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Old 05-07-2023, 05:05 PM   #1
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4x4 or 4x2 Tow Vehicle

Those living in the Rocky Mountains will say 4x4, if you think you will not need it, or will need it.

Sooner or later you WILL need 4x4.

I always prefered a V8. Elevation with thin air will reduce Horsepower and combustion may show carbon in your exhaust pipe.

You will NEED 4x4 when you do. Trust me. This year at 7500 feet, I caught some wet soil, under a dry soil on the surface. The trailer did very well over it, as I was backing up to turn around on near level ground.

After I had backed up, I now was going to pull forward and get back onto the dirt hard pack road. The rear tires rotated and dug into the wet muddy soil. First time... ever towing a trailer. I put the axles and 4x4 locking hubs. They were digging down. I knew I was going to have to... dig out.

Unhitched the Oliver (about a 23 foot Airstream) which weighs 7,000# unloaded. We were loaded. So was the F350 Diesel. No horsepower was of any use... with no forward traction.

I pulled the F350 forward and spent several hours digging out the two ruts, filling them with flat stones from a rock formation and covered with the dirt I dug out. That wet muddy dirt was now dry. The wet muddy dirt was about 10 inches below the surface. Probably a layer of solid basalt below two feet of top soil washing in over a thousand years. Never encountered this before. Now I know what to look for.

I backed up, Nancy lined me up and connected the Oliver. Locked the 4x4 Hubs, shifted into Low 4x4 and... was back onto the solid hard pack dirt.

I have NEVER EVER needed the 4x4 while towing. Although going up a steep dirt road, I will 4x4 high.

Having 4x4 saved me a Tow Truck in nowhere, if we could find someone 40 miles in nowhere. Had I dug the 4x4 down to the Frame... Tow Truck. High centering is Stuck for Good.

A 2x4 pickup would have been stranded. Someone with a Rope could possibly pull you out... but we see no one OTG.

Resale for a 4x4 is better than a 2x4. A V8 has better resale. Diesel... a whole lot better with 4x4 and a standard bed.

If you travel black top. Probably never an issue. Just do not get stuck.

In ANY Event: A shovel... or two. Wide tow strap about 20 feet long. I have one, not needed, yet. Two to four plastic white buckets for hauling dirt. Leather gloves.

Never get High Centered in a Snow Drift or sink 'hole'. Then you need to jack up a side... lay rock under and repeat 3 more times. That still does not mean you will get out.

Experience is earned. I earned it when I was under 21. This is not a spectator sport. You could really put yourself in a bad situation believing OTG and a Non posi rear tow vehicle is adequate. It is, until you need 4x4.

Camp and Park... high and dry when possible. Water runs down hill. You may have to stay put for a couple days... but it beats needing a week to dig out. You will lose weight. You will be thirsty. You will have learned by doing.

NEVER leave a campsite OTG on dirt or hard pack roads during a drizzle or rain. If you do, haul Arse and try to stay on the road. Once you stop... you may become 'THE Bump in the Road'.

The 2006 Wyoming Adventure had rain and snow at elevation 35 miles north of DuBois at the End of the Road. Members wanted... to get out on the muddy roads. I locked my hubs and was on my way. Everyone made it, but had one blocked the road... some serious thinking follows. Not all... positive.

Just hope someone else is not coming your way. It can get a bit... testy for a local Rancher towing livestock.
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Old 05-08-2023, 12:45 PM   #2
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Lions, Tigers and Bear... Oh My!

What would YOU do?

(1) You encounter a Couple whose SUV is buried to the frame with a 25 foot Trailer attached. You also have a 25 foot trailer in tow. You have a F250/350 with 4WD and 4WD locking hubs.

They have been there for two days and were siting on chairs watching for someone to come by. No cell service. No traffic until you came by.

You have only one shovel.

-Do you offer to pull them out?
-Do you offer them a ride into town?
-Do you begin digging them out, since you have a shovel, and they watch. They are Senior Citizens... around 29 years old.

(2) You are coming DOWN a narrow National Forest Service road in New Mexico towing the same trailer. The dirt and hard pack road is about 1.6 vehicles wide. About 1.4 the width of your trailer. You are on the 'inside of the road, next to the mountain side'.

The other 4x4 pickup is coming UP on the 'Drop Off the Cliiff' side of the mountain road.

How do you negotiate with the vehicle coming UP the mountain on the Outside/Cliff side?

(3) You drove through a water filled pot hole in a NFS hard packed road, with Pine Trees on both sides. Pot hole can not be deep, as New Mexico is arid.

