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Old 03-21-2021, 10:51 AM   #1
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Hidden Winch Mount or Aluminess Bumper?

I have a 2017 Sprinter 4x4 144 Wheel Base. I am interested in hearing from users who have added these accessories to their rig.
Looking to add a winch for recovery purposes.
Should I go with Agile Hidden Winch Mount or Full Aluminess Bumper with winch? In addition looking to mount the spare tire on the back and add a large box on the other side. Owl Vans mounts or full Aluminess rear bumper and accessories?
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Old 03-22-2021, 07:53 AM   #2
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I installed the Van Compass hidden winch mount (with a 12,000# winch) and have been very happy with it. For one, the bumper weighs about 80 pounds and replaces about 30 for a net add of only 50 pounds compared to a Backwoods bumper at ~250 pounds. Secondly, it adds quite a bit of protection to the front under the factory bumper cover in a discreet fashion without extending the front end and worsening the approach angle and lengthening the vehicle. I have used the winch several times to pull others out as well as a difficult directional pull of a very heavy Land Cruiser sliding off a slope from the recovery point and it held without a scratch. I highly recommend it. I installed it, the winch, and a small bar light in about half a day.
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Have owned 2007 Sprinter SMB and have now converted a 2016 170" 4x4 w/custom interior made of aluminum and HDPE, high powered electric system, hot water, dual air compressors and systems, electrically raising queen bed, large bike garage, rotating two person bench seat, custom rack, suspension improvements, skid plates, lights all around, custom roof rack, and many other things. Now considering a 2021 E450 converted to 4x4 with custom box.
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Old 03-22-2021, 07:49 PM   #3
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Thanks for your reply. I have been researching the benefits of the hidden winch system. You make some great points. I guess my next question is, have you ever missed the protection a full bumper replacement would provide, say running over a deer etc... and if someone that has a full front bumper could verify if the additional weight on the front end was noticeable? and if the addition length resulted in contacting a boulder etc.. on approach? Cheers!
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Old 03-23-2021, 09:39 AM   #4
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I have not missed any protection. I'm not bashing true trees nor would I with an aftermarket bumper, as that would cause much more damage than just scratch up the bumper. I have hit any deer but having seen that happen with a truck with a large bull bar bumper, an event like that would likely damage much more of the vehicle than just any bumper. If I were to get into an accident, the factory bumper is designed to hit another vehicle, any hidden or aftermarket bumper will likely only add strength to how the factory bumper was designed, and not sure if hitting another vehicle is a good measure either as much more damage to people and vehicle will be sustained than just damage to a bumper. So I see no benefit to an aftermarket bumper than looks, and they can look good, but that is a $2500 vanity pill with worse approach angle, added weight and thus higher fuel costs+shorter range, heavier steering feel, greater tire wear... Plus some folks do have issues with the various distance sensors with the aftermarket bumpers even though most don't, so I see no to few benefits of of an aftermarket bumper. I did put a Backwoods on a friend's van because he says he hits deer every year, although I've never known that to happen, but it was important for his piece of mind, so you have to make the judgement of piece of mind/looks and added costs and wear and tear as I don't see the aftermarket bumper adding any functional value over a hidden winch bumper. I have been super impressed with the pulls I've done with mine. I've pulled out very capable/well equipped Toyota truck and Land Cruiser well bogged down/sliding sideways on a hill easily, and having installed the VC bumper myself, I can say it is very well built and designed and attached in all of the factory places plus more. I think it's as strong as a mount if not more than the Backwoods bumper I helped to installed, which that requires 2-3 people plus a lift, which the VC hidden bumper is a one person job. I have some photos and videos I can post on my YouTube channel. Here's a video from my channel, subscribe, and I'll post a video up about the install soon: .
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Have owned 2007 Sprinter SMB and have now converted a 2016 170" 4x4 w/custom interior made of aluminum and HDPE, high powered electric system, hot water, dual air compressors and systems, electrically raising queen bed, large bike garage, rotating two person bench seat, custom rack, suspension improvements, skid plates, lights all around, custom roof rack, and many other things. Now considering a 2021 E450 converted to 4x4 with custom box.
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Old 03-23-2021, 11:02 AM   #5
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I had Agile install the hidden winch mount along with skid plates on our 2018 4x4 sprinter (they had a bundle package of winch, bumper and engine skid plate). It was pretty pricey but has been both helpful a couple of times and helps with piece of mind whenever on 4WD roads. Also have Aluminess galley box and spare tire swing arm on the back. Very happy with all of the above. I have a buddy who went with the Owl setup on his Revel and he is very happy with that as well. I suspect that price and preference for looks are the primary drivers with function being pretty similar ( I much prefer the hidden winch look to the bulkier Aluminess bumper but that’s me).
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Old 03-23-2021, 11:14 AM   #6
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I forgot to add that I went with the Owl ladder+ tire carrier, which I am very happy with. I did that so I could install the Agile 28-gallon Aux fuel tank, which the extra fuel is a huge stress relief during my travels on road and off road throughout remote regions of the western US. Makes for a 750+ mile range, plus I can fill up when convenient or lower cost. I really like the Owl tire carrier and ladder. Also, the Van Compass hidden winch mount + 12k synthetic winch were less than $2000 total, and a pretty easy one person install in less than a day. If you're a DIYer, or like to save money, this can be a good option. Installing the Backwoods bumper took 2-3 of us as much time to install. Relocating the sensors and getting them working takes some time, in addition to lifting the heavy bumper parts.
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Have owned 2007 Sprinter SMB and have now converted a 2016 170" 4x4 w/custom interior made of aluminum and HDPE, high powered electric system, hot water, dual air compressors and systems, electrically raising queen bed, large bike garage, rotating two person bench seat, custom rack, suspension improvements, skid plates, lights all around, custom roof rack, and many other things. Now considering a 2021 E450 converted to 4x4 with custom box.
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Old 03-23-2021, 04:28 PM   #7
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Thanks for the feedback. Have you ever felt you were going to hit the rear bumper coming off an incline/ boulder etc... with the full rear Aluminess bumper? Thanks!
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Old 03-28-2021, 12:50 PM   #8
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I installed the hidden winch bumper but have not decided on a winch as yet and may never but it's ready if need to. I did however leave my spare underneath. The stock mount can handle a 265x70 perfectly using longer bolts. This allows me to have two boxes on the rear, a standard deluxe 30" and a special made 36". This allows all the bulky items to be stored outside on the rear of the sprinter.
Hope this helps.
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Old 03-31-2021, 09:39 PM   #9
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I just completed installation of an owl tire carrier and the b2 w/ large storage box.

