“There’s no such thing as a perfect travel vehicle,” says Karissa and Linhbergh of Gon Dirtin. Built to support the LA-based couple’s careers as professional automotive photographers and overland chefs, their 1994 Land Cruiser Troopy suits their outdoor lifestyle, houses their two pups, Kyia and Stella, and acts as a rolling chef’s lab, from which spicy Korean BBQ, Japanese shabu-shabu, various Indian curries, and hearty Vietnamese soups are created with love.
Originally from Darwin, New South Wales, Australia, the Troopy has been transformed by adding an Expedition Centre Mulgo pop-top, a set of cupboards, an induction stovetop, and bench seating. While the Nordic-inspired interior is simple but beautifully done, the spice drawer and chef tools bring dishes like Dalat-style Vietnamese pork meatballs and Korean BBQ bulgogi tacos to life. Curious to learn more about Karissa and Linghbergh’s diverse pantry filled with goodies, I reached out to the couple for an interior tour of their Troop Carrier. And while it may not be the ideal vehicle for everyone, it seems pretty darn close. Here’s what they have to say about their setup.
“We’re lucky we live in an era where there are a ton of pop-top options for the Troopy. But we ultimately went with an Expedition Centre Mulgo pop-top. It’s not perfect—none of them are. It hit all of our check marks that were very much musts:
- The pop-top tent fabric is a light gray color and doesn’t block light from coming in. We didn’t want a dungeon/cave of an interior to be in if we had to be in the truck during the day.
- The latches to lock down the pop-top are on the inside. This provided us with two things: security and the ease of being able to pop the top from the inside if the weather outside was too nasty.
- We wanted a pop-top that looked OEM.We just love the look of the Troopy and didn’t want anything that screamed, “Hey, look at us!” Especially since international travel is in our very near future.
We use 2-inch foam padding on top of the included Mulgo pop-top bed and use regular sheets, blankets, and pillows. The blankets stay on the bed, and the pillows are stored on top of our cabinets whenever we’re moving or aren’t popped up. We very much enjoy using home bedding rather than anything specialized for camping—it just makes it feel that much more comfortable.”
Kitchen Items, Food, and Water Storage
“We have two stoves. A Dometic drop-in stove that’s permanently mounted into our build, and a second free stove that we use whenever we cook outside (which is pretty much most of the time). Both stoves use the same 5-pound propane tank mounted underneath our sink. It has a split and a valve so we can control where the propane goes whenever we use it.
For knives, we use a 7-inch Santoku chef’s knife, a Chinese cleaver, and an Opinel folding bread knife. Our pot set is a fantastic nesting carbon steel set from the UK’s Madog Outdoors. It has a big pot, as well as an 8-inch frying pan. Being carbon steel, it does need some pre-seasoning, pre-thought into what’s being cooked with it, and seasoning after the fact. It’s been a few years since we’ve gotten it, so the seasoning has built up nicely and requires little everyday maintenance.
We have a 50-liter Front Runner Outfitters slanted water tank. It lasts anywhere between five to seven days, and we use it for both drinking and washing water.
Now this is the fun stuff! We’re huge into cooking and eating well while we’re out. We built a very cool little spice drawer that can be accessed from both the inside and the outside. It’s important to us to be able to cook most things that we crave when we’re on the road. This requires a decent selection of sauces and spices. We carry fish sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, mirin, chicken bouillon, MSG, Kewpie mayo, furikake, tamarind concentrate, gochugaru chili powder, gochugaru chili flakes, garam masala, instant Japanese curry boxes, dashi powder, and crystalized lime and lemon packets. We carry both a neutral cooking oil, like vegetable or canola oil, as well as olive oil. All this is in addition to the usual ingredients like salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, and sugar. With a pantry this diverse, we can cook anything from spaghetti bolognese to Korean tofu soups to Indian lentil curries with made-from-scratch chutney. The world is literally our oyster.
We have a Blue Ridge Overland Gear XL tire bag on the back of our spare tire for all our trash. This includes two bags: one for trash and one for recyclables. We also have a smaller trash can inside the camper that we empty into the outside trash bag when needed.”
Camp Life: Table, Chairs, Clothing, and Toiletries
“Dometic’s Go Compact camp chairs and table are our go-to camp table and chairs.
We both have two large packing cubes each for our clothes. No more, no less. These packing cubes have a home in the camper’s bench storage. But, no matter what kind of trip we pack for, we always pack for all kinds of weather. Extremely hot and extremely cold. We’re always under the thought process of ‘just in case.’ Freak cold snaps can come in without us knowing while in the mountains or an unexpected heat wave while boondocking in the desert. Having layers is also good for emergencies, like if we find ourselves on the side of the road for some reason and it’s cold out and only getting colder.
We keep our toiletries pretty minimal. We pack toilet paper like anyone else, but also bring wet wipes. But we also have a small backpacking collapsible bidet that you fill with water and spray the things that need cleaning. A clean-feeling bottom is the biggest luxury you can have whenever you’re out traveling.
Karissa stores her yoga mat in the clothing storage area of our camper’s bench. Extra shoes are stored in the outside Pelican case on our rear swing out. We carry two pack rafts and their respective paddles in a Pelican that’s mounted on top of our pop-top rack.”
Tools, Spare Parts, and Recovery Gear
“We actually don’t carry any spare parts. It’s just a conscious choice we made. We don’t travel remotely enough to warrant the need for spare parts, and some parts of our Land Cruiser are interchangeable with other models of Land Cruiser. We just want more space for more things to bring. Seeing storage compartments filled with truck parts would make us sad whenever we see them, so it’s also a morale thing. If [expletive] hits the fan? We’ll deal with it when that time comes.
We do carry a small selection of recovery gear. We have a Warn Industries VR EVO 12-S winch on our front bumper and an ARB twin air compressor. We carry a 7,000-pound recovery strap and a full set of MaxTrax. We’re very careful where we go, and everything we carry has gotten us out during the few times we were stuck.”
Solar, Batteries, Inverter, Electronics
“We run a simple yet effective power suite. We have a 240-watt Merlin solar panel, which was installed by Rhino Adventure Gear, a Redarc Electronics BCDC, a Redarc Electronics 2,000-watt inverter, and 200Ah of Battleborn lithium-ion batteries. We can run an electric kettle and rice cooker and charge our cameras and laptops with it without too much worry. It’s wonderful.”
Specifications: 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser Troop Carrier
Expedition Centre Mulgo pop-top
Dometic drop-in stove
Second stove for outdoor cooking
Santoku 7-inch chef’s knife
Opinel folding bread knife
Madog Outdoors nesting carbon steel pot set
Front Runner Outfitters 50-liter water tank
Blue Ridge Overland Gear XL tire bag
Dometic Go Compact camp chairs and table
Small backpacking collapsible bidet
Pack rafts and paddles
Warn Industries VR EVO 12-S winch
ARB twin air compressor
7,000-pound recovery strap
Merlin 240-watt solar panel
Redarc Electronics BCDC
Redarc Electronics 2,000-watt inverter
Battleborn 200Ah lithium-ion batteries
Please enjoy Episode 109 of the Overland Journal Podcast: GonDirtin on Traveling with Dogs, Overland Kitchen Staples, and their 70-Series Land Cruiser Troopy Build
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