Do you have recovery gear yet? That would be my choice.
Right here, I just spent some money on a GOOD recovery set. Not only does it enable you 1000+ different recovery scenarios but it is much safer for you, bystanders and the environment (tree trunk protectors)
I'd invest in:
Tree trunk protector
Maybe a bag to hold it all too
Look into ARB, WARN or Rugged ridge recovery kits
2002 TJ Sport 4.0
3" AEV/OME lifted
Go for the skid plates, protect your underbelly. Doesn't matter how pretty the outside looks, or how many options you have on the inside...if you bugger up something underneath on the trail, you aren't driving ANYWHERE! And repairs underneath can get real expensive real fast! Even if you have to spend $200-300 more, having $200 free to start with makes it real easy to go for full skid plates, engine, transmission, and gas tank...and you have covered 90% of the trouble areas. THEN for your birthday, christmas, anniversary of the day you bought the jeep-tell all your family to buy the 'pretty stuff' for your baby. and go out and enjoy the trails! Think of this...what would a boxer choose...giving the option of it being free...a brand new set of shorts, shirt, and robe...or a helmet and a good CUP?....LOL......
I went with the Warn engine/oil skid plate. I plan to weld additional supports on the underside in the way of steel angle rails welded flat with tapered ends. I feel this is necessary on the skid row and other plates that are 3/16" so i went with cost effective warn 1/8".
Anyone else done this? Ideas?
I also picked up a skid row steering box plate and I am going to weld skid plated on control arms.
Had to pick up a t-shirt as well.
Thoughts on gas tank skid plate for my future knowledge? Is factory skid ok? Has anyone beefed up their factory fuel tank skid plate?
____________ 2005 Jeep Wrangler TJ Unlimited, White, Hardtop(Black), 4.0l, Manual Trans., 4" Trailmaster Short Arm Suspenspension with Trailmaster Trackbars, Disconnects, & SSV Shocks, Stock Axles & Gears(D35,D44,3.73), 33" x 12.5" x 18" Interco TrXus MT on Mamba 18" x 9" M2 Alloys (Including Spare Tire), Superwinch EPi9.0S 9,000# with Viking Synthetic Cable
If you don't already have a skid plate for your oil pan, that is the very first thing I'd buy with that $$$. Whatever is left over I'd spend on recovery gear for your winch... a snatch (recovery) strap, tree saver strap, a couple 3/4" shackles, and a snatch block.
__________________ Remember that having a different opinion doesn't also require one to be a jerk when expressing it.