Every day we have requests come in for a "Custom Overland Package" and the discussions we have made us realize that it's not very well known just how different each and every package is that we put together. There are endless factors when it comes to building out your ideal rig, and many think that it comes down mainly to preference. But the logistics behind building that good foundation are often overlooked.
So let's dive into just what that all looks like! We will take 3 of our Base Level Frame works into consideration for example purposes - The Alu-Cab Canopy Camper, The Alu-Cab Khaya Camper and a Roof Top Tent package.
First and most importantly comes the type of vehicle you have. This can sometimes rule out many options. For example, if you are looking for a Camper system and have a Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, Dodge Ram or any other Full size Pick up truck, you instantly rule out the Canopy Camper and are looking at the Khaya Camper. Why? Because the Canopy Camper is designed with fit kits specifically for mid size pick ups like the Colorado, Tacoma or Gladiator. At least for the time being.
You also now need to take into consideration, again especially with the Full size Pick Up Trucks, if the Khaya Camper falls within your budget or if you will move into customizing a Roof Top Tent Option, but that's easier said then done sometimes. Why? Because you now need a Bed system that is strong enough to withstand the weight not only of your Roof Top Tent, but also of you sleeping in it and potentially mounting your gear to the sides of it. Finding a Bed Rack that can manage the weight isn't too complicated. But if you're wanting a weather proof solution, you are rather limited in Full Size Truck Caps that can handle the weight of overlanding.
The ideal full size truck canopy however would be a Smart Cap - That article is coming soon!
Have a Mid size pick up but still interested in a Roof Top Tent overland set up? Check out our write up all about the Alu-Cab Canopy for Mid Size Trucks.
Now if you have an SUV, we are clearly looking at a Roof Rack and Roof Top Tent set up. But not all roof racks are created equal! Just like the bed racks and canopies, you have to make sure the rack you are using is rated to hold the capacity of anywhere from 600-800 lbs. It doesn't matter that you have the strength of your vehicle beneath it, you have to have the strength in the rack. You also need mounting points that will be compatible with the feet of a roof top tent, or that you can at least get brackets for. Our go to roof rack for overlanding is the Front Runner Slimline, but if you're needing something a little bit different, Rhino Rack HD would be a great choice as well.
Weather Proof Needs
If you're driving an SUV, you can skip right on down to the next section - but if you're in a pick up truck, stay with us!
We touched on it a bit above, but lets dive deeper into why understanding if you need your build components to be weather proof is crucial from the very beginning and how sometimes it requires a bit of give and take.
Lets say you are in a Tacoma, and you want to do an overland build in stages. This is something we do all the time! But it's important to know what your end game is. If you are wanting to eventually do a Goose Gear Camp Kitchen full with Snomaster fridge, a stove top, and a half bed drawer system, you HAVE to go the route of a Canopy. This is because Goose Gear systems are NOT weather proof, regardless of their bed liner style coating. But let's say that this end product dream was not shared from the beginning, and you had no idea that you couldn't do this with the bed rack/ roof top tent combination you just approved. Now, a year or 2 down the line when you're ready for the goose gear, you need to make the decision of reimagining your bed storage and camp kitchen solutions, or replacing the bed rack you just purchased to get the Canopy. Simply put, we want you to get it right from the very beginning! So even if you are not ready for the whole job at once, please, share your expectations with us. We can save you thousands of dollars and hours of headache simply by knowing ahead of time.
Now let's assume you are driving a Classic Body Style Dodge Ram - at least for the foreseeable future, there is not a bed cap designed to handle the weight of overlanding. There will be! Smart cap just hasn't released it yet. So now you have the decision to wait out on the entire project, or to map out bed solutions utilizing a waterproof system such as a Decked. But keep in mind now that these will be full width drawer systems. So if you also have a fridge and slide in mind, you need to consider the height and angle clearance you will need to get your intended fridge fitment correct. Let's not even get into determining if you need to be able to tilt your fridge out while you have a drawer open! Been there, done that, it's not fun.
Moral of the story here - Please tell us what your end game is when we ask, we promise there's a reason.
There are 2 different tent types that we are focusing on here - soft shell and hard shell. Now, we can get into the whole pop up vs. fold out vs. wedge, etc. But soft shell or hard shell will be your first important decision when choosing a tent type. The biggest factors here are ease of set up/break down and if you will ever need to mount above it.
Simply put, hard shell tents are almost always easier to set up and break down. Especially when they are on struts like the Alu-Cab Gen 3.1 Roof Top Tent. Soft shell tents, take a little bit more man power to navigate, but they still are pretty simple.
A big upside to the soft shell tents is that they are usually a bit more cost affective, and it's easier to find 3,4 even 5 person sleepers. But that's not to say you can't find that in a hard shell.
The most important piece of the long game here though is the ability to mount to it. Have a Jeep and want to get a Roof Top Tent? Great! We can get the roof rack and a soft shell tent into your budget no problem and you don't really want to expand your budget to get a hard shell tent. Totally get it! Now let's say 6 months down the line you buy kayaks to take out with you - where are you putting them?
We know, you don't always know what's going to come next. But in the chance that you know mounting things like kayaks, load bars, MaxTrax, solar, etc is in your future, then hard shell is 100% the way you need to go.
All of this and we haven't even touched on suspension, tires, brake upgrades, accessories...
Needless to say, there's a lot that goes in to creating the perfect build! But that's what we are here for. To help you navigate all the moving parts and pick exactly what is right for you.
Have questions or want to get started? Contact us today to build the overland vehicle you've always wanted!