Adventure ("Overland") Vehicles and Payload Capacity

If one is going to bring the kitchen sink and everything else including tools and spare parts and recovery gear on a 3 month+ trip away from convenient dealerships in every town, a medium duty (class 6-7) truck with a 15000 lb payload (bare without camper) really helps.
 

bdog1

Adventurer
The power wagon is rated light as it is on springs that allow more flex than the standard 3/4 ton. Same with the Raptor.

It’s been mentioned to upgrade springs / brakes ect. This improves how a vehicle behaves, but doesn’t change its GVWR. These more robust components are heavier so reduce available payload.

If things go really bad on the highway and the State Trooper pulls out the portable scales.....not good. They won’t do this for a ticket or fender bender, only in a serious accident. They can get quite detailed.

You never hear of people buying HD trucks and replacing components with light duty parts.


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Ducky's Dad

Explorer
The power wagon is rated light as it is on springs that allow more flex than the standard 3/4 ton. Same with the Raptor.

Yeah, but the Raptor is not even a real truck. It's just a buggy with a truckish body dropped onto it.
 
In light duty trucks and SUVs, one trick I've found is that the only way (in North America at least) to guarantee more payload is to buy more seat belts. Most SUVs are massively under-spec'd for their cargo volume, especially since many vehicle payload ratings fail to include "optional" equipment. Therefore, your 1500 lb payload "rating" is likely at least a few hundred pounds less before you drive off the lot.

The Nissan Titan XD Cummins is a really good example of this - it came advertised as this revitalization of the "heavy half ton" concept with up to 2000 lbs of payload. In reality, a crew cab diesel barely had enough payload left to fit five warm bodies in the seats. The same is true of virtually all half ton crew cabs - the extra weight of the cab virtually always takes up all of the useable payload if you have any passengers.

The work-around is that the only thing I have found to guarantee more payload is seat belts - they have to guarantee 150 lbs of payload per seatbelt, so 1050 lbs in a seven-seater or 1200 lbs in an eight-seater, which is likely more than your half-ton if you actually drove over a scale to factor in your leather seats and million-speaker audio system (or whatever accessories you have.)

My personal choice was a 2011 Pathfinder V6 because the seven seats guaranteed an almost useable payload, and, to the best of my knowledge, the V8 has a 500 lb increased payload with different springs and axles, but no change to the frame or body, so I'm not worried about compromising the frame is I end up slightly over.

I also still have to think like a backpacker to stay anywhere close to my GVWR and still take my family, and the lack of anything short of a 3/4 ton with any manageable payload makes it really hard not to just say screw it.

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Westy

Adventurer
Pretty soon, we'll be removing back seats, gutting interiors and installing carbon fiber hoods like the "sport compact" crowd.
That's already a common occurrence, removal of unnecessary seats or other heavy items. The carbon fiber has been used over in Europe too for hoods and other body panels to significantly reduce weight on expedition vehicles.
 

Shovel

Explorer
GM was putting carbon fiber skidplates under S10's in the late 90s .. and today savvy truck purchasers know to buy the base model because it has a greater payload rating (due to the absence of 600lbs of luxo-baubles)
 

SnowedIn

Observer
I think the better question, is how much weight does one need to go camping?
Surprisingly little if you're combining near- ultralight backpacking techniques with the excess cargo volume afforded by a vehicle.

Where you run into problems is carrying fuel, tools, spares, recovery gear, and water if there is no water source where you're going. It's not the camping that weighs you down, it's mitigating the risks of getting there and back.

My biggest weight savings have come from being more selective with spares, tool selection in the tool bag, and using lightweight soft duffels or drybags instead of hard cases where possible. I also ditch the Hi-lift and associated hardware whenever it's practical to do so - which is most of the time, with a stack of Maxtrax.

Where I'm willing to spend weight is the front bumper. Hitting an animal is probably the most likely risk on any of my trips.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
If things go really bad on the highway and the State Trooper pulls out the portable scales.....not good. They won’t do this for a ticket or fender bender, only in a serious accident. They can get quite detailed.
What statue requires adherence to GVWR? It's fine if it's specific to your state, I'm legitimately curious since I've been unable to find any law in Colorado that requires adherence to GVWR for non-commercial drivers of light duty (licensed for sub-16,000 lbs empty) vehicles. The only one I think they could cite is the unsafe vehicle law and it makes no mention of overweight, only lights specifically. The verbiage is "unsafe condition as to endanger any person" and my acknowledged unprofessional reading leaves me thinking that it's completely an opinion of the citing officer and that having uprated springs, improved brakes and load range E tires might actually demonstrate the opposite, an intention to knowingly improve the safety of a vehicle. Not that a judge would probably render that in court but then again what exactly could you be held to violate then, either?
 

