My random thoughts on various things related to Overlanding, 4Wheeling, Camping and Vehicles, or Vehicle mods. Basically a place for all of my silly ideas.
The plan is simple. Type entries by date, whenever I want to share some ideas.
September 4, 2020
2020 has been a disaster of a year in terms of my off-road adventures. I'm still holding onto the faintest bit hope that I will be able to hit the hills this year, but it's fading fast.
However, it's hasn't been without some highlights. In addition to some significant personal successes; a big promotion and a new home purchase in a small town I've been wanting to move to for about 5 years, one ray of sunshine that came around is the new Ford Bronco, and my oh my has it caught my eye!
When the ZR2 Bison was released I recall thinking to myself "now if they only made an SUV version", and "bring back the Trailblazer with some of these upgrades". Point being that I'm more of an SUV guy than a truck guy, which steered my next vehicle preference towards the JL Wrangler. However, I also commute 60 miles a day now, so I'm not too keen on losing my IFS, by switching to a solid axle Jeep.
Speaking of IFS, I recently came across the Marlin Crawler RCLT upgrade that's available for my 4Runner. I have to admit, it's VERY impressive. But it's not without downsides. The one downside I see is the addition of "race parts" to my daily driver. The race parts I'm referring to are the high flex joints used to achieve the level of articulation that is only possible with race-level components. They're durable enough I'm sure, but as the saying goes: "When you add race-parts, you get a race-ride"
So, what does the RCLT have to do with the Bronco? Well, the Bronco has IFS. But it has a (presumably) more comfortable factory tuned ride than the RCLT would offer, and with a factory backed warranty!
Among other off-road goodies, the Bronco can be ordered with front and rear E-lockers, a sway bar disconnect, as well as a host of modern interior amenities, which is all fantastic! But the icing on the cake is that you can get one directly from Ford with 35" tires.
Although I'm admittedly more of a 33" tire guy, I can appreciate the benefits that a 35" tire brings to trail rides. I've even thought that a JLRU really needs 37's to "fill it out". I'm anxious to see how Ford designers did with fitting 33's on the Bronco, but I won't really know for sure until I start seeing them on the streets.
Despite all that, after reading as much I can about the tech that Ford is bringing to the table, I'm convinced that the Bronco will hit the sweet spot for those looking for a very capable off-road rig, that is well composed on the streets/highways, which is something I've been wanting for a looooong time.
Suffice it to say that I'm very interested in getting behind the wheel of one when they start hitting the dealer lots.
September 19, 2019
As I continue to upgrade the capabilities of my 4Runner I'm finding that my happiness with it also upgrades! While 4wheeling the Middle Fork of the Swan River trail it ticked off 250k miles and it seems like it's more than happy to just keep on ticking and that fact alone puts a smile on my face. I also love not having a car payment. Especially on a vehicle I'm relatively rough on. So for the foreseeable future, it's a keeper!
The last round of upgrades included a taller lift, JBA UCA's, SpiderTrax wheel spacers and 33's. Future plans still include, at minimum, a rear locker, hybrid front bumper, winch and rock sliders. There could also be more, but for now those are my "must haves".
See you on the trails!
January 21, 2019
I’m always torn on what my next vehicle should be, or if I should even replace Orion. On the one hand, Orion is running beautifully and appears to have a lot of life left, despite having just over 240k miles on it. The release of the new Jeep Wrangler JL really got my blood pumping, despite me preferring an IFS vehicle due to my much higher ratio of daily driving time with my vehicle. I convinced myself, and still believe, that I could happily live with the reduced daily comfort that comes with driving a solid front axle vehicle. Quite simply, nobody offered a comparable option to a Jeep Rubicon.
