LF build advice - fitting gear + kids + dogs | OVERLAND BOUND COMMUNITY

LF build advice - fitting gear + kids + dogs

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geekyadam

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Mead, CO, USA
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Wright
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Hi all. Long time listener, first time caller. Need some advice on a space problem with my truck.

My girlfriend and I love car camping and I love taking my new 2017 Tacoma to the camp site. I'm eager to start taking longer distance camping trips, hopefully find some 4x4 trails to officially become a real overlander, not the poser car-camper I am now! I used to camp a lot with family growing up and I'm really looking forward to sharing that experience with my kids in the future. However, I'm worried about available physical space to bring kids, dogs, plus gear for all of us in my truck. I've watched hours and hours of YouTube videos of overlanders, some of which bring their kids OR their dog, but I don't think I have yet seen a family overlanding with kids AND a dog...at least not in a single vehicle without pulling a camper/trailer with them for extra space.

My request to all of you is for ideas and/or examples of how to fit two adults, two kids, two dogs, and all our camping gear all in a double cab, short bed Tacoma. Is it impossible? We have two vehicles, but I want to take long trips with the whole family using just my truck. Just fyi, we don't have kids yet, and just one dog. This is future planning for my truck build so that I can slowly acquire all the pieces and test them out ahead of time. Some decisions are starting to come up now as I prioritize my next purchases for the truck.

Besides just simple physical space usage (once we have two kids that's pretty much the whole backseat taken), one main issue here is that our one dog is a whiny squeaker when riding in the truck, he gets super excited and doesn't stop yipping or wimper-barking or whatever you want to call it (opening the window usually helps...for a while). For that reason, we have to assume for this planning that the dogs and the kids can't ride in the same area. Well, technically, maybe once we have our first kid (and still only have the one dog) we could put a muzzle on the dog and harness to one side of the backseat to keep him away from bothering the kid, but we're dog snuggle types not dog muzzle types so that's not happening.

Here's my current tentative build idea so far (feel free to criticize at will):
  • hard bed cap to close in bed
  • pull-out bed drawers system maybe 8-10 inches tall
  • roof rack on top of cab
  • half of our gear goes in roof rack, other half in the bed drawers system
    • quick access stuff on roof rack (i.e. camp tent + camp gear, recovery gear like shovel/axe/maxtrax/straps, etc)
    • lesser used things (i.e. first aid kits, emergency gear, etc) in drawers along with kitchen stuff (we usually use Coleman stove on tailgate for cooking)
  • dogs go in bed area on top of drawers system, all comfy with dog beds and blankets, harnessed up somehow for safety
    • first off, we don't like the idea of our dogs being in the bed of a truck, they usually ride in the backseat (on a thick Duluth seat cover thank god). but given that the kids will be in the backseat, only physical space left for dogs is bed area. my Tacoma has the power rear window so I intend to leave that open to the bed area [until he reaches maximum yip volume, then I press a button to close that window and that goes away]. hopefully that suffices our concerns with our dogs feeling separated from us during the trip. at the very least they'll still be safe and secure with the enclosed cap on the back and some sort of harness safety system for them.
    • idea here is bed drawers system allows for some gear storage in bed of the truck but dogs can still ride in bed on top of the drawers system. this way we don't lose all the potential gear storage area of the bed by having the dogs ride back there.
    • for this reason... truck bed height + bed cap interior height - bed drawers height = height remaining available for dogs to be comfortable. that's why only planning on drawers being like 8-10 inches tall. dog is medium-large rescued pit-bull mix, about 75lb. maybe the drawers need to be shorter to give him enough room back there? maybe need every inch for puppers and can't put drawers back there at all?
  • kids go in back seat
    • along with whatever other kids stuff is necessary like toys and spongebob and snacks for the trip etc.

What I'm hoping to get from you guys and gals:
- alternate ideas for build layout for space usage/efficiency/etc
- any experiences/examples of your own findings while overlanding with kids and dogs in a single vehicle (does anyone else travel with their dog in the bed/cap area?)
- recommendations on some of my ideas for gear storage or dog area or whatever
- any experiences with truck bed dog safety harness systems etc?