BritKLR

Explorer
What statue requires adherence to GVWR? It's fine if it's specific to your state, I'm legitimately curious since I've been unable to find any law in Colorado that requires adherence to GVWR for non-commercial drivers of light duty (licensed for sub-16,000 lbs empty) vehicles. The only one I think they could cite is the unsafe vehicle law and it makes no mention of overweight, only lights specifically. The verbiage is "unsafe condition as to endanger any person" and my acknowledged unprofessional reading leaves me thinking that it's completely an opinion of the citing officer and that having uprated springs, improved brakes and load range E tires might actually demonstrate the opposite, an intention to knowingly improve the safety of a vehicle. Not that a judge would probably render that in court but then again what exactly could you be held to violate then, either?
While there is a couple of Colorado SS in Chapter 42 regarding "unsafe" vehicles there isn't anything specific to GVWR, but it appears Colorado has adopted the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Regualtions that would allow a Colorado Peace Officer to cite a person that is in violation FMCSR. I haven't read the FMCSR, but it appears it addresses GVWR for even non-commercial vehicles. Enjoy the read!

"Small truck and truck/trailer combination vehicle (vehicles with a GVWR or GCWR, between 10,001 and 26,000 pounds) drivers are not exempt from complying with the safety requirements contained in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) as adopted by the State of Colorado, when operating vehicles that meet the definitions shown in this guide. "

https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/Small truck and Combination Web.pdf
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
While there is a couple of Colorado SS in Chapter 42 regarding "unsafe" vehicles there isn't anything specific to GVWR, but it appears Colorado has adopted the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Regualtions that would allow a Colorado Peace Officer to cite a person that is in violation FMCSR. I haven't read the FMCSR, but it appears it addresses GVWR for even non-commercial vehicles. Enjoy the read!

"Small truck and truck/trailer combination vehicle (vehicles with a GVWR or GCWR, between 10,001 and 26,000 pounds) drivers are not exempt from complying with the safety requirements contained in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) as adopted by the State of Colorado, when operating vehicles that meet the definitions shown in this guide. "

https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/Small truck and Combination Web.pdf
The CSP PDF you link says effectivity is commercial use and therefore not private individuals. I think the FMCSR itself only applies to commercial operators. It is certainly about operational safety, totally agreed.

The document does define commercial motor vehicles as "any self-propelled or towed vehicle bearing an apportioned plate or having a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) or Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 10,001 pounds or more, which is used in commerce on a public highway, or of any weight which used to:
  • Transport 9 or more people for compensation or
  • Is designed to transport 16 or more people regardless of compensation or
  • A placadable amount of hazmat or
  • Is designed or equipped to transport other vehicles via cables or winches 49 CFR 390.5, CRS 42-4-235"
My belief is the applicable Federal codes would be the FHWA regulations, which define modes of transportations as it relates primarily to wear and damage to roads, and the NHTSA FMVSS, which is the primary definition for vehicle requirements. Those sets of documents are where the various GVWR classes, required features such as brakes and occupant safety are defined.

https://www.fhwa.dot.gov
https://www.nhtsa.gov/laws-regulations/fmvss

In those a Tacoma is class 1 light truck, up to 6,000 GVWR. Most 1/2 ton full sizes are class 2, 6,001 to 10,000 lbs GVWR. Several times I've gone down rabbit holes trying to find references that control private GVW requirements and typically find myself following threads applying only to commercial operators or non-commercial heavy vehicles or combos (usually 26,001 lbs or greater).

So my current conclusion (certainly open to informed or knowledgable correction) is that a Tacoma is totally legal to operate up to 6,000 lbs GVW. It may also be possible to operate up to 10,000 lbs (or perhaps even 16,000 lbs) but would violate FHWA classification rules and might then be subject to enforcement of some sort.

Not sure what regulation you'd run afoul, though, since a light truck license plate in Colorado is for any private vehicle with an open bed and an empty weight 16,000 lbs or less. And as a private use driver a CDL isn't required until your vehicle is 26,001 lbs.

Therefore the door sticker is IMO no more than a recommendation, although one may assume liabilities under our (and most states I'd guess) vague "unsafe" definition or perhaps from an insurance agent or possibly negligence (you are ignoring recommendations after all) in court if someone was hurt or killed. But I think in this case there appear to be a lot left open to interpretation.
 
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MOguy

Explorer
I like to head out for a few days with my son and camp as I wheel. I head with a local group and I find it kind of funny how much crap people take.

I backpacked as a kid (Boy Scouts), I was in the Light Infantry for years and I drive a Wrangler. I learned how to pack light because I had to. I love the roof top tents, Awnings and kitchens people set up. I like watching a Transformer Movie as some of these people set up. People are getting out their pots and pans and making dinner in getting dark. My son and I are relaxing by the fire with our cans of Dinty Moore beef stew. Even at lunch people are pulling out colors and building sandwiches. We usually have MREs for lunch, pop-tarts and donuts for breakfast. I do have a little coffee pot and single burner stove, I am not completely uncivilized. I also have an awning made out of 2 - 4 foot pieces of PVC and an 8X10 tarp with a few bungee cords.

I can see it if your base camping for a few days. But we usually don't spend the night in the same place when we head out.

I do have a camper and when I take the family camp ground camping I do take everything, including the kitchen sink. But I am pulling a camper trailer with a tow vehicle that is more than adequate to handle the load.
 
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