Strider Colorado ZR2 Duramax Explorer Build and Trips

transalper

Explorer
Greetings,

After going through a string of 4x4s ('89 Montero, multiple Trackers, '97 4Runner, '01 Cherokee, and '01 Xterra) and exceeding the big 50, I decided it was finally OK to build my dream rig. I have always dreamed of owning a powerful, comfortable, off-road capable diesel with some sort of popup camper setup. So I picked up a 2017 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Duramax (aka Strider) and placed my GFC order in October 2018. :) Here is my build for remote backcountry exploration, some wheeling, camping, hauling, and daily driver duties.

VEHICLE
2017 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Duramax, 24k on the odo when I bought it. Currently at ~80k trouble-free miles.
3" Stainless Steel Exhaust and Header plus other engine mods. ;)

ARMOR AND RECOVERY
Relentless Fabrication Defender Front Bumper w/ Warn VR10-s
Relentless Fabrication Rear Bumper
Rockyroad Outfitters Sliders
Datin Shock Skids
Viar Compressor, Portable in Recovery Kit
Tow strap and traction mats

LIGHTING
Baja Designs Pro LED up front and S2 rear lights
Offhighwayequipment Dash Switch

TIRES
255/75-17 Goodyear Wranglers

BACKCOUNTRY CAMPING ENHANCEMENTS
Go Fast Camper (#367)
OVS 270 LT Awning
Front Runner Footwell Water Tank
NEMO Helio Shower
Heavy-duty storage bins and bed mounts
Portable Backup Battery and Solar Panel
Indel B TB51 Fridge
30 years of collecting camping and backpacking gear. :)

Here he is in October 2018:

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October 2021
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transalper

Explorer
Winter hit hard in MN and no mods happened for many months. But I was too busy enjoying the truck to care. The truck is a blast to drive and I love the 2.8l duramax (except for the two coldest days of the polar vortex).

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My one cold-season mod was installing the Tuffy lockable underseat storage. Pricey but very secure and increases storage space!

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transalper

Explorer
I ordered the Relentless Bumpers on Black Friday 2018. They arrived 16 weeks later as expected. Last weekend I dove in and after 15 hours of wrenching the front bumper, rear bumper, and RR sliders are finally installed! The front lights are Baja Designs Pro Combos with a OffHighwayEquipment dual button light switch - these tiny lights punch out a TON of light. The Warn VR10-S winch is on backorder.....

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MR. ED

Observer
I was hoping you would explain a bit more about the coldest days of winter and the duramax.. was it hard to start? Thanks
 

transalper

Explorer
I was hoping you would explain a bit more about the coldest days of winter and the duramax.. was it hard to start? Thanks
It started fine down to -14 F. On the two really bad nights it got below -20 F it refused to start when I had it parked on the street with no block heater.

I bought the oem heater unit and will install it before next winter! And now I have a garage again.
 

transalper

Explorer
Installed this weekend:

Datin Metal Shock Skids
Offhigwayequipment Dual Light Switch
Bullring bed mounts.

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I love the new offhighwayequipment oem light switch. The blue ring lights up! The lower left aux light button engages the Baja Designs Pro Combos in front. The lower right aux light button is reserved for the rear bumper lights that are not installed yet. :D
 
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shade

Well-known member
Nice truck. Are you driving to pick up the GFC or having it delivered? If you haven't been out that way, it's a nice drive.

Pending: GFC Bug Screens - I'll likely sew up some screens with magnets for exterior mounting
I think you'll like the GFC. I haven't done anything about bug screens yet, but I've been thinking about just draping a net over the whole GFC if I can find one big enough. It'd be easy to deploy before opening the tent, and with the doors open, you'd gain a small perimeter space of protection.

