A new video from just after SEMA SHOW 2015. The TCT Trooper 2016 Toyota Tacoma plays around in the desert outside Las Vegas, NV.
Edit courtesy of Alex Fleming =)
This year during the FJ Summit, Toyota invited journalists from around the country (including our Editor in Chief Beau Johnston) to join them on a multi-day Toyota Overland adventure. The route was planned, guided, and filmed by our friends at Expedition Overland.
Last year at SEMA Show, Senior Editor Dennis Lloyd and I were racing through the show, like we do, when suddenly I was stopped in my tracks. In front of me was a 2014 Tundra with a full truck tent + add-on ground tent. We were looking at the Napier Outdoors Sportz 57 Series with their new addition, the Sportz Link model 51000.
As you've read over the last year, my goal with our 2015 Tundra CrewMax TCT Explorer has been to uncover that most delicate balance of utility vs. convenience vs. performance. Our initial goal to build an amazing family explorer has been met, so since we finished our first round of modifications last year Ive been thinking....outside the box.
Upon further inspection of the truck tent + link tent in the Napier booth, I realized that this one-size-fits-most approach to truck tents could have major advantages over our current trailer/flip out tent setup.
The two bags containing the Sportz 57 & 51000 occupy very little real estate in the short CrewMax bed. We wouldnt have to drag the big trailer setup for shorter trips.
The addition of a truck-bed mattress (we chose the Airbedz Truck Bed Mattress) could make the setup quite comfortable.
The ability to sleep in a comfortable, elevated truck bed with room for the kids on their cots is certainly appealing.
Still, some questions needed to be answered:
Would the truck tent fit on our short CrewMax bed with the Truck Covers USA rolltop cover?
Since the 57 Series Truck tent would need to be disassembled prior to leaving camp, would this be useful for basecamp->exploring adventures were used to?
How will this equipment hold up over the long term?
After the show, I contacted the great folks at Napier Outdoors (theyre Canadian – of course theyre super friendly) to find out if we could answer these questions.
The Fedex truck arrived in short order, dropping off 50lbs worth of truck tents. However, as luck would have it, our spring in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains lasted a bit longer than usual this year. Getting out to test this setup has proven...difficult.
Finally, last week I seized a few hours of almost sunshine to setup the entire system. My main comparison for this review has been our full Manley ORV trailer with CVT Family-12 tent, which provides a similar amount of space, albeit at a much higher price in terms of cost and complication. Still, would the Napier system be suitable for similar families?
Comparing a multi-pole tent setup to an open & sleep roof top tent style system really isnt fair. The RTT simply folds out & is ready in minutes. Any standard nylon tent system large enough to sleep 4 will always take a little more time. Unlike many traditional nylon tents, I found the Sportz instructions well written, concise, and easy to follow. Color-coded poles with corresponding color-coded sleeves made it easy to get everything in its proper place. The wind on our little plot of land however, did NOT make it easy to get the tent fully deployed.
After less than 30 minutes (the first time), I had the 57890 Truck Tent installed on the Tundra and the AirBedz mattress was inflating. The fit is about 90% perfect on our truck due to the roll-top cover, certainly suitable for a restful nights sleep. Installing the 5100 Link tent took another 15 minutes or so, but I expect that the entire setup time will shrink as I become more familiar with the system.
At this point I feel like Ive answered our initial questions:
The tent does in fact fit with our rolltop cover, at least close enough for moderate use.
For using this in a basecamp scenario, its simple enough to remove the truck side of the tent and put it back on after exploring. I do not think it would be worth it to disassemble the entire setup & pack it up during a multi-day overland adventure.
The material is of high quality, but it will likely take several more trips before I truly get a feel for how it holds up.
For a first look, I really like the option of <50lbs of tent and <$600 investment for both parts of this system. While it may not be suitable for multi-day, multi-location adventures, it would certainly be perfect for a hunting trip or basecamp adventure. Its certainly a great option for a family on a budget thats searching for maximum flexibility with their Toyota Truck.
In an effort to fully serve our various readers, Napier also sent a SUV Tent system to our Editor in Chief, Beau Johnston, for his initial evaluation:
The Sportz SUV 82000 from Napier Outdoors is an interesting option for Toyota 4Runner & SUV owners interested in an inexpensive way to camp with their vehicle. A step above standard tent camping, the 82000 is built to attach to any vehicle via a universal sleeve, so its suitable for virtually all 4Runners, Land Cruisers, or FJ Cruisers. For us, the ability to access all of our gear in the back of June without leaving the tent is very useful.
The tent & built in awning are a great size for the two of us. With our lifted 4Runner the sleeve was a tight fit and a bit problematic to mate perfectly. My lift-gate managed to make up the difference, so the system still works well. Trucks with more than a minor lift may have more trouble.