Thanks for reading. Dog tax attached. Taken from a hike while camping a few weekends ago at Prince William Forest Park (about 25min from our house). He normally hates being wet, but that was a super hot and muggy weekend and we all needed to cool off.
 

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geekyadam

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2,484
Mead, CO, USA
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Wright
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I just found the Rig Q&A section of the forums. Mods feel free to move this thread there if makes more sense. Apologies for wrong area.
 

Raul B

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That's going to be tuff in a short bed Tacoma..... Possible to upside to a full size? If not I think your best bet is to get a shell with side windows that open.

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geekyadam

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Pathfinder I

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Mead, CO, USA
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Adam
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Wright
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7105

That's going to be tuff in a short bed Tacoma..... Possible to upside to a full size? If not I think your best bet is to get a shell with side windows that open.

Sent from my SM-G930T using OB Talk mobile app
Yeah full size would be easier, but original reason that pointed me to the Tacoma was manual transmission (and resale value). Tacoma is here to stay [for the foreseeable future]. I was thinking about hard shell bed cap with side windows also, then make shelves inside to grab out of. That way if I couldn't fit the drawers and the dog in the bed, I could at least use those side shelves for gear storage (and nice easy access). Think I'd prefer the security of the drawer system more, and that even without the cap the drawers would still be usable normal day-to-day usage.
 

Johnnie Canuck

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Member

Advocate II

Ive never had to factor kids into any of my equations(yay!). But my dogs are 300lbs of dead weight. I think you're on the only track to solve your issue, if you're not going to tow a trailer. If you check out "Weathergaurd's" catalog they have half bed lengths packrat options so you're pup has a bit more headroom. For the pups safety there are doggy seat belts on the market that could be altered for the bed. But for real safety back there id would consider a large open-air kennel thats tied down properly.
Good luck with your build!
 
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geekyadam

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Shortround13

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Hey just thought I'd share some insight I've gleaned from the few camping trips with our two little ones, they are now 2 and 7 months old. We also have 1 dog, a 55lb Rhodesian. Actually, your post spurred me to sign up so I could respond!

We also have a double cab Taco, an '04, with a 5 1/2 foot bed. The 1st trip we took we used a RTT on our 4runner. The dog has always ridden in the back of my truck inside of a kennel secured to the bed. This was to keep her safe because as of now all the gear is either stored in action packer crates or our duffels etc...with some recovery gear like hi-lift/shovel just shoved back there. So that made fitting everything in the 4runner a challenge as the kennel ate up a TON of space in the back, and we had no roof top storage because of the RTT. We only planned on a 2 night trip, so it was do-able, but we had to make some decisions on what to take and leave.

Our goal, like you, is to use the Taco mainly and keep it to 1 vehicle. We've explored options of trailers, tents, RTTs and built in campers like the AT Habitat. They all have the pros/cons. We also did a 6 night 7 day trip through Colorado with a rented teardrop. That made some things nice, as far as storage and access gear/food for quick lunch stops etc and setting up camp, but towing a trailer is another consideration, as was storing a trailer full time at our house.

I think we've settled on a pop up camper style for the bed. The Habitat is nice, big enough for all 4 of us, but the price tag is the big limiting factor. We're looking really hard at a new comer from Montana, the GoFastCamper, it's smaller, but half the price.

Our logic, we can fit all 4 of us in the tent sleep area for now while they are young, with the dog below in the bed of the truck. As we build out the truck, I am playing with design ideas to hold a fridge, and make a drawer system to hold recovery gear, and a perpendicular bunk system for the kids to sleep. I figure this will last until they are old enough to want to sleep on their own in a tent away from mom and dad.
We may look into building a small half length roof rack to go on the cab of the truck to help hold easily accessible stuff as well.

