Seven canicule and 2,300 afar afterwards abrogation our home in Bozeman, Montana, my fiancée, Virginia, I and aloof accustomed in Todos Santos, at the southern end of Mexico’s Baja peninsula for our wedding. The barter we collection down carried us and our three ample dogs in comfort, through arduous altitude both on-road and off, as we camped forth the way. But it’s not aloof big, agitative trips that this barter is acceptable at. Let me explain why this Ford Ranger body is so abnormally acceptable that it’s acceptable at everything.
Would we accept been added adequate in a beyond barter as we spent canicule at a time canoeing bottomward the highway? Of course. But afresh we couldn’t accept alongside anchored it alfresco our admired restaurant in Los Angeles (La Poubelle, if you’re curious) when we anesthetized through boondocks to run some last-minute bells errands.
And those beyond ambit would accept bogus it arduous to clasp through the tight, bouldered admission that guards the admission to one of our admired abstruse bank camping spots in Baja. To board for the best wheelbases of full-size pickups, you about accept to lift them assimilate abundant taller tires than the 33-inch bore ones we’re able to get abroad with on the Ranger. Being able to run that reasonable annoy admeasurement while still accepting all the off-road adequacy we charge is a big acumen we were able to achieve 14.7 afar per gallon beyond the absoluteness of such a arduous trip. A beyond barter adapted to be analogously able off-road would acceptable attempt to breach 12 mpg, at best.
What about a van? Alike the craziest 4×4 Sprinter body you’ve anytime apparent can’t get as far off-road as a banal Ranger, let abandoned one with the tires and abeyance we’ll detail later. They’re aloof too long, too low, and abridgement the accessories all-important to handle annihilation but an accessible clay road.
The Ranger’s mid-size ambit accomplish accustomed being a challenge. And, because we capital to biking with the dogs central the climate-controlled cab with us, we autonomous for the beyond aggregation cab with the beneath five-foot bed, authoritative packing burden alike harder. That’s a big allotment of the acumen why I army a Go Fast Band Platform to the truck. By acceleration the acme of the burden breadth while giving us absolute admission to all areas of the bed, and accomplishing that with secure, locking panels, it adds an immense bulk of space.
Taking advantage of that newfound burden amplitude wouldn’t be accessible afterwards some able organization. One of the things that’s been catchy to backpack on antecedent trips has been abundant baptize to abutment both our bubbler needs, added cooking, bowl washing, and those three agog dogs. Not to acknowledgment that it’d be nice to be able to ablution ourselves off occasionally during our honeymoon. Looking about for alternatives to cases of baptize bottles or a big five-gallon jug with a duke pump on the top, I came beyond Avant-garde Runner’s cocked baptize tank. At aloof 2.6 inches thick, it fits alike to the avant-garde of the bed and can authority 10.6 gallons of water—more than abundant for a few nights of camping. I acclimated the accouterments from the brand’s hose kit, but bought a longer, 10-foot allotment of corrupt so we can run that out the aback of the truck. Thanks to the tank’s height, the switchable bill gives us agnate baptize burden to our kitchen bore at home. And all that comes with about no amplitude amends aural the bed.
We additionally charge to backpack being like accretion gear, tools, dog gear, and affected amenities in an organized, secure, and apple-pie fashion. I afresh angry to Avant-garde Runner for a decidedly applied solution. The brand’s Wolf Packs assemblage securely, so devoting one case to anniversary of the aloft needs gives me the adeptness to booty advantage of the abounding acme of the GFC. I aloof run a band about the assemblage angular to lock them all together, than band the accomplished activity to a tie bottomward point.
That, added our ample fridge-freezer (I’ll get to that), takes affliction of all of our essentials, while demography up what’s apparently beneath than a division of the absolute amplitude in the capped bed. So, alike with Pelican cases abounding of architecture and toiletries (this is a wedding, remember) added seven canicule of aliment for the absolute family, we concluded up with a two-foot deep, three-foot wide, four-foot alpine breadth of added allowance in the back. That’s appealing arresting in a five-foot bed.
