Packing a family a 4 into a jeep or 4runner

tommyp

New member
I am struggling with this right now. Family of four one almost high schooler one late elementary. I was thinking about a JT and looked at one today but really it is probably too small for 4. Taking two vehicles would be great but my wife is not interested in driving off road and I wouldn't trust her to. Once my oldest can drive than two trucks will make sense. We had a 4dr tahoe our last major trip and it was ok but off road not ideal. I would like to be able to do somewhat challenging moab trails.

- Really don't want to tow an offroad trailer but that may have to happen. thought I would be able to get away without one with the gladiator.
- Want something low CG. Ran into having to get into parking garages on trips and the Tahoe was just about the max on 33's with roof rack.
- Want outside storage. Didn't like not having a bed to store stuff wet tent or whatever.
- Security?? with a glad fridge would go in the bed and hopefully be reached through the slider. Trailer? leaving at campsites would have to probably leave wife too.
- Emergency sleeping. many times we would come into camp late and just recline the front seats and sleep with 4 this ain't happening. will probably go rtt so that may be easier but when windy/thunder and lightning seemed better to be inside than ontop or outside.

So I may still consider the Gladiator but living out of one with 4 is probably going to be an issue until the oldest gets his own truck in a couple years and beating on a $40k plus vehicle seems crazy.

I just can't find anything ideal it seems like huge tradeoffs.

Full size truck even bobbed and shortened is not going to be great off road and tall with 37's.
midsized like toyota is still going to be small inside, no solid axle less ability for larger tires.
Jeep or gladiator - small inside - small bed - would probably need a trailer and all that entails.

I can fab pretty much anything full shop with lift.
 

nwoods

Expedition Leader
I packed a family of 4 for long distance (week long) trips in my Land Rover LR3 and also in my Jeep LJ Rubicon. I preferred using a trailer with the Jeep, but it wasn't essential, it just made things a lot easier:













I will say that that though it was the least capable, it was by far the most comfortable, was our first gen Nissan Armada:
 

tommyp

New member
I packed a family of 4 for long distance (week long) trips in my Land Rover LR3 and also in my Jeep LJ Rubicon. I preferred using a trailer with the Jeep, but it wasn't essential, it just made things a lot easier


I will say that that though it was the least capable, it was by far the most comfortable, was our first gen Nissan Armada:

Yeah, Wife and I are both teachers so we can take off for a month or so at a time in the summers. So we end up being out for a while. The last trip was just me and my oldest and we were fine but I am concerned if we are all on board.

LJ/trailer would be fun but I want rear seats with head rests. Back doors are pretty much a necessity with 4.

I am coming to the conclusion that an offroad trailer is going to be a necessity with anything I choose. I was trying to find a way to run just a single rig but if we bring bikes it just turns into a mess. Bikes could easily go on a trailer. We are in VT so the drive out west is usually full of random city stops that makes me worry a bit. Stopping at St louis to see the arch and BBQ where do you park with a trailer and have it be somewhat secure. We used a parking garage last time but that is probably a no go with trailer. I guess it will just take more planning but not having a trailer makes doing things on the fly and parking lot easier.

I guess I just have to think about going from base camp to camp with out being as mobile as we were in the past. With most of the wheeling happening without the trailer. I just worry at some sites that we will come back to no trailer unless we leave someone there.
 

vtsoundman

OverAnalyzer
Minimize your HF (hassle factor). If it sucks or is annoying, the novelty/joy will wear off in a hurry. Setup/pack up time and HF must be minimized...it will fall on you to make this an easy, fun process until folks have learned their roll/how to help.

It really all depends on you/your family's proclivities - if you *think* you need a lot of gear to be comfortable, a Jeep or 4runnner is not going to be much fun. The reality is that one needs very little gear...

We've traveled with a family of 3 and a 90# St Bernard mix in a Jeep JKU. We did a 7wk, 11,000 mile trip around the US on secondary roads in the middle of winter, with a 2 month old. For that trip, we stayed in small mom/pop hotels instead of camping. For other long trips (up to 3 weeks, we camped).

It can be done, but shuffling everything around gets hold in a hurry. Everything needs a home and out of footwells and out of the way while driving/in transit.

We did 1-5 for a while. it was ok, not great. Not going to lie. I started to really dislike the hitch rack - PITA for rear access. I added a swing away mechanism, but it still sucked. Made roadside food stops a major pain.

Some like #6, but I'm not a fan of running heavy/lots of gear on a roof.

1) cargo rack high in the rear cargo area - separating gear reduces HF. Huge piles of gear sucks.
2) small fridge, small packs, small bags everything has a home
3) think like a hiker/backpacker
4) no hard shell storage
5) hitch rack with external storage (theft is very rare - park accordingly).
6)roof rack for light gear.

Then we moved to a small trailer...a total game changer.

Increased the comfort for all the passengers and improved the dynamics of the Jeep. We still uses the cargo tray for kitchen/frequently used items. Food, drinks, cooler started in the back... everything else went into/on the trailer.

Made it easier to stop for quick meals during the drive, was nice to leave it at base camp or when exploring.

Small trailers off-road are fine - you're not going rock crawling/hard trails with a full load of people and gear anyways. Besides, it's not as fun for the passengers to be slammed tossed around for hours on a trail.

In the years of off-roading/camping/overlanding with the trailer, it has not been an issue for us.


Sent from my Pixel 4a using Tapatalk
 

Smileyshaun

Observer
Get a rocket box for most all the bulky camping supplies up on the roof and keep the food and most needed items in the cargo area
 

NatersXJ6

Explorer
Yeah, Wife and I are both teachers so we can take off for a month or so at a time in the summers. So we end up being out for a while. The last trip was just me and my oldest and we were fine but I am concerned if we are all on board.

LJ/trailer would be fun but I want rear seats with head rests. Back doors are pretty much a necessity with 4.

I am coming to the conclusion that an offroad trailer is going to be a necessity with anything I choose. I was trying to find a way to run just a single rig but if we bring bikes it just turns into a mess. Bikes could easily go on a trailer. We are in VT so the drive out west is usually full of random city stops that makes me worry a bit. Stopping at St louis to see the arch and BBQ where do you park with a trailer and have it be somewhat secure. We used a parking garage last time but that is probably a no go with trailer. I guess it will just take more planning but not having a trailer makes doing things on the fly and parking lot easier.

I guess I just have to think about going from base camp to camp with out being as mobile as we were in the past. With most of the wheeling happening without the trailer. I just worry at some sites that we will come back to no trailer unless we leave someone there.
If I was in your shoes, and wanted something to wheel for exploring, I might just drive a full-size truck and tow a stripped down Jeep just for the trails.
 

tommyp

New member
If I was in your shoes, and wanted something to wheel for exploring, I might just drive a full-size truck and tow a stripped down Jeep just for the trails.
This is a real possibility. I could bring wheel my sammy. I need to find some sort of land out west or just move it out there to a storage area. Having to travel from VT sucks for all of this. Hardly any land here open for wheeling. I had a buddy in Co springs and family in grand junction but my buddy passed and family moved.

I will figure it out at some point. thanks for all the help everyone.
 

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SlickRope

New member
If this is just for the Rubicon what about buying a used WJ and building that? It's got good room for four people and still has the solid axes and good after market. Also, they seem to be more comfy for longer trips. I've only done the Rubicon once (in a TJ) an I know that trail is always changing, but you might have to move to a truck.
 
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