They came from across the United States with unique and well-equipped machines—these are the friends and four-bys of the first-ever Four Wheeler Overland Adventure.
Our exciting, first-ever, three-day overlanding trip began with registration in Wickenburg, Arizona, and the route continued through the Arizona backcountry with camping each evening. The event culminated in Flagstaff with a festive banquet—but that was not all. All Overland Adventure participants got free access to the massive 2019 Overland Expo West trade show, the Official Event Partner of the 2019 Four Wheeler Overland Adventure. The 2019 Four Wheeler Overland Adventure was also sponsored by BDS Suspension, Bubba Rope, Canyon Coolers, Conqueror North America, Dick Cepek Tires, KC HiLites, Offroad Power Products, Power Stop Brakes, Rugged Radios, Superwinch, and VTX Wheels.
We were amazed and inspired by the applications from so many hopeful participants, which was awesome, but it made our job awesomely difficult when it came to narrowing it down to just 20 vehicles. After much deliberation, we made our selections. Read on to learn a bit about the participants and their overlanding rigs, and stay tuned to upcoming issues of Four Wheeler, where we will dive deeper into each vehicle and bring you along for all the sights and scenery from the 2019 Four Wheeler Overland Adventure.
Overlanders: Adrian Holmes and Jamie Holmes
Vehicle: ’12 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon
About: “There are tracks I haven’t driven, sunsets I haven’t seen, and campfire stories I haven’t heard.” Aside from the sheer poetry of Adrian’s reason for overlanding, it’s a pretty potent argument for how once overlanding is in your blood, it stays in your blood. The Jeep has been equipped with a 3 1/2-inch AEV DualSport suspension; items from TeraFlex that include a heavy-duty tie rod, track bar, and big-rotor kit; RCV front CV axleshafts and Ten Factory rear axleshafts; Tom Wood’s driveshafts; 37-inch Goodyear Wrangler MT/Rs wrapped around AEV wheels; an ARB rear bumper; a twin onboard air system; an aftermarket front diff cover; a Warn winch; a Rugged Ridge stubby front bumper; and a Riddler rear diff cover. Up top is an Ursa Minor J30 rooftop tent with a topo map of New Mexico.
Overlanders: Paul Perry and Joy Perry
Vehicle: ’77 Ford Bronco
About: To explore “new, out-of-the-way destinations,” the Bronco is lifted 3 1/2 inches and has heavy-duty axles, 4.88 gears, an Atlas T-case, ram-assist steering, a stroked 347ci V-8 with FiTech fuel injection, a 4R70W overdrive trans with a remote cooler for towing, a Warn winch, a custom roof rack with off-road lights, and a six-point rollcage. There are also heated seats, an ARB refrigerator, 35-inch BFG KM2s, and more. The ’06 Fleetwood Element camper has been modified for going off-road, and there’s also an articulating trailer hitch, deep-cycle batteries and 3,000-watt inverter, and a solar charger. Those tires and wheels match the Bronco’s.
Overlanders: Jen Usinger and Jared Simpson
Vehicle: ’07 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
About: “Car camping to remote places was my favorite type of vacation as a kid,” says Jen, and that fueled her need to overland. To make it more adventure-worthy, the Jeep has a Cummins 4BT, NV4500 trans, AEV snorkel, Ultimate Dana 60s, Fox shocks, Hutchinson Rock Monster beadlocks, and a GenRight secondary fuel tank. There’s also a Pronghorn front bumper, a Gobi rack, MetalCloak fenders, a Warn winch, lighting from KC HiLites, Bartact seat covers, a Mac’s cargo drawer, and a Bundutec awning. The ’16 Conqueror UEV-440 trailer has a queen bed and a fold-out double bed—while maintaining standing room and closet space.
Overlanders: Guido Kimble, Josh Lyons, Cody Creager, and Narate Carbajal
Vehicle: ’97 Stewart & Stevenson M1078 LMTV (Light Medium Tactical Vehicle)
About: Overlanding “is an opportunity to explore places people rarely get to see. I am excited that there are still areas of the USA that are not easily visited by regular people, and I want to go there.” This required swapping the engine with a higher-output Caterpillar diesel, adding custom heavy-duty driveshafts, and adding full-time four-wheel drive with a lockable center differential—54:1 in low. The LMTV has 47-inch tires, MRAP axle gearing, a rear locker, an air dryer (for air brakes), fold-down troop benches in the cargo bed, a 250-gallon water tank, 60 gallons of spare fuel, recovery gear, an enormous Canyon cooler, and a removable step bumper. For sleeping, there’s a cargo-bed area with a rack that can hold stacked stretchers as bunk beds.
