance of a lamp. 

A. Lux @ 10 meters is used to tell you how bright objects would look 10 meters away from the front of the lamp. The higher the number, the brighter the object. 

B. Meters @ 1 Lux measures the distance from the lamp to an object when you have 1 Lux of light bouncing back from the object. So, this tells you how far away a person would be from the lamp when they have 1 Lux of light (which is about the minimum amount of light to read a newspaper). To a driver of a vehicle, the person bouncing back 1 Lux of light would be highly visible. 

C. Meters @ .25 Lux is a standard like B., but now the distance away from the lamp is when the driver is just able to make out the person or object. They begin to appear as the light bouncing back is visible. However, the person at that distance would not have enough light to read a newspaper. 

 

Wondering if big lumen numbers mean a great lamp? It depends

So, as you can see, raw lumens are not always beneficial to you when you’re trying to decide which lamp is most effective. When raw lumens are used as the “scale” of how bright a lamp is, it is often a poor indicator to actual performance.  

In fact, if a lamp has high raw lumens and low A,B,C numbers, may be an inefficient lamp or it could indicate an unfocused light. The goal of a good design is to have the lowest raw lumens with the highest A,B,C numbers. So, judge the lamp by the output, not the input! 

Let’s now see how this information applies to two mpower® products: 

mpower® ORV 12” Lightbar 

Designed with a hybrid 10° spot/flood beam pattern for optimal illumination on all your outdoor adventures. 

LED Color     Raw Lumens     Lux @ 10m     Beam Distance @ 1 Lux     Beam Distance at .25 Lux    
White  8,292  1,190  345 meters  690 meters 

 

Since this is a spot lamp that concentrates the lumens into a smaller area, you’ll see that the lux @ 10 m is a very high number, and the distance that the beam travels is extensive. Here, lux is the better measurement in terms of telling you about performance, because they convey concentrated light at distance. Raw lumens tell the story of the power of the individual LED inside the lamp. 12 LEDs creates 8,292 lumens, or about 683 lumens each. 

 

mpower® ORV Chase Light Kit 

Offers both a white cargo illuminating lamp and a dust cutting amber lamp and can be set to steady burn or flashing. 

LED Color     Raw Lumens     Lux @ 10m     Beam Distance @ 1 Lux     Beam Distance at .25 Lux    
White  2,832  64.48  80 meters  160 meters 
Amber  2,160  37.84  61 meters  123 meters 

Per kit assembly (two lights) 

Notice that compared to the spot lamp, this lamp has lower A,B,C numbers. But it’s important to consider that this is a warning lamp, so the light is being dispersed onto a much broader space to be able to be seen from many angles. These lamps can also dual purpose as near field flood lamps to concentrate on illuminating the space closer to your vehicle, which explains why the beam distances are shorter here than with the lightbar. 

With a flood lamp, it is important to look at the ISO-plot or bird’s eye view of the light showing the amount of lux in the area around the vehicle.  

Example of an ISO-plot chart for our mpower® 6×1 Light

 

You might also see candela mentioned when you shop, which is the amount of light in a certain beam angle or direction. Candela is used primarily for warning lamps, chase lamps, and taillamps since the light needs to be observed in particular directions. 

 

 

Getting to the bottom line: five ways to approach shopping for lights for your off-road vehicle

 

  1. All that said about lux, lumens and candela – no single measurement is the “be all, end all” when it comes to light measurement. It is important to consider all these measurements plus beam pattern and design.  
  2. In addition to light output, you should also consider mount options, installation ease, functionality, durability, price and more when you are shopping for the right product.  
  3. Knowledge of “how it works” vs. saying “it’s brighter” empowers you as a buyer! 
  4. In the end – perceived brightness probably matters more than everything else—turn the light on and show it off!  
  5. Last but not least, check out what lights mpower has to offer!  

 

How SoundOff Signal’s history serving first responders brought new light technology for off-road vehicles (ORV)  

Our strong track record supporting first responders

One rainy night, a motorist calls 911 after getting into an accident with another vehicle. An unmarked police cruiser is the first to arrive on the scene at the dark intersection of two country roads. Suddenly, the plain-looking police vehicle lights up the night. Its previously “invisible” lights send bright warning lights far down the road to alert other motorists of the hazard ahead. The lighting also helps the officer see the accident scene and helps other motorists see the officer.

