The 4Runner

     This past summer, my wife Emily and I went up to Birmingham to Hoover Toyota to look at 4Runners. She had always liked that platform and with just a little coaxing from me, it was an easy sell.  I’ve talked a little bit about our new truck in the past, but we have some new stuff happening to it finally. 

     Now granted, it won’t be built out nearly to the extent as my 60 or for that matter, anything I would own. But, we had both decided it would be nice having it for road trips and just being a lot more comfortable than my old truck. 

     And now for the good stuff!! I recently ordered a full length roof rack from LFD Off-Road for the truck. I had originally picked up the crossbars for it, but being both of my tents are pretty long, I wasn’t able to bolt down the front of the tent. Not only is it going to look a lot cooler, it’s going to be functional and we’ll be able to use our tents while my 60 is still in the shop. But wait!! There’s more!!! After our wedding day(I’ll elaborate in another blog) she decided more light was needed and if you know me, you know I’m a Baja Designs whore. Luckily enough, they make a kit that replaces your factory fogs with some of their retinal burning lights. So we’ll be replacing those with the Squadron Pros in the wide cornering lenses. Finally(for now), we’ll be adding the Bilstein leveling struts in the front. I’ve been toying with the idea of putting a dual battery system in it, too, for when I want to throw my Dometic in the back and take off. 

     That will do it for now and hopefully, she’ll like all the new upgrades. Also, if you haven’t checked out the LFD stuff, do it. They are constantly expanding their line of products for Toyota’s and have some great products. 

And as always, this is Rich signing off.  

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Cargo Solutions

     On the very long list of things to talk about is the packing portion of the traveling and I figured now is a better time than ever. That being said, let’s get into it!!

     One of the hardest parts of extended travel is the packing. We normally do at least one two week trip a year, with lots of smaller trips thrown in there too. So after several years of regular trips, I’ve got it down pretty decent and I’ll tell you my secret. Stackable, waterproof-ish, plastic bins. Specifically, the Front Runner Outfitters Wolf Pack. They work beautifully for my setup. I’ve figured out if you keep about four of them around, you’ll have all the packable space you need. Just for the record, I’m generally packing for myself, the wife, and two kids.

     Not only do they work well for the obvious, but they’re great for use around camp. Something to stand on, something to sit on, hell, even something to throw a cutting board on and do some food prep. Point of the story, they really are a great all around camping item. So if you’re in the market for a storage box that doubles as a garage organizer, look no further, ya found it!!

And on that note, this is Rich signing off.

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Old South Overland

     Have you been wanting to try and make it to Expo, just never lines up right with your weekend plans?? Or maybe it’s just the crowds and sheer chaos that scary you away?? Well, now Alabama is having its very own overland gathering with vendors, camping, and all. If you’re interested in checking it out, it’s happening March 1-2 at Tannehill Ironworks State Park, in McCalla, AL. So far they’ve already got about 10 vendors including Dometic, Helinox, and Camp Chef. I believe there’s a few roof top tent companies going too. So, now’s your chance to come touch stuff!! We’ll be there, so you could probably hang out with us as well. 

     Tickets haven’t gone on sale just yet, but it shouldn’t be much longer. There’s on site camping available first come, first serve. If you read my blogs, you know how I feel about the smaller events. In my experience, they’re always a lot more fun than the big ones. Regardless, we’ll have a big time, so just come find us and you won’t have any complaints, except maybe burned ears. Check out the Facebook website for more information. Well, that’s all I got for you. I hope I see some of you out there!! 

Anyway, as always, this is Rich signing off.  

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Off the Grid Surplus

     I recently had the opportunity to slide into a pair of the Off the Grid Surplus Trailblazer 2.0 and oooo damn. I was pretty impressed!! Initially, I wasn’t a fan of how tight the cuffs were (that being the bit that sits over your shoe), but once getting my boots on and realizing they had elastic in them, I changed my mind!! I’m kind of a girl about clothes. What can I say, it’s a lot of fun getting fly. Some of the best times are getting dressed up and having too many drinks with your friends at a wedding. That being said, I’m obviously a pretty big fan of staying in the woods for weeks on end too. To make packing easier, I’ll try and take as few a clothes as possible. 

     The pants are built great. It’s not a senseless amount of pockets to loose your stuff in, but perfect amount. The zipper pocket on the driver side leg holds my cellular device beautifully and in the event you’re out doing some shooting, you’ve got two mag pockets above the normal back pockets. One thing cool I noticed about the elastic cuffs, I drive a lifted Land Cruiser and jumping in and out will forever keep the tops of your boots uncovered by your pants. This is no longer the case. Between that, everything being triple stitched, and expanded room in the crotch, man, they really are some comfortable pants. Ideally, you would have three pairs-ish (depending on time of year and where) for a two week trip and just rotate out every three or so days. Moral of the story is I like them a lot and will be after some more!! 

