We're excited to announce a significant change in our editorial team. Beginning with our Fall 2017 issue which will be…Read More
What a great summer! We've been busy covering amazing Toyota Truck, Cruiser, and SUV adventure... Download this issue now to read…Read More
Overland Expo West 2017 set up at a new venue just south of downtownFlagstaff - the Fort Tuthill County Park. We…Read More
The informal Texas Overland Facebook group was launched by several Toyota off-roaders from the Austin, TX area back in 2015.…Read More
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:
Five years ago, the Tacomas and Company group started “a Moab adventure created by wheelers for wheelers” later to be called Rock Therapy. The gathering is based on their love for Moab and wanting to pull together other likeminded Toyota enthusiasts to help strengthen the off-road community. With the help of hard working volunteers, loyal attendees and generous sponsors who have shown a common goal to help build relations around the off-road community, Rock Therapy 2016 was again a huge success and will continue to be a must-attend gathering for the ever growing Rock Therapy Family.
In an effort to provide a memorable experience for the attendees, Rock Therapy’s platinum sponsors stepped up to host two nights of dinners for those who could make it back to camp at Area BFE. Toytec Lifts, Bay Area Metal Fabrication, Pelfreybilt Off-Road, All-Pro Off Road, Low Range Off Road, CBI Off Road Fab, InSain Fabrication, and Cascadia Vehicle Tents each pitched in to make sure the hungry wheelers did not go to bed with an empty stomach with backyard style BBQs both Friday and Saturday night.
Unlike years past, the carnage during Rock Therapy 2016 was on a much lower scale. Less carnage meant more time spent on the trails for all attendees, sponsors and volunteers. Many of the sponsors and volunteer trail leaders took out attendees on the trails to show off the variety of trails that Moab has to offer. Rock Therapy has encouraged attendees over the years to mingle with other attendees to form their own groups to roll with each day which has helped to strengthen the Rock Therapy Family and build relationships that last for years to come.
A concept that Rock Therapy has pushed over the years is to get the sponsors out and enjoy themselves alongside their many loyal customers. Gold sponsors, SDHQ Off Road, and Trail Toys were both in attendance this year showing off their incredible Tacoma builds. Cliff brought his 2008 Tacoma that is built to handle high speed desert passes as well as crawling through the rocks with the best of them. Cliff was able to show off the truck’s true potential during the annual Dunes run on Friday night.
Nathan had his 2011 flatbed Tacoma out to his the trails in fashion with his newly installed crawlbox and always impressive travel gained from a Chevy 63 swap in the rear. Trail Toys also brought another game changer to this year’s Rock Therapy with the addition of a limited run of Rock Therapy 2016 glow in the dark patches.
Also in attendance this year as sponsors was Trails Offroad spreading the word on their new web-based nation-wide trail knowledgebase, Hefty Fabworks showing off their new line of aluminum bumpers on their Toyota fleet, Brute Force Fab dominating the trails in Billy’s solid axle beast of a Tacoma on 42s, Adventure Offroad Fabrications displaying his solid axled 2nd gen overlanding Tacoma and Front Range Off-Road Fab with their 1996 4Runner with an 8” 30 spline IFS swap rolling on 37s.
Saturday night came too soon this year as attendees did not want memorable times to come to an end. However, the sponsors were able to pull together some amazing items again this year to giveaway and help raise some money to support two amazing organizations that have done so much to promote the off-road community over the years. Stay the Trail Colorado over the many years has encouraged the responsible use of the roads and trails that are open to motorized recreation in Colorado. Although their focus is primarily in Colorado, their message is one that should be spread all over to help us keep trail access open. Area BFE helped to rethink what an off-road park should be with their 320 acre recreational park. Open to a variety of outdoor activities including many iconic off-road trails and camping with unmatched views of the La Sal Mountains, Area BFE is open to the public 365 days at no cost to the public.
On behalf of all those in attendance, thank you to all those who helped to put this amazing gathering together and to the generous sponsors mentioned above as well as Addicted Offroad, RCI Offroad, Rokmen Offroad, Anti-Dark, Toywerx, Rorck Apparel and IH8MUD. Without your efforts, Rock Therapy would not be what it is today. See everyone next year!
To get your copy of the
Summer 2016 Issue: