What’s better than completing something amazing and awesome? Joining a program of others who have done the same thing and have the proof to show everyone!
Jeep knows how awesome their vehicles are and how big the aftermarket support is for their products. So what do they do?
They decided to take things a step further and make a way for us Jeepers to prove our metal and conquer some of natures hardest tests and prove that our rig is up to anything you throw at it.
Do you have what it takes to earn your Jeep Badge of Honor? Let’s find out.
What is the Jeep Badge of Honor
In Jeep’s own words, “Off-roading is more than an activity. It’s a way of life. Badge of Honor is an online community that celebrates and rewards those who embrace the off-road life.”
The Badge of Honor program is an exclusive community for Jeep owners. While anyone can download the app and participate in the trails, only Jeep owners can receive the badge to place on your vehicle.
Jeep started the program in 2013 as a way to recognize and reward the massive community of Jeep enthusiasts who explore the world in their Jeeps.
The program is hosted on a free mobile app available for download from whatever app store your device has.
Within the program, there are 49 trails across the United States of America for Jeepers to complete and earn their badge.
The program is completely free and is a great way for Jeep to promote their brand and everything that the “Jeep” has always stood for. Adventure.
The app provides directions to Badge of Honor trails nearest to you, a trail rating guide, and weather conditions in the area.
After arriving at the desired trail, users simply “check-in” on the mobile app and continue on driving the trail. To ensure that only Jeep owners receive the badge, an email is sent after check in asking for an address and VIN number of the Jeep you rode in.
Similar to online forums, the Badge of Honor program has ranks for their users. These ranks are: Trail Explorer, Trail Commander, Trail Pro, and Trail Expert.
In order to climb in the ranks, you have earn X amount of points by checking in at trails, sharing photos, commenting on other posts, etc.
What many people fail to realize is that there is a physical “Badge of Honor” that you get to put on your Jeep once you have completed a trail. These badges are not just stickers but rather quality badges similar to something you’d see from the factory for specific models of vehicles.
Each badge contains the name of the trail accomplished, location of that trail, and a rough outline of the trails route “as seen from space.”
Understanding the Trail Ratings
As mentioned above, the Badge of Honor application gives users a heads up as to the difficulty of a trail prior to check in through their official trail ratings.
Understanding the limits and capabilities of your Jeep is crucial before participating in this program. A firm grasp of what each rating might require is a must.
Within the app itself, Jeep offers their standard on what each of the ratings mean.
And while many groups have a system for rating their trails, the one I believe is incorporated into the Badge of Honor program is a direct correlation to the one used by Jeep Jamboree and will be outlined below.
Jeep Trail Rating Guide
Trail Rating 1-2:
Trails in this category are pretty straight forward and simple. In an ideal situation and weather on your side, completing trails with a 1-2 rating might no require 4WD and can be ran by almost any Jeep brand vehicle.
Trail Rating 3-5:
If you find you have outgrown the 1-2 ratings, 3-5 rated trails provide a bigger challenge. These trails will likely require your vehicle to stay in 4WD with a required option to switch 4WD Lo.
These trails will provide more obstacles in the form of boulders, water crossings, and possible mud holes. Not intended for drivers with little to no experience in off-road situations.
Trail Rating 6-7:
By attempting trails at this level, you would ideally have plenty experience in handling your rig off road. These trails provide a challenge to up and coming Jeepers yet are still fun and exciting for the more experiences.
4WD Lo is required as is a decent amount of articulation. Expect obstacles to be bigger and more difficult with larger boulders and mud holes that are deeper and harder to manage.
Trails rated 6-7 should not be attempted without a thorough inspection of your vehicle prior to hitting the trails.
Trail Rating 8-9:
The easy stuff is over and the time for serious off-roading has arrived. 8-9 rated trails aren’t for the random off-road “wannabe” who is looking to get some dirt on the tires.
At this point, serious consideration to your aftermarket upgrades is highly recommended. Your Jeep should have a suspension upgrade along with the ability to lock your rear and front axles.
As the likelihood of getting stuck increases significantly at this level, proper recovery gear is a necessary. It is important to realize that vehicle damage in some form can be very likely on these trails so enter at your own risk.
Proper driving techniques are a must as rock climbing requires more articulation and proper handling of the vehicle.
Trail Rating 10:
At this point, if you are not in a modified Wrangler, this trail is not recommended. Trails with this rating include the toughest trail there is…The Rubicon Trail.
The demands required by a level 10 trail are many and you should be extremely confident in your ability both as a driver and in your vehicle.
When attempting any trail, but especially those rated at a 10, it is best to go in groups. While it is never recommended to trail alone, we often recommend a small group take the place of just one extra in these situations.
4WD Lo, lockers, adequate suspension upgrades, and sufficient body armor are all necessary at this point.
In completing a level 10 trail, consider yourself among the elite in off-roading and be proud of your rig for taking you through it along each and every turn.
Do You Have to Do the Trails in a Certain Order?
There are 49 Jeep Badge of Honor trails across the U.S. and word is there will be more in the near future.
Fortunately, there isn’t rhyme or reason to the order in which you have to do these trails. It is completely up to you how you tackle these trails.
If you follow LiteBrite on YouTube or any social media, you can follow their trek to compete all 49 trails.
While there aren’t “rules” as to which trails you have to do when, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some planning that goes into this process.
For example, you don’t want to try to do the trails in Colorado or mountain regions in the middle of winter because chances are, they are covered in snow and shut down.