Your rear axle drops into the... '2 foot deep pond in the road'.

You do not have 4x4. Your vehicle has a soft ride and comfortable. Excellent Stereo Satellite radio system, leather seats. Your 'snazzy' vehicle has one wheel spinning, tossing mud onto the polished trailer in tow and the traction tire sits still.

(4) You are in a field of rye grass. It is flat. It is drizzling and you want to leave to get into town to a RV Park with cleaner restrooms and a snack bar.

Your rear tire or tires begin to spin, digging a hole. No traction. You have a 25 foot trailer in tow. Your mother in law is sitting on the back seat. She thinks you are an idiot.

What action(s) can you make to get out of these situations? What options do you have?

If no one is interested is giving any responses to these very common situations. Fine.

Someday if you Boondock off the grid... you will encounter all of these situations.
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Old 05-08-2023, 01:20 PM   #3
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Just last year I was towing my Airstream up a winding forest service road in the Colorado mountains that averaged about 7% grade but had a few spots that were 10% grade. It was obviously not paved, but fortunately it was dry. As I came around a narrow bend, there was a Freightliner M2 106 hauler pulling a horse trailer loaded with four horses coming straight towards me. This road was not wide enough for both of us to pass. That situation produced a little pucker factor! I got out of my truck and met the other driver in the middle so that we could hatch a plan for each of us to get through. Fortunately, the road behind him had a slight pullout. He was able to backup about 50 yards and ease over into the pullout. I moved slowly forward and we were able to pass each other with about 10 inches between us.

These kind of things happen when you leave the pavement.
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Old 05-08-2023, 02:50 PM   #4
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I'm setting here reading this and cracking up...I'm sorry, can't help it.


There are six and a half drivers in the family, and seven vehicles. All are 4x4's with low range.


Around here we have way more log trucks, the drivers of which get paid by the load, than ranchers with cattle trucks. A road used by log trucks is about 14 - 16' wide on average and there are log truck sized turnouts available as appropriate.


CB radios are a thing. Channel 17, 19, or as posted. It really does keep the stress down. Listen first, then talk.


Uphill always has the right of way. By convention.


Shovels...two of them.


Get a snatch strap. Not a tow strap. There is a difference. One is elastic and will snatch a vehicle right out of wherever it's stuck, the other just breaks things.


We always stop. We always offer help. The Jeep has a winch and appropriate rigging for extracting most anything. If my judgement tells me that getting you out should be someone else's problem, I'll offer a ride or offer to tell a Sheriff's Deputy / Forest Ranger / State Trooper where you're at and what the situation is.


Don't, under any circumstances, drive through a water hole in the road without poking a stick into it. Ever. You might find a Toyota in it.
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Old 05-08-2023, 03:03 PM   #5
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!) Offer help or a ride, but they dig. See previous post.


2) Stop. Honk. Radio. Figure it out. (The Suburban has a receiver in the front and in the rear)


3) Step on the brakes, gently, and modulate brake pressure to keep spinning tires from spinning. It's an old school art form. Go to town and sell cushy truck for less cushy truck with lockers. Preferably manual lockers. If you're in the Jeep, pull the lever(s) for front, rear, or both lockers. The transfer case is already locked front to rear by design when in 4 Hi or Lo.


4) Boot the mother-in Law out. Tell her to throw traction mats out under the tires.
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Old 05-09-2023, 10:00 AM   #6
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Been there, but didn't do that...(driving thru "deep puddle" is a "no no" without checking depth with a stick...or pole!) Same goes driving thru snow/mud on onelane backroad/logging roads with a trailer, without checking that road out prior without the trailer...but, some folks need to learn on their own. Up in Northern MT forests, there are many such "opportunities" for exploring while camping...best advise I've learned is to always consider your passengers before getting on to an unfamiliar road towing a TT. Embarrassment is a feeling; getting stuck or worse is a predicament with or without 4x4. That being said, only one time have I ever had my 4x4 stuck down to the frame where I had to be pulled out; that was in snow on a logging road high above Lincoln MT. I also came "close one" time towing my 25'AS, camping down in Borrego Springs in the sand but was able to mauver out in 4x4low....as I get older, being more cautious is my rule of the day when camping/towing/driving.
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Old 05-09-2023, 11:31 AM   #7
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Younger me drove a 1965 Ford flatbed (bought it used, very used, from a farmer in Virginia), two-wheel-drive but ... shovel-equipped.

Got stuck plenty, but never "stuck" stuck, thanks to that shovel.

