Getting overland ready...frugally

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mansoorahmed

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Toronto, ON, Canada
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Recently I went on a 6 day camping/exploration and overlanding trip to Northern Ontario. I had a blast. Lake Superior views from Trans Canada Highway are breath taking. We camped on shores of Lake Superior and explored many trails/logging and back roads. This was my first extended trip. My previous trips have been mostly a day or weekend trips.
One of the reasons to take this trip was to test the capabilities of my 2019 JLUR (stock). another reason was to figure out the equipment and amenities I need or will need in future trips.

During this trip, I came up with this list of must have equipment/amenities/"stuff" that, in my opinion, would make an overlanding trip more enjoyable. I also realized that one thing that makes an overlanding/camping trip more enjoyable is the ability to setup and pack up a camp in under 10 min.
Here are some of the lessons I learned on my trip.
  1. Better organization of the trunk space. Stacking up or "stuffing the trunk" is not an efficient use of the space.
  2. Jeep could use more lighting, particularly in the trunk area.
  3. I need some sort of kitchen. Stoves, propane cylinders and food items in different containers all over the trunk is not working out :)
  4. Four of the 6 night, we had rain. An awning would have been a good place to gather under. I did create temporary shelter with 8'x8' tarp over the tailgate, but that was only enough space for me to cook.
  5. A tailgate table would be nice to have. It would allow for a quick snack/coffee.
  6. Sleeping arrangements takes most of the time. I have Gazelle T4 Hub tent. Although the tent setup is fairly straight forward and quick, setting up the cost and bed does take additional time during setup and pack up. Also, the additional stuff has to go back in the Jeep. This was a major pain point for me. To setup camp, I had to remove the T4, set it up, then unpack and setup the cot, then unpack and setup the sleeping bag and blankets. In the morning, I had to do all this again in reverse order. It took me approximate 30-45 min for each setup and pack up. Not to mention the space, all these items took in the Jeep, to store.
  7. Some kind of heating system is required if traveling between the months of Sep to May. Many people have suggested Buddy heater. I am more inclined towards the 2-5KW diesel heater.
  8. Jerry can, with gasoline, does not belong in the trunk. I had to request another member of the group to keep mine in his pickup.
  9. Off-Grid power for extended stay.
  10. Fridge/Freezer for fresh produce and meats.
Here are my plans for the above, at minimum cost, maximum value and enjoyment.

#1, I built a shelving in the trunk. I followed this video; .

Now I not only have additional space, I can organize the trunk better as well. Took me about 90 minutes to build it. Spent $30 on the metal parts, rest of the items/ materials were already in the garage.
I will have to disassemble it and smooth out the rough corners and edges. Also need a cargo net to keep items from flying forward.


#2, JL/JK have approximately 1 inch of space, at the bottom of the rear window - on the inside. I stuck a 39 inch long 12V LED strip there. This is perfect lighting for tailgate table, my current kitchen-on-the-table and the future kitchen setup. Last picture was taken with only this LED on. As you can see the garage is very well lit.
My cost $0, LED was a left over from a previous project.

After installing the shelf, I realized that the under side of the shelf is bit dark and could use some light as well. I ordered another LED light from Amazon. It fits perfectly under the shelf, and also has a push button on/off switch. Package contains two LED strips. For now I only installed one strip to test. This LED was $35, available here:
Both LED strips are powered by my Jackery 500.

I have been looking at 8020 T-Slots to build my kitchen setup. While building the shelf, I was wondering if 8020 could be used to built a shelf. I guess that would be a winter project :)

#3, I am working on a DIY slide out kitchen design for the back of Jeep. Nothing fancy, just big enough for a two burner stove, few drawers for canned food, spices, cooking utensils etc. I will start the build shortly, and update as I go along.

#4, Another group member is working on the DIY 270 awning. Waiting on his updates. I also worked on the hing and rafter design, will give it a go.
Also found this very interesting video for a DIY awning:

#5, Ordered Mopar style JL tailgate table from eBay, $75

#6, RTT seems to be a logical choice for sleeping arrangements, either soft shell or clam shell style, depending on number of family members who wants to travel with me. With family, a RTT with 270 awning, and curtains, will make a very private, weather proof and enjoyable space for the whole family. Not to mention being relatively bug free.
RTT will also require roof rack system for the Jeep. Too many options and too much $$$$ for this solution :)

#7, I am leaning toward the diesel heater, will have an update this week.

#8, Found a 4 gallon Rotopax on FB Market Place for $140 (retail @$230), picked it up yesterday. Also ordered Rock-Slide Engineering EZ Rack - AC-TR-102S.

#9, I bought Jackery 500 few years ago when it came out. It has been a solid unit, no complaints. I have used it on recent trips and it old up very well. Once I have the RTT i might go with a 1000-1500 watt solar charged battery solution. For nor Jackery is ore than enough.

#10. Using my 12v cooler for now, it is bit noisy and a power hog, but it has been OK so far for my needs. Looking for a used ARB / Dometic / Engel if I find one I will get it.

Long post, let me know what yo think and what is your setup.

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RoarinRow

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All good notes from your lessons learned! Organization seems like a great way to start. After our first trip it was on the top of my list as well. I bought additional bins based on the type of travel, e.g. one day vs. weekend, vs road trip.
 
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mansoorahmed

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All good notes from your lessons learned! Organization seems like a great way to start. After our first trip it was on the top of my list as well. I bought additional bins based on the type of travel, e.g. one day vs. weekend, vs road trip.

I like bins, but the problem with bins is that if they are too deep or too wide, things start to get lost in them as well :grinning:
 
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Tango Tiger

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I enjoyed your detailed write-up. As you noted, organization makes a big difference and that’s something I’m constantly tweaking. My wife and two kids go on most trips with me. Invariably every trip has a point where my wife says “you forgot to pack the cheese” or some other item and I say “I’m sorry, but I did remember to pack the other 5,873 things so I’m confident we can make do.”
 

ryancarman

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Very cool, Please keep us up to do date with what works out (and what doesn't) I love seeing what people come up with!
 

mansoorahmed

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Very cool, Please keep us up to do date with what works out (and what doesn't) I love seeing what people come up with!
Thank you :)

I am done with kitchen setup.
Building the diesel heater today.
Heading out to Northern Ontario coming weekend to test out my build.
Once I am back, I will post details of my design, components I installed/built, what worked and what failed.
Stay tuned :)
 
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mansoorahmed

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Mansoor
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Ahmed
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23411

It has been a while since I update this thread. So here we go....

I built a slider kitchen in the back of my jeep. It was a DIY project, took me a weekend to plan and finish. It was built on the driverside, behind the 1/3 seat.
The design is pretty simple. Top of the slider is the two burner stove, bottom area has two boxes. One box is the kitchen pantry, other is camping gear.

Made few rookie mistakes but learned my lessons after few trips :) With the kitchen in the back, and no roof rack, I could not carry my tent so I setup to sleep in the Jeep. It was pretty comfortable and easy. Yes, getting in and out is bit of an exercise but once you are in it is pretty comfy. I have a 2" double size, foam mattress, which I fold lengthwise. Between the trunk and rear seat, there is a gap and a hump. I bought a $10 blanket from Walmart, which I rolled up and shove it in that gap. Wiht a 4" foam and a thermal pad on top, I don't even feel that gap.

Tested my setup in Nov, when we went for winter camping in Sudbury and Timmins, ON. Absolutely loved the area and my setup.

I uploaded videos to my YouTube channel, check it out at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtuT8JrB13chh7-JTUyk7Rg

Also, built a diesel heater. I will do a separate write up on it.
 

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