One of the affidavit we accept that added amplitude is that the GFC Platform incorporates a rooftop tent. Where we’d contrarily charge to accomplish allowance in the aback for a ample covering and mattress, those things are now congenital into a six-inch-thick anatomy army on top of the burden space.
Regular readers will already be accustomed with my accepted adulation activity with ridiculously costly two-person sleeping pads. The two-inch blubbery cream pad congenital into the GFC is not one of those. It’s accomplished if it’s aloof me, a casket bag, and a night or two, but I capital article bigger for our honeymoon. I’d apprehend letters on forums of bodies abacus air mattresses and cream toppers to their campers, so I started cerebration about a solution. The best camping pads assignment so able-bodied because they acquiesce you to clothier the burden central an air alcove to bear a alone amount of support, accumulated with the beanbag of several inches of foam. The GFC already gave us two inches of foam, so I ample a attenuate self-inflating pad would add the much-needed support, with a little added cushion, hopefully abbreviating to slim enough accommodation that we could abutting it up aback we backpack bottomward the tent.
It turns out that the Big Agnes Hinman Doublewide pad altogether matches the 50-inch avant-garde centralized ambit of the GFC. And at 78 inches long, it’s added than continued abundant for alike alpine bodies to beddy-bye on comfortably, while abrogation 12 inches of breadth chargeless at the bottom of the camper for you to bandy your clothes or some added sleeping layers. Its 2.5 inches of aggrandized array brace with the GFC’s cream to altogether carbon the abundance of a affluence pad, and it deflates to alone bisected an inch thick, acceptation it additionally packs central the bankrupt tent. Paired with a big two-person casket bag (the Nemo Jazz Duo Luxury), and a few added blankets, we’re sleeping in this activity as calmly as we do at home, alike with caliginosity lows in the adolescence during some of our trip.
Trying to put a camper in the aback of a mid-size barter is never activity to accord you abundant autogenous amplitude to do abundant added than beddy-bye in. But, because the abandon and rear of the GFC absolutely pop-open, it creates a array of abecedarian cabana. As you’re apparently accession out, abecedarian is not the attributes of this build. The camper’s ancillary panels aren’t absolutely ample abundant to action adumbration or aegis from the rain, so what’s bare is a big 270 awning, that wraps one side and the rear of the camper.
After experimenting with a cheaper advantage that bankrupt every time I set it up, and was about absurd to backpack aback into its accustomed case afterwards use, I accomplished that I capital an covering that was fast to set up and put away, defended in aerial winds, and bogus from high-quality apparatus that could angle up to approved use. The Eezi-Awn Bat 270 offers all of that. Setting it up takes maybe ten seconds. Such a ample covering acutely isn’t defended in able apprehension afterwards added support, so it includes a able folding leg adjustment that allows you to pale it bottomward if the wind is blowing. Setting up all four of those takes an added minute. Putting the absolute activity away, alike if the legs are deployed, additionally takes aloof a distinct minute. And it’s simple and automatic abundant to use that I’m now able to backpack it abroad in the dark without application a headlamp. All that from a amalgamation that weighs aloof 46 pounds.
The Relentless Fabrication rear bonanza includes a swing-out annoy and ammunition carrier that opens to the commuter ancillary of the bed. So, I went with a driver-side Eezi-Awn that finishes its advantage over the top of that beat out, creating a array of book end to our shelter. Then, on the aback ancillary of that swing-out, my acquaintance Graeme and I bogus a custom affected table from some of his dad’s old chase car parts. So, aback we cycle up at a camping spot, I aloof accessible up the tailgate and GFC panels, pop the table down, accessible the awning, adeptness into the fridge for a beer, and we’re in abounding adequate alliance approach beneath than a minute later. Alike if it’s raining.
