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Old 02-12-2019, 07:53 PM   #1
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Tow Vehicle and Off-Roader Combination

There's been a renewed interest in back country exploring in the last decade. The overlanding and off-roading interests have really been taking off.

Classically, a good tow vehicle and good off-roader have required different types of vehicles as they are somewhat diametric qualities. It's the difference between a vehicle who's suspension has good load bearing qualities (stiff), versus an off-roader that has good articulation (soft).

Technology has enabled some of these qualities to be had in a single vehicle.

Which enables interests to be combined: Airstreaming and technical off-roading at destinations.

This thread is to highlight those setups that enable this type of travel and interests. Please share your setup, preferably with pics and media of your interesting journeys.

Just for clarification, what this is NOT is bone stock standard pickups with 4x4. While part time 4WD is great for getting out of sticky low traction situations (i.e. wet grass, some mud on fire roads), technical off-roading it is not. The type that requires off-road oriented tires, suspension, and articulation performance. If you have a Raptor, TRD Pro, Rebel, etc, and/or you've modified your truck or SUV, then please share!
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Old 02-12-2019, 08:09 PM   #2
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I'll go first.

I've been an avid off-roader. My original interest pre-airstream was to enable reaching destinations that are off the beaten path for photography! As it progressed, I was looking for an RV to enable boondocking and to reach even more interesting destinations.

My vehicle of choice. Land Cruisers. Full size 8 person SUV's, with capacity to tow larger airstreams, yet with real off-road capability.

In Lexus guise.

Previously an '06 LX 470 (100-series), and now an '09 LX 570 (200-series) to tow a heavier and larger 27FB. Both have been serious off-road chops to tackle "difficult" rated jeep trails. Yet make very competent tow vehicles. Understated in mainstream understanding of their competencies. Yet legendary in off-road and overlanding circles for their capability and durability

I have 33" AT tires on mine which is just about the only relavent modification. Stock, these vehicles have AHC (active height control) hydraulic suspensions which enable fully computer controlled dampening, height, and spring rate control. Yet reliable and durable (unlike many air suspension).

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On a recent trip towing to the desert and going on a side excursion with some more seriously modified off-roaders. The first is a x-terra with suspension on 32s. 3rd is a Nissan Titan, lots of suspension and lift work, with huge 35s. Last is a Raptor with 37s, and everything top shelf thrown at it.



My last LX470 paired with a 23D
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Old 02-12-2019, 09:09 PM   #3
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I do Offroad really hard and found the best of both worlds for me. I have a 2010 Range Rover Sport Supercharged, 510hp and 461lbs torque. 2.5" lift on 32s. I have a Curt receiver, Hayes sway master and P3 controller. The Sport is an absolute beast offroad and a dream on road. Towing the 23fb Airstream is no chore for her. Full air suspension and AWD I dont need load leveling at all and the trailer is well under all the weight capacities. Just got back from Joshua Tree and next trip is to Tierra Del Sol with a bunch of Rovers. I was an Offroad driving instructor for Land Rover for 11 years so Im kinda spoiled and would not consider anything else to wheel in.

Next upgrade on the trailer is the lift for a little more ground clearance.

Here are a couple pix.
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Old 02-13-2019, 06:00 AM   #4
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Off Road With A Jeep (JKU)

One criteria we used when looking for an Airstream was the ability to lash up safely with our Jeep. Can-Am RV were able to strengthen the receiver and as a result we have been coast to coast. We love to drive on the beach and dunes with the top down.

OBX NC
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Silver Lake MI
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Coulee City WA
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Pacific City OR
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Old 02-13-2019, 07:18 AM   #5
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I have done lots of four wheeling in the Panamint valley and the ca desert in general, I have a 78 cj5 with lockers on both ends, fuel injected, winch, on board air, etc and it goes anywhere your brave enough to take it. That said I have gone with groups and have seen STOCK Tacoma 4x4's goes places I thought not possible, no need for a rock crawler to explore the backcountry.
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Old 02-13-2019, 09:18 AM   #6
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I agree with AlinCal above - "Off Road" do not mean simply the ability to be a "Rock Crawler" We have a F-150 with 4x4 capability, the BF KO2 tires and 2" front Lift that will take us just about anywhere. 90% of our camping is "Off Grid" on logging roads and trails in British Columbia Canada.
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Old 02-13-2019, 09:35 AM   #7
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Some great examples above. Just what I was hoping for!

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlinCal View Post
I have done lots of four wheeling in the Panamint valley and the ca desert in general, I have a 78 cj5 with lockers on both ends, fuel injected, winch, on board air, etc and it goes anywhere your brave enough to take it. That said I have gone with groups and have seen STOCK Tacoma 4x4's goes places I thought not possible, no need for a rock crawler to explore the backcountry.
No question CJ's are a definitive off-roader. The distinction here is that we want to talk about tow vehicles in combination with off-road capability. So while awesome, a 78 CJ is better suited as a towed/toad behind a motorhome.

