I am debating on which way to go, should I do 2.5" lift or should I do something like metal cloak fenders. I want to run 33" or 34" tires eventually. What are the pros and cons to each. I am pretty well versed on lifts as far as install and potential problems, but I have no idea with the fenders. It's all about ground clearance and if the fenders do the trick, why install a lift?
Fenders will provide tire clearance but won't do anything to get your under belly up and out of the way. A 2.5" lift on a TJ doesn't require extensive rework of anything really so it's something that would be good to do in addition to the fenders.
I'm not a big fan of lifts, either, but they do have their place. If you are a hard core rock crawler and need the breakover angle afforded by a lift, by all means do it. If you spend your time on the road and don't need a lift, you have to move on to other questions. Why do you "want" a lift (not a question of need at that point)? If you just want the jeep to have that look, or if you just really want to drive a lifted Jeep, then go for it. Scratch the itch. But if you do, don't cheap it up. Buy good, proven components and install them correctly. If you can't afford it, save until you can. Taking shortcuts or using inferior components will end up costing more in the long run. And potentially be dangerous.
I have no experience with the Metal Cloak fenders, but I do like that look. Minimal, if any lift, with appropriately sized tires.
Remember that before all these modifications became easy and pre-manufactured, most of the wonderful trails out there were explored by relatively stock Jeeps with 31 and 33 inch tires. Learning how to properly drive a Jeep makes more sense to me than buying a bunch of stuff. And finally, if you check on some of the threads where people are looking at buying modified Jeeps, a lot of experienced Jeepers will shy away from modded vehicles. Just something to think about.
2004 TJ, 4.0, 5-speed, stock height, 31X10.50X15 on 8" aluminum rims, some other nice tweaks to a great vehicle