As always, this is Rich signing off.  

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The Mighty Helinox

     Since I’ve been in the camping world, I’ve had the opportunity to see and play with a lot of different products from a lot of different companies. Helinox first came on my radar back in 2015 when Jason from Mountain State Overland told me about them. We were gearing up for a trip to New England and due to how small they pack up, he suggested I take a look at them. Originally a backpackers chair, they work incredibly well for truck based camping. But let’s get into a few of the key features I’m such a big fan of. 

     First of all, most people can’t believe something that packs up so tight can be any kind of comfortable and every time, I change their mind. I currently have three of the swivel chairs and I absolutely love them. Not only do they swivel, but they also have a bit of tilt to them as well. I can tell you with every ounce of my being, I’ve literally logged 100’s of drunk hours in mine and never fallen out of the thing. They also have several different styles, colors, and even a new one that them and another favorite company of mine(Rumpl) did together. Now, I couldn’t tell you an exact number of how many I’ve sold just by letting people try them out or just by seeing it packed and unpacked, but it’s several. But now, since I’m married with two little ones going off in the woods with us sometimes, I’m going to have to find a fourth chair to add to the collection. Turns out, that’s the hardest part, picking your favorite one. They’ve recently come out with a Multicam line of chairs and if you know me, you know I’m a huge fan of Multicam. So it’ll probably be between that one and the Rumpl  collaboration. Regardless, you can bet your sweet ass it’s going to be a Helinox. It’s hard to shop for other like products when you find such a good one. 

And as always, this is Rich signing off.  

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Ooooh Uwharrie

     After leaving Mud Fest (aka Overland Expo East), we set our navigation towards Uwharrie, North Carolina. We were prepared for a fun filled few days of wheeling and scouting for the upcoming Southern Xpeditions Rally and we wouldn’t be disappointed.  Unfortunately, the rains didn’t stop and the tropical storm that was hitting the Carolina coast wasn’t helping things either.

     We arrived at Overland Experts property Monday a little before lunch. After shaking  hands and seeing everyone again, we set off to pick up our passes for the forest and we hit the trails. As I said before, the moisture was consistently coming out of the sky which made the easy trails, not so easy.  So, you could imagine what that does to that Carolina clay and all that rock. That being said, I can’t wait to get all of the competitors out there and see what they can do. (A word of advice for all the future competitors, beware of the D’s. 😈)  

     We finished the first day of wheeling to find that our planned camp site was almost under water due to the rising creek next to it. So we made the decision to move to higher ground since it was only supposed to rain more. This worked out for the best because of the showers and bathrooms that was right beside us and I can assure you, no one complained about having a hot shower after being out in the rain all day. After three days of riding around the forest and the few different properties Overland Experts have, we had to say our goodbyes and head to the house. Even though it was raining pretty much the entire two weeks of our trip, we had an amazing time. That’s one of my favorite parts about this past time, all the cool, like-minded people you meet. I’ve made so many good friends from all over the country because of it and I’ll always be grateful for that. 

But as always, this is Rich signing off.  

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The DFG 45 Degree Fridge Slide

     I figured we could have a break in our normally scheduled programming for a quick discussion about fridge slides. So, here we go.    

     Even before I had a Dometic CFX 50, I’ve been looking at fridge slides for a way to keep things a little more organized in the rear of the 60. After getting the fridge, I could tell even more so how imperative I needed one, and if you’ve ever been around the back of my truck, you’ll know what I mean. My drawers sit reasonably high and a straight pullout slide wasn’t going to work. Not to mention, all the ones I’ve found are super expensive. $500+ for the tilting ones like I would need. The main problem with my setup, is that the fridge sits too high on the storage for anyone short to access it. So, a tilt slide is the obvious solution. 

     Enter DFG Offroad. They were first brought to my attention by a friend of ours, Blake. He works for Dometic and had worked with them in the past. Their design is brilliant and absolutely perfect for what I need. Not to mention, the price is super reasonable coming in at under $400. Now there’s no more climbing up on my tailgate for fish beers out of my fridge. It seemlessly slides out and my wife, Emily, can even see what she’s grabbing. Like I said, great design and beautiful price point.  

     So, if you’re in the market for a fridge slide and aren’t into waistfully blowing money, look up DFG Offroad. You won’t be sorry.  

As always, this is Rich signing off.  

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Hendersonville, NC

     The Tuesday before Expo, we met up with one of our buddies, Grant and his 4x4 Sprinter in the Pisah National Forest for one last camp before the show. Unfortunately, we got to camp a little later than expected due to so many people camping in the forest. We ended up spending an hour or more trying to find a place to set up camp. So since we were pretty exhausted we just drank a few beers, cooked dinner, and headed to bed for the night.

