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**Front bumper and winch setup will be installed once ARB releases their bullbar for the 2014+ Tundra. They are still currently in the design process, and hopefully it is released this year. ARB is hands down the authority on front end protection when travelling off-road and I eagerly await its release**
After the sliders were the skid plates. Not many companies offer skid plates for the Tundra, but RCI Offroad, makes some top notch bombproof ones that cover almost the entire under carriage, Love these things!
I chose the Tundra as my platform for this build, because of the obvious Toyota Reliability, but also for its size, and ability to lay everything out safely, out of the way, and to sleep in it comfortably.
This build was done with over 20 years of "overlanding" (damn i hate that buzzword) and back country exploring and finding out what works, what doesn't, what is needed, and what is a waste. No attention to detail was overlooked. Each and every mod was done with a reason.
I believe in buying the best, buying it once policy. If you cheap out on your build, it will almost definitely bite you in the ass later down the road probably leaving you stranded in the middle of no where! An ounce of prevention saves a pound of headache.
For sleeping accomidations, went with the Camper Shell for obvious reasons. Much simpler, sturdier than a roof top tent, and much more streamlined for MPGs, as well as for the durability in harsh conditions.
The Decked drawer system / sleeping platform is the real hero in this build. It provided ample storage space for tools, spare parts, food, gear, etc in waterproof compartments out of the way, and keeping the COG as low at possible.
TONS More pics and details coming soon!
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Most of the build list (constantly being added to and adjusted)
2014 Toyota Tundra 4x4 Double Cab
Moto Hauler and Back Country Exploration Camp Rig
Next was the Armor. I've been a Slee Offroad customer over 10 years and have had nothing but amazing results with their armor. The slider choice to use them was a no brainer. They look like simple side steps, but these things are hell for stout!
Because my trips are most often at minimum 3 days, i installed the ARB 63 qt fridge/fridge to keep things cold because coolers suck, and i don't want to deal with chasing ice.
One mod i did more for curiousity than need was a solar setup. I'm very rarely camped in the same place for any length of time without driving, unless at a moto race weekend. The ARB fridge is insanely efficient but for 3 days of opening and closing the lid to get beer and other items, it will be "On" and working. The aux battery has a huge reserve, so the chances of the fridge draining it in 3 days are slim, but could happen. For this reason i installed a 100 watt Renogy solar setup with controller wired directly to the aux battery. I had never run solar before, and did this mostly out of curiousity. While i don't need it while traveling, i've discovered i can permanently run my fridge in the truck and have it stocked with ice cold beer, and food and ready to go at any time. Since installing the solar, I HAVE NOT SHUT MY FRIDGE OFF in over 4 MONTHS. My truck isn't my daily, and often sits at home for a week at a time without being ran. The solar puts out more than enough juice to keep the aux battery fully charged, and the fridge at exactly 32 degrees! Often my trips are last minute, so this solves several issues in one!
My biggest passion is exploring the outdoors, whether on a bike, or in a truck, I just love being outside. I enjoy very much enjoy camping, primarily in hard to get to, less populated places.
I like to MOVE when i am traveling/exploring. I am not into the whole get to camp, setup awnings, RTTs, annexes, and ridiculously elaborate kitchen setups, and similar and stay put all weekend. I want to be able to pack up and move in minutes, not hours. The goal is to explore. If i wanted to sit around, i would stay at home and invite my buddies over.
I decided to build up my Tundra to get me to those hard to get places, with or without the bike, and have a completely self contained traveling and functional home away from home.
A lot of folks nowadays seem to be building "Everything including the kitchen sink" rigs and throwing around the "Overland" or "Expedition" buzzwoods like they are traveling the world. When in reality, they are just going a few hours away from home, and basically bringing their entire house with them. That's not for me, nor is this build! :)
I strongly believe in almost every single word of this article and highly recommend anyone prepping for offroad adventure read this:
Many folks go to a basecamp, setup huge elaborate kitchens, awnings with spare rooms, etc... This not only takes hours to setup and take down, it also makes you stuck at camp unable to go explore on a whim if you so desire. I do this to explore and find new things. Sitting around camp is cool and fun when the time is right, but generally, i like to be on the move.
My mindset has been, and always will be the old K.I.S.S. Keep it Simple Stupid. The more things you add, the more things can potentially cause you problems!
This is MY VERSION of what I believe to be the ideal rig for exploring, back country off the grip camping in comfort, and hauling my dirtbike to faraway places. SImple, as few moving parts as possible, and most importantly, SIMPLE AND FUNCTIONAL!
I will start with the build list and links first, and then detail the whys and hows later on with pics.
