Most of us have in the back of our minds those ideal modifications we still want done. When I registered for the Ghost Divide Expedition, I realized I needed to fulfill some of those backburner items. Here’s what I did…

In January 2015, I had the opportunity to borrow a fully loaded XVenture XV-2 for a multi-day expedition on the 4x4 roads of Big Bend National Park (see story in April 2015 issue). I was quite impressed with the trailer – so impressed, that I decided to buy the lighter weight version:  the XV-1. In the first 2 months of ownership, I used the XV-1 at Lone Star Jamboree, on a weekend expedition in Oklahoma, and again on the Ghost Divide Expedition to Overland Expo.

It’s been nearly three years now since that Colorado January when my boyfriend and I brought home a rig I've coveted for years and it still feels great!  

It began just over 9 years ago when a woman had posted on one of the forums that she needed help getting her Land Cruiser running.  A friend and I volunteered to swing by and give her some direction.  What we found in that garage was a 1962 FJ40 that had barely been touched by the previous owners (read: previous owner unbutchered).  Her boyfriend at the time had bought it years before with the intention of getting it back on the road.  Eventually he determined that he didn't want it anymore, and he gave it to her.

All-Pro has paired up their U-bolt flip kit for the 2005+ Tacoma with Timbren’s Suspension Enhancement System to create the ultimate bumpstop upgrade.  Ok, well ultimate is debatable, but after years of trying out numerous bump stop systems in my 2006 Tacoma, I am very pleased with the ride and support that this system provides. 

Looking for a roof rack for your Toyota Tacoma, but limited on your options due to your Access Cab?  Look no further, Zach Scott with Prinsu Design Studio offers his AccessRac option to not only solve your roof rack deficiency, but also includes an option for a recessed light bar, adjustable crossbars all in a lightweight aluminum package.

Prinsu is a small company in comparison to some of the other roof rack manufacturers, but what they lack in flashy packaging, they make up for in care and quality in designing and producing their products.  The hardware was nicely labeled and packaged in separate zip-lock bags for the different components of the rack system, and the powdercoated aluminum rails were well wrapped to minimize chances for damage during transportation.  

There are many dual battery systems available on the market. Some of the more famous ones kits being National Luna, Dirty Parts and Painless Wiring. You can easily build your own system as well using solenoids and isolators. The IBS DBS system is a relatively new system available in the states for the past several years. It was created by Swiss, Beat Wyss after having suffered two dead batteries while traveling in Australia’s Great Victorian Desert with his 60 Series Land Cruiser. IBS has created and made Intelligent Battery Systems for over 15 years in Switzerland. We chose the IBS DBS system due to its proven solid state design and if the starter battery dies or discharges to 10v or below we can self jump from the auxiliary battery with the optional RBM module. Our kit came from, the US distributor for IBS Switzerland. 

Ever been out on a trail in the dark with your hood open and can’t see a darn thing? Well, we have. It’s time to install a set of LED lights to help the situation. We just wish we would have done this mod a lot sooner than later.We’re going to do a simple install with a set of KC-Hilites Cyclone LEDs rated at 400 lumens each. For the switch we’ll be using a waterproof push button switch instead of a pressure switch. We don’t need the light coming on every time we open the hood. The brand is Trail Tech and it can be found on

Toyota HJ47 

Texas resident Carter Beckworth rolled into Truth or Consequences, NM in a vehicle that looked ready to go on safari on another continent. He arrived to join the Ghost Divide Expedition entourage headed to Overland Expo. His Land Cruiser immediately attracted attention due to its rarity:  a1983 Aussie spec HJ47 powered by a 4.0 naturally aspirated 2H diesel. 

Ghost Divide

Traveling through New Mexico and Arizona typically involves pounding pavement across I-40, or further south on I-10. These two interstates are like the chocolate sections of an Oreo cookie. While those routes offer scenic views, they are not as tasty as the creamy middle. Jake Quiñones wants you to experience the territories that exist between these two interstates by following in his tire tracks on roads less traveled and void of pavement. Jake operates a 4WD guide service called New Mexico Backroads (NMBR), offering a variety of overland/expedition-based trips each season. While New Mexico is his home and the namesake of his business, his trips are inclusive of the surrounding states. Jake is an expert guide with an immense amount of knowledge about the areas he covers.

 FJ Cruiser

With 286 Toyota 4x4 trucks in attendance, the 2015 Lone Star Toyota Jamboree event experienced an attendance record that practically doubled the previous record. What was the recipe for this success? Since this was the 10th anniversary of the event, the organizers increased publicity, sought out more vendors and special guests, and provided more meals and over $40,000 in prizes.  

Toyota Ever Better Expedition Pikes Peak Region

Jim & Shane had the opportunity to chat with Toyota Engineers today as the Ever-Better Expedition made a stop in Colorado Springs, CO. Bill Stahelin and the team from Larry H. Miller Toyota of Colorado Springs hosted the event that brought engineers and loyal Toyota customers together for a chat.