My very initial impression is that I’m worried by how much the rear door kinda ‘shudders’ when closing it. We go in and out of the back a lot (bikes are in the garage back there) and I’m not impressed with my first impressions. It feels like maybe we’ve put to much weight back there (and we haven’t even put anything in the box yet).

On the other hand they themselves seem well built and I appreciate that they don’t seem to effect the actual door operations. So maybe I just need to get used to the feel. Time will tell.
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Old 04-01-2021, 12:12 PM   #10
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I installed the full Aluminess bumper with the Brush Guard up front and have been very happy with it. It hasn't taken on a deer, but a full-speed collision with a jackrabbit left no evidence behind other than a bit of a mess that was easily cleaned up with soap and water.

One of my reasons for it is very different than what has been expressed here. The van replaced my pickup truck thus it needs the ability to carry what the truck used to. My roof design has everything located below the load bars, thus I can still carry 20' sticks of lumber, rebar, pipe, ladders and etc. As anyone knows who has ever carried long loads, a front tie-down is very handy, thus the reason why my Brush Guard has two tie-down points at the corners in addition to the bar itself.




This picture highlights the differences with Flint pulled up nose to nose to Rob's (Van Compass) red van. FYI, this was before Flint got his 2" VC lift.



As for the rear, the new hinge-mounted carriers were not available when I had the full Aluminess bumper with swing arms installed. Would I decide differently were I to make the decision now? Most likely not. I really like the look of the new carriers, but I recall that MB only rates the rear door hinges for 100 lbs. (Somebody please check me on this, and don't forget to include the weight of the carrier itself when doing your load calculations.) My current spare is a 285/70/17 mounted on a Method wheel, the combination weighs 86 lbs., plus I have a loaded Trasharoo strapped to it. Ditto the other side with a fully loaded Aluminess Deluxe box that sometimes carries 10 gallons (70 lbs.) of diesel on top of it in addition to the weight of the contents of the box.



I like the look, durability and usefulness of the Aluminess bumper up front and I like the weight carrying ability of the Aluminess bumper on the back.

Having choices for all of our various reasons is a good thing. Enjoy the process!
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