Adventure ("Overland") Vehicles and Payload Capacity

Bravo1782

Adventurer
Hey All.

I've got a bit of dilemma that I cannot seem to consolidate in my mind and hopefully some of you know more than me and can clear this up. This involves vehicle payload, aftermarket accessories, and general vehicle safety. I won't belabor all the specifics of the different vehicle weights, but I'll focus on payload. For the sake of clarity, I'll define payload as the overhead afforded by the manufacturer for you, your passangers, your critters, your junk, and your accessories.

Recently, I decided to become a little more weight conscious (in light of thinking about future needs and wants for the rig) and I decided to check up on my current vehicle weight. I've got an '11 F-150 Crew Cab 5.0L V8 4x4 shortbed truck rated for 1500lbs payload that I have what I would describe as a very mild build. I do have some upgraded suspension (Halo Lift Coilovers with increased spring rate and heavy duty Dobinson Rear Lead Springs) but let's just stick with stock payload for this conversation.

So here's what I've got for Accessories On Board:
RCI Skidplates - 130Lbs
RCI Rocker Guards - 80lbs
Rough Country Hidden Winchplate and Winch - 105lbs
Decked Drawers - 220lbs
Topper - 200 lbs

Right there, I have ~740 lbs in fairly basic gear. No roof racks, no aftermarket bumpers, no tire carriers, no roof top tents. Just some pretty run of the mill upgrades.

Now let's load up for a standard 3-4 day trip

Cook Box - 40lbs
Water cans +10 Gallons of water (Overkill, but whatever) - 93lbs
Supplies for Dogs + Dog Food in a DECKED box- 25Lbs
Goal Zero Lithium - 42 Lbs
Renogy Folding Solar Panel (Can't overland without a solar panel) - 28lbs
Dometic CFX75DZW Fridge (Empty) - 74 Lbs
Tent and Sleeping Bags - 30lbs

Before I load up food and beers (because I'm not NOT bringing beers) I'm at ~330lbs in stuff.

And that doesn't account for Basic Recovery Kit, Basic Tool Kit, First Aid Kit, junk that's rolled under the seats, empty growler, road snacks, fishing rods etc. If you add my wife and my derpy dogs, that's another ~450 lbs! Sometimes I want to bring some friends! I sold my RTT and will eventually be back in the RTT game in one way or another, but when I do, there's another 150-250lbs depending on the rack system! So just like that I'm at my payload, and there's a lot of small odds and ends that all add up!

So here's my question...when you take a scroll through instagram or various other sources of overland bling, how does a Tacoma, 4Runner, Land Cruiser, etc, carry all the same gear I seem to carry, plus heavy front bumpers (100-200lbs), plus swingout tire carriers (150-220lbs), plus all sorts of roof racks (40-100lbs) plus roof top tent (100-200 lbs), plus elaborate storage solutions, plus fancy awnings, plus a seemingly bottomless array of heavy accessories and not be thousands of pounds over their payload limit?! Some of these guys load their truck to the gills, then go ahead and tow a trailer too (also loaded to the gills!). And they've got a little V6...I've at least got a big 'merican V8 to push my junk around! The trucks are engineered with certain stresses and tolerances in mind, and overloading them has to really put a strain on all those components.

GRANTED, some trucks have heavy payload packages, and I know improved suspension helps, but without going in and really re-engineering the entire truck, there's going to be some weakest link that's not up to the task of carrying way more than it was engineered to handle. In addition, it seems like the more off-road oriented a truck is, the lower the payload capactiy (think the Ram Power Wagon - Payload 1500lbs or the Ford Raptor ~1000lbs). Moreover, some of these trucks are ("seemingly") going offroad, which introduces all sorts of new stress (which can can be mitigated by proper suspension design to some extent).

I've always been of the mindset that less weight = better because +power and +MPG and +range and +safety, and off-road this is even more the case, but what gives? Did I miss the secret overland hexes and sigil magic to make my truck carry a seemingly bottomless array of gear? What am I missing? Is there some secret Toyota spell cast on their vehicles where they're actually just a 4x4 tardis? Or is there an army of people out there rolling around on hilariously overloaded vehicles that are just not all that worried about how far they are over their payload or the fact that they must be getting around 3MPG?
 

