Rugged Ridge’s Modular Snorkel Perfectly Blends Style & Function
Do snorkels really have to be so massive and unattractive? Thanks to this new Jeep JL design, the answer is no.
For most Jeep owners, installing a snorkel is a necessary evil. Unless you like your engine to suck in water and leave you stranded in the middle of nowhere. Snorkels have been around seemingly forever, yet haven’t really changed at all. Meanwhile, many other off-road parts continue to evolve. Until now, that is. Because Rugged Ridge went back to the drawing board and designed an all-new, modular snorkel for the Jeep JL Wrangler that promises to change the game.
Rugged Ridge, an Omix-ADA brand started in 2006, debuted its new part at the parent company’s pre-SEMA event known as Omix-ADA’s Off-road Experience, which took place last month at the Brasstown Valley Resort in Young Harris, Georgia. And of course, JK-Forum was in attendance, scoping out all the exciting new Jeep gear the company has to offer. But among all the cool stuff we saw, this modular snorkel peaked our interest the most. Mostly because it’s so subtle compared to the giant, tacky add-ons we’re accustomed to.
Rugged Ridge Design Process
Rugged Ridge prides themselves on approaching product design differently from most companies. As in, they don’t take any preconceived notions into the engineering process. Patrick Bennett, Product Development for Rugged Ridge, explained how this new Jeep JL snorkel is a perfect example of how that process works.
“We got to thinking about it. ‘Well, is there different way we can do it? Is there something no one else has done? Is there a new direction we can take it in that will get people interested in it?’ As a result, we came up with the modular idea. Not everyone wants a high snorkel sticking up out of the side of the vehicle, but they understand the application of pulling air from a different location. So that’s where the modular system came from.”
Rather simple, yet rather ingenious. But the benefits of this modular snorkel extend beyond aesthetics, of course. “The JK version has been very good for us,” Bennett continued. “And it is a really popular product because one of the things we know about Jeep owners is that they like to be unique. So when you can offer a product that not only looks different and functions differently, but one where you can also change it up from a high mount to a low mount on a whim, that takes it to the next level.”
As you can see in the above photos, Rugged Ridge uses clay molding as a part of the design process. This is something not typically done in modern manufacturing anymore, as the advent of computer-aided design (CAD) has essentially eliminated the need to full physical concepts. Nonetheless, they use a unique blend of both to ensure the best possible design.
“Clay allows us to capture that idea and put it on the vehicle. We clay it up and sculpt it out before we ever go into CAD because it allows us to go through trial and error,” Bennett said. “Plus, we now have something we can scan with our 3D scanner.”
It’s this integrated approach that gives Rugged Ridge the edge over the competition when it comes to design. “Sometimes we get what a lot of people in engineering call ‘CAD goggles,’ where you’ve only seen [the design] on the computer screen. Then you get it in real life, and things just look weird,” said Jesse Neal, Rugged Ridge Product Engineer. “So we take that opportunity to go through and fix those things. Then we send it off to a manufacturer.”
A subtle, unique snorkel that functions the same as those huge, view-obstructing, gaudy-looking pieces? Sounds like a winner to us.
Photos for Dodge Forum: Derin Richardson