After a couple years traveling out of the back of a 4Runner we decided it was time to move to something with more space, more comfort and a longer travel time/distance capability. Many vehicles were selected for comparison, including an assortment of Land Cruisers, including the 70 - 80 and 200 series models, a Jeep JKU with Ursa Minor J180 or J30 pop top, Dodge full size with tray back and some sort of camper, FourWheel Camper, Uro Camper etc.
In the end we went with something that was fairly familiar to us, the Toyota Tacoma. Additionally familiar to us was some sort of FlipPac style camper. When we saw the AT Overland Equipment Tacoma Habitat unveiling at the American Adventurist annual event, the SoCal Desert Rendezvous, we knew we had our decision making complete. We placed the 4Runner on the market the next week and ordered our Tacoma before the 4Runner was even sold.
Upon detailed inspection of the Habitat that was installed on Goose Gear customer, Lou's Tacoma and discussing in detail the design and function with Mario from AT, it was clear this is a platform we can do a serious amount of work with and achieve our goals of an extremely capable rig with serious comfort for longer trips.
We had taken several trips with Dave Bennett the founder of American Adventurist and his well built Tacoma with a FlipPac and knew the capabilities as well as the comfort and organization he had achieved. His interior build was the very first system built by Goose Gear for a customer and is what truly launched the Goose Gear brand. We were very fortunate to have had Dave as our first customer, he has years of experience and had already gone through several changes that would have taken us years to understand.
Now with years of our own experience, it was time to build what we have dubbed a 5' RV. Basically, all of the amenities of a basic RV in the bed of a 5' Tacoma.
The overall goal, build the best equipped Tacoma Overland Rig the world has ever seen. Some might say overbuilt, but really this is a showcase of what is possible, not what is required for Overland travel. After all, we are truly big fans of simple travel and have paired down our own gear over the years to minimize "stuff" and weight and lost time searching for all that stuff we thought we need or might need.
The build was broken down into items and areas we wanted to improve on over our previous overland rig.
1. More interior space for a growing family, not necessarily the number of people, simply kids getting bigger.
2. Comfort, we have slept on sleeping bags on rough surfaces with rocks and branches poking you in the back while you try to sleep. We have slept in roof top tents and while the are a great item, we wanted more space and comfort. With an interior height of well over 7' and being 6'-1" the opportunity to comfortably stand and change clothes is a welcome option.
3. Space to work, (yes work, it helps with writing off the cost of the build) eat and enjoy each other out of the elements. With our current configuration, we have sleeping for 3 adults and in a pinch we can comfortably accommodate 5-6 adults with seating. This will be particularly enjoyable in inclement weather with friends out in the wild.
4. Shower and a toilet. We incorporated a 12+ gallon water tank behind the rear seat of the Tacoma and pump it to the Tacoma's bed. Once in the bed it is split to the on board electric water heater and to the faucet/shower head. For the toilet we kept it simple using a tried and true Thetford 550P cassette toilet. The shower pan is situated near the cab and has a removable Teak grate. Both the sink and the shower drain under the Tacoma bed, of course we use biodegradable soaps.
5. Organization, organization, organization. One of the most annoying and envious things about our experiences camping with Dave of American Adventurist was watching how quickly he went from parking to eating and from closing up shop to driving away. While we were still hammering in stakes, he was prepping his dinner. When it was time to head to the next camp spot we were folding our tent annex and he was ready to roll and offering assistance so we could all hit the road. When your gear has a home, it's always there. Less likely to be that item on the kitchen counter you forgot. Time outside is more enjoyable when you are not searching through bins and bags and setting up your yard sale of gear outside your rig.
6. Capability. This too is of utmost importance to us as well. We prefer to go past the gatekeepers and venture on to areas the majority of the public won't go. Clearly this is not some $100k Jeep JKU rock crawler on Dana 80's and 40" tires. What it is, is a very capable Tacoma and yet it does have its limitations. But for the vast majority of places we go it is more than well equipped for our adventures.
In the end we are extremely happy with our accomplishment and feel we reached all of our goals for this build.
2016 Tacoma TRD Off Road 4x4 Double Cab Short Bed
Factory Rear Locker
Corner Electrical Inserts
Carpeted Side Panels
XD Wheels in 16x8 with 4.5" BS
Stage 6, steel control arms with 2.5" shocks and CDC Valve Control
CDC and 2.5" Shocks are by far our favorite performance upgrade ever. I cannot express enough how wonderful it is to be able to quickly and easily adjust the compression rates when we are loaded down and when we are near empty and on the street. For washboard we can soften it up a bit and when we are back in the whoops we can tighten things up to control the rear end. It really is a must have for anyone building any kind of weighted Tacoma in our opinion.
Deaver Custom Rear Springs - Deaver took the time to adjust the load rating of the custom springs to match not only the vehicle weight but also the load distribution.
Aluminum Front Bumper
High Clearance Rear Bumper (Future bumper will have swing out tire carrier)
Complete Steel Skid Plate Kit
30" S8 Light Bar with Wide Cornering Lenses - The wide cornering lenses provide an incredibly wide viewing angle on the trails at night, far less blind corners.
Squadron Sport Fog Lights - Amber with wide cornering lenses for dust control
Squadron Sport Ditch Lights - White with Work/Scene lenses for the best lighting over a very large area
CBI Off Road Ditch Light Brackets - Ditch lights are our favorite lighting add on ever.
sPod SE with Dual Touch Screen Controls in Cab and in the Habitat
sPod is a great system with the ability to have two controls for one or more unit is a great option for larger builds with more items in need of control.
Off Grid Engineering Dual Battery Trays Under Hood
Dual Odyssey Group 34's Under Hood
National Luna Dual Battery Management System with Remote Flush Mount Controller
Blue Sea Systems ML-ACR for Third Battery in Bed of Truck
Odyssey PC1800-FT - Battery in bed for all Habitat related power
Blue Sea Systems 6 and 12 Position Fuse Blocks
Blue Sea Systems USB 4.8A Ports and CLA Ports in Cab and in Habitat
Yaesu FTM 100DR