I get what you are saying about the dogs, but your assessment is right, there will be a time when they can't ride in the cab with you, and my dog has never had an issue in the bed of the truck. A water bottle (like a hamster thing) on the kennel, a chew toy and frequent stops for the kids anyways and she gets out and runs around. And trust me, unless your dog is Great Dane size, they'll be fine on top of a drawer system. At least our dog is totally cool with kennels, we use it daily at home, and started from day 1 getting her interested in it and now its her safe place, we leave the door open throughout the day and she'll go in there on her own for naps or to chill, chew her rope bone etc....so think about that, if you've never used one, start slowly. We put her food inside of a Kong, let her smell it, then put the Kong in the kennel and closed the door. It didn't take long before she wanted to go in there. Then we left the door open while she ate, and then started closing the door while she ate.
 
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Justin Forrest

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Don't forget about roof top storage boxs. We took the whole crew on a trip for the first time ever. (4 dogs, 2 kids) a few days before we left I start playing the Tetris packing game and quickly realized there wasn't enough room. Not even close. I fabricated some crossbars for the roof and borrowed my neighbors roof box. Barely fit everything. IMG_0145.JPGSomething else to consider with a loaded up Taco is stopping power. Not sure if your 3rd gen brakes are better than 2nd gen, just something to keep in mind.
 
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Shortround13

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Good point about brakes. 1st gens have ability to swap in Tundra brakes of the same gen. I did that upgrade early on and it made a noticible difference. Wonder if that ability spans the generations.

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Justin Forrest

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Second gens can use the brakes from GX 470/v8 4runner. Might work on 3rd gen since several of the aftermarket market brake parts do.
 

Boort

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Hi all. Long time listener, first time caller. Need some advice on a space problem with my truck. ...
Here's my current tentative build idea so far (feel free to criticize at will):
  • hard bed cap to close in bed
  • pull-out bed drawers system maybe 8-10 inches tall
  • roof rack on top of cab
  • half of our gear goes in roof rack, other half in the bed drawers system
    • quick access stuff on roof rack (i.e. camp tent + camp gear, recovery gear like shovel/axe/maxtrax/straps, etc)
    • lesser used things (i.e. first aid kits, emergency gear, etc) in drawers along with kitchen stuff (we usually use Coleman stove on tailgate for cooking)
  • dogs go in bed area on top of drawers system, all comfy with dog beds and blankets, harnessed up somehow for safety
    • first off, we don't like the idea of our dogs being in the bed of a truck, they usually ride in the backseat (on a thick Duluth seat cover thank god). but given that the kids will be in the backseat, only physical space left for dogs is bed area. my Tacoma has the power rear window so I intend to leave that open to the bed area [until he reaches maximum yip volume, then I press a button to close that window and that goes away]. hopefully that suffices our concerns with our dogs feeling separated from us during the trip. at the very least they'll still be safe and secure with the enclosed cap on the back and some sort of harness safety system for them.
    • idea here is bed drawers system allows for some gear storage in bed of the truck but dogs can still ride in bed on top of the drawers system. this way we don't lose all the potential gear storage area of the bed by having the dogs ride back there.
    • for this reason... truck bed height + bed cap interior height - bed drawers height = height remaining available for dogs to be comfortable. that's why only planning on drawers being like 8-10 inches tall. dog is medium-large rescued pit-bull mix, about 75lb. maybe the drawers need to be shorter to give him enough room back there? maybe need every inch for puppers and can't put drawers back there at all?
  • kids go in back seat
    • along with whatever other kids stuff is necessary like toys and spongebob and snacks for the trip etc.
I grew up camping with a family 4 pack + 2 Newfoundland dogs. We always had vans (70's VW and a few Ford E150's) and it was a piece of cake. I currently camp in a 2 seat Tacoma w/ 6' bed. As others have said it'll be tight but doable. Also done a couple of 7-8 day trips with 4 adult photographers, gear, and a ~150lb Newfoundland in a Toyota Sequoia. Newfie traveled in Kennel with 3rd row removed, People in seats, gear next to and atop the crate and in XXL Rocket box on roof (Proper overland style roof rack + action pak boxes would have given more room on roof).