Tacoma's would qualify here. They do have pretty great off-road capability bone stock. On account of compact size and articulation capabilities. Along with A-Trac that enables pseudo locker functionality. Some years have locking rear diffs stock, so bonus there. Of course, an individuals driving capability can make up a lot of difference as well.

What I meant in regards to bone stock 4x4 pickups, is the 4x4 truck contingent, especially the HD ones that have zero articulation (we all know them), declaring "off-road" competency. There's a spectrum. I'm hoping to talk about ones that can do more than your average fire road, and tow an Airstream!

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Originally Posted by drbrick View Post
I agree with AlinCal above - "Off Road" do not mean simply the ability to be a "Rock Crawler" We have a F-150 with 4x4 capability, the BF KO2 tires and 2" front Lift that will take us just about anywhere. 90% of our camping is "Off Grid" on logging roads and trails in British Columbia Canada.
That sounds awesome! These forums generally focus on towing payload, and mods associated with more towing stability (i.e. sway bar, stiffness)... And would frown on AT tires, lift, slinkier suspension, etc. Please share pics!
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Old 02-13-2019, 09:45 AM   #8
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I was only trying to qualify my opinion of the 4x4 Tacoma, Your right the cj5 IS NOT a good tv.
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Old 02-13-2019, 10:42 AM   #9
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hey pteck -

I've got a Toyota Tundra doublecab TRD that I've updated with Bilstein 5160 and 6112 shocks (2.5" front shock diameter up front, with reservoir shocks in the rear) which provide ~2" lift in front. Plus Firestone airbags. Am running forged alloy 17" rims with load range E BFG KO2s at about 34" diameter. Also have a camper shell with burly roof rack where I stow aux fuel and recovery boards.

The upgrades I've got essentially turn my Tundra into something similar to the Tundra TRD Pro, but with much better wheels, and rebuildable shocks.

Tows my 2003 25' Classic (6,000 pounds empty) very well, and the truck does great offroad.
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Old 02-13-2019, 04:23 PM   #10
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Off Road TV

Thank you for starting this thread
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Old 02-14-2019, 01:21 PM   #11
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Just to clarify, in Arizona where I live it is illegal to travel off road. I believe when most people refer to traveling off road what they really mean is to travel on unmaintained or primitive roads. Some of which required a 4x4 vehicle. I believe that is what most people on this forum are referring to.
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Old 02-14-2019, 04:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Special-Ed View Post
I do Offroad really hard and found the best of both worlds for me. I have a 2010 Range Rover Sport Supercharged, 510hp and 461lbs torque. 2.5" lift on 32s. I have a Curt receiver, Hayes sway master and P3 controller. The Sport is an absolute beast offroad and a dream on road. Towing the 23fb Airstream is no chore for her. Full air suspension and AWD I dont need load leveling at all and the trailer is well under all the weight capacities. Just got back from Joshua Tree and next trip is to Tierra Del Sol with a bunch of Rovers. I was an Offroad driving instructor for Land Rover for 11 years so Im kinda spoiled and would not consider anything else to wheel in.

Next upgrade on the trailer is the lift for a little more ground clearance.

Here are a couple pix.
Attachment 333496



Attachment 333497

You have our vote. Hands down nothing beats a Land Rover.



Best regards and safe travels
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Old 02-14-2019, 05:09 PM   #13
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-- snip -- most people refer to traveling off road what they really mean is to travel on unmaintained or primitive roads. -- snip --
I would think they were talking about something more like

http://www.rubicon-trail.com/

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Old 02-14-2019, 06:20 PM   #14
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Great thread!
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Old 02-15-2019, 07:19 AM   #15
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I learned years ago as an instructor that everyones idea of Offroading is different. While we (the instructors) off road level kept increasing we were taking customers on harder and harder trails. The realization came after a class one day that Most all our customers just wanted to get the tires dirty. We stepped back to much easier roads and the trips were much more enjoyable. I on the other hand at that time was running a completely custom K5 Blazer on one ton axles with a full cage and 37s. We would throw in employee days where we would go get stupid and then do the customer events the next day and do some easy stuff. Everyone got their fill and was happy.

So there are tons of great off road capable TVs out there. My favorites would be the Rovers (im biased) and Toyotas. Anything can off road it just depends on the level you will be going at. For most a dirt road to do some exploring almost anything will do just fine.
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Old 02-15-2019, 07:27 AM   #16
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My son is an Overlander. He bought a Colorado diesel...unfortunately, before the ZR2 was available....and now the Bison. He has the hots for a diesel Bison.

