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PanDa_

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Ok, Hello, I'm new here, I was browsing and looking at overland type stuff for awhile now, and I thought I would get some insight and opinions.
So to get started on what I need, I'm going to be traveling a lot, all over California, and need a decent Overland / Off-road 4x4, along with a Off-Road Camper, and found a couple of options I like;

-Tow Vehicle / Daily Driver; 1st Gen Subaru Forester, 1997-2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee, or a Toyota Tacoma, I'm leaning more towards the Subaru, Manual trans, good looks, good mpg, Relatively inexpensive parts, second choice would be the Tacoma, Ext Cab or 4-Door, 4wd, Probably Automatic, so a newer one. Some Questions; Would the Subaru be good for towing a Off-Road TearDrop? What about for mods, ect? I was thinking the Subaru or the Tacoma for reliability, and space. We used to own a 2017 Subaru Forester, It was an amazing car. Can tow 2000#, Should this be enough?Should I worry about braking power, ect?

-Trailer / Camper; I've been browsing Off-Road trailers for awhile, and I'm having a hard time deciding between the TerraDrop ALPHA, the Boreas XT, and the Drifter Trailers, No way I could afford to buy one, So I'm designing one similar to one, but I can't decide, I like the Looks of the TerraDrop, but the storage / galley of the other two. Would be built out of wood, because I have a lot of woodworking tools and a bit of experience, and not very good with metal. It would be lived in full time, for around a year or so, maybe longer, probably closer to 18 months. Going to be used in relatively hot and cold climates, around from 20*F to about 110*F, Will be slept in, but most of the time will be spent outdoors doing who knows what. So some questions; What is better for tire size? 31",33" or 35"? What size are normal for the doors and windows? For the Roof rack, could I weld two tubes per side going up to support the roof rack (through the walls)? Would it be better to carry a Kayak (roughly 115 Lbs) on top of the trailer or the tow vehicle? Are the Timbren Axle-less suspension 3500# Axles, 4" Lift, Good? Should I worry about Heating/AC?

Thats all I can really think of right now, probably come up with more later.
Thx
 
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MOAK

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my lifelong rule of thumb for any utility vehicle? (And yes, a vehicle whose primary purpose is for “overlanding” should be considered a (sport) utility vehicle) is to always get something a size bigger than what you currently want/need. You cannot go wrong with a Tacoma. The last thing I’d want is for a trailer pushing my small vehicle down a snow covered road. There may or may not be a trolly brake for the trailer, but even at that, the ABS on the tow rig will keep you from sliding out of control, meanwhile, that trailer locks up and whips around and hits you up side your head.
 

hans541

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my dilemma is Sprinter van or 3rd Gen 4Runner... absolutely torn; so many pros/cons for either platform; so I feel your pain...
 

grubworm

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i down sized from an F350 4X4 diesel to a Tundra and love the Tundra. I have a cap on it with bed/storage and pull a tear drop. We use the tear drop as a base camp and then take the Tundra with cap to go do really remote hard to get to places. We went with a modified tear drop which is basically a 8X5 toy hauler, with a slide out galley, awning, etc. It is small and nimble and great to use as a base camp where we can have a little more luxury when we feel like it. Both are set up with kayak racks and that way we can take the kayaks anywhere we go.
Building your own from scratch is going to be quite the undertaking plus it needs to meet highway specs to be on the highway. Lots to think about there. I went with a Forest River NoBo 10.6 for $13k, did a few mods and it is serving me very well. I doubt I could build it for that.
A Tacoma would be nice and it will pull a small trailer easy and can have a cap on it or many different racks and mounts...very versatile vehicle, I would definitely go with that.
 
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Road

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Ok, Hello, I'm new here, I was browsing and looking at overland type stuff for awhile now, and I thought I would get some insight and opinions.
So to get started on what I need, I'm going to be traveling a lot, all over California, and need a decent Overland / Off-road 4x4, along with a Off-Road Camper, and found a couple of options I like;

-Tow Vehicle / Daily Driver; 1st Gen Subaru Forester, 1997-2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee, or a Toyota Tacoma, I'm leaning more towards the Subaru, Manual trans, good looks, good mpg, Relatively inexpensive parts, second choice would be the Tacoma, Ext Cab or 4-Door, 4wd, Probably Automatic, so a newer one. Some Questions; Would the Subaru be good for towing a Off-Road TearDrop? What about for mods, ect? I was thinking the Subaru or the Tacoma for reliability, and space. We used to own a 2017 Subaru Forester, It was an amazing car. Can tow 2000#, Should this be enough?Should I worry about braking power, ect?