With 81 square feet of internal area, plus the ability to leave most gear in the 4Runner, Im a fan of this option for the cost-conscious overland traveler. The system retails for $349.99, putting it line with similar high-quality ground tents. While rated for three season use, as always, your mileage may vary.
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As FJ owners we know all too well how bad visibility can be when looking out our windows from inside. It’s one of the cons to the many pros to our lovable rigs. Especially when it’s stacked to the ceiling with camping gear in the rear and we can’t use our rear view mirror effectively. Trail Toys has introduced a solution. Their new EZView mirrors provides a 35% increased field of view, eliminates blind spots and also allows the rear tire to be in view.
Installation was a bit tricky. We broke one mirror and had to order a new one. There’s an informative YouTube video on their website to do it right. In order to remove your old mirror you unsnap it from the mirror housing. Then you use a bit of heat from a hair dryer or heat gun to loosen the plastic edges of the backing plate. Work your way around the edges, pushing the plastic edge “off” the mirror’s edge. Apply enough heat and it will soften the plastic and the mirror can be removed. Installing the new EZView mirrors is the opposite of removing the old mirrors. Heat the plastic edges enough to work the edges of the new mirror into position. Take extreme care to make sure the plastic is pliable enough to bend so you can get the edges of the mirror into place. I broke one while applying too much force trying to get it seated. Once it’s in it’s easy to snap the new mirror into the housing.
Set both mirrors in enough to where you can see your rear tires. Take a drive and test out your new mirrors. You’ll notice passing vehicles are distorted much like a carnival mirror. This will take some time to get used to, but it’s well worth it. I can see vehicles approaching from directly behind me. This is one of the best features since I always load my rear cargo area too much to the point where the rear view mirror is useless. Vehicles approaching in adjacent lanes can be seen all the way until they get to your doors and pass you. No more blind spots! The Trail Toys EZView mirrors are hands down one of the best mods you can do to your FJ. There are optional defrost films and wiring kits to make the mirrors heated for colder climates. They also sell a kit for 2005-15 Tacomas.
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In Germany Maltec have built up a reputation for building motorhomes based on the Toyota Landcruiser HDJ80, but far from being just a gimmick for the rich end of the 4x4 market maybe they are actually the ultimate expedition vehicle... Robb Pritchard goes to find out.
So how can they add a mini house to the back of a Land Cruiser and still maintain the vehicle's structural integrity? “The camping cabin is fixed to what is left of the original bodywork and where the original pillars have been cut out we install a strengthening framework of chrome-molybdenum steel.”
The camper stands proud at 2.2 meters high which is only 25 centimetres higher than the standard vehicle but the roof lifts up on its gas struts a full metre so that inside there is an internal height of more than 2 metres, meaning that even the tallest of expeditioners won't need to stoop. The upper floor houses the 'bedroom'. The lying area with a real mattress extends over the entire width of the roof and measures 1.4 x 2.1 meters. It can be lowered down to sleep or folded up out of the way when you want to be in the 'living space'.
I remember a line from their website, 'Reliability, performance and comfort at the highest level' and that's exactly what the interior is. There's a complete wardrobe and kitchen unit made of light Alucobond panels, a two burner gas stove, a sink, a 65-litre refrigerator and a water tank. On the other side is a wide couch that can also be used as another bed, and under it is a 25-liter boiler providing hot water for showers... although you'll have to take them alfresco as a bathroom is just about the only thing not included...
Mounted under the body, just in front of the rear axle, is a polypropylene tank to store additional fresh water for those long trips away from any fresh water source... or alternatively you could have aluminium storage boxes in the same place. There's another large storage space in the body at the rear.
Power comes from a 12 and 220-volt system powered by a solar panel on the cabin roof that charges an Optima battery with 85 Ah capacity and energy is saved by using LED technology for the interior lighting and the pretty cool looking tail lights. There are also external 220 volt connections for campsites. And what about those heading to cooler climes (or those peculiarly cold desert nights)? Well, the interior can be heated in three different ways, by the water heater, with a Webasto air heater or from ducts directing warm air back from the engine.
The fuel carrying capacity is an impressive 275 litres. The stock Toyota tank is already a generous 90 litres, but Maltec add an additional 185 litre aluminium tank mounted where the spare wheel used to be. But if massive range is what you are after then it's possible to have another fuel tank in front of the rear axle which will give you a massive 345 litres!