With over 30 years of experience in emergency vehicle lighting, SoundOff Signal (SOS) is proud to contribute to the safety at scenes like these. Headquartered in Hudsonville, in the automotive state of Michigan, we’re known for our keen focus on solving customer problems. With nearly 400 employees focused on customer service, design, engineering and manufacturing, we take pride in being a company that can provide our customers with US designed and manufactured products and excellent, personalized service.

That’s why we’re known among first responders for our top-notch products. Terry Abel, chief of Islamorada (FL) Fire Rescue reports he was “sold on SOS products at first use…. We have never looked back since then,” Abel says. “In fact, we have been getting everything spec’d out with SOS products since 2019. This includes command vehicles, logistics trucks, engine, ladder, EMS SxS vehicles and the Utility Mule. We are also retrofitting our older trucks with SOS products, and most of the community’s public works and wastewater trucks either have been or are in the process of getting SOS lights.”

So, with this established customer base, why did SoundOff Signal decide to move into the off-road vehicle market recently?

Well, we knew we had to respond to a known problem.

 

Leveraging our expertise to push off-road lighting to another level

The creation of mpower® Silicone Lighting as a family company came because of a gap in the market: ORV lights made with traditional polycarbonate lenses do not hold up to weather elements and rugged rides, causing water corrosion, lens cracking or breaking, discoloring/yellowing, poor light output, whistling noises, bends in lightbars and more.

Simply put, ORV enthusiasts were tired of dealing with faulty lights, especially the cost of replacing them. That’s why we decided to take our emergency vehicle silicone technology and design a product line specifically for the off-road vehicle owners in mind.

mpower lights are enabled by Clear Duty® moldable silicone. This optically clear silicone elastomer provides high transmittance and low haze, while meeting demanding environmental challenges. These lights offer unique properties, including:

  • High light transmittance for better optical clarity and longer optical path length
  • High hardness with reduced surface tack to enable tougher, more rigid injection molded parts
  • Material toughness for accurate part fixation and high IP rating
  • Low haze and scatter, maximizing light output in a given direction
  • Design flexibility, allowing for lens and other functional aspects not possible in rigid plastics

We all know that law enforcement, fire, EMS & amber vehicles (utility, construction, tow, department of works, etc.) go through many harsh environmental impacts. To bring the right safety to the first responders and passersby, they need lighting that will stand up to high speeds, extreme cold temperatures (think snowplows in Alaska and Minnesota winters), and extreme hot temperatures (think fire trucks at a large fire or departments in the hot desert sun).

Inspired by this level of performance, we set out to create a new product with a smaller footprint, intense lighting, high quality and a long life. The light would need overall durability to withstand dirt, wet and extreme weather, gravel impacts and other road conditions. In addition to being rugged, the light’s materials needed to offer good photothermal stability to avoid yellowing from intense UV exposure.

 

Unparalleled performance:  unbeatable lights for your next off-road adventure

In addition to withstanding punishing use and brutal weather conditions, mpower products have powerful head-on and off-angle illumination, so you could say they are literally built for wherever you go and whatever you might stir up on your next adventure!

mpower Silicone Lighting is …

TOUGHER
Silicone lenses and optic design deliver something polycarb lenses can’t. Gravel pitting, scratches and cracks can’t touch them. Period.

BRIGHTER
The hybrid optic offers unmatched spot and flood output. Not only do the lights beat many leading off-road lighting giants in raw lumen output, but they also never dull. Why? The silicone’s high UV and thermal stability prevents yellowing, keeping your lights shining brighter – longer.

UNIQUE
The design and durability of these products demand attention and stand out from the crowds.

VERSATILE 
Streamlined design for stackable, anywhere-you-can imagine mounting on your vehicle. Plus, the low profile means less wind resistance and noise.

Leave the road behind with mpower Silicone Lighting and see what happens.