Overlander: Benjamin Gardner
Vehicle: ’99 Toyota Land Cruiser
About: Overlanding “helps me to get ready for retirement—when I’m able to just hit the road the rest of my life and wander freely!” For now, that means the essentials on Benjamin’s ‘Cruiser are Toyo mud tires with Hutchinson beadlocks, Dissent Offroad bumpers, a TRD supercharger, an ARB drawer setup, White Knuckle rock sliders, and a tent and awning from Rhino-Rack.
Overlander: Albert G. Maurine
Vehicle: ’01 Ford Explorer Sport
About: “I overland because it’s virtually a whole new way of seeing magnificent places and scenery that only a few really get to see. My Ford is now a really mini RV.” Albert’s Explorer is modified with Rancho shocks front and rear, a Detroit Truetrac in the back, 4.10s, a shackle and torsion-bar lift worth 2 inches, BFG KO2s, bumpers, sliders, and a Jasper transmission. The rear seats were removed so that he could build a storage/sleeping area.
Overlanders: John Marshall and Melissa Nerone
Vehicle: ’05 Mercedes-Benz U500 Expedition Camper
About: This totally self-built overlanding vehicle is a “complete camper” with “every amenity possible,” including a permanent fullsize bed. John says, “I have been exploring the backroads between the Arctic Ocean and Baja for nearly 35 years. Our world is a fantastic place that is ours to enjoy. I love overlanding because it is my life.”
Overlanders: Matthew Jackson and Caryn Jackson
Vehicle: ’89 Land Rover 110
About: Among the mods there’s a Detroit SofLocker, Dobinsons springs and shocks, BFGs, HTE drive flanges on the Salisbury front and rear axles, a Detroit Truetrac, a Superwinch winch, Tuffy storage, an ARB diff cover, dual spare-tire storage, and a disc-brake conversion. There’s also a solar shower, and the Rover has Isuzu diesel power. Matthew built a folding platform for a fully enclosed cot, tent, or hammock. Why does he overland? “It brings me to my youth when it was called ‘car camping’ and feeds the wanderlust.”
Overlanders: Cody Kenneth Jones and Cade Walker Jones
Vehicle: ’94 Ford Ranger XLT
About: “There is too much of this world to see to spend your life sitting behind a desk,” says Cody. He has equipped his Ranger with Dana 44s from an ’08 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, and the axles have been trussed and sleeved. There are 4.88 gears, PSC diff covers, chromoly axleshafts, 1-ton steering, and a custom rollcage, rock sliders, and rear bumper, among the mods. The suspension was lifted 4 inches, and enlarged wheelwells allow for 35-inch BFG KM2s on 17-inch Dick Cepek rims. The bed was bobbed 10 inches and there’s a toolbox mounted within. The ’50 M100 military trailer has Line-X, custom fenders, 35s, a 20-gallon water tank, a rooftop tent, a pullout stove, and a Dexter axle with 10-inch electric brakes.
Overlanders: Jason Naparalla and Dana Wentzel
Vehicle: ’10 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
About: The Raptor is fully optioned—no aftermarket add-ons in the mechanical department (“It’s a Raptor, what more does one need?”). The ’18 UEV-390 Platinum by Conqueror trailer has a galley, storage, hot and cold running water, a minibar, and room to sleep four. “To take the road less traveled and see the beauty this country has to offer” is why they overland.
Overlander: Stephen Frank Garrett
Vehicle: ’18 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited
About: “I enjoy the challenge of self-sustaining, vehicle-based, off-road travel. Success in this requires forethought, planning, skill, patience, daring, training, cooperation, and resolve.” To aid in that, Stephen’s Jeep has received items such as a MetalCloak 3 1/2-inch suspension lift, 37-inch Dick Cepek Extreme Country tires, 17-inch Hutchinson Rock Monster beadlocks, Falcon shocks, skidplates from Artec and Rock Hard 4×4, a JCR rear bumper and tire carrier, two fuel cells, Rock Slide sliders