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The larger-than-life 7-inch HD screen of the TRX7 GPS Navigator may seem burdensome, especially compared with rival units that typically hover in the 5-inch realm of screen size. The overall dimensions of the device are 8.5” x 5.25”. This takes up a serious amount of real estate space when attached to the windshield. Start driving on a trail while the new TRX7 is displaying the route, and the seemingly inconvenient size is soon replaced by the easy-to-see screen. The included heavy duty RAM mount securely holds the TRX7 as the vehicle bounces down the trail.
I had the opportunity to use the device on two separate off-road trips. For an overland trip across NM and AZ en route to Overland Expo, I accessed the Magellan eXplorist TRX website for route planning, and stored the routes on the device. For the Big Bend National Park trip, I recorded trail routes.
Functionality and features:
-Web browser with tabs
-Email -Contacts storage
-Music player and storage, complete with organizer
-Calendar -Sound recorder
-Ability to toggle open screens
-Searchable OHV trails database
-Social media connectivity for sharing travels
-Off trail warnings and return-to-start safety features
-Preloaded with 44,000 designated OHV trails from forest and public lands
-High-res 3D terrain view and 2D topo view with contour lines display U.S./CAN land features
From a visual usability perspective, the map contrast and color schemes surpass other navigation systems and apps. The helpful geography texture really stands out. The layout of the map and route details in a split screen mode is quite useful.
For planning routes, using the Magellan eXplorist website, mytrxjournal.com, was easy to figure out. Upon completion of route planning, syncing the device over wifi loads the maps onto the device. Already have a GPS file you want to load? Just upload the GPX or KML file to the mytrxjournal.com website, then sync the device.
Crowdsourced route submissions will expand the trail database over time. The data set is still young, but with the recent release of the tablet/smartphone app, the database should grow exponentially as app adoption increases.
Several options are available for making updates to routes: mark observations using audio, photos, or waypoints; record track conditions and difficulty ratings. Achievements can be earned for recording off-road miles, visiting locations, and hitting certain OHV trails.
I usually navigate with a Garmin Nuvi 50LM mounted to the windshield and a full-sized iPad held by a floor-mounted RAM mount, placing the iPad just above the shifter. The tablet-like functionality of the TRX7 certainly separates it from the Nuvi. The question is, does the TRX7 replace the iPad? The TRX7 large screen and ease of touchscreen usage are what I deemed most helpful. However, with a limited storage of 13GB, this device is barely a tablet. Now that the Magellan TRX app, complete with access to the Magellan database, is available for tablets, the TRX7 may not fill a void for the off-roader who prefers a device with more functionality, map app options, and LTE data connectivity.
For the off-roader who is content with wifi-only and requires a serious navigation system with limited tablet-like functionality, rugged construction, and the ability to plan and record routes, the TRX7 will suffice. With the ability to notate route details and difficulty ratings, incorporate GPS files, and enjoy a large screen, the TRX7 rates higher than the other dedicated navigation systems available. No other device on the market today is OHV oriented like the TRX7.
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Summer 2016 Issue:
Ok, so this is more of a 32,000 and some change update, but 30K makes a better title :) Angie & I have been publishing Toyota Cruisers & Trucks, along with the previous incarnations of the magazine, for nearly 10 years now. In that time, I have known two basic truths. First, I never know exactly where the next adventure will take us. Secondly, our 2015 CrewMax Tundra has all the capability our family needs but also includes a level of utility that no other vehicle can come close to matching.
Ive talked about the value of a true pickup truck in previous articles, so I wont belabor the point. Much.
This truck is...amazing.
At 30,000+ miles we have literally done everything with this truck. The Toyota marketing term build anything is not lost on our beloved Tundra. Weve built, pulled, hauled, wheeled, and explored quite a bit in the first 18 months of ownership. Yet as 2016 started I wondered....what else can she do?
Modifications in the past six months cant match the breadth of our initial build up (See our Fall 2015 issue for our previous build article), but the little tweaks weve added have helped round out the truck in terms of utility and convenience.
Earlier this year I did some major electrical work on the truck. While I didnt install a second battery, Ive been able to make use of our ArkPak Battery system via a custom mount in the bed of the truck. This runs the bed mounted fridge perfectly and provides easy access to 12v power.
In the cab, I installed the Yaesue FTM-400DR ham radio, mostly for APRS and on-trail comms. I also added a Uniden 40CH CB radio so I can chat with...others. The CB uses a passenger side mounted 2 Firestik while I added a 1/4 wave Diamond Antenna on the drivers side for the ham.
A 1200 Pure Sine inverter is hard-wired to the battery and mounted under the drivers seat. I added a custom 12V/USB/DC readout box as well. This setup makes it easy to monitor the trucks battery and provides in-cab access to full-time power.
Since I've become increasingly involved with a certain Australian mapping company (Hema Maps is also an advertiser in our magazine), I added a Samsung tablet for regular mapping apps, as well as a Ram iPhone mount to the windshield. The suction cups on these mounts have held up perfectly on all but the hottest of days. A Karma Go WiFi puck rounds out the front-dash to provide nearly full-time internet access to any device within range. Finally, the crew over at Ellis Precision fabbed up a custom TCT shifter for the truck. The billet aluminum knob is a huge upgrade over stock.
