If I’ve learnt one thing over the past six years of living in a vehicle, it’s that often less is more. Sure, there are days where I long for more space, a shower/toilet, fixed bed, more power, larger water capacity, Brad Pitt’s Fight Club physique, and that my bank balance would one day hit triple figures. Nonetheless, for the most part, I recognise that for serious long-term overland travel, the best vehicles are often simple, compact, lightweight, cheap to run, reliable, and have parts accessibility worldwide. I’m not the only one, and in recent years many overlanders have opted for go-faster campers that offer the ultimate go-anywhere freedom in a compact, yet often generously equipped, package; cue today’s Tacoma.
First things first, I accept that this approach to vehicle travel is not for everyone, and it certainly has its drawbacks. In warm climates, this rig’s alfresco camping experience would be very pleasant, but in cold weather, you’d long for somewhere warm to sit inside. However, this 2018 Toyota Tacoma was never intended to be a luxurious villa on wheels; it is a purposeful vehicle that features the absolute essentials and nothing else. It has been beautifully finished, generously equipped, and is ready to travel around the world.
I’ve always admired the Australian canopies that sit on flatbed trucks. So, when I purchased my new 2018 Tacoma, I had it converted into a flatbed by Norweld Australia (at Equipt Expedition Outfitters in SLC). Once completed, I purchased Norweld’s Compact Series Deluxe canopy (at Mule Expedition in Portland).
The Redarc battery management system, in conjunction with my portable Overland Solar130-watt Bugout [panel], is incredible. Off-grid, I’m able to run my Dometic fridge/freezer, auxiliary lights, camera equipment, laptops, etc., indefinitely. Another fantastic modification is the dual airbags integrated into the rear suspension, controlled by an app on my phone. The airbags, combined with the Old Man Emu BP-51 suspension, make this rig unstoppable. If you do find yourself in a tight spot, as I did on the Nevada Backcountry Discovery Route (NV BDR), the Warn M800 synthetic winch comes in real handy. Aside from the NV BDR, I’ve traveled with this rig on the Idaho and Colorado BDRs.
The Roofnest Sparrow tent is super quick to set up and break down and is very comfortable. Other useful upgrades include the ability to start the truck from anywhere in the world using cell service. I incorporated this feature because I travel with my blue heeler, Ozzie. If I’m in a store or restaurant for longer than anticipated, I can start up the truck and turn on the air conditioning or heat, depending on the weather. It shuts off at the 15-minute mark and will turn off automatically if someone breaks in while it’s running.
2018 Tacoma TRD 4×4 Access Cab – 33,000 miles (graphite leather seating added after purchase for $1,000)
Norweld flatbed tray
Norweld Deluxe Compact paint-matched canopy
Deluxe Ultimate wiring package including Redarc Manager 30, 1800-watt inverter, etc
Battle Born 100-amp-hour lithium battery
Dometic CFX-75 dual-zone fridge/freezer
Roofnest Sparrow rooftop tent
Southern Style OffRoad Slimline Hybrid front bumper with matte black powder coat and Rigid Industries 20-inch single row SR-20 flush-mount LED light bar
Prinsu roof rack (over cab)
Warn winch M8000S (synthetic)
MetalTech rock sliders
Old Man Emu BP-51 suspension
Light racing SPC/UCA pair
Firestone airbag kit, spacers, and air compressor under the bed
Black 5-gallon jerry can
ARB onboard air compressor, located under the hood (separate from the Firestone air-bag compressor). Slee bracket and ARB pump-up kit
Uniden Bearcat 880 CB radio, antenna, spring, and cable
WeBoost Drive X (cell booster) and trucker antenna
Factor 55 Flatlink-E winch shackle and Hitchlink for rear hitch
WARN Epic shackle on front bumper
Midland MXT275 GMRS radio
Midland roof antenna (6-decibel gain) and magnetic base mount
Five BFGoodrich KO2 tires 275/70R18
Intake Wheels 18 x 8.56 x 139.70 inches, Gloss Black, machined (18-millimeter)
Miscellaneous Ram mounts (both permanent and removable) on dash for phone, two-way radio, mic, iPad, etc.
Amber “dust” strobe lights in rear with switch mounted on dash
Wire two-way mobile radio to battery; additional USB port on passenger side of front console, Frequency Mobile Innovations, SLC
Front/rear camera and monitor
Four MaxTrax tread boards
Crazy Beaver shovel
Hults Bruk Atran felling axe
Trasharoo mounted to spare tire
This Toyota Tacoma is listed for $70,000 and is currently located in Park City, Utah. Check the full vehicle specifications via the original Expedition Portal forum post here.
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