Therefore, you need to plan to do these trails in late spring through early fall to ensure you don’t travel all that way just to find out the trail is closed.
The helpful part of the app, in keeping you apprised to weather conditions, is that you can know ahead of time what the trail should be like before you make any decisions.
Unlike LiteBrite, most people do these trails “at their convenience” and don’t make an effort to hit every single one in a year. This makes your process of planning a lot easier.
However, if you make plans to travel to certain states to accomplish a trail, take the extra time to see how many trails are near by. This saves you time and money in knocking out multiple trails on one trip.
No matter how you decide to do the Badge of Honor trails, make sure you take proper precautions. Always remember the 6 Ps. Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
How Difficult are the Trails in the Badge of Honor Program?
The Badge of Honor program is meant to unite Jeepers across the nation to a common cause and purpose. For this reason, the difficulty of the trails in the program have a wide spread.
It wouldn’t be fair if all the trails were rated 8 and above. This would exclude participation to only hard core Jeepers with extremely capable rigs.
And while there are still plenty of those out there to get involved and have a blast, it sends the wrong impression to, lets say, brand new Jeep owners.
But on the other hand, if all the trails were able to be done by inexperienced brand new Jeepers, then the more experienced extreme Jeep owners wouldn’t get involved.
Therefore, Jeep made an effort to have a pretty even spread of trail difficulties in their program.
From Level 1 to Level 10 rated trails, Badge of Honor welcomes Jeep enthusiasts of every capability to participate.
When you step back and look at the big picture, as you complete more trails and gain more experience, you’ll find you are able to compete at the Level 10 range before you know it.
The ratings serve as a gradual ladder to ensure that everyone has something suited to their current area of expertise and comfort-ability.
What Else Does the App Offer?
While the app more or less just serves as a “connection” point in the program, it offers several features that you might find helpful or fun.
Like we mentioned above, beyond just earning badges of honors for the trails, participants can climb in rankings from Trail Explorer to Trail Pro.
These rankings don’t do anything more for you except help to establish yourself in the community. As the program develops, Jeep has said they will offer badges for each rank achieved.
This means that if you are on the trail and you see someone with a Trail Expert or Trail Pro badge, you bumped into someone with a lot of experience that could help you with any questions.
Just another way that the Jeep family can be brought together and expand our reach into the off-road community.
In order to achieve these different rankings, you have to earn points. These points can be achieved by checking in at trail, posting photos, commenting and more.
By encouraging people to do these things, Jeep has provided an invaluable resource.
Before hitting the trail, you can look through pictures of others and see bits of the trail ahead of time or make note of what different Jeeps had to go through. This will make you more prepared.
If you have questions, you can comment on posts and photos, and because others have incentives to respond, chances are you’ll get some feed back to your inquiry.
Lastly, Jeep took the time to include driving tips within the app. Like we already hit on, this program is meant to be all inclusive to Jeep owners.
By including driving tips for different terrains, you are able to take someone whose only off-road experience is driving a dirt driveway and give them some heads up as to “tricks of the trade.”
No matter how many times you offer, most people who are beginning in these activities can be hesitant to ask questions to such an experienced crowd.
While my personal interactions have shown that a TRUE Jeeper is always glad to help, these extra tips of how to drive can give the driver a little confidence to know what they are doing or at least to be able to ask the right questions.
All in all, this app and program is an excellent platform to pull together people with similar passions and experience. The Badge of Honor program keeps people plugged into the wilderness.
Can I Do These Trails by Myself?
Anyone who has a Jeep suddenly feels this surreal feeling of absolute independence when they get behind the wheel. And why shouldn’t you?
You just climbed into the most off-road capable vehicle, arguably, in history. The urge to bolt into the wilderness and begin your adventure is almost impossible to resist.
Being a bit of introvert myself, nothing sounds like more fun to me then packing up the Jeep and heading into the mountains for a day to be alone in nature.
In some cases this might be okay. Unfortunately, going off-roading in any real sense (non-maintained roads outside of close civilization) should always be done with at least one other person.
Most cities you will find some sort of off-road club you can join that schedules expeditions as a group.
The importance behind this practice is safety. If you break down, you aren’t stranded alone with no way to get home. On top of that, there’s always someone with more experience to help you out.
Nothing can turn you off to Jeeping quicker than one bad experience. Because of the trails in the Badge of Honor program, there is always a chance of something going wrong. And if it does, you want to make sure you are surrounded by those who can help.
As tempting and wonderful as it sounds to be alone in nature away from everyone else, you’d be surprised at how much better it is to have a community of people along with you who have the exact same interests.
You’ll never regret making sure you took the proper precautions. If you insist on doing the Jeep life solo, we strongly urge you to:
- Take even extra time to make sure you are prepared and can make it home safe.
Saying you CAN’T do these trails alone isn’t as appropriate as saying you SHOULDN’T do these trails alone.
Whether you are an experienced Jeep enthusiasts or just starting out, don’t hesitate to head to your app store and download the Badge of Honor from Jeep.
This program is an excellent opportunity to step out and experience some of the most amazing trails and scenery offered in the U.S.
Besides, out of the thousands of trails in the United States, Jeep must have thought something was really special about these 49 in particular so I bet you won’t regret checking them out.
At Siberian 4×4, we are all about encouraging Jeep owners to get into nature and all that is possible with a Jeep. We proudly support the Badge of Honor program and love what it means to the Jeep Family.
The wilderness and nature can be a scary place if you aren’t prepared and being prepared is what Siberian 4×4 is all about. So as always, keep the Wilderness on YOUR Side.