For years I enjoyed and loved my SUV’s. I had a 1995 Range Rover Classic that started me on my overlanding journey and the deep hole of information that the internet can become. I sold my Rover with much sadness and bought a 1998 Toyota Land Cruiser. It had all the overland necessities: lockers, air compressors, snorkel, winch, bumpers, sliders, swing out tire carriers, rear storage drawers, fridge, roof rack, power outlets, the works. It was essentially my dream car and it had heated seats to make my wife happy. It was the vehicle I wanted my Rover to be. The first weekend I picked up the Cruiser, I took it out to Big Bear backcountry and found a broken down Rover, same year as mine was. He literally needed a part that I had kept in my truck for that very purpose. It was a sign.
But after much use, many miles and lots of love, we decided that if long term living in the Cruiser was going to be an option we would have to grow. I looked at off-road trailers, roof top tents, big canvas ground tents, everything. There really is some awesome stuff out there but in the end it would become big setups while spending most of our time in and out of the outdoors. In California that was ok, but as we ventured into the Pacific Northwest and even into fall and winter later this year, living outside just wasn’t an option, especially for day in and day out. I wanted to make a choice that would allow us to stay on the road and not make decisions about stopping or quitting because of elements we couldn’t fight against. Thus, a new hunt began.
There is an amazing amount of information available for any build idea you could think of. To search for things for sale, first, I use Craigslist. I use some nationwide searches knowing that if I’m searching for that great deal then I may have to travel or work a little harder to find it. Second, for both research and sale listings in the overland community, the best would have to be The Overland Journal and its forum www.expeditionportal.com, and for pop up campers of all kinds, Wander The West. They are filled with everything from drool-worthy trucks that are straight out of Mad Max but with the refinement of hard woods and leather all the way down to how to turn a jerry can into a water pump system.
Ok, the build:
The truck was an easy choice, it was either going to be a newer Toyota Tacoma or a first generation Tundra. For shear cost, the Tundra won out. Then for campers, it was either between the All Terrain Camper, or from a bigger marketplace with lots of happy owners, a Four Wheel Camper. I found a 2003 Tundra in New Mexico, got on a train out of Los Angeles, arrived, paid, and drove from Albuquerque to San Diego where I had located a 2005 FWC Hawk. I was hoping to find the smaller Fleet so it would fit either the Tundra or Tacoma, but the price was right for the Hawk and you have to jump on these things when you find them.
I won’t go into detail on any build stuff because there is so much information out there, but here are a few things that I did to mine to help organize and get the rig on the road for full time living use. And I’m sure there will be many mods and adjustments as we go.
2003 Toyota Tundra Crew Cab:
-lift kit from OME 2.5”
-Slee Upper Control Arms
-installed previously owned Extreme Outback Air Compressor
-12v / USB power block in cab
-PFRAN LED backup lights (these are awesome)
-Lifetime LED 70w LED headlights
-Firestone Airbag Suspension for camper weight (Hellwig Helper Springs to start, much happier with the airbags)
-sound deadening on floor and walls
2005 Four Wheel Camper Hawk:
-Stock options include:
-20 gallon water tank
-6 gallon hot water and shower system
-upgraded fridge to TruckFridge TF130 (barely fits)
-Wave 3 Heater
-130 watt roof mounted solar panel
-Yakima roof rack
-Lagun adjustable table arm
-Fantastic Fan 3350 (bought this with extra gadgets so we can leave the dog alone sometimes but keep her cool)
-replaced interior bulbs with LED options
-LED rear work light
-rear fuel can holder
-Fiamma awning (from the Cruiser)
This will be a revolving list and full of small stuff, I’ve put together a list as broad as I can on an Amazon Wish List and its all in the list below: