Adventure ("Overland") Vehicles and Payload Capacity

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.

Sent from my SM-G960W using Tapatalk
 

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.
 

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

Luddite
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

Kapitis Indagatoris
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

Luddite
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.
 

Dalko43

Explorer
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?
I'm glad to see someone putting so much consideration into weight and payload for their build planning....a lot of people don't seem to give a care about exceeding GVWR and just throw whatever they want onto their vehicles.

Your personal gear estimate seems accurate.
Your truck gear estimate seems a bit off, or at least I question if you really need some of the parts that you're planning for:
  • ARE truck cap at 200lbs? Are you sure on that? I thought they were closer to 140-150lbs for most 1/2 tons.
  • Same question for the Decked Drawer system. I thought that kit was closer to 200lbs. If weight really is an issue, I'd say you could probably get by without this system. Maybe use storage bins and tiedown's instead?
  • 100lbs for a winch and winch plate seems about right if you're planning on using steel cable. Synthetic winches can be found for ~76-80lbs. More expensive for sure, but they do save some weight up front.
  • I'd question the need for 130lbs worth of skid plates (steel I assume). Sliders or rock guards? For sure those are needed given a pickup's breakover angle. Extra heavy skid plates? I don't think you need them. Either go with the stock skid plates provided by the FX4 package or go with aluminum skids.
As you note, the F-150 does have high payload variants. As I understand it, the frame and suspension is somewhat modified to accept that heavier payload. The rest of the chassis (brakes, axles) and powertrain is left unmodified. So I don't know how much you're willing to test that higher payload rating, especially in offroad situations.

1500-1600lbs seems like a good planning factor for your purposes. If you're deliberate about the equipment you choose (synthetic rope vs steel winch cable, aluminum skids vs steel, ect.) I don't see any reason why you can't keep your vehicle modifications limited to ~500lbs, which should leave you 1k lbs worth of payload to set aside for yourself, passengers and other gear/supplies.

Edit: and in regards to Toyota's, some in fact (like the Tacoma's) easily exceed their payloads (~1.1-1.2k lbs) while others (like the 4runner and LC 200) actually have fairly robust payloads (~1.5klbs). A lot of people just don't care about vehicle weight though; that's why you'll see people running around heavily built-up Tacoma's, front and rear bumpers, winches, armor, 33" tires....looks cool but no way are those builds within GVWR (at least not when they're fully loaded). And neither the 4.0l v6 nor the 3.5l v6 are ideal for motivating all that weight.

What's almost just as bad are all the examples I see of midsized and even 1/2 or 3/4 ton trucks running around with toppers + RTT's and a rear bumper with 1 tire +1-2 jerry cans....and an empty bed. Some people have no concept of COG.
 
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Grassland

Well-known member
6.5' decked is indeed 240# or so. I have a Leer 6.5' cab height fiberglass topper with bare bones cross bars that's around 250# as well.
I chose aluminium skids. Still have no running boards.
This was my old work truck from when I started my business and I quickly learned how useless a 1/2 truck can be. With a typical load of tools and materials I hit a scale and weighed in within 100# of payload.
Played with the Ford builder making a heavy half, and for a few grand more you can get a gas super duty. Fuel economy ratings don't apply when you roll around at GVWR anyways, so why not get the heavier duty vehicle.
Or as other wise minds suggest, take less stuff. :D
 

Ducky's Dad

Explorer
FWIW, I just replaced the shocks on my '98 GMC Z71 1/2 ton truck. This truck is relegated to daily driver and work truck status, but often hauls heavy loads. The Bilsteins were tired and the rear leaf-spring packs are losing some of their arc, so I installed Monroe Load-A-Just rear shocks. They are basically a heavy duty shock with a coil spring wrapped around the tube (like a front strut). Price is not bad, they bolted right in, raised the sagging rear by maybe an inch, and (according to Monroe) add about 500 pounds of payload capacity. Gabriel makes a similar shock, and there are probably others. Cheap way to squeeze a little more life out of the old truck. Both Monroe and Gabriel make a similar shock that they say will fit the front of these torsion-bar trucks, but I tried to fit a pair of the Monroes and their coils would not quite clear the factory bump stop mounts on my truck. So the new fronts are the Monroe direct replacements for the OEM Bilsteins.
 

Mos6502

Member
Pretty soon, we'll be removing back seats, gutting interiors and installing carbon fiber hoods like the "sport compact" crowd.
It is interesting reading articles from the 60s and 70s, where light weight is seen as one of the most important considerations for going off road. Less weight means less stress on the vehicle, more range, and easier recovery when things go wrong. Stripping out carpeting, sound deadening, jump seats etc. such as it was in that era, was not uncommon. There was also a lot less to buy, so people didn't think they were missing much. Now there's all sorts of niche equipment people have convinced themselves they need to bring along for every trip.
 
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