The Toyota & Land Cruiser community never ceases to amaze me. Last weekend, during the 5th Annual 100's in the Hills event in the Ouray/Telluride area, members of that event were instrumental in effecting the rescue of a couple that rolled their RZR UTV on Black Bear Pass.

OutdoorX4 - 100's in the Hills - Black Bear Pass

Toyota has released their full 17 minute Volcano Hopping Video from their trip to Chile with the TRD Pro Tundra.

The film has a very high production value, as is to be expected, and includes plenty of footage showcasing what the out-of-the-box TRD Pro can do.


Photos by:
Dennis Lloyd, Bob Holliday, Jim Akers, Angie Williams, Shane Williams

The Toyota Cruisers & Trucks Team was out in full force at FJ Summit #9 last week. Dennis Lloyd, our FJ Cruiser editor was primary for this trip, but he was joined by Daniel, Bob, Shane, and Jim as well. Jonathan is a director of the FJ Summit so even though he was there (and captured some amazing photos of the event for us), he wasn’t functioning in a TCT Capacity.

Who doesn't love a great video featuring a TRD Pro Tundra?

In this episode of Dirt Every Day, Fred Williams takes an Inferno TRD Pro from the US-Mexico border on the Gulf of Mexico all the way to the Pacific Ocean in Washington State, with plenty of fun dirt tracks along the way.

Jeremy from AZFJs captured some great footage of his group running Broken Arrow and the Homestead trail with his DJI Inspire 1 drone. We always love seeing FJ Cruiser trucks in action! Get in touch if you'd like us to feature your photos or video!


Overland Expo West, Brunton Tour, SEMA 4Runner, FJ Cruiser Mods : The best Toyota Magazine CoverageGet Toyota Cruisers & Trucks Magazine on the App Store

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The new season of Expedition Overland, their Central America exploration, hits on July 8th. They've released two new videos ahead of the official premier: A full trailer as well as a Vehicle Build Video.

Expedition Overland: Central America | Toyota 4Runner Magazine

The teaser shows what we've come to expect from XO: A great group exploring and finding adventure, this time in Central America. This season will cover 10 Countries and 10,000 miles and we'll be ready to check it out on July 8th!

The Vehicle Build video begins with thier partnership with Toyota USA and goes over the various modifications made to the all new 2015 Trail Premium 4Runners, as well as the 2013 Tacoma. The three vehicles are very well prepared to tackle anything and everything along the journey.

We'll be doing a Hangout on Air next Wednesday the 8th, so look for it on our YouTube Channel as we all watch the premier of Expedition Overland: Central America.

Hiking survival

Visibility dropped to less than 50 yards. Fog moved in making it impossible to see his way out. He had grown up in these mountains, no way he could be lost. The truck had to be just across the creek. Wondering why there wasn’t any water in the creek, he surmised it must have dried up. Then he wondered why his truck wasn’t where he parked it. He resisted the confession. He had no idea where he was. He panicked. He ran. His pack grew heavy and for a moment he thought about dropping it so he could move faster to the security of his rig. He ran downhill into an open meadow that he was sure led back to the road, only to trip over continuous waves of waist-high deadfall. He had no idea where he was now. The cold sank in along with the realization this was going to be a long night. The fog turned to a light drizzle and then small ice pellets. His clothes were soaked, his morale diminished. He was alone. 

Survival situations don’t “just happen”. There is usually a path that the accident victim has taken to get to where they are in time and space. An unexpected phone call that interrupts a hikers packing routine can mean not having a rain jacket when the weather changes. Then the same hiker stays too long sun bathing at a lunch stop, notices storm clouds moving in and gets lost as she hastily makes her way back to her truck.  It gets dark faster than she expected and she loses her way back to her rig. Accidents are a combination of events that impact other events. People who love the outdoors die every year following their passion because they are ill prepared. Lets talk about the gear you can take in a small daypack.

Cutting Tool

Of all the survival tools, a knife is the most difficult to replace or replicate. The ability to cut cordage, split wood, carve objects, etc. depends on a good blade. 

In Your Pack: A non-folding knife is the first preference for survival. You want a knife that can cut, slice, hack, baton, chopnd take abuse. A carbon steel, full tanged blade with a 90 degree spine is preferred. A folding knife is a nice second or back-up knife. Better to have two and lose one, if you lose one you have none. Also, don’t discount a small folding saw in your bag as well. When it comes to chopping versus sawing, chopping burns up to the calories you need to preserve.


Over 700 people in the U.S. die of hypothermia every year. At this point it’s up to you and Mother Nature to come to terms in getting flame. Fire is one of the most critical skills you can learn and be prepared to create when faced with adversity. Fire is warmth, a psychological lift, an ability to 

purify water, a signal device, and if needed, a means to cook food.  Practice skills such as the split-wood, twig, and wet wood fire techniques often so fire making becomes second nature. 

In Your Bag: Nothing beats the portability of a ferro rod (such as a Light My Fire) used to create a spark and ignite tinder into a flame. Sure lighters and matches are convenient, but a ferro rod does not take on moisture like matches (even water-proof) and is not mechanical like a lighter. You will need something to catch the spark and turn it into a flame. For tinder, carry cotton balls dipped in petroleum jelly in a small metal tin or tin foil and zipper sandwich bag. Throw in a pencil sharpener to quickly create dry tinder for igniting. Add a windproof lighter, birthday gag candles that don’t blow out, and a small tin of wood shavings in your daypack.


