Part 9 Comforts of Home
When in the backcountry for an extended stay, it is important to be comfortable. Basic human needs like food, water and shelter can be hard to come by, unless you bring it along with you. Of course this is no problem—if you have the space. This month we focus on how we incorporated our camping necessities, while maximizing cargo space and expanding our outdoor living area.
One of the most important additions to Project 4Runner Backcountry has been our auxiliary water tank. Moving the spare tire to the rear carrier opened up a huge amount of room directly behind the rear axle. We decided that this would be the perfect location for an onboard water tank. Figuring that anything good enough for the marine market would be good enough for our dusty environment, we headed down to our local West Marine and found a 13-gallon water tank, along with the necessary hoses, fittings, and pump. Now that we have onboard water, we no longer have to use up interior cargo space with containers full of sloshing water, making room for other important items such as our Kanz Outdoors kitchen box.
The Kanz Outdoors Field Kitchen K120 is one of the coolest products that we have come across. This self-contained kitchen box is approximately the size of a large cooler when stowed, but contains everything you need to prepare and serve your travel party and a few invited guests. The Field Kitchen is an elegant and functional kitchen that is manufactured by hand here in the U.S. The box is made strong and durable from deep-drawn, marine-grade aluminum and Baltic Birch plywood. The Field Kitchen can be paired up with your choice of stove from Kanz, either a Partner Steel Co. propane model or the venerable Coleman Powerhouse 414 Dual Fuel stove. Kanz also offers a matching pantry box, including a certified bear-proof version, for storing your food.
So what about storing yourself at the end of a long day on the trail? For that important task, we turned to ARB for a pair of their excellent ARB Sport Camp Chairs. These foldable chairs are made to last with aluminum frame construction and a footprint that is larger than most chairs on the market for added comfort.
Now that these three upgrades are part of the Project 4Runner Backcountry build, we have expanded upon our comfort when living out of the 4Runner. Read along for an in-depth look at each of these upgrades.
With the spare tire moved to the rear carrier, we had plenty of empty space under the cargo floor for a water tank.
We bought a 13-gallon water tank from West Marine and had Off Road Evolution fabricate a skidplate and bracket system to hold it.
An on-demand SHURFlo 1.0 gpm water pump was mounted to a bracket on the skidplate, plumbed to the tank, and then wired to a switch in the cargo area.
We used a marine stainless-steel deck fill for adding water to the tank, along with a marine breather. The outlet is actually a female RV inlet with the check valve removed. A quick release-style hose connecter is connected to that. Here you can see the hose connection, which is made with a male-to-male fitting and the female side of the quick release.
The skidplate both protects the water tank from damage and holds it tight against the frame rail, preventing our departure angle from being compromised.
The water pump will pressurize the system to 30 psi and provides a nice steady stream of water for doing dishes or washing hands. Because it is not a fully sealed system, we still bring along bottled water for drinking.
The Kanz Field Kitchen can be bought fully outfitted by Kanz. Our kitchen came complete with the K120 box and protective cover, one set of extruded aluminum legs, one Snow Peak cook set, one 8-inch GSI frying pan, one water boiler, six Kanz double-wall stainless mugs, eight enamel dinner plates and bowls, a silverware and utensil assortment for eight, two Victorinox knives, one bamboo cutting board, one dish rag, and a Worthington propane cylinder with mounting bracket.
The construction of the Field Kitchen is bar none. The Field Kitchen is formed by deep-drawn sheets of marine-grade aluminum riveted to panels of Baltic Birch plywood. It is clear to us that this box has been made to last.
Known for their excellent quality and toughness, one of the best additions to the Field Kitchen is the full-width Partner Steel Co. 22-inch, two-burner stove. Each burner of this stove puts out an impressive 10,000 Btu. This beautifully crafted stove is made of aluminum, with a stainless-steel grill and brass gas manifolds for low maintenance. To get a sense of the quality, just look at those welds.
Another nice touch is this complete stainless-steel Snow Peak Multi-Purpose Cookset 1. Everything you see here stacks in to one pot, making it extremely space-efficient. With this cook set, there is no compromise in how you cook on the trail.
While Kanz offers an adapter for the small portable propane bottles, they also offer this compact Worthington cylinder. It holds 1.5 gallons of propane, is lightweight and shaped to take up less space. A hook allows it to be hung on the K120’s handles to keep it out of the way.
With the legs in place, the Field Kitchen is free-standing, and the high walls around the stove offer exceptional wind protection. The side shelves increase working space, and even with the box loaded with everything from Kanz, we still had plenty of room to add additional items, such as cooking oil, spices, cleaning supplies, and extra cookware. Having everything in one place makes cooking a joy in the backcountry.
The foldable ARB Sport Camp Chairs have a padded seat and backrest, pockets for drinks and storage and extruded aluminum armrests. They are designed to be comfortable for larger campers and are rated at 260 pounds.