Cold water intake? No thanks. I run then in my performance street cars, but in the Jeep where water and dirt can easily hammer an open element cone filter, I prefer a stock box and paper element. If you do an open element cone filter make sure it has some sort of heatshield partition to keep from sucking hot engine bay air.
2012 JK, Rock Krawler 2.5, Bilstien 5100's, Teraflex lower arms/track bars, Currie anti-rock, VDP stubby caps, Black Rock 909D's 285/70/17 Duratracss, Magnaflow ypipe and competition exhaust, 10a.e. Rubicon rear bumper, SRC sliders, G2 diff armor, H4 headlights and some other stuff....
2014 VW Jetta/1989 325i sleeper project/1968 house
I have the Airaid one with the metal shield. It made me nervous during last weekend's trail ride when we came to water crossings. Thinking of replacing with a Rugged Ridge snorkel kit to stop worrying about water getting in.
I like Banks Engineering better than K&N. Has a better sound (no drone whatsoever, and no rushing-air--just a nice honk under power), and I've been surprised at the effect on mileage (comparing 5 tanks before install to five tanks after; I don't use the mileage reading on the dash for such comparisons). I would say, for me (only) it was definitely worth the money. (I know I'm in the minority, here.)
There are several varying opinions on whether or not a cold air intake increases power and or fuel economy. In my experience, there is no gain to be had in fuel economy and if there is a performance gain, I couldn't feel it in the seat of my pants, though it certainly sounds more aggressive when you're stomping the skinny pedal. Most cai's have a reusable filter element, many of which require oiling after cleaning which means increased maintenance. Cai's are also more susceptible to sucking in water as the filter element is exposed.
For the sake of arguing, let's say a cai costs you $300 and fuel is going for $4 a gallon. If your fuel economy did go from 15 mpg to 16 mpg, it would take you 18,000 miles to pay for the cai in fuel savings. If you were already getting 17 mpg and you increased to 18 mpg it would take nearly 23,000 miles to pay for the cai.
Is it worth it? If you're hoping to save money by installing one, no it is not. If you like the idea of a cai or the sound of air being sucked into an exposed filter, it's your Jeep, do what makes you happy.