That was until 2017 when Chevy released the Chevy Colorado ZR2. With its 3.5" Wider Track, 2" of Lift, Multimatic Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve (DSSV) Dampers, Electronic Locking Front and Rear Differentials, Longer cast iron control arms and modest skid plating, not to mention its "Off-road Mode”, which alters throttle progression, shift calibration, traction control, stability control, and ABS for different terrain. this to me was a serious contender to the Rubicon in my mind, while keeping the IFS comfort for daily driving. Admittedly, I don’t get excited about the front fascia of the ZR2 and it is missing the 4:1 transfer case of the Rubicon; the need for which is debatable for Overlanding. Despite that, it was the best IFS offering on the US market to compete with the Rubicon.
Then the rumors of the ZR2 “Bison” collaboration between Chevrolet and AEV started brewing and upon its official release I immediately fell in love. To me it’s an amazing compromise between rugged Overland vehicle and daily driver, with a heavy lean towards offroad use. I love the looks of the Bison. Truly, from front to back; I love the fact that the bumper is winch-ready, while maintaining a reasonable amount of clearance. I love the upgraded skid plates, the improved fender flares and the creative rear overhang protection. On paper, this is the ultimate solution for an “off-the-lot” Overland rig. And I haven’t even mentioned the diesel engine option, which improves the fuel range by just under 100 miles by most estimates. That’s not significant to me, especially with the cost of diesel these days, but it may be to some people.
That brings me back to Orion, my trusty 2004 4Runner, with just over 241k miles and which, by all accounts could actually last to 500k miles if I maintain it well. I enjoy Orion and could certainly add skid plates, e-lockers, bumpers, etc. for FAR less than the purchase price of a new vehicle. Which takes me to the point of diminishing returns. For example, if I assume that I can even get 350k miles out of Orion while continuing to enjoy driving it, that represents potentially 14 more years of driving Orion at my average annual mileage, which includes Overland trips. At the retail cost of my planned upgrades, which would put Orion’s capability to be comparable to the Bison; that puts me at $714 per year and requires me to perform, or coordinate, the install of all of these items. Granted, I get satisfaction from performing upgrades to my vehicles, so this is a minor variable. In comparison, purchasing a Bison puts me at $1,600 per year, for an estimated period of 25 years. Either option is acceptable to me and the idea of increasing cargo capacity, and the “off-the-lot” factor and the excitement of a new vehicle, combined with the extra 11 years of expected ownership, makes the Bison appeal to me quite a bit.
In the end what I do moving ahead depends largely on what’s happening in my personal life. If I can afford a Bison in the next few years, I will get one if only for the uniqueness of it. If not, I’ll likely get a newer used ZR2 and change the front fascia with an aftermarket bumper. Then my 3rd choice would be a newer used JL Rubicon. My last choice would be to keep Orion, which would be fine, because of the current mileage and how it’s showing its age. Ultimately, I’ll always be happy as long as I have a vehicle to explore with. I just may be happier with different vehicles, for different reasons.
January 20, 2019
Winter has always been a downtime for me in terms of camping and 4wheeling. I’m simply not a winter guy. I take no pleasure in slogging through the snow, or performing a trail repair in sub 50° temps. So during this hibernation period I find myself daydreaming not only of warmer weather, but of what adventures I want to take in the upcoming season.
So, here I am in January of 2019 and things are no different. I’m starting to get cabin fever, which gets my mind wandering to the upcoming season and what adventures lie ahead. This year I know for sure that I want to keep exploring the area North of Kremmling in an effort to get more clarity on the B2B route. I’d also like to get in some random exploring in Northern Colorado, near the Wyoming border.
As for ‘X’ Trips, I’m not yet sure if one is in the cards for me this summer considering what I have going on domestically. However, if I can do an X6, I’d like it to be the CO/UT route I put together, which includes; Rimrocker, Paradox, Fins & Things, Porcupine Rim, Kokopelli, the CO Monument connector, Escalante Rim and the Tabeguache trail. This route would be my first choice, despite Orion not being equipped to handle Rose Hill 4wd trail, which I would likely have to bypass. But since Orion is small tired by most standards, there are many trails that it is unsuited for.