I've done 98% of this myself, but for the few things I either can't handle, or don't have the tools, i bring it to Ray Frey Auto Center in San Diego off of Convoy. Miles is the man there, and one of the only people i let touch my rig:
For those that know me from the Expedition Portal as "Boston Mangler" (OG Member #183) you've probably read my dual battery or electric locker installs. That attention to detail is also being used on this build
My following builds that have been covered in Toyota Trails Magazine include:
1999 UZJ100 LandCruiser
1996 FZJ80 Land Cruiser
1997 FZJ80 Land Cruiser
and of course our 1993 UZJ80 Land Cruiser Baja 1000 race truck.
I'm am often asked for advice on builds and when i try to give my two cents, folks argue about current trends and do the exact opposite. I call these folks "AskHoles" Hahahaha
Some recent "Trends" seem to be taking off like wildfire, and I'm 100% convinced it is for image, and looks more than functionality. People more concerned about impressing their social media followers than having a functional rig.
DONT TAKE THIS THE WRONG WAY I am 110% all for being prepped and ready for anything, but it pains me to see people dumping $1000 of dollars into unneeded stuff to their rigs to give the "overland" image before they even have a GPS, or an emergency beacon such as the DeLorme inReach, or similar. Come on people. Put down the magazines, and use some common sense. Your Smartphone should NOT be your lifeline! Folks generally realize this the first time they are stuck in the middle of no wheres.
ROOFTOP TENTS: Everyone and their mother has a roof top tent now. In MY OPINION, these are over glorified, over complicated, and MOST DEFINITELY overpriced for what they are. But the market wants them so they are there. The downsides are much more than the upsides. I've had 2 different Eezi-Awn roof tents back in the day when they were first in the US. They take up alot of valuable real estate. They rob the vehicle of at least 2mpgs (calculated this on 2 different trucks). They are heavy as hell, and totally screw up the vehicles center of gravity for any type of legit off-roading. Packing them up after or during a heavy rain is a freaking nightmare! Yeah, they look cool, if you're into that type of thing, but for all the downsides, i'll pass.
GROSS OVERLOADING: Even back in the day this was a bizarre trend. Much more so now. Folks going a little mini 3 day trips packing like they are going on a year long African safari. 5 jerry cans of fuel (even though ample gas stations around), 10 gallons of water, etc.... The list could go on for paragraphs. Folks don't realize, each and every item they bolt or strap to their truck is adding weight. Adding weight is in turn, hurting MPGs, making the vehicle harder to get unstuck, and causing more wear and tear on the chasis when actually off-road. Not to mention, all these folks with jerry cans, and other misc farkles bolted all over their truck don't realize they are all projectiles in the event of a roll over. Do you seriously want a fuel can on your roof if you roll over? No need for it! Again, messing with the center of gravity.
OVER COMPLICATED and PROBLEMATIC SUSPENSION: One of the biggest advancements since i used to follow this stuff online years ago is all this long travel suspension now. In my last 5 trips, 3 of them have included rolling up to someone broken down with a busted spingle or heim joint on their $4k suspension setups. For bombproof reliability and functionality, again, KEEP IT SIMPLE. Old Man Emu suspension has been on all of my trucks, even the race truck, and for those that know me, you know i'm not easy on my stuff. Not one single issue ever, in over 50k dirt miles! Stay away from those fancy bypass shocks and long travel stuff if you're going into the back county!
2.5" Old Man Emu System with Bilstein 5160 rear shocks to keep the suspension operating properly with the weight
I added the biggest baddest auxillary battery available with the Odyssey PC 2150. This runs both the fridge and the 2000 watt inverter flawlessy. The inverter is a Xantrex ProSINE 2000 watt, capable of running pretty much anything you could possibly need or want on the trail or at camp!
I wired the dual battery setup using the Power Gate Perfect Switch Isolator, made right here in San Diego and tested and proven by our military for over a decade. If you're going to ask me for dual battery advice, don't even bother if you're using a low end isolator. I've seen enough of them fail, i don't want to be involved with it. This is your vehicles heart and soul, this is the last place you should be cheaping out. The entire system was custom wired by myself using 2 gauge Ancor Marine grade cables and shrink wrap. So far, its been flawless for 20k miles! Do it right, do it once!
Another very crucial part of any build is increasing the fuel range. The Tundra comes with a stock horribly small 26 gallon fuel tank for a range of about 240 miles. Due to my disliking of jerry cans and the dangers they present, i opted to install the 46 gallon replacement tank from Transfer flow! My range is now over 550 miles on a single fill up! a VERY useful mod!
I found a very slick and OEM looking dual battery gauge from Australia that fits right into the stock opening. I've checked the values with a multimeter and they are spot on!