-Trailer / Camper; I've been browsing Off-Road trailers for awhile, and I'm having a hard time deciding between the TerraDrop ALPHA, the Boreas XT, and the Drifter Trailers, No way I could afford to buy one, So I'm designing one similar to one, but I can't decide, I like the Looks of the TerraDrop, but the storage / galley of the other two. Would be built out of wood, because I have a lot of woodworking tools and a bit of experience, and not very good with metal. It would be lived in full time, for around a year or so, maybe longer, probably closer to 18 months. Going to be used in relatively hot and cold climates, around from 20*F to about 110*F, Will be slept in, but most of the time will be spent outdoors doing who knows what. So some questions; What is better for tire size? 31",33" or 35"? What size are normal for the doors and windows? For the Roof rack, could I weld two tubes per side going up to support the roof rack (through the walls)? Would it be better to carry a Kayak (roughly 115 Lbs) on top of the trailer or the tow vehicle? Are the Timbren Axle-less suspension 3500# Axles, 4" Lift, Good? Should I worry about Heating/AC?

Thats all I can really think of right now, probably come up with more later.
Thx
.

Trailer tire size: I would keep it same size rim and tire as your tow vehicle. Easy to swap if need be, and looks good.

Doors & Windows: If designing and making this yourself, you can make them any size you want that fits your size. Best thing to do is go around and measure a mess of windows and doors on existing trailers to see, and research what windows and doors are available commercially for DIY before designing and starting to build. Their placement can be crucial in overall strength of of an off-road capable trailer as far as sway and racking, especially if the trailer is made entirely of wood.

Roof rack support: Not knowing your overall design, design skills, or sense of engineering, it's difficult to just say yeah, two welded tubes'll do it. All depends on where they're placed and how they're attached. There are a lot of all-wood trailers with roof racks that will support a 115# kayak with no problem. It's all about proper design and transferring load.

Kayak: If your trailer is lower in overall height than your tow vehicle and you're planning a lot of highway and interstate miles, put it on the trailer. One reason I went with the canoe I did instead of a kayak is that it weighs a hell of a lot less than any kayak I know of, at only 28# empty, so is far easier to handle.

Axle: I wondered the same thing before getting my trailer and now know a 3500# axle is overkill, even for my severe duty trailer with a lot more cargo capacity than most any home-built trailer. Add too stiff an axle, though the numbers sound good and are fun to boast about, and your trailer will HAVE to be heavily loaded to not skip and bounce about.

Heating/AC: I wouldn't build in either, personally, and have my rig and trailer regularly in everything from sub-freezing weather to 100+ desert temps. Especially difficult would be trying to run AC off-grid. Heat is more doable, if you really need/want it, with diesel heaters like an Espar. Much easier and far less expensive for the short run is to use a Mr Buddy Heater (propane), which you can move around. It's surprising, once you travel and camp a lot with tow vehicle and trailer, how used to temp swings you get and how clever you can get in making yourself more comfortable by just paying attention to the sun and wind in both winter and summer and parking/camping accordingly.

Overall, @PanDa_ , what I can see is going to be your biggest challenge, judging from the questions you're asking, is researching your design and coming up with a plan for off-road use. Designing an enclosed trailer rugged enough for off-road takes a bit more than one for highway usage.

Crawl around, under, over, and in as many other trailers as you can and get on every adventure forum you can and search the threads for actual home-built trailers by good designers. You'll be glad you did, or will end up spending a shitload of time and money on a trailer that seemed like a good design but turns out to be not what you really hoped for. Don't just accept all the answers you'll find, here or anywhere else; a lot of them will be from guys who have only read about it, not who have building or design skills themselves. Check out trailers yourself and ask builders in person, too.

Well researched, you can do it once and have what you want.

.