With the second fuel tank fitted the standard exhaust doesn't fit any more so it is re-routed to come out just behind the passenger door which gives a nice throaty sound to the big engine. It seems pointless to mention that a snorkel is fitted and what expedition truck doesn't have a heavy-duty bumper... but cleverly this one also doubles as another water tank! Also mounted on the outside are a set of sand tracks and an awning. Still on a quest for shedding kilos wherever possible the wheels are a set of aluminium Alocas with the spare mounted on the roof overlapping the windscreen a little. It's maybe not the most aesthetically pleasing option but there is nowhere else for it to go!
For rough roads suspension is HT-springs and Koni shocks although Maltec will fit any set-up you request.
All Maltec Explorers are bespoke vehicles, built to the requirements of each individual customer, so no one 80 is like another and prices vary accordingly. The base vehicle itself, stripped and re-built will set you back 23,000€ and the standard interior will be around 5,500€. The complete vehicle featured on these pages is on the forecourt for 78,000€ which might seem a lot of money for a car that is at least 20 years old... but it's a fully-equipped, luxury expedition vehicle that you can trust it to take you almost anywhere and you know that old saying; you get what you pay for! And as it always will be, a HDJ80 in a class of its own.
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This past September, Joey and Jordyn Pitts of J-J Adventures decided to set off on a road trip to the Rocky Mountains and surrounding areas. They started their 21-day trip in Paradise, Texas and traveled with their two dogs through 8 states in their 2014 Toyota Trail Edition 4Runner. While on their journey, they primarily chose to camp and live out of their Little Guy, Boss Edition teardrop camper. This is the second of a 2-part series.
As a kid, growing up in the 90’s, I was mesmerized by off-road racing and the legend of Ivan “Ironman” Stewart. Stewart, driving under the Toyota banner, racked up an impressive seven Baja 500 and two Baja 1000 Unlimited Class wins between 1991 and 1999. In addition to dominating the Baja races, Ivan won a host of High Desert Racing Association, SCORE, and Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group stadium races for a total of 37 wins and six Trophy Truck Driver’s Champion titles.
It has been 17 years since Ivan secured a first-place finish for Toyota in the Baja 500, and 18 years since his last Baja 1000 victory. In fact, it has been XX years sinceit was 2000 when Toyota even last participated in SCORE races with an Unlimited Class entry. Toyota has instead chosen to wander the desert, focusing the last few years on the Stock Full Class with the team’s Lexus LX 570 (2009-2013) and Toyota TRD Pro Tundra (2014 to present).
That all changed on May 7 when Toyota announced they had signed a multi-year sponsorship with “Ballistic” BJ Baldwin. “BJ’s successful racing record, his adventurous attitude, and his ceaseless dedication to honing himself and his craft speaks volumes to Toyota’s core ‘Let’s Go Places’ and kaizen philosophies,” said Cooper Ericksen, Toyota vice president of , vehicle marketing and communications. “We look forward to having BJ and his Tundra involved in this next chapter of Toyota’s desert racing story that so far includes 11 Baja 500 and two Baja 1000 wins.”
Only one other driver, Larry Ragland, has won back to back first-places finishes in the Baja 1000 under the Ironman Spec, completing the grueling race as the single driver. BJ has a proven track record of winning but are his credentials enough to get Toyota to the promised land, a first-place finish? Toyota thinks so, investing heavily in Baldwin’s new flagship race truck, a new Tundra TRD Pro based Trophy Truck. The truck, built by ID Designs, is powered by a custom engine built by Kroyer Racing Engines specifically for this Trophy Truck applicationfeatures 26" of front and 30" of rear travel and a top speed of 145mph.
Not only is Toyota banking on BJ’s driving record, but they hope to tap into his media influence. BJ’s brings an added boost of energy to the Toyota team, which already supports drivers in the Lucas Oil Off Road Race Series, NASCAR circuits, and NHRA Top Fuel/Funny Car series. He has starred in Monster Energy’s #RECOIL series of videos, with the first two in the series racking up a combined total views of nearly 24 million.
His broader appeal as a driver reaches beyond the truck racing scene. Toyota chose to make the announcement at the Monster Energy AMA Supercross FIM World Championship for a reason. The event, co-sponsored by Toyota, saw in excess of 36-thousand fans braving rain and hail to watch the races. Most of these fans showed up in pickup trucks and countless stood in line to have their photo taken with BJ and Ivan. Toyota wants to leverage BJ’s name recognition in the market to help bolster sales of their Tundra and Tacoma platforms in a heavily saturated market.
BJ Baldwin’s Trophy Truck Specs:
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I've been exploring with 4x4 vehicles for over 20 years. My wheeling experience began on the backroads in northern Michigan and includes everything from mud to rocks, sand, and hard-core crawling.
The event that helped start our original FJC Magazine - FJ Summit - happens this week, for the 10th time!
The Toyota Cruisers & Trucks team has been preparing for the event for quite some time, so we thought a little preview of what's going down this year may be useful.