Ari3sgr3gg0

Active member
Most people overload without a second thought. Just look at Google results for people with half ton trucks looking to load more. A lot of people want 3/4 and 1 ton payload without actually stepping up to vehicle required for that payload.
Don't forget that there are ways to shave weight, aluminum rims, sticking with stock size tires, making custom bumpers and rock guards from aluminum, basically anything you can get a lighter equivalent of, do so. All the little weight savings really add up if you're counting payload. It's why I use a canopy on my truck instead of camper. The camper would eat too much payload rating
 

crazysccrmd

Observer
It’s pretty easy to get up there, especially with midsize trucks. My Tacoma has a 1200lb payload. The front bumper/winch used 150lbs, rear bumper with swingout used 40lbs, rock sliders are probably 90lbs, IFS skid is 50lbs, mid skid is probably 25lbs, GFC is about 270lbs. That’s a pretty lightweight and simple setup and I’m down to 575lbs payload with no people, food, gear, gas, water, etc. Add myself, wife, dog and 10gal of gas and it’s down to 200lbs.
 

Theoretician

Adventurer
I like the example of the trailspintv YouTube channel when the hosts (kind of) did the trans-America trail from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast a year or two ago. They loaded up a JKU with a lift kit and hit the road without testing anything; I don’t think they made it out of North Carolina before having high-load springs overnighted to them because they were running around on the bump stops. They had to replace part of their exhaust when it got pinched by the axle on a bump. Same with the front steering stabilizer. And then their transmission needed to be rebuilt in Colorado. And their roof rack broke loose a few times because they had a 200lb box of tools up there on gutter clamp mounts.

98% of people doing this stuff just don’t bother to think about weight before complaining about unreliability. I’d bet that Jeeps are a lot more reliable than they’re given credit for if they stayed at stock+tires.

NMFire even recommends limiting vehicle load to 85% of GVWR when going off-road so that you don’t break stuff when your load is getting to the ground via only two wheels. You reduce a JKU to 85% of GVWR and you’re down to, like, 220lb of payload. I think the power wagon goes negative at 85% because it weighs so much but has a derated GVWR. The old M35 military trucks were rated to carry 5 tons on pavement but only 2.5 tons off pavement IIRC.

I got the heavy duty payload package on my F150 just to handle typical loads off-road. At 85% I still have 2200lb of rating left, enough to a light slide-in plus the wife at some point but plenty right now for a RTT, rack, tools and crap, and food and water for a week. If the F150 weren’t available with the HDPP then I would have gotten an F250 and compromised on the gas mileage before I compromised on safety and reliability 100 miles from the nearest cell tower.
 

tatanka48

Active member
i faced the same dilemma back in 1991 as i was looking for a new P/U

the answer was that a 1/2 ton unit would be max'd out weight wise before the bride & daughter ever stepped aboard and that didn't even factor in a load of fuel or perishables like food n ice

SO it was decided a 3/4 tonner was in our future

same story when that truck got replaced

then steps in a friend who was a Ford tech rep who brought the technical specs relating the real differences between 1/2 3/4 & 1 tonners

i now drive an F-350 PowerStroke diesel 4x4 crew cab long bed

once you get to a 3/4 ton vehicle the next step up to a 1 tonner is very little more money and the 1 tonner comes w/ many of the features i would have liked to add to a 3/4 tonner

in 2002 IIRC the difference between a 3/4 & a 1 tonner was only about $300±

now for the REAL BOTTOM LINE

when traveing anywhere the bridal unit always opts for taking the F-350

her rather plush(in comparison) Accord is virtually always left in the drive way when going more than about 30-50 mies

she wil ride in the Cherokee up to about 50± miles

butt if we're going any distance she specifies we take the P/U and the increased fuel expense is simply a cost of living more comfortably/safely

IMHO the newer F-150 crew cabs(and similarly sized other brand offerings) are nice grocery getters

this OPINION is only based on personal experience n technical data and not "they say" or "i've read" ...

now let the nay sayers have their "equal time"

T
 

Bravo1782

Adventurer
Thanks for all this info, this is super helpful!

@Ryanmb21 I agree with you...I got started in the camping game really late in my life...I didn't come from an outdoorsy family and only discovered the joy of camping in grad school. I've learned a lot and I've really refined a lot of my systems, and I'm now paring down my system to what I (capital N) Need. I know I don't Need a giant dometic fridge, but I sure do love it. I'm trying to balance the things that I know are luxury items that I want to bring versus the things I actually need. I'm very guilty of getting too hung up on the gear (I'm a gear addict and I know it) but as I get older, the less gear I have to keep track of, the better the whole trip seems to go. Part of the reason I sold my RTT was to get back to basics.

@Theoretician I'll have to check out that youtube channel, that sounds amazing to watch. Some of these overland channels are so excruciating to watch because these guys doesn't seem to know what they're doing. I DO NOT consider myself an experience off-roader or outdoorsmen by any stretch of the imagination, but some of these guys seem to make painful rookie mistakes. They have these $125K "overland" build where some fairly simple equipment would work fine. Advanced on-board water systems where a water can would suffice (etc etc).