 
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PanDa_

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Woah, thx for all the replies. The one reason I was thinking 1st gen Subie is they look great, and get around 19-21 mpg, and can be made to do alot, plus lots of parts and upgrades available. The reason a kayak is because it's very versatile, and is made for all waters, Creeks to Oceans, otherwise if it was just small lakes and/or creeks/rivers I would go with a canoe. Yes, trying to decide between the two is proving very difficult, I'm thinking about going and seeing both of them in person, It would be nice to build it myself, but buying might be a cheaper option. Tacoma sounds like maybe a better route, another thing I like about the Subie is the full time AWD, vs the Tacoma which can't be used in 4WD full time (I think, I'm not completely sure). Considering a Small MX bike / E-Bike for going places/running errands. Looks like the doors on the TerraDrop are 26"x36". In a simple version, what does it basically take to make the camper? I know you can build from outside in or inside out, but which is easier? Anything major that I would need to add to the design? Would most likely coat the entire exterior with Raptor bedliner for waterproof, durable, lasting color. Anything else I should look up and read on?

Thx
 

WrightRunner

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Ok, Hello, I'm new here, I was browsing and looking at overland type stuff for awhile now, and I thought I would get some insight and opinions.
So to get started on what I need, I'm going to be traveling a lot, all over California, and need a decent Overland / Off-road 4x4, along with a Off-Road Camper, and found a couple of options I like;

-Tow Vehicle / Daily Driver; 1st Gen Subaru Forester, 1997-2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee, or a Toyota Tacoma, I'm leaning more towards the Subaru, Manual trans, good looks, good mpg, Relatively inexpensive parts, second choice would be the Tacoma, Ext Cab or 4-Door, 4wd, Probably Automatic, so a newer one. Some Questions; Would the Subaru be good for towing a Off-Road TearDrop? What about for mods, ect? I was thinking the Subaru or the Tacoma for reliability, and space. We used to own a 2017 Subaru Forester, It was an amazing car. Can tow 2000#, Should this be enough?Should I worry about braking power, ect?

-Trailer / Camper; I've been browsing Off-Road trailers for awhile, and I'm having a hard time deciding between the TerraDrop ALPHA, the Boreas XT, and the Drifter Trailers, No way I could afford to buy one, So I'm designing one similar to one, but I can't decide, I like the Looks of the TerraDrop, but the storage / galley of the other two. Would be built out of wood, because I have a lot of woodworking tools and a bit of experience, and not very good with metal. It would be lived in full time, for around a year or so, maybe longer, probably closer to 18 months. Going to be used in relatively hot and cold climates, around from 20*F to about 110*F, Will be slept in, but most of the time will be spent outdoors doing who knows what. So some questions; What is better for tire size? 31",33" or 35"? What size are normal for the doors and windows? For the Roof rack, could I weld two tubes per side going up to support the roof rack (through the walls)? Would it be better to carry a Kayak (roughly 115 Lbs) on top of the trailer or the tow vehicle? Are the Timbren Axle-less suspension 3500# Axles, 4" Lift, Good? Should I worry about Heating/AC?

Thats all I can really think of right now, probably come up with more later.
Thx
With the Taco you wouldn't have to worry as much about where you go and ground clearance. Subaru's are great cars for driving in snow and such. But not really made for off roading. As soon as you get on a dirt road going up a slight hill and add some small rocks you are typically done. My wife drives a Subaru part are more expensive than Toyota parts. People do off roading in Subaru's but it seems to me it's an up hill battle finding off road parts. To me it's a no brainers there is anything and everything available to fix up a Taco!
 

Road

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Woah, thx for all the replies. The one reason I was thinking 1st gen Subie is they look great, and get around 19-21 mpg, and can be made to do alot, plus lots of parts and upgrades available. The reason a kayak is because it's very versatile, and is made for all waters, Creeks to Oceans, otherwise if it was just small lakes and/or creeks/rivers I would go with a canoe. Yes, trying to decide between the two is proving very difficult, I'm thinking about going and seeing both of them in person, It would be nice to build it myself, but buying might be a cheaper option. Tacoma sounds like maybe a better route, another thing I like about the Subie is the full time AWD, vs the Tacoma which can't be used in 4WD full time (I think, I'm not completely sure). Considering a Small MX bike / E-Bike for going places/running errands. Looks like the doors on the TerraDrop are 26"x36". In a simple version, what does it basically take to make the camper? I know you can build from outside in or inside out, but which is easier? Anything major that I would need to add to the design? Would most likely coat the entire exterior with Raptor bedliner for waterproof, durable, lasting color. Anything else I should look up and read on?

Thx
.

If you want a camping trailer that will be rugged enough for off-road and backcountry use and full time living, especially with limited knowledge on how to design and build one yourself, yeah, buying one will be less expensive. You'll end up with a trailer that has what you want, is strong and rugged (hopefully) and most likely has a warranty.

Just the learning curve of how to do everything right, and rugged enough for off-road, on a home-built trailer could take so much time you'll wish you'd not undertaken it. A lot of things to consider when taking on a project like that; do you have a large enough indoor space to work on it? Do you have enough time to design and build something you're really not sure how to even start? What are you gonna use for a frame? Have you boned up on weight/ratios of building materials, tongue weight, etc? How sharp are you with wiring? The list is pretty much endless.

Bedliner on entire exterior adds a lot of weight, too much, really. Additionally, if the surface you're putting it on is not prepped right, and if the trailer is not built so it won't rack and twist when going off-camber, the bedliner will crack and flake, exposing the surface underneath.

As for MX or e-bike, I looked at small motorbikes, scooters, dual purpose bikes, just everything that's out there and in the end went with a rugged fat-tire e-bike. Here's a page I wrote about it:

Good luck man. . .it's all a discovery, figuring out what you want to use for living out of and what you need to make it happen. I've been using my rig full time for over two years and the time spent researching, climbing all over other rigs, and combining elements that will work together the way I want for an outdoor life has paid off handsomely.

Road

.
 
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PanDa_

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Another thing I should add, the Subie if I got, would eventually get sti swapped, and have heard you can find one for under 8K, as for the Tacoma's, they hold there value alot more, so around 15-25k, but the Tacoma might be worth it in the long run.
 
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Anak

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Do some research on the durability of the transmission of the Subaru, particularly when towing. And then be aware that the Subaru probably isn't going to offer you a true transfer case with a 4-low option.

In my opinion, a stout transmission and transfer case with 4-low are vital to success if you intend to tow off-road. I can't envision the Subaru towing well on an incline, either up or down. And it is not the engine I am worried about.
 
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PanDa_

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Ok, so what is your sugestions for a cheaper (8-12k) overland base car/trucks? Some things I need;
- Tow 2000#'s +
- 4WD/AWD
- Inexpensive Replacement / Upgrade parts
- Decent MPG (16-20+)
- Looks Good
- is Reliable, For Daily Driver
- Ext Cab / 4 Door

Meanwhile, I'll keep looking around
Thx
 

PanDa_

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So, Been looking at more Camper Trailers, which would be better, a 4x8 or 5x8? Its going to be me most of the time, with occasional another person, and ill be living in it full time, so I would go with the 5x8, because you can fit bugger mattress and more items needed, but the 4x8 looks better and is slightly cheaper, I'm really liking the style and space of the Drifter trailers Primal, but needed advice on the size. Still unsure if I'm going to build or buy, I quoted out to buy, and everything I needed/wanted, it came out to around 11k without shipping, but I would probably go pick it up myself. As for DD/Overland Vehicle, I'm trying to decide between 2nd gen Tacoma or 3rd gen 4runner, both have good specs etc, tow 3500-5000#'s, and inexpensive parts and good looks. the only real difference is the bed of the Tacoma, that I can see. Opinions and Experience are what I'm looking for, but feel free to share your ideas.

Thx
 

Anak

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Either of those Toyotas should serve you well. Both are popular and have aftermarket support.

WRT the trailer, I will suggest you focus first on the axle. With the Toyotas being 6-lug you may be able to get an axle that uses the same bolt pattern without needing any adapters. My advice would be to get a trailer with a 5K rated axle. You can get 6 lug in either 3.5K or 5K, but the 5K will come with larger bearings. For offroad use you want the most durable components you can get.

I would also suggest that you get an axle with brakes, and if possible even a parking brake. The axle can certainly be ordered with a parking brake. The question will be whether or not the trailer builder is up to completing the system for a reasonable price.

As to whether 4x8 or 5x8 I would compare the track width of the trailer to the track width of the tow vehicle and go with whichever is closest, given that it doesn't sound as though you have any other priority driving the choice.
 

PanDa_

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Yeah, A friend is probably going to be welding the trailer frame, most likely the Timbren 3500# ale-less suspension is the way I will go, with electric brakes, Trailer will be 3x2 either steel or aluminum, with a 2x2 main member? Been looking at trailers and drawing up some designs, should have a design or 2 within the week, to get help with support and design. Was thinking aluminum because weight savings and no rust.

Think I might go 4Runner, but it's hard because there both great vehicles

Thx
 

oneleglance

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Turn key and ready to roll....with none of the hassle of a trailer :)
Standup room inside and I will even load the fridge for you!
 

Michael

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my lifelong rule of thumb for any utility vehicle? (And yes, a vehicle whose primary purpose is for “overlanding” should be considered a (sport) utility vehicle) is to always get something a size bigger than what you currently want/need. You cannot go wrong with a Tacoma. The last thing I’d want is for a trailer pushing my small vehicle down a snow covered road. There may or may not be a trolly brake for the trailer, but even at that, the ABS on the tow rig will keep you from sliding out of control, meanwhile, that trailer locks up and whips around and hits you up side your head.
Absolutely agree with this. Folks often what to go farther and do more once they get out there. You get to that one gatekeeper and wish and want to be able to go farther, but you really can't safely. There is a point of diminishing returns too (thankfully). Meaning, you get 35s and you can go 85% of where you want to go - 40s gets you another 5% IMO.

Torque is a huge factor - Subaru's get in trouble when they require torque and ground clearance HOWEVER the heart wants what the heart wants so if that is a Subaru AWESOME. Just keep in mind the limitations and be safe.
 

Cpol

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I was looking for something that was dependable and efficient. We decided to go with the Tacoma. It’s been a uphill challenge and it takes patience... research all your options.. go out and test your vehicle. 0B0EEA7F-BF07-4245-89C4-F50CD0AF1CD4.jpeg
The mileage is not that bad considering that I have 75 percent of the work complete.28ECC95A-04E4-4DAE-AB38-3B7BBEB5E8CB.jpeg
We started preping the family of the ins and outs of the truck and what it is cable of, and it’s been a fun adventure testing its limits. E59096D5-CC79-4FE9-8828-E30F9EAB9075.png
Just have fun building it..
 

PanDa_

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Yes, Tacoma is what i'm thinking, along with the 4Runner, hard decision. Tacoma has bed space, so the gear is separate from the cab, and you can just toss the dirty stuff in the bed and not worry about getting the interior dirty, but the 4Runner, nice rear seat room, can fold down the seats and put a blow-up mattress in, Cheaper price, ect, better on road drive, better stock off road capabilities. I'm not sure which would be better for my application, I'm leaning more towards Tacoma, but I'm not sure. Most likely though, I'm going to go towards 1st/2nd Gen, better looks, bit cheaper, ect, all depends on if I can find one in my price range. So list of mods I'm thinking about so far;
-32" Tires
-17" rims
-Bigger Brakes
-3" lift
-Front Diff Drop Kit
-New struts (5100?)
-New Rear Leaf Springs
-Extraction Kit (tow straps, shovel, axe, ect)
-Maybe new fenders / besides?
-And More
Can't remember much at the moment, anything else vital that I need? (I know none of this is needed, but eventually wanted)

Thx
 

PanDa_

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So I had a question; Would it be more worth it to get a Auto or Stick? Considering DD'ing it, Over landing and sometimes crawling it, how good is the Auto Low gears? will they hold up to crawling around and on rocks in 4L? is it hard to keep the engine from stalling while crawling in a Stick? Which is better all around? Looking at the 1st gen Tacoma's, I think I'm going to go with one, Extended cab, v6, 4x4. How would it be for DD'ing? Easier in the auto or stick? What about pulling a trailer? I'm not experienced with stick, only in forza horizon full sim that I got to try before. If stick is much better, I would rather take the time to learn the manual rather than getting the auto and it not being good for crawling etc. Opinions?

Thx
 

Anak

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If towing there is no question. Stick is the way to go. Automatics die from the heat.

WRT off-roading, that is a matter of personal preference. I hunted for over a year to find a stick XJ for off-roading. There are others who would never think of off-roading with a stick. I like the control and have no problem getting around in the gears. For others it may not be such a good idea, and if they do better with an auto, well, that's fine. I would rather they did well with an auto than have them screw up with a stick.

As to DD'ing a stick, well, what is your commute like? If you have an hour of stop and go freeway crawling then you will probably be happier with an auto. However, I will say that my favorite combination for that nonsense is my 12V Cummins with a 5 speed NV4500. I put it in low (not 1st, I mean low) and let the low speed governor on the engine take over. It is the perfect traffic crawl speed. But that is a different setup than you are looking at. That magic doesn't happen with my XJ.
 
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