On the outside of the truck, we ditched the nice-but-boring stock headlights & tail lights in favor of a nice setup from Anzo USA. The LED tail lights are nice & bright, with a black style that give the truck a more aggressive appearance. In the front, we opted for a similar set of black projector U-Bar headlights. Theyre DRL compatible and look great on the TCT Explorer!
In June 2016, I attended Bill Burkes Advanced 4WD training course in the mountains west of Denver, Colorado. During the two day event, we took the Tundra (the largest vehicle in attendance by a long shot) through difficult, narrow, and winding trails. It performed beautifully with no body damage to report. That trip really showed me what the Tundra + Toytec BOSS Suspension is truly capable of.
That trip was also the maiden voyage of the new TCT Minnie, a 24 Winnebago travel trailer thats our new condo on wheels. While a departure from our old Manley ORV trailer tent setup, with two young children in tow, the Minnie has allowed us to explore Colorado more than ever. The big 5.7L V-8 provides plenty of power to pull the 6,000+lb trailer, but a supercharger would be very beneficial <grin>.
At FJ Summit X last month, the TCT Explorer tackled Mineral Creek, Engineer Pass, California & Corkscrew Gulches, and Imogene Pass. The big red truck took everything we could throw at it and came out smiling. Angie lead an amazing group of women over the Mineral Creek -> Cali/Corkscrew trail run and everyone had an amazing time!
While I know 4Runners, Land Cruisers, FJs, and Tacos are generally the favorite for Toyota Adventure & exploration, Ive recently noticed a trend toward full-size vehicles. Unless youre into hard-core rock crawling, the power, room, and utility of the 2.5 Gen Tundra cannot be overstated. It continues to be the perfect all-around truck for our family, and I look forward to many more years in the TCT Explorer Tundra!
To get your copy of the
Summer 2016 Issue:
While out storm chasing in his own 4Runner, Senior Editor Phillip Jones came across this well-built 4Runner and met the owner, who is a seasoned storm chaser. Phillip invited Brandon to submit an article about his build and his chasing experience.
4Runner Build List
-2014 4 Runner Trail Premium
-Nitto Trail Grapplers tires
-Custom front/rear bumpers/skid plate
-LED lit steps in back
-10,000 lb waterproof winch
-Rigid LED’s in front/back and underneath
-ChargeGuard (for electronics)
-Optima Yellowtop battery
-RAM Laptop mount
-Kicker sound system with new L7 QB8 in back
When I went in search of a 4Runner, I found an Oklahoma City-based dealership that did a lot of modifications to the dealer’s 4Runner inventory. Seeing those decked out rides got the gears in my head turning. My 2014 4Runner already came with the big wheels, tinted windows, and nice powder coating on the logos. It was the rolling definition of blacked out! After purchasing my 4Runner, I definitely knew I wanted an LED light bar. They were growing popular on off-road vehicles and I wanted to fit in! Getting one put into the grill wasn’t going to be easy. I considered a grill guard, but it seemed grill guards really offered no protection. If I was going to spend money, I may as well do it right! I located a steel fabrication shop in Lubbock, TX named Fearless Fabrication and let them have it for a week. They put together the plans for the bumper, lighting, and other items.
During the previous week, I was storm chasing in Colorado. My friend got stuck in the mud as a tornado was barreling down on us. I had him jump in my 4Runner, and we were able to escape. That was the day I knew I had picked the right vehicle. We later tried to extract his vehicle with a simple tow rope we found at a gas station, but it didn’t work. This incident served as motivation to purchase a winch, which has come in handy.
The original plan was to only do the front bumper, but the shop owner talked me into the rear bumper as well. I am certainly glad I took his advice because shortly afterward, I was rear-ended by a drunk driver. My 4Runner experienced zero damage.
I have always been in some sort of off-road vehicle for storm chasing, mostly out of necessity. We encounter terrible road conditions in rural areas where dirt roads can instantly turn into mud pits due to flash flooding. Fallen trees and downed power poles sometimes require going through a ditch to maneuver around. Debris and/or high water require adequate clearance. Sometimes, there isn’t even a road. Sometimes we turn around and the road we were just on has transformed into an obstacle course. A coating of hail can make for slippery traction.
Before my I purchased the 4Runner, I had 2 different Jeeps, and a GMC Envoy. The 4Runner by far has received the most investment in modifications. I know it will hold great durability and value.
At a young age, long before I was interested in off-road vehicles, I grew interested in weather. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I became interested in storm chasing. In 2008, at the age of 17, I went on my first big chasing trip. We drove from to Kansas from Illinois and spent a week chasing tornadoes. After that, I was hooked. I enrolled in the University of Oklahoma in 2010 to study meteorology and earned my degree in 2014. That educational experience only took me deeper into chasing, because I could see all of the classroom and textbook knowledge unfolding in the field.
My wildest storm chasing adventure was in 2013, during the El Reno, OK tornado on May 31st. We got caught in the outer circulations of the tornado, and a barn was destroyed in front of us, sending flying debris into my car. My windshield was shattered, a hay bale tossed into my car, destroying my front end, and all the paint wiped off the passenger side of my car. It was both a horrifying and humbling experience.
I’d love to do go off-roading with my rig. So many times I see other Toyota owners who drool over my ride and ask if I go off-roading, and I have to let them down! I’d love to go somewhere super remote and scenic, like Utah, climb over some rocks, and get to some places that nobody else could really get to!
You can follow Brandon’s Storm Chasing adventures on social media:
To get your copy of the
Summer 2016 Issue: