Outfitting a Raptor for Overlanding
Self-reliant adventure gear.
When we first sat down and drafted a plan for our 2013 Ford F-150 Raptor project we knew from the get-go that an "overland" themed build was the way to go. The term "overland" gets thrown around a lot these days, and the best way we've heard it defined is as "self-reliant adventure travel." It is not just khaki pants, floppy hats, and rooftop tents. So, in an effort to be as self-reliant as possible we needed to add a few key items to our growing arsenal of adventure gear.
Custom Bed Rack
Sure, there are several off-the-shelf bed rack solutions in the aftermarket for F-150 pickups. However, none of them quite fit what we were looking for. We needed to secure two 37-inch BFGoodrich tires, a Dometic fridge/freezer, and gear tubs. So, we built our own out of 1 -inch tubing with our trusty Miller 211 welder.
It took several test-fits to ensure that the rack would do what we needed it to while fitting within the confines of the bed. We had to be especially mindful of dimensions since the ARE bed cap had yet to be installed. Note the Hi-Lift jack tucked away in the front for emergencies.
When the rack was complete we coated it with Steel-It, a high-performance polyurethane paint that is super tough. A sliding rack from Dometic ensures that we're able to access the CFX 35W fridge/freezer housed within. The whole thing is held in place with eight bolts placed through the bed floor.
The finished product is often viewed with jealousy from other off-roaders. In addition to the fridge, the rack holds a Hi-Lift jack, two 37-inch BFGoodrich tires, two Rubbermaid Action Packer totes, and a pair of knock-off traction boards.
Secure It All
Despite living under our ARE bed cap,, we still decided it would be prudent to lock everything up tight. The best way we know to do this is with locks from Bolt, the company responsible for producing high-quality locks that utilize the vehicle's ignition key to open.
The Dometic CFX 35W fridge/freezer draws a lot of power when it's getting cooled down and when outside temperatures soar into triple digits. To make sure it had plenty of juice available we swapped the aging battery for a high-performance unit from Odyssey. This Extreme Series AGM battery boasts an impressive 950 cold cranking amps along with 145 minutes of reserve capacity. Needless to say, if we kill this one we've done something wrong.
You've seen this before, but it's worth mentioning again. While the Hi-Lift jack is for emergencies, our 2.5-ton Pro Eagle "The Beast" jack is for everyday use. Hopefully we never actually have to use it on the trail, either.
Reducing the air pressure in tires provides much-needed traction when traversing difficult off-road trails. But when it comes time to jump on the highway and head home after the fun ends those tires need to be returned to street pressure. Enter the Power Tank. These custom CO2 bottles can fill a 37-inch tire from almost flat to full pressure in a matter of minutes. We've been fans of the speed and convenience of Power Tanks for a decade and will continue to preach the good word.
It's hard to beat Power Tank's digital fill gauge. This model is lightweight, easy to use, and good for tires up to 60 psi. Don't worry, if you have an HD truck they offer other models with higher working pressures.
There is nothing wrong with the standard black plastic bottle knob. But we chose to swap to an anodized billet aluminum knob because, well, why not?
Safe (Storage) Space
Keeping tools, recovery gear, and other essentials safely secured is important in any off-road vehicle. To do this we turned to the storage specialists at Pelican. For our needs we opted for a selection of sizes from the company's new Vault line.
The only thing worse than having poor communication on the trail is having to drill a giant hole in the roof of your truck. To combat this, the folks at Bullet Proof Diesel offer an antenna mount that sandwiches between the cab and third brake light. This provides the perfect antenna mount without getting out the hole saw.