How You CampOur boondocking camping rig is an ’09 Power Wagon with an Outfitter Caribou 6.5 truck bed unit. The truck is mostly stock with the only addition being airbags and a compressor with the bags resting on Daystar cradles. A Panasonic CF19 Toughbook (eBay @ $250) with a USB GPS module sits inside the cab on a tablet mount for navigation and route recording. We carry a full set of Pioneer tools mounted outside of the camper unit on a homemade rack, which also mounts a Smittybilt canopy. Twelve-volt power is recharged on two-plus day trips by a portable 50W solar panel. A homemade hitch-mounted rear step eases the in-n-out for the old bones and of course we carry a full set of tools, first aid, and recovery gear.
Trips are sometimes supplemented by towing our ’91 YJ (into which I just installed a BDS 2-inch kit). The CF19 transplants into a custom mount on the “chicken bar” for use in the Jeep.
The most memorable camping moment was on its maiden voyage and nearly getting stuck alongside a small river in Wyoming. The efforts to not get stuck resulted in a 2-inch hole in the upper left rear panel of the camper body from backing a wee bit too close to a tree. Next would be the east to west crossing of South Dakota on the highway into a prevailing 45-plus-mph headwind the entire way resulting in a roughly 2.8 mpg average. On a late Sunday. Do you know how many fuel stations there are in South Dakota? Not many.
I’ve attached a few photos of my camping rig during a so-far best 4X4 camping experience.
This spring we trailered from home in Wisconsin to Moab (60th birthday present for me). We spent a few days wheeling with the Utah Bronco Club at their Bronco Safari. Had a great time with the nice folks there. After getting a feel for the area, we left our campground in town for the Manti-La Sal Mountains.
We traveled up towards the Dolores River overlook, finding a nice big slab of rock to set up camp on. View was spectacular. From what we could tell, no one was camped within miles of us. Spent most of our time just soaking up the view, but we did manage to unhook the trailer and do a little exploring. We've done a lot of canoe tripping and backpacking in Minnesota and Ontario, but no exploring in the Southwest before. Great experience!
The vehicle we used was a mostly stock early Bronco, with an old M416 military trailer modified for camping use. The trailer top flips open and serves as a base for a three-person cot tent. Pretty comfortable. The tent and fly set up without any guy ropes. When the tent is set up, the back of the trailer serves as a sheltered place for cooking or cocktail hour. When traveling, the cot tent is stowed under the lid, with the fly, poles, and other camp gear.
Fully loaded for camping, the trailer weighs a little less than 1,000 pounds. Tows very easily. The hinged top is fastened to a wooden frame, which is attached to the trailer box by a couple turnbuckles and two straps. Remove the frame and camper portion, and I have a utility trailer again.
Rod Hafner & Debbie Martin
After being away from the 4x4 scene for many years I’m back and just received my first copy of Four Wheeler.
With everyone I know telling me that I’m too old to be on a dirt bike and having both knees replaced I made the change to 4x4. I bought a clean low mileage ’05 Jeep TJ Rubicon. It has about $8,000 in accessories and there's not much I need to add to finish it off for my intended use.
I read your Firing Order article (Nov. ’17) and thought back on all of the great camps I've had in the past 45-plus years of riding, hunting, fishing, hiking, and exploring. I love eastern California and have covered a lot of ground from the Owens Valley to Death Valley to Mono Lake and everything in between.
At the end of August my brother and I loaded up the new Jeep and headed for one of our all-time favorite campsites east of Bishop, California. Downsizing from a truck bed to a Jeep TJ is a separate story, but I managed to get it done and we hit the road. (First on the list is an overhead rack and basket to make it a lot easier.)
The campsite is at 9,500 feet and the weather was perfect; 70s during the day and high 30s at night. We put the Jeep through a good first-drive test and did some fishing for the native Rainbow and Eastern Brook trout that are in the creeks. The fish are small but fun to catch and we caught about 30 each in a five-hour hike along the creek. Small trout have more bones than meat so we always catch and release.
My camp setup is pretty basic: a tent if needed, a cot and good sleeping bag, a folding table, two-burner stove, lantern, propane bottle, ice chest and two Rubbermaid tubs for the kitchen and the dry goods. We didn’t take the tent on this trip because the weather is always perfect in August and September in eastern California. I did throw in a tarp to be safe but it wasn't needed. I'm looking forward to upcoming issues and articles—keep up the good work.
Thank you to everyone who wrote in with camping stories. It’s awesome to see the different ways wheelers camp in the backcountry. We received so many letters we’ll be publishing more in Inbox over the next couple months.
More Info WantedWith the Ultimate Jeep JK Parts Guide in the November issue done, how about one for us with 4x4 pickups like Power Wagons, Raptors, Chevy, Toyota, and Nissan fullsize trucks? I have built many Jeeps and 4x4 trucks over my 63 years of age and now would love to build my ’15 Power Wagon, and have several friends with Toyota Tundra and Chevy fullsize 4x4 trucks that would love to be able to see what’s out there to build up their trucks! Could it be done please?
I’m new to four-wheeling and I find a number of good articles in your magazine. Articles I wish I saw more of are those that deal with basic must-have upgrades to stock Jeeps right off the showroom floor. I have added a number of upgrades to my new ’17 Jeep Wrangler and there are a number of other things I would like to add, but I am not sure how useful they would be and articles describing the experiences of other Jeep owners would be a great help.
Hello, as a recent subscriber (seven months or so), I missed your Spotter Series on the Toyota Land Cruiser. Do you think you could do another one? Also, I think it would be really cool if you did a Cummins R2.8 engine swap. Love the magazine by the way!
Upgrades are part of the wheeling world, and we love to hear what you want to see in Four Wheeler! Thank you for the suggestions, we’ll get on it!