A Mobile Base Camp for Today's Outdoorsman
Packing for a backcountry adventure used to be simple: Fill the canteen, make sure a pocket knife and compass were handy, and bring a bedroll if you planned to stay overnight. All the gear could fit in a knapsack. Nowadays, the canteen has been replaced by a 12-volt mini-fridge, the pocket knife has become a multitool, the compass has evolved into GPS, and a bedroll is no less than a mummy bag stuffed with high-loft insulating fill. Some of that gear may fit into a backpack, but chances are good it now takes a four-wheel-drive vehicle to haul all the equipment into base camp.
The Dodge Ram HD we call Project Recon is just that sort of vehicle. It's a mobile base camp that's tough enough to get to wherever you want to anchor your operations, and it's outfitted with the gear the modern outdoorsman needs to accomplish his backcountry objectives (as well as conveniences that are just nice to have). Project Recon is more than just a truck; it's an all-encompassing tool to help you be a better hunter.
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Size and power were key considerations when it came time to choose the foundation for our rolling base camp. The Dodge Ram 3500 HD Quad Cab dualie fit the bill perfectly. All-new for 2003, Dodge's heavy-duty pickups are among the biggest in the class, with a spacious four-door cabin that easily accommodates six adults and an 8-foot bed to carry cargo. As equipped, our 1-ton Ram offered a payload capacity of 5,210 pounds and a towing capacity of 10,500 pounds.
Dodge offers three engines for the '03 Ram HDs. We picked the newest of the bunch: the 5.7L Hemi Magnum V-8. Descended from a long line of musclecar engines bearing the legendary Hemi badge (named for the trademark cylinder heads with hemispherical combustion chambers), the new Dodge Hemi produces 345 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque, placing this motor at the top of the gas-engine class for fullsize trucks.
Dodge also engineered suspension and steering refinements into its new heavy-duty pickups to make them ride and handle more like their light-duty cousins. But there's nothing light-duty about the chassis; in fact, Dodge chose to retain the truck's solid front axle in 4x4 models to ensure they would be tough enough to handle off-road punishment.