I've had a lot of questions and interest into exactly what we have going on in the truck that we have been living out of for the past few months. So, I figured I'd fill in whomever is interested.
Last year approaching our departure to move to Alberta I was driving home with Alison from my parents place and a young lady decided that red meant 'GO' and pulled out in front of me as I entered an intersection. I ended up slamming into her, totaling her car and severely bending the frame on my truck at the time. I'm a little spiteful about the whole situation because the girl I hit also didn't decide to tell the whole truth and in our shock we never thought to hunt down witnesses. Anyway, it was clear after about two weeks that I'd be hunting for a new truck, silver lining?
Luckily for me, not for those working in the oil field, the oil crash in Alberta meant that a lot of people were selling off their excess assets. It so happened that the extended to a particular Tacoma owner that had his truck up for CONSIDERABLY lower than average marketplace prices. And thus I wound up with a 2013 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport, with 194,000km's on the clock.
The remainder of the summer consisted of me scrambling to get the truck paid off and ready to head out on our trip, which meant a lot of long hours in a tractor and many hours in the shop. In the spirit of being frugal I built a lot of stuff myself (which I usually do anyway). One key factor to this story is that I've been blessed with a huge shop to do all my work in, so I can build a lot of my own truck gear.
Alright, so here's the list:
Suspension consists of a second hand lift I bought from a close friend after he upgraded. It's your run of the mill Toytec (www.toyteclifts.com) Bilstein 5100 2.5" lift on the front and an AAL (add-a-leaf) in the year with Bilstein 5160 shocks. I put a 3* axle shim to compensate for the addition in height and a 1" differential drop to help out the CV axles. Due to the high mileage that was on the truck already on the truck upon purchase I had to replace both LCA's (Lower Control Arms) because the ball joints were failing and the bushings were seized to the camber adjust bolts. I also upgraded the UCA's (Upper Control Arms) to SPC Light Racing control arms to allow for the necessary camber correction with the lift. I also did the ECGS bushing upgrade which eliminates vibration from a faulty needle bearing in the front differential, it was more of a precautionary upgrade than an actual need; I'm on the road for three months in a truck I've only owned for three months...might as well put in some assurances.
Luckily I had the wheels off my old truck, which I've discovered are probably too big for my needs and will be replaced soon with something a little more road friendly. The set up I currently run are 285/75/r16 E-rated Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac's mounted on 16x8 Eagle alloy 100 Series rims.
I've built a custom which mount that bolts on the frame in place of some useless plastic which I cut out of the bumper. The winch mount holds a 13,500lb capacity Keeper winch from Princess Auto. I was gifted the winch from my father in law, probably not my first choice of winch size but who can say no to a free winch that can lift your truck in the air? There's an addition of two Rigid Industries 4x4 Light pods...which don't really do anything, I just like having useless lights on my truck (I can hear Alison laughing at me in the back of my head).
On top of the truck is a self-built roof rack with bike fork attachments bought from Mountain Equipment Coop. Attached to the roof rack is an ARB awning which is awesome...when you have time to use it. We've used the awning twice and it worked great, it sets up fast and breaks down fast.
On the back of the truck we have a Raider canopy (cap, shell, camper shell). I also built a roof rack for the canopy so that I could mount the tent on top, and before you ask, no the canopy is not 'manufacturer rated' for the weight of the tent and two adults, I'm just testing fate. And, as you've noticed we carry around a big black box thing on our roof, that's a tent. Known as a RTT (roof top tent), this tent unfolds like an accordion and extends out past over the side of the truck. The one end is braced by the ladder which extends to the ground. Alison and I purchased this tent a few years back from Cascadia Vehicle Tents (http://www.cascadiatents.com/), it is a Mt. Shasta 2.5 man tent. We've done numerous trips using the tent including out trip to Alaska.
Now, for inside the canopy. This was all kind of thrown together rather quickly. I bought a Cargo Ease (http://cargo-ease.com/) system from a buddy. The Cargo Ease allows me to store all my junk inside the canopy but retrieve it easily by simply pulling out the platform which is supported on sliders so that everything is at arms length.
I decided to utilize the vertical space better which lead me to mounting the Cargo Ease on a platform. Underneath we store our clothing, chairs, hi-lift and tripod.
As for general storage, we utilize Action Packers which we bought from Canadian Tire, they're tough bins with over-sized clasp locking systems. I think they'd be a little better were they easier to stack, but maybe one can't have everything in life. We have a large bin dedicated to camping gear and another dedicated to riding gear.
A smaller Action Packer houses all our cooking necessities.
We also carry around with us a small folding table which really comes in handy when you want to spread out the kitchen a little. We have been known on many occasions to simply make food on the tailgate, but when you can it's nice to have a little more counter top.
Other than that, there's not much else. Always carry recovery gear, no matter where you're going (take your own damn advice Alex!), we've met people on the road stuck in sand and we had no straps to use just a winch cable and no tow points, stupid cars these days.