The next morning, we got up, hit the closest Waffle House, and headed Reeb Ranch. We got to Expo pretty early that Wednesday and got my truck situated like she needed to be. But this was before the rains came and people were already getting stuck. We knew we were in for a long weekend.  

     That first night was awesome, I saw so many friends that live so far away and usually never get the chance to see them all at once. Although it did rain pretty much all night long our CVT Mt Rainier was amazing. We were warm and dry the whole night and it was perfect for a family of 4. The following morning while cooking some sausage, I thought, “damn, it’s nice to have that Dometic!!” 

     Saturday was the first day of some actual sunshine, and I mean that it more ways than one. I proposed to my girlfriend Emily, and she said yes! (A huge thanks to Derrick and Jason Specht from Mountain State Overland for the ninja camera skills to get some pictures of it!) I came up two days ahead of her and she brought along her two kids who are 5 and 7 on Friday. They were finally able to play in the dirt and be “kids” and meet other kids who were there camping. I was finally able to mingle around because Emily was able to reach the inside of my Dometic  fridge because I added a new DFG slide to it, and she could make her own mimosas.

     One of the of the main reasons this event has me coming back, is for the people and the friendships. But after this year I’m not sure. Unfortunately, there was a lack of space to camp and for the vendors area. Between that and the lack of planning for the mud and shuttling people from the parking lot. Which really disappointed me, I’ve met and made friends with so many people in the past years from coming to Expo. Some of my really good friends now, I met at Expo and it’s just a bummer to see that they haven’t been able to quite hit this event on the head. Hopefully they will continue to grow and improve in the future.

      After a few days of mud and some really fun nights with friends new and old, we said farewell to Hendersonville and headed to Uwharrie for some wheeling and hopefully dry weather. We would later find out only one of those things would happen. 

So until then, this is Rich signing off. 

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Where to Begin???

     Man, so much has happened since I last wrote!!! A killer road trip with lots of camping, an awesome time with family and friends during Thanksgiving, oh and I got married too!!! But let me dial it back and start from the beginning.  

     As I said before, we took off the weekend before Overland Expo East for Georgia Bushcraft in Watkinsville, Georgia. As always, that was a great event. I know I’ve said it before, but I just love the smaller events. They just don’t feel like you’re actually working. But after that, Derrick and Matt from Blue Ridge Overland Gear and I all took off for North Georgia. We had a few camping spots marked that friends gave us, so we just had to pick a good one from those. Matt was rolling in the Sprinter, so we had to consider that. But in all honesty, it didn’t slow us down at all. Obviously, he had to pick his lines a little bit more carefully than we did, but that thing did great. 

     After several days of wondering through the Chattahoochee National Forest, finding some cool little local shops, doing some water crossings, crossing into South Carolina, then North Carolina, we arrived in Hendersonville. 

     There’s a lot more story left, so I’ll save some and hit you with another installment next week. So until then, this is Rich signing off.  

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Final Push for Expo

     As we approach Overland Expo East, we’re trying to get all the little bits in order. Myself especially, the 60 will be in the CVT booth and I need her looking and functioning  the best she can.  But let’s back up a step. The fun starts a little before all of that. This coming weekend, Georgia Bushcraft is holding their Fall Gathering and that’s where our adventure starts. After that, we’re headed into to North Carolina for some camping and fly fishing for a few nights, then onto Asheville for the big show. After Expo, we’re headed over to Uwarrie National Forest and to see the guys at Overland Experts to start scouting for the Southern Xpeditions Rally. 

      But let’s talk details, I mentioned I have added a few things and one of those things I’ll do a separate blog on itself. The two major changes to the 60 are the new ARB front bumper and a DFG Offroad 45 degree tilting fridge slide. Ultimately, both were needed to get more function out of the truck, but damn sometimes function looks so good. Two absolute killer products. 

     If you’re heading to either events mentioned previously, come by and see me, I can promise you won’t miss me and the ole girl.  

And as always, this is Rich signing off. 

Oh the 60

     After this weekend, I can honestly say I’ve got my truck dialed in a lot further. As recently discussed, I was doing some upgrades. Gears- I went from a 3.73 to a 4.56, I added a locker to the old girl, and I also added a long travel front drive shaft. Due to the combination in lifts I have, my front drive shaft was pretty much completely yoked out. Luckily, Marlin Crawler sells a long travel kit. So I picked that up and turned out that once we opened up the front passenger side hub, I needed all new bearings, seals, and all. They also had a kit for that, so we got that ordered and I quite literally have a new front end now. At least the guts of it anyway. 