His camper is an "Opus Offroad"

http://www.opuscamper.us/opus-offroad.html

This is the most off-road ready conventional (sort of) tent camper I have seen. There are some others, of course, but compromise family (with small kids) comfort.

He and I have done moderate mods to the truck and camper.
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Old 02-15-2019, 08:11 PM   #17
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I'll agree that there's many forms of off-roading. The variety is endless actually.

Like towing, some vehicles are more appropriate and better in that role. I'll say that many tow vehicles, especially the ones that are more tailored for that role, make really bad off-road vehicles. Sure, they can. It wouldn't be something I'd consciously choose to do as it would be uncomfortable and unsatisfying. For the reason of articulation and spring rates. A vehicle that has very high payload capacity, naturally has higher spring rates, and therefor poor articulation and ability to soak up bumps.

So one has to walk the balance tow vehicle performance to off-road performance.

I'll say my particular vehicle walks this balance amazingly well. Able to tow a larger Airstream, 27FB in my case, with excellent stability and power. With dynamic suspension abilities to lift 3" on demand so I don't have to tow with a lifted rig, yet still have great obstacle clearing height. The suspension can also go from super soft for off-road, to firm and controlled for towing.

Couple other key modifications I've done
1) Auxillary gas tank for 38 gallons total onboard. For better towing range and reach into the backcountry
2) On board air. Airing down to 20psi or less is key for off-road traction, comfort, and performance. Having to air up large 33" tires to towing pressures (44psi in my case) required a larger capacity pump. This has to be one of my favorite mods as previously, I was reliant of gas stations to air up (that were often in disrepair). Cigarette lighter based pumps would take upwards of 30+ minutes, per tire! Hungry wife and kids are much happier now as I can do the air up drill in under 10 minutes.
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Old 02-15-2019, 08:34 PM   #18
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Case in point. The Ford Expedition SUV is generally considered one of the best SUV tow vehicles for heavier Airstreams. Yet for off-road that same quality works against it when dealing with uneven surfaces. It also doesn't have the right AWD drivetrain for the job.

Gold mine hill is a common litmus test on the TFL channel for various vehicle. Even in "FX4" off-road package guise:
@3:15


A off-road capable rig like the Land Cruiser, can successfully tackle this route. In snow no less.
@14:20
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Old 02-17-2019, 12:40 PM   #19
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I can not speak on or for the majority, MHO, off road is a persons perception. The world is pretty big w/a diverse level/degree of terrain to travel. For me there are 3 or 4 levels of off road travel. They range from unmaintained to making ones way through whatever. A persons experience, skill, and use of vehicle non-modified and or modified can offer off road 101 thru off road 401.



I understand and appreciate "balance" as each person(s) method used in what AS and TV they choose and where they travel. I would venture to guess many that camp off the grid will travel the moderate off road trails. For this there is a wide range of vehicles to choose from.



Then there are some of us that have entered the age, children are grown and left the nest, our parents if still alive have out lived camping, had and worked good jobs that has rewarded well. This age will provide a wide range of adventure "balance" to choose from.



The balance that works for us is an AS and TV that works for both on grid and off grid camping although we prefer on grid. A set of lockers, aggressive tires, and compressor permits comfortable travel on 101 thru 202 roads/trails. Long wheel base 1 ton does have its limits. For off road 301 thru 401 we use different equipment because we can and choose too.


We are blessed in many ways. One is living in the Pacific Northwest where 101 thru 401 are all w/in a few minutes and or a few hours away. I understand where one lives will have limitations on terrain to travel.



Safe travels, best regards, and party on w/what you have.
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Old 02-18-2019, 09:15 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Just to clarify, in Arizona where I live it is illegal to travel off road. I believe when most people refer to traveling off road what they really mean is to travel on unmaintained or primitive roads. Some of which required a 4x4 vehicle. I believe that is what most people on this forum are referring to.
Out here in SoCal there are tons if trails and yes most places you are not allowed to be Off the Road or trail (Anza Borrego for example) but on the other hand there are tons of BLM land OHV areas and back country travel too. Some of our "roads" are Black diamond or even double black diamond. These are no joke and you spend a lot of time sliding on the under carriage trying even to get though them. A lot of the black diamond forest service roads have nasty gate keeper obstacles that you have to get though just to be able to drive the trail.

Like I said before we all will have different views of what Off Road means to them. Me, I came from a 1 ton axled crawler with a full cage and no straight metal on the body(even the roof) and after many years and a a few Rovers later im a little more mellow, at least trying to keep the body panels in one piece.

BTW if anyone has this book check out Holcomb Creep page, I was lost off road on a black diamond and going the wring way when they got a picture of me.

https://www.amazon.com/Guide-Califor.../dp/B01HUDBHOM

My wife decided after our son was born that she was not dirt/tent camping anymore when we go out wheeling so we bought our first trailer to see of we liked it. Now we went and bought an Airstream.
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