The water you are looking at may look clean and puret most likely isn’t. When you start opening your survival kit, things have already gone south. Don’t make them worse by ingesting protozoans, bacteria, and other things that cruise in the streams, lakes, and rivers.

In Your Pack: First, go prepared. A hydration bladder-based pack is your best option. It holds up to 100 ounces of water and there is a convenient tube to remind you to stay hydrated. Second, when you run out of life-liquid, fill it up using a water filtering system. A ceramic or paper-based water filter is the way to go for ensuring water is free from Giardia, rotozoa, and bacteria found in water. Giardia is a microscopic parasite that causes diarrhea, something to avoid when already faced in a dire situation. Filters are lightweight and easy to pack. Word of caution, you don’t have to drink the water to get Giardia, simply getting it in your ears, eyes, nose, or inside the mouth can cause illness.


It can only take three hours of exposure to extreme elements for you to give up the ghost. Whether its heat, rain, snow, wind, or temperature, you have to get out of the elements. A proper shelter also alerts rescuers as to your location when they start looking for you.

In Your Pack: A heavy duty Mylar space-blanket is worth its weight in gold. It can be used in the winter to retain up to 75% of your body heat by wrapping it around you. It can double as a tarp to sleep under in hot or cold conditions, and can be used to catch rain water for drinking. Carry one that is either red or orange for ease of spotting. Add black gorilla tape to your kit and when in trouble, mark it with three “Xs”. You not advertising any kind of backwoods entertainment, you are signaling rescuers. Don’t forget to throw in 50 of 550/para-cord to tie up your tarp.


OK Daniel Boone, here’s hoping you were ready for adversity and had some pre-packed calories in your bag when you took off. If not you’re either going to go hungry or resort to a few field expedient methods to fill your pie hole.

Your Pack: Keep backpacking meals, jerky, granola bars, GORP, or hard candy in your pack. Don’t overlook the need to take game. People have survived on small game and fish when food ran out. A small “survival-sized” fishing kit, slingshot, and snares can get you game, but master each one of these. Go out and fish with the kit you put in your pack, most likely you will then modify it. Snares are easy to make, but in reality it’s a game of chance and you need 10-15 snares to increase your odds. A slingshot is the most practical game taker. Easy to use and if you run out of ammunition, there is plenty on the ground in most environments. Last, learn how to clean and cook game.


Most victims fail to call for help when they actually need it. Don’t be shy about calling for rescue and don’t wait until the last minute, by then its too late. Working on  teams I always preferred to rescue a haphazard mountain biker than do a body recovery.

In Your Pack: Signal mirror, emergency whistle, and pen flares should be a part of your signal kit. Learn the right methods for using a center-style mirror and stay away from any whistles that have a ball or pea in them, your breath will freeze it and make it useless in the winter. Some day packs now come with a whistle embedded in the buckles and a few companies that make sparking devices to create fire have also integrated emergency whistles into the handle. Don’t forget to throw in an orange bandana or fleece hat to aid in rescuers seeing you. A SPOTsatellite is well worth the cost of the device and subscription service.

First Aid

In Your Pack: Out exploring trails or tracking down game your injury changes and you could find yourself alone. Cuts, abrasions, stings or sprains are common injuries. A solid backpacking first aid kit should do the trick. Here we are talking cuts, scrapes, blisters, and stings. Something to treat minor wounds and not bear attacks is what you need here.

In surviving a catastrophe there are really three groups the 10-80-10 rule. The first 10percent of people simply don’t survive an accident. The last 10percent seem to just make it through no matter what. The middle 80percent are  become a detriment to others. Go and explore the world, but be prepared  wind up in a real world experience. Train now, pick your gear, learn how to use it. Keep simple rules in mind like letting others know where you are going and when you will be back.

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    Sardine Taco Tlacoula, Baja California

    The early morning chill turned to a dry heat as the sun rose lazily above the distant bluffs. We passed agave fields at high speeds while simultaneously dodging boney highway dogs. My surroundings reminded me of past years spent in the desert, but unfazed by the arid landscape, I was distracted by the days plans. The town of Tlacoula appeared on the horizon. We skipped breakfast because we knew what lay ahead. My backpack was empty, anxious to be filled, similar to the situation with my stomach. We came here the previous week not knowing what to expect, but this time around, we arrived prepared. After several months of living out of the Tacoma (the Taco), experiencing Mexico in its raw form, I am reminded that experiences like the market in Tlacoula, makes this lifestyle all the more rewarding.   


    Summer Road Trips

    With warm weather just around the corner, it’s time to start planning summer road trips. And when it comes satisfying your thirst for adventure, national parks are among the best road trip destinations in North America. Getting to some of our nation’s best known parks is half the fun, and once you’re there, many offer plenty of road to travel and explore. 

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