Tips I can give:
You don't mention a budget.
  • Have you considered the AT Overland Tacoma Habitat? Offers sleeping of family up top and doggos down below. It's expensive but flexible you could save some money DIYing the lower area if you have the skills.
Staying on a tighter budget.
  • Look for a shell that is taller than cab height, offers "windoors", and can support rack. Mine is cab high and the extra 3-5" would be nice for me, and valuable for your needs!
  • DIY drawers: Use 3/8" baltic birch plywood. Size drawers lower than thte wheel wells, cut out the top to line up with the tops of the wheel wells, buys you about an inch of headroom. HDPE cutting boards make great drawer slide material. Brother's ~90lb Lab is happy in my truck bed with this setup just sticks his head through the beer window and says hello or begs for a treat. Newfies have a hard time getting in but fine once loaded. If gear, suitcases, etc will be stored in back with dogs above the deck, crates will offer more safety than harnesses.
  • Hitch basket is wonderful for extra storage out back, but kills departure angle off road. Friend just downsized from a fullsize Ram truck to a Jeep, she loves her high clearance swing away hitch basket. I believe that hers is the 500lb Harbor Freight Aluminum box that she had a lifted & swing away mount made for. If dogs are not skittish about where they step they can use it as a step up when loading.
Boort
 

Justin Forrest

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I grew up camping with a family 4 pack + 2 Newfoundland dogs. We always had vans (70's VW and a few Ford E150's) and it was a piece of cake. I currently camp in a 2 seat Tacoma w/ 6' bed. As others have said it'll be tight but doable. Also done a couple of 7-8 day trips with 4 adult photographers, gear, and a ~150lb Newfoundland in a Toyota Sequoia. Newfie traveled in Kennel with 3rd row removed, People in seats, gear next to and atop the crate and in XXL Rocket box on roof (Proper overland style roof rack + action pak boxes would have given more room on roof).

Tips I can give:
You don't mention a budget.
  • Have you considered the AT Overland Tacoma Habitat? Offers sleeping of family up top and doggos down below. It's expensive but flexible you could save some money DIYing the lower area if you have the skills.
Staying on a tighter budget.
  • Look for a shell that is taller than cab height, offers "windoors", and can support rack. Mine is cab high and the extra 3-5" would be nice for me, and valuable for your needs!
  • DIY drawers: Use 3/8" baltic birch plywood. Size drawers lower than thte wheel wells, cut out the top to line up with the tops of the wheel wells, buys you about an inch of headroom. HDPE cutting boards make great drawer slide material. Brother's ~90lb Lab is happy in my truck bed with this setup just sticks his head through the beer window and says hello or begs for a treat. Newfies have a hard time getting in but fine once loaded. If gear, suitcases, etc will be stored in back with dogs above the deck, crates will offer more safety than harnesses.
  • Hitch basket is wonderful for extra storage out back, but kills departure angle off road. Friend just downsized from a fullsize Ram truck to a Jeep, she loves her high clearance swing away hitch basket. I believe that hers is the 500lb Harbor Freight Aluminum box that she had a lifted & swing away mount made for. If dogs are not skittish about where they step they can use it as a step up when loading.
Boort
Our Newf loves to go on travels but I have help her up in the truck every time.
 
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Justin Forrest

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Same with most of ours. These ramps are amazing http://dogramp.com/dogramp/dog-ramps but really heavy. Current one is goofy about where he puts his feet and will not use the ramp or the hitch step.

Boort
Yep, she is a no go on ramps and steps. But boy does she like having me pick up her big old booty to get in.
 
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Boort

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Yep, she is a no go on ramps and steps. But boy does she like having me pick up her big old booty to get in.
I bet she puts her front feet up and looks back over her shoulder with a big grin and that "come on dad we're goin for a ride" sparkle in her eye.
 

Shortround13

Rank 0

Contributor I

I bet she puts her front feet up and looks back over her shoulder with a big grin and that "come on dad we're goin for a ride" sparkle in her eye.
Haha....so yeah my truck is lifted but my neighbors 9 y/o lab mix jumps right in. My spry little 3 y/o Rhodesian that runs circles around him....nope. I think she misjudged it the 1st time and has been scared ever since. But she isn't too fond of me picking her up either....hopefully she learns to hop in one of these days!

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