Should trail badges represent the exploits of the vehicle or the driver? I had a built ’98 Wrangler that I wheeled extensively on the top trails in Colorado and Utah. It was well decorated with badges for the trails we ran. Because of my age and physical issues, I replaced it with a ’11 Rubicon Unlimited. My Jeeping buddies say it is unethical to put badges on it unless the Jeep has run the trails. I don’t have the time, and in some instances may not have the skills to rerun all of those trails, although I think my modified Rubicon can do them all. I recently ran Iron Chest twice without ever kissing a rock with steel.
I am proud of my wheeling over a period of many decades and would like to advertise the trails I have run without verbally tooting my own horn. What is standard practice?
Terry J. Peavler
Buena Vista, CO
Well, you’ve actually brought up quite the dilemma. We can certainly appreciate the desire to openly advertise the trails you have accomplished, but if done improperly, it could surely be considered misleading. Perhaps it’s the same as WWII markings on the side of a fighter plane, which were used to identify the number of enemy planes the pilot had shot down. Should an ace pilot lose all of his victories when put into a new plane? That hardly seems fair, right? Although, if you were to put badges of extremely difficult trails on a nearly stock Jeep that clearly never would have traversed them, you’ll likely be considered a fraud by those in the know, regardless of how many other Jeeps you have owned and modified or where you have driven them. You’d probably find yourself constantly defending and explaining the circumstances of each of the badges, depending on where you travel and who you travel with. It would seem easier to associate each badge of honor with the Jeep that made the accomplishment. However, clearly the Jeep couldn’t have completed the trails without someone behind the wheel. Maybe you could modify the badges to indicate the year you accomplished the trail. Or could you modify the badge to include the model of the Jeep that traversed the trail? Either of these options could help avoid any confusion, especially if the Wrangler Unlimited is far newer than when the trails were originally traversed. If you decide that only trails traversed in the Jeep should be indicated by badges on that Jeep, you could have a jacket made up with sewn-on badges of the trails you personally have accomplished. This way both your Jeep and you as a driver receive proper credit for all trail accomplishments.