     Drivability has gone up. I basically have a four speed again, I just also have a granny low. First gear, low range is about the coolest thing yet on this ole girl. I can’t speak highly enough of her, that’s the truth. At this point, I am super happy with how things are going with the build. We really seem to be getting it all together. Only a few more things now!! Ha, yeah right.  

But as always, this is Rich signing off. 

      

The Rooftop Tent Way

      I’ve logged a lot of total hours in hammocks, ground tents, and rooftop tents. One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten a little older, is I care a lot more about the comfort of my sleep a lot more than I use too. Between that and being able to free up a bunch of extra room, due to the fact that you can keep all your sleeping stuff in the tent. CVT has been the solution for quite some time now and even before they were a sponsor.

      I currently have one of the hard shells that I’ve had for about a year now and absolutely love it. But since my girlfriend and I have started bringing the kids with us, we need a little more room. So I’ve been considering one of the Summit Series. I’ve had a great deal of experience with those and they’re great. It would provide the room we need and it would allow my 90 pound Doberman to sleep with me a whole lot easier. 

     I don’t know about you, but when I’m shopping the two most important things I look for is quality and customer service. Cascadia Vehicle Tents crushes that. Bobby is an awesome dude and takes incredibly good care of us, and for that, we thank him. So, if you're in market for a Rooftop Tent, check CVT out and you won’t be sorry. 

As always, this is Rich signing off. 

Southern Xpeditions in the Ham

     Well, Jim has recently bought this bad ass 2014 Tacoma that has been flat bedded and a custom, removable, camping tray for it. The thing is too sick. I wheeled it a little at ATR and was just dumbfounded at how capable the thing was. Now, granted it does have 37s, but it sounds like he’s downgrading to a 35. Anyway, he had planned to go to Birmingham so Derrick could help him wire up the back of the truck. Well, I decided I would go and now, Granger has decided he’s going too. So we’re just going to have us a big damn time and wire up a truck. If I had to guess, I’d say some alcohol will be consumed as well. I’ll be sure to do a post on the aftermath and all the upgrades we get done. Because there will be some surprises. That’s all I’ve got today. 

As always, this is Rich signing off.  

A New Era

      Well, I guess I should probably explain. Obviously, I haven’t been active on here in a while and for that, I apologize. But there’s a good reason for it. Life has yet again hit a crazy gear change that I would’ve never expected. I started working for this company in Dothan called Motobilt. If you know the company and you know me, yeah, it’s pretty damn amusing. But I absolutely love my job and all the people I work with. Even if they’re all Jeepers. Haha. No offense to anyone, just poking. 

      But there’s more!! The incredible woman that I’ve been seeing for the past few years and I have decided to get married and buy a house. So, as you can imagine, it’s been wide open and I’m completely good with it. All that being said, I’m starting to get a little better handle on it all now and will be able to knock out some blogs for y’all. So, just thought I would let you all know what the hell has been going on. But we’ve got some exciting new trips being planned coming up here real soon, and I can not tell you how excited I am that camping season is finally here!!!! 🍾🍾🍾  

But as always, this is Rich signing off.  

I’m Excited.

     Well, as you can tell from the title, I’m getting real damn excited. We have a lot going on right now, some of which I’m not at liberty to discuss yet. But we can touch on a little bit of it. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been gearing my 60 up for a pretty sizable trip this coming fall.(At least one, actually.) Before I jump into that one, let me talk about another upcoming trip we’re planning. After some discussion, it’s looking like we’ll be headed to ATR(Appalachian Toyota Roundup.) I’ve heard about it for some time, but I’ve never had the capability to make it up there in my truck and that’s something I’ve really wanted to do. It’ll be a solid drive for the ole girl(8ish hours), but we’ve already established that she’s capable of that. I just hope it gets cool enough to actually enjoy the camping part of the event. 

     Anyway, on to real exciting shiz. Just a little background, I’ve grown up only 90 miles from the beach. My grandparents had a house, so we always went. Well, ever since I was kid, I wanted to drive on the  beach and I’m FINALLY getting my wish!! That brings me to the juicy stuff. The planning is still being worked out, but we’ll be doing about 600-700 miles from the most northern part on the North Caroline coast and down and finishing on Savanna Georgia. A lot of this will be beach driving, there will be several ferry crossings, and a little bit of forest service roads too. Honestly, to say I’m excited is a gross understatement. Between camping on some really remote islands, on the beach, and hanging out with some awesome people, yeah, one could understand where I’m coming from. The best part about it all, all of you reader will get to experience it too. We’ll be filming the whole thing for a three part YouTube series. More on this as I get more information and closer to go time. 

As always, this is Rich signing off.  

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