Advice: Newbie Rig Setup (RTT/Trailer/Squaredrop??)

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Rank 0

Contributor I

Hey all,

I'm a complete 100% newbie to all of this. I have some lofty ideas and goals and I'm excited to get started! But I could definitely use some advice.

Lofty goal: I want to take a roadtrip west for 1-2 weeks this fall for vacation (yellowstone, moab, badlands, something along those lines). We'd likely camp in campgrounds for most of the trip, but I'd LOVE to spend a night or 2 (or 5) truly off the grid. And hopefully this builds into more trips just like this! In the meantime, we both need practice and education, so I'm working on setting some local trips (help would be appreciated here!). The wife is borderline on the off-the-grid part, but mostly she's just concerned about safety which is obviously important and a priority, which is why I want to practice this summer.

My main question is on rig set up. For a trip like this we'll need to do something. Current rig is a 2 dr '03 wrangler (that needs the basics: winch,...) We're recently married, have a dog* and will likely begin to try to build a family next year. So what should I do? (keeping in mind we have a dog and hopefully someday a child).... Just a quick setup tent for now with a small road trailer, RTT on a small offroad trailer, or a squaredrop offroad trailer?

Main concern with a trailer: How much does a trailer or small camper limit your offroad capabilities? Would it hold me up from going on some of these local trips?

Also, How does a RTT work w/ a dog?

Any insight would be appreciated! Thrilled to got started if anyone has something going on soon! Thanks!


US MidWest Region Member Rep

Pathfinder I

Member #


I would say start with a tent for now, with you starting this summer, I would see how it goes without a trailer. Room is going to be at a premium for you with the TJ. You could add a basic offroad trailer (like a Manley or something similar) to haul most of your gear. It's going to affect your abilities offroad mainly because of the weight in the trailer, and you'll have to plan for it being there and going over obstacles with it, but many people pull them and have no issues.

As far as an RTT with a dog, I think most people leave the dog in the annex part (if they get an RTT with one).


Rank V

Advocate III

Shorewood, IL
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Welcome to overlanding! If you're new to the outdoor adventure life, you have the right plan to start out. Start locally, start with the basics. I agree with toxicity - all you need is a tent. I am married like you and my wife is not as "adventurous" as I am, so need to provide for some basic comforts and safety for her. Thus, I tend to pack more things than I typically would for her benefit - it's worth it. If you'd like this to become a regular family activity, then it's in your best interest to make sure it's something they enjoy. Nothing ruins a camping trip faster than an unhappy wife! After the tent, next best thing is ensuring her sleep comfort. A good sleeping bag, cot or foam mattress. As for a trailer, doesn't matter what your rig is, a trailer will hinder its capabilities vs not having one. This is assuming you plan to go on some rugged trails. Ever think about trying to do a tight, hairpin 3 point turn on a high cliff mountain trail with a trailer? With your family plans, you'll eventually want to get a rig with more capacity. My personal preference is to not have a trailer. Either it slows me down, holds me back, or I have to leave it behind then go back and get it. For what some of those trailer camper set ups cost, you could get a nice used rig with a lot more space. As for building up your rig - start out easy and basic. Depending on where you plan to go, the best upgrade you can do to any rig is putting on the right tires. The trip you describe above will require a lot of highway driving, I recommend a good pair of all terrain tires. Mud terrain tires will make for a lot of travel fatigue and do not handle as well at high speeds on the highway. Regular radials will limit your off road capabilities once you get out west. Depending on where you plan to go, I recommend a tire with a strong sidewall. A lot of the trails out west will try to stab your tires with sharp rocks. After tires, I recommend a good roof rack (unless you go with a RTT) or hitch mount rack given your limited storage space. Start with those. For everything else, it becomes driver specific and what you prefer for what you like to do. There's a lot of marketing to convince you of all things you must have on your rig before pulling out the driveway. Most of it is luxury, not necessity. Experience will teach you more than anything else, just get out there and see what works and what doesn't, keep adjusting from there. You'll learn something each time you get out there. There are also some good rig build and camping forums on this site to give you more information and perspective. You'll see members with rigs that look like they could drive to the top of Everest, and other members doing many of the same journeys with a stock Subaru. It's really up to you, where you want to go and how much you want to spend. Good luck!


Rank I

Contributor I

Waukesha, Wisconsin
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I waited till I hit 70k on my 2015 Tacoma before I really made any big purchases. I wanted to know What I needed and Why I needed it. There are many choices and many of them most likely are not right for you. I stated with just my ground tent, stove and camp kitchen. I do recommend an awning and a nice set of tires.