Nothing is going on; you are just seeing the plate that is normally hidden behind plastic. :) The stock skid plate bolts right back on with no modifications.
From that photo, it looks like an easy place to catch something, like a rock or tree branch.
 

transalper

Explorer
shade said:
Nice truck. Are you driving to pick up the GFC or having it delivered? If you haven't been out that way, it's a nice drive.
Thanks! I have been out that way many times and am planning to pick it up. And then take it right to the Maze District of Canyonlands (my 4th trip to the Maze). :)

shade said:
I think you'll like the GFC. I haven't done anything about bug screens yet, but I've been thinking about just draping a net over the whole GFC if I can find one big enough. It'd be easy to deploy before opening the tent, and with the doors open, you'd gain a small perimeter space of protection.
I am really looking forward to the GFC!

That is an interesting idea that will require a LOT of netting. I am leaning toward magnet (or roll down ?)nets that can stay in place with the doors closed. I live in mosquito country and being able to jump in the camper without too much exposure will be nice.

shade said:
From that photo, it looks like an easy place to catch something, like a rock or tree branch.
The skid plate is in the stock location and the approach angle has not changed, so I don't think rocks will be an issue. It is more exposed and may catch more grass/brush, but I don't think it will be a problem.

EDIT: Trimming the edge of the skidplate that juts out will be very easy if this turns out to be an issue.

My tire size choice will be the main limiting issue, but I do not want to go very big. :)

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shade

Well-known member
Thanks! I have been out that way many times and am planning to pick it up. And then take it right to the Maze District of Canyonlands (my 4th trip to the Maze). :)



I am really looking forward to the GFC!

That is an interesting idea that will require a LOT of netting. I am leaning toward magnet (or roll down ?)nets that can stay in place with the doors closed. I live in mosquito country and being able to jump in the camper without too much exposure will be nice.



The skid plate is in the stock location and the approach angle has not changed, so I don't think rocks will be an issue. It is more exposed and may catch more grass/brush, but I don't think it will be a problem.
I took my Tacoma to the Dollhouse in 2017 with an RTT that I need to sell. Great trip to a special place.

I forgot that I already reconsidered my net plan. :)

Instead, I may try to make a net skirt that will ride on the bottom frame of the GFC tent; the tent itself doesn't need netting. That would be much easier to use, and could stay in place whether the side & rear doors were open or closed. I like the idea of a small awning area around the GFC with the door open (more bug free space & easier cargo access), but I realize that netting added to the GFC tube frame may result in a more bug resistant enclosure. I've canoed the Boundary Waters and made many trips to the lake country, so I know you have a serious need for anti-aircraft defenses.

I have an 270° awning on the way, and it would complicate using a giant net over the peak of the GFC tent anyway. With the awning deployed, a different netting scheme would be needed, but I don't think it'd be hard to figure out.

On your skid plate opening, that looks like the kind of thing that an industrious person would design a small aftermarket part to fill.
 
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LimaMikeMike

Observer
It started fine down to -14 F. On the two really bad nights it got below -20 F it refused to start when I had it parked on the street with no block heater.

I bought the oem heater unit and will install it before next winter! And now I have a garage again.
I have read that the OEM block heater has a temp sensor built in and won’t activate above -17C (0F). I used to plug my Diesels anytime below 0C (32F).


You mentioned in the Pic thread you’re tuned and deleted. Did you use GDE or an other tuner?
 

transalper

Explorer
I have read that the OEM block heater has a temp sensor built in and won’t activate above -17C (0F). I used to plug my Diesels anytime below 0C (32F).
That should be fine because the 2.8l cranked easily below freezing. It was grumpy below zero but started just fine. It really argued in double digits below zero. And refused to start after a long night of -20 or colder. Disclaimer: this is my first diesel truck and is just my personal experience over one hard winter. I did use winter fuel additives.

You mentioned in the Pic thread you’re tuned and deleted. Did you use GDE or an other tuner?
Mine was done by Dan's Diesel Performance by the previous owner and uses the DSP4 Commander Tuner. My brother has the same tune on his Z71 Colorado (with his own custom exhaust) and we are both happy with the performance.
 
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