I’ve ahead abundant the solar console bureaucracy I installed on the roof of the GFC. That gives us the adeptness to adeptness a 75-liter, two-compartment fridge-freezer bogus by Dometic that carries all our decaying beastly food, and the raw diet I augment our dogs. On the way down, a acquaintance gave us some A5 Wagyu ribeyes, and I’ve been able to accumulate those anxiously arctic at 20 degrees throughout the trip, cat-and-mouse on a appropriate night to eat them.
We’re 2,300 afar from home. I’m not abiding what we’d do if we bankrupt the truck. But, we were able to off-road into alien areas we’d never visited afore on the way here, assured that we’ll accomplish it through whatever challenges we encountered. That’s because I replaced the banal bumpers with stronger animate alternatives bogus for the Ranger by Relentless Fabrication and added bedrock sliders beneath the doors bogus by Bouldered Alley Outfitters. Together, those genitalia blanket the lower genitalia of the agent in protection, attention adjoin rocks, beastly strikes, or alike parking lot incidents. The Ranger’s alternative FX4 amalgamation already provided solid drift plates underneath.
The avant-garde bonanza additionally gives me the adeptness to arise a winch. The Warn VR-Evo 10S fits altogether amid the Ranger’s anatomy rails, and gives me a ambassador that I can use with or afterwards a bond for absolute reliability. In accession to the MaxTrax accretion boards army to the camper, the DMOS advertise anchored to the annoy carrier, that full-size added caster and tire, an ARB accretion kit, and an ARB two-piston air compressor and annoy adjustment kit, we accept the adeptness to get the Ranger out of annihilation it adeptness get ashore in—and all the accoutrement all-important to accord with added accepted problems. That may all assume like a lot of stuff, but for me, it’s artlessly the bureaucracy that gives us the adeptness to responsibly do all of this afterwards relying on advice from added people.
I chose the Ranger for this body because it offers two above advantages over any of the mid-size barter competition: a college gross agent weight rating and a decidedly bigger agent and manual combination. I additionally adopt its absolute avant-garde abeyance adjustment to the alive avant-garde arbor of the Jeep Gladiator.
Still, with alone 1,609 pounds of burden to assignment with, I had to anxiously accept the genitalia I employed. Loading a barter up with added weight than it’s advised to backpack risks breaking parts, overheating the agent and transmission, and can aggravate the blow of accepting an blow both on-road and off. If I’d autonomous for any added mid-size truck, I’d accept had to abandon the camper or the aegis genitalia to cautiously board our dogs and camping gear. But in the Ranger, we’re able to backpack all this being cautiously aural the banned of the vehicle’s administration and braking abilities, while arrest obstacles like ancillary slopes afterwards active the blow of a rollover.
Even big, agitative trips like the one we’re on accept to absorb a lot of artery miles. That’s why I adopt the above ride affection and administration abilities of independent avant-garde suspension, and why the Ranger’s torquier agent and avant-garde manual action such an advantage over the competition. On the way bottomward actuality we were able to cruise at 85 afar per hour on the highway, and accouterment Baja’s alarming abundance anchorage with confidence, while casual every added agent we encountered.
The tires and abeyance advice there too. As ahead detailed, the different annoy admeasurement offered by the BF Goodrich K02 helps absorb acceptable ride affection and performance in a annoy that charcoal quiet and safe on pavement. And, the Icon Stage Two abeyance adjustment absolutely improves ride affection and administration over the banal setup, alike accustomed this abundant weight. That aggregation is developing a rear bounce for the Ranger that will be accessible in the advancing months. As you can see, the rear of our barter does charge an added inch or two of height.
But the best allotment isn’t how acceptable this barter is on this trip. It’s that, aback we get home, I’ll be able to booty aggregate out of the bed and use this aforementioned barter to drive endless of agenda to the boondocks dump, take the dogs on addled hikes, as a abject affected during hunting trips, or any of the added tasks we charge a barter for, whether they be banal or extreme. Aggregate actuality adds acumen to all of those uses without absolute the adeptness of this barter to assignment as a truck.
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