I don't see one single reason to lift a Jeep higher than around 4". Long- arms with WB stretch, cut the sheetmetal as much as required, patch the holes and run 35s or 37s. I'd do that if a Jeep like was street-legal where I live. However, the maximum size I can run is 32s without the cops taking my plates off and giving a ticket, so that's what i run with 1.75" BB.
I guess the biggests reasons for high lifts + large tires combos are that people want bolt-on parts and they want the look of a high Jeep with big tires. A lower Jeep with wider track, proper belly protection, cut up fenders, large tires and lockers would be a lot more cabable rig in all but swamps/ mudpits though. Can be built cleanly too, but requires quite a lot of fabbing..
Posers. The most BASIC modifications you can make to any offroad rig are, in order:
2.) Skid plates
Give me these on an otherwise stock ZJ and I will make it much further down the trail than any open rig that's lifted with 33's+
agreed as well, except for the skid plates part. they are nice, and can save expensive parts, but much farther down on the list for me.
most of what i will call "mall Crawlers" are lifted big, on flashy wheels with completely bolt on stuff for the look, that is it.
IMO, any real off roader will build their rig. sure, there are guys who buy off the shelf lift kits and tons of "bolt" on goodies and can make a decently capable ride, but i truely think that if you are serious about it, you will built it custom. Not because the off the shelf stuff doesn't work, because a lot of it does, but because there is only 1 way to get exactly what you want, and that is build it yourself. In my years of wheeling, i have owned exactly 1 bolt on lift kit, and it was on a DD jeep and on it when i purchases the jeep.
my style of wheeling differs from most others i would say, there are places 31's simply will not take you, i have tried. But a locked rig on 31's-33's is plenty capable for most and will do some fairly difficult trails. But as the trails get harder, that is when you need Bigger tires, a bit more lift, and all that comes along with it. i wheeled a BB'd ZJ on 31's for years, then upgraded to 34's. yes i went more places on the 34's due to ground clearance, but i got into plenty of trouble on only 31's. now, as i said, there are places it simply would not go. No way i could go places in it i take my blazer on 38's.