Thanks to the rise of overlanding, 4×4 trucks and SUVs are more popular than ever before. The handful of factory overland-ready rigs on the market are supported by hundreds of aftermarket parts makers that can transform a capable stock rig into a trail-conquering overland machine.
However, sifting through the virtual sea of parts to find the best, most solid and reliable pieces of equipment can leave your head spinning. After all, just because something looks cool doesn’t mean it’s tough enough to withstand a hundred thousand miles of overlanding.
To cut through the noise, and further inspire novice overlanders to get outfitted, inspired, and out on their own overland journeys, Overland Expo is building its own Ultimate Overland Vehicle.
THE BUILD STORY
Why we chose the Toyota 4Runner, build gear chronicles and stories from the road.
The 2021 Ultimate Overland 4Runner had seen a number of adventures, all across the U.S., with several members of our team before it made it to me.
Overland Expo’s Ultimate Overland Vehicle is going to auction on Bring a Trailer. The proceeds of the auction will go to the Overland Expo Foundation.
The Blue Ridge Parkway traverses 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, making it America’s longest linear park.
Six journalists, guests of Overland Expo for the first-ever Overland Trail Tour, sheepishly milled around the
Graham Jackson takes our Ultimate Overland Vehicle 2021 out on Red Cone in Colorado to see how it holds up against this rugged bit of trail.
What is overlanding and how do you start? It’s a question Overland Expo gets often. As the old adage goes, it’s better to show than tell.
Here is Overland Expo’s Ultimate Overland Vehicle, the Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road, in its full glory.
The 2021 Ultimate Overland Vehicle and Ultimate Overland Motorcycle Demonstrate What’s Possible, Inspire Overlanders to Get Out on Their Own Adventures
The gear we chose for the Ultimate Overland Vehicle Build and why.
Just 11 months after revealing the Toyota 4Runner TRD Off-Road as our Ultimate Overland Vehicle for 2021, the completed, well-traveled, and thoroughly tested rig has started its final chapter: going to auction on Bring a Trailer.
We will need to store our gear when we’re on the trail. And since this is the ultimate build, we opted for the ultimate gear storage box: AluBox from Equipt Expedition Outfitters. AluBox specializes in aluminum boxes, cases, and containers, and offers a wide-range of standard box sizes to customers around the world for use in defense, industrial, emergency services, transportation, and recreational use. Their products ensure the safe transportation and storage for valuables, fragile items, and sensitive equipment.
With an SUV, finding a way to secure gear in the cargo area is key. The best solution to this conundrum is with a drawer system. We chose the one from Dobinsons. Specifically, we picked the brand’s dual drawer system for 5th-gen 4runner with top slide and wing kit.
We went to our friends at KC | Adventure Further to provide the lighting kit for the 4Runner because they’re designing some of the highest quality, longest-lasting, and brightest lighting solutions on the market today. Plus, their light products are waterproof, dust proof, and adventure proof – which will come in handy once we put this rig to the test in the field.
We built the Ultimate Overland Vehicle for adventure and needed a durable wheel to keep the 4Runner running on and off-road. We chose the Voyager 8303 in Dark Bronze by Mayhem because the wheels are made of a lightweight aluminum alloy which frees up the 4Runner’s horsepower yet is strong enough to endure the rigors of any trail we choose.
From simply entering and exiting the vehicle safely to protecting the rocker panels in rugged terrain, Westin’s Outlaw Nerf Step Bars bars ensure easy access and superior vehicle protection. As one of the most trusted names in overlanding, Westin is an incredible ally for the Ultimate Overland Vehicle.
If you plan to outfit a winch to your overland vehicle or simply want more protection from animal strikes, a winch-ready front bumper is an essential piece of kit. The ARB Winch Bumper is an outback-tested design built to protect your front end and provide a seamless integration for your favorite winch.
Reliable and durable suspension is a key component to ride quality and handling when commuting to the office or going off grid. That’s why we chose the bombproof suspension products from Total Chaos Fabrication for our Toyota 4Runner build.
CBI Offroad’s line of off-road body armor, protection, and rack systems match their motto: “Trail Proven – Adventure Ready!”
Whatever type of adventure you pursue, their off-road body armor will get you there with the style, functionality, and protection you need. CBI Offroad is a company that was founded on principles of quality craftsmanship and impeccable design for off-road vehicles.
We chose CBI Offroad’s 4Runner Swing Arm Rear Bumper and Skid Plates to protect our Ultimate Overland Vehicle Build because we love the styling and high-quality build materials. We know that this bumper and skid plates will protect the 2021 Toyota 4Runner TRD Offroad for years to come. See their full line of body armor and protection for most vehicles on their website.
We threw the 7P 4×4 Recovery Kit into the ultimate overland build because… well…. if it’s good enough for the Camel Trophy veterans, international adventurers, desert diehards, and jungle junkies that make up the 7P Overland crew, it’ll definitely get our 4Runner out of any trouble it can find.
Born in Australia, REDARC has 40 years of experience in manufacturing off-grid solutions for overlanding vehicles, RVs, and trailers. They make the most rugged, reliable, and innovative battery chargers, 12V management systems and trailer braking products on the market. So there are no limits to where you can go and what you can do.
When you need to power accessories and gadgets during an overland journey, there are few better options than a portable generator. ALP’s next-gen propane generators eliminate most of the issues that plague gasoline generators. ALP propane generators don’t put off noxious fumes, can be stored inside, and require less maintenance.
Unlike some tires on this list, the Destination M/T2s are relatively new, released just a couple of years ago. Maybe that’s why they’re not as prolific in the overlanding community as they should be — they’re too new to be tried and true. Nevertheless, they should be on your list for your next overlanding tire.
When it comes to performing an advanced winch-assisted recovery, Superwinch is one of the most trusted names in overlanding. When the going gets rough, having Superwinch on board the Ultimate Overland Vehicle will allow us to adventure further in even the most challenging terrain.
Few nameplates are as synonymous with overlanding in the U.S. as the venerable Toyota 4Runner. And there’s a good reason for it. For five generations, this high-riding 4×4 has stayed true to its trucky roots. After all these years, the 4Runner is still built on a ladder frame. It sports a true 4×4 system with two-speed transfer case, solid rear axle, and optional rear e-locker.
We wanted to add some modern convenience equipment to our 4Runner build, so our friends at Atlantic British provided the Australian-based Clearview Easy Slide System to ensure ease of access to our Dometic portable refrigerator.
Replacing the stock exhaust isn’t the first modification that most overlanders make, but the Magnaflow Overland Exhaust provides an increase in performance, a better exhaust note, and enhanced departure angle.
We’re beginning to look for partners for our 2022 Ultimate Overland Build! Want to get involved? Let us know!
All 4Runner photography courtesy of Toyota.
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Photo by Brett Willhelm, Willhelmn Visual Works