@Shovel I'm on your team for sure, I'm definitely cutting down on gear to the essentials these days. Like I said above, I do have some luxuary items that I really like that I don't want to give up on, but I'm getting better at trimming the fat and also knowing what sorts of trips I actually go on. I live in the frickin' midwest, so for most of my trips, I don't need stuff that's too hardcore. It's those 2-3 big trips a year where most of this gear comes in handy.

I have a running hypothesis that guys that are really going on good adventures aren't on instagram and youtube because they're too busy actually doing stuff to post it to instagram.
 

Bravo1782

Adventurer
@tatanka48 I'm starting to think I shoudl have gotten a 3/4 ton, but now here the dillema I have...my truck is already paid off...it only has 100K miles and I'm confident it's got at least another 100k miles. I take good care of my stuff and do all the regular maintenance. If I keep this truck, it means no truck payment and more adventures...so making do with it really sounds like a good idea. Plus...I'm definitely emotionally attached to this truck...me and it have been through some serious nonsense lol.
 

rkj__

Adventurer
It's really easy to hit max payload when doing an "expedition" build on a midsize or half ton truck. It's actually pretty tough to stay under max payload if you travel with more than two adults per vehicle.

Many people go over max payload, and don't think much of it.

It's definitely something you should pay attention to.
 

tatanka48

Active member
100k is just barely broken in

guess you're stuck w/ it

the non-existant truck payment really can fund more adventures

it can also help fund some of the nicer more comfortable back packer/light weight gear if you don't already have some

simply time to adjust to the furute of owning a 1/2 tonner ;-)

T
 

Ari3sgr3gg0

Active member
@tatanka48 I'm starting to think I shoudl have gotten a 3/4 ton, but now here the dillema I have...my truck is already paid off...it only has 100K miles and I'm confident it's got at least another 100k miles. I take good care of my stuff and do all the regular maintenance. If I keep this truck, it means no truck payment and more adventures...so making do with it really sounds like a good idea. Plus...I'm definitely emotionally attached to this truck...me and it have been through some serious nonsense lol.
That just means you need to adjust around your vehicle then. I'm an advocate of more adventures with less things. Besides, having a truck you like counts for a whole lot. I'm not too attached to my truck but sure seem stuck with it because I don't want a truck payment and all the new costs :)
 
D

Deleted member 9101

Guest
Yeah... you carry lots of unnecessary stuff. A cooler with dry ice will replace your fridge, battery, and solar. That alone saves you a noticable amount of weight. You also don't need a 40 pound cook box, a 2 pound action packer tote will hold everything and fully packed should weigh about 10 pounds.
 
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J!m

Active member
Something I don’t see mentioned is, not only is the total weight something to keep under control, but also where it’s packed.

The drawers and custom cubbies are super cool and convenient, but the guys who are off grid for a good stretch (months) eventually, if they don’t get or accept the advice up front, adjust the pack so that the heaviest things are on the bottom, and lightest are on top. They might replace their springs too...

Two identical trucks, with different packs, will handle completely differently. This is of prime concern alone, 200 miles from the nearest “pavement ends” sign, off camber.

There’s a picture around somewhere of my 110 on two wheels, (up in Canada I think) going uphill. Mike was riding with me and he did the 90 degree turn with his back to the door- he thought we were going to roll down the side of the hill on the left of the trail. I just pressed the clutch and turned the wheel and we were fine. If I had heavy stuff on top of my already heavy truck, it would have gone quite differently...

Maybe I should search or start a new thread on ways to pack heavy stuff low, while still having reasonable access. I spent a couple weeks (nights and weekends) getting my pack worked out in my 88 that went to Africa. And it paid off for sure.
 

Chorky

Observer
Something I don’t see mentioned is, not only is the total weight something to keep under control, but also where it’s packed.

Maybe I should search or start a new thread on ways to pack heavy stuff low, while still having reasonable access. I spent a couple weeks (nights and weekends) getting my pack worked out in my 88 that went to Africa. And it paid off for sure.

This would actually be a very good thread for some great discussions and a good resource based on other experiences. You are totally correct in considering packing. I am currently working on a load plan for my truck so as the build continues things can be in the right place. I think a lot of people do already consider overall weight and keeping things low (well, the people that go on a lot of off highway trips anyway), but one thing I think most don't consider is physically where things are even when low. For example, some people put all of the weight low and up against the front of the bed, while others use bumper extensions, etc.. So not only is low weight important, but where in the truck. Having everything on one side would be just as bad as everything up high.

Similar to how we used our backpack packing diagrams in B.S. way back in the day (before B.S. got weird), load plans should also be considered and designed for our rigs based on individual pieces of gear. To me this not only includes just deciding where to put something, but physically weighing each item to calculate an even load as much as possible.
 
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