Currently driving with a four-wheel-drive option. No shovel, but maybe I'll throw one in.

What is "OTG?"
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Old 05-09-2023, 03:44 PM   #8
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A good question is, "Are you going to be travelling anywhere where you will need a 4X4? I stay on paved road, with an occasional gravel road. I stay in developed campgrounds, (state, national, private.) Normally I would not need one. After nearly 40 years of camping I finally ran into a place where I said to myself, "It's a good thing I have a 4x4!" There were heavy rains in COlorado which caused rock/mudslides. The friendly cop said I could make it past the slide in question and that it was the worst one...just go slowly. So I put it in 4x4 and followed his advice. I got through it, went a mile down the road and there was a worse slide that no one with a travel trailer should dare attempt. It was getting to be twilight. Instead of camping right there on the road I backed up and made about a 12 point turn, when through the 1st rockslide, spoke with the friendly officer again and found an even friendlier resident who happened to have full hookups! So, honestly, after 40 years of towing, I still really have NOT come across a situation where I needed 4x4.
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Old 05-09-2023, 04:54 PM   #9
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Itís always good to be prepared. Iíve used my shovel many times in various camping conditions.
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Old 05-09-2023, 06:04 PM   #10
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Itís always good to be prepared. Iíve used my shovel many times in various camping conditions.
I really like your rack for essentials.
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Old 05-09-2023, 06:35 PM   #11
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Don't Use It... Don't Need It

Automobile Insurance... optional because everyone else drives Crazy.

Life Insurance... if my wife insists at my age to get life insurance, should I be worried?

Home Insurance... never had a house burn down, ransacked, eaten by Termites down to the sheet rock screws, or a relative moves in by mistake, and removes all our furniture at a Garage Sale, while we were on the road, camping. We live in Wyoming. Not in a big City, like Crawford, Nebraska.

I never needed 4x4 when driving my 1956 VW Bug. Posi-traction rear tires and most of the weight was in the rear end.

Some people needing help are stuck and might be holding a sign 'Help Wanted'.

They had a new unused shovel. The working end had no instructions. I looked. Yep... no instructions. Guess which end might work? I had no idea either.

Some things I look at when offering to help someone, digging out of a bad situation:

(1) The wear on the end of the shovel. If it is not worn, my back ache seems to act up.

(2) My shovels all have worn working ends. Two short handled. One long handled. One with a broken handle. My brother was helping me at my parents home do some digging next to the house. His shovel snapped the handle right off where it enters the metal 'working end'. I kept the handle. I also kept the metal working end, as it had no wear.

(3) I never need a spare tire. Nor air. Sunshine makes it all good.

(4) I never need toilet paper on a five day hike on the Colorado Front Range. Pine needles are sterile and natural.

(5) If the highway is closed up ahead and people are looking for a private spot to do their, business after six hours in a Wyoming Blizzard... you had better not be towing a nice Airstream. Although, exceptions: We only take cash. No checks. No credit cards. Next...

(6) If you get Stuck Going Uphill... you are stuck. Try to back up and still stuck? I have a shovel, barely used with a broken handle, for sale. Cash. No check. No credit card.

(7) Do not volunteer to help push a vehicle out of a mud hole from the back. From being an observer and not a participant.

The only vehicle I had that was worthless in most weather. A Corvette. Would make a lousy tow vehicle, as well. Just wet asphalt on an incline is exciting. Rides too low like an Airstream. Too wide tires does not mean 'better traction' with a Corvette.

A Corvair... goes anywhere. And is like a motorized sled. Avoid Carbon Monoxide poisoning. The heating system uses Heated Exhaust from the engine. What I discovered as a passenger. Once. Ignore an offer to sell it to you... cheap. I did.

OTG means Off the Grid. Since Boondocking now means a RV Park with evening live bands, free beer and hook ups...

Off the Grid means you are like me. Leave my shovel where I have it sitting. Life is simple. I do not get stuck.
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Old 05-09-2023, 07:29 PM   #12
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4x4 or 4x2 Tow Vehicle

I gave four wheel drive tow vehicles three chances over the years that I have towed a travel trailer (since 1980). I will not have another as I rarely travel beyond gravel roads and keep to mostly State Park, National Park, Community Park, and commercial campgrounds. Over the years, I have needed and use four wheel drive only once, and had I not had four wheel drive there were other options as it was during the entrance to the 1998 International Rally at Boise, Idaho -- the rally grounds were wet and muddy and since the tractor brigade was busy with those who didn't have four wheel drive they asked those of us who did to engage four wheel drive to park are rigs. This was one of the rare occasions that my four wheel drive actually worked.

I purchased two tow vehicles new with four wheel drive -- a 1995 Chevrolet K1500 Z71 Extra Cab with all of the options except sunroof and a 1999 GMC K2500 Suburban. The Chevrolet was a disaster as it was underpowered with its 5.7 Liter V8 and 3.73 differential gears, and it could never be counted on to shift out of four wheel drive without a trip to the dealership for remedial repairs on the four wheel drive mechanism. The Suburban was a superior tow vehicle, but its four wheel drive was abysmal as it could never be counted on to function as its electronic push button controls had been designed by Lucas Electronics and they failed at approximately 15,000 mile intervals resulting in the truck either being stuck in four wheel drive or unable to shift into four wheel drive ($750 in parts every time the control module failed and around $250 in labor). If I could have found a mechanic willing to remove all of the four wheel drive hardware from the Suburban, I would have been a happy owner as it was otherwise a trouble-free vehicle for 200,000 miles. With both of these vehicles, my regular maintenance was at least 25% higher attributable to the needs of the four wheel drive components, my fuel economy was lower than a similar two wheel drive vehicle, and something that didn't mean as much to me than as it would now, the ride height was at least two inches higher than a similar two wheel drive.

I did have good results with one of my four wheel drive vehicles as far as reliability was concerned, but its fuel economy with a 360 cubic inch V8 and 3.90 differentials was abysmal and cruising range when towing was less than 200 miles with its 18 gallon fuel tank. It was a 1984 Jeep Grand Wagoneer. It was one four wheel drive that I may have kept as it never had trouble selecting four wheel drive nor leaving four wheel drive even after it had well over 100,000 miles. The maintenance was a little higher than my two wheel drive vehicles, but not nearly as much higher as my two later model four wheel drive vehicles that I purchased new.

I am perfectly happy with my current tow vehicle a 1992 Buick Roadmaster Limited sedan with the 5.7 Liter V8, and factory heavy duty trailer towing package. It tows either my 1964 Overlander Land Yacht International or 1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre in comfort with good handling.
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Old 05-10-2023, 06:17 AM   #13
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I don't need to postulate extreme conditions to justify 4wd. When I back my Bambi into the RV hookup spot beside my house, the driveway is slightly uphill. My 4wd Expedition backs it up the hill just fine. My 2wd F-150 merely spins ruts in the gravel driveway. Do you anticipate needing to reverse up a slight hill? Ever? Maybe? If you have the option, go 4wd.
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Old 05-10-2023, 06:41 AM   #14
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Over the years, I've had a couple of Jeeps, many Land Rovers and Subarus, a 4Runner, and two Sierras. The first Sierra was a RWD... I told myself that it would be more fuel-efficient, that the rear locking diff would be enough. Had that one for 8 years, and it only happened a few times, but, I got stuck a few times, because it wasn't a 4x4. My current Sierra, it is a 4x4, have had it a few years now. I have been in campgrounds that had, "not as improved" sites, camping spaces that weren't really hard-packed pads, and weren't quite level, and I had to put it into low to get the AS into the site (and had to use all my blocks on one side to get it levelish). Coming back out of that site, 4-hi was sufficient, but, was required to get us out of there.

Once in a location, we like going off and about. One of our frequent locations is the Outer Banks, we usually get a beach permit, air the tires down... I wouldn't want to drive on the beach w/o a 4x4. (Rover, 4Runner, the Sierra with 4x4, good; Sierra w/o 4x4, got stuck on the shoulder of the pavement... learning opportunity!)

Now w/ that said... there is something to be said about, choosing where you go. The 2wd one, there were a lot of places I said, I'm parking here and walking on in... the 4x4 encourages you to get further along... but that means, you might just get yourself more stuck, further from help. A winch would encourage you to go even further, and get even more stuck. Sometimes some discretion is needed. But even not straying far from the blacktop....

You don't need 4x4, until you do.
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Old 05-10-2023, 06:42 AM   #15
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I think it is a personal choice. I prefer it even though I do not use it often, however, I am very glad I have had it when I have needed it. I also think it is just another level of safety.
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Old 05-10-2023, 07:19 AM   #16
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Itís always good to be prepared. Iíve used my shovel many times in various camping conditions.

What brand are those. Iíve been wanting to do this, but Iím worried about it fitting with the Retrax. The Built-right brand seem like theyíd not give good purchase for the Retrax clamps.
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Old 05-10-2023, 07:34 AM   #17
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My molle racks are made by Built Right and they don’t interfere with the Retrax cover at all. They mount below the Retrax clamps. There aren’t many options available for GM trucks from that era (2015 - 2018) because of the factory mounting points in the truck bed. Built Right solved that and I’m pleased with the product. I ordered the rear panels only because the Retrax box would block the front panels. I ordered the mount for my RotoPax gas can from them also. The rubber mounts for your gear are available in many places. I bought mine on Amazon.
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Old 05-10-2023, 08:05 AM   #18
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Here in KY you don't see too many 2wd trucks. Dealerships just don't order them because they don't sell.
I have friends who AS with 2wd trucks but they always stay on the pavement. I have only owned one 2wd truck when I was in college. I was always careful where I went - lessons learned.
I use the 4wd on my truck frequently for things done on the farm but I often use 4wd when towing in situations when camping in a field and going up steep gravel roads. 4wd low is great for when you have to get the trailer leveled on multiple levels of blocks as it takes all the strain off the transmission and you can move with tractor like speeds and power.
I remember camping at Breaks Interstate State Park which is located in the mountains on the border of Kentucky and Virginia. The campsite was located in the far end of the campground. The road was akin to driving down a creek bed and it was this campsite or nothing. Getting to and from the campsite was for 4wd vehicles only straddling the washout, stumps and rocks. 4wd low and go slow.
Our Kentucky AS Club unit has also boondocked in a local park. Had 2" of rain over night. Spent a bit of time the next day pulling the 2wd vehicles and a motorhome across the field to the paved area.
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Old 05-10-2023, 08:35 AM   #19
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City Folk at RV Parks vs Country/City Folk OTG

We have a 'Full Time Permit' to trailer camp off the paved road. It is called a reliable 4WD. It is called a 4x4 Pickup.

I like Toyota Land Cruisers better with the 5.7L V8. I would not use any, nor the current 2021 LC to tow a 7000 pound+ travel trailer. The bed of a pick up tow vehicle holds two shovels, easily.

Ford F350's and Toyota Land Cruisers were the top two 4x4's. Expected to last up to 300,000 miles. My 1981 Land Cruiser had 178,000 miles on it and the first caller paid my price. Low mileage. No rust. No oil leaks. Leather seats were comfortable.

Pay more, get more. You pay extra for the mechanical quality up front. Resale is also higher. Selling a Toyota 4x4 or any 4x4 F250 or 4x4 F350 is easy. Ranchers like the Diesel 4x4 F250/F350's if they can find one.

A 4x4 pickup in New York City must been stolen from the back country.

If you Do Not Off the Grid or camp in isolated areas... you probably are just fine with a bicycle with chains.

Off the Grid Non Paved Boondocking. OTGNB The Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico is not Boondocking. To some, maybe. We would prefer to camp out to the West.

We see all kinds of people 'roughing it' at Yellowstone Park and the Tetons. Try going to the Idaho Side of the Mountain. Maybe Shadow Mountain north of Jackson, Wyoming. Although, I heard now you need to reserve a time for making that climb. No 4x4 towing a trailer, you become Speed Bump.

I do not dream about RV Park and Campgrounds in Tucson to 'rough it' during the February Rock Shows. I have no choice...

We like to be able to sit back and enjoy ourselves, with our three Blue Heelers roaming around not on leashes.

The majority of Airstream owners do not OTG.

They like Rallies to discuss the added equipment for Television reception, Lithium Batteries, 800watts of Solar, double Generators and WD/SC Hitch improvements. I tow both a 27FBQ and an Oliver Elite II on the Ball. Don't need no 'stinking WD/SC Hitch. Money saved pays for a lot of fuel.

In eastern Utah, entire families and huge trailers with ATV's tow up gravel/dirt roads on weekends and Holidays. All towing with 4x4's. Above Tree Line they park.

Did I miss anything? If I did, ask.
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Old 05-10-2023, 09:19 AM   #20
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My molle racks are made by Built Right and they donít interfere with the Retrax cover at all. They mount below the Retrax clamps. There arenít many options available for GM trucks from that era (2015 - 2018) because of the factory mounting points in the truck bed. Built Right solved that and Iím pleased with the product. I ordered the rear panels only because the Retrax box would block the front panels. I ordered the mount for my RotoPax gas can from them also. The rubber mounts for your gear are available in many places. I bought mine on Amazon.

Interesting, thanks. I think the Built Right model for my F-150 is higher. They had a warning about that in the description when I lookedÖ but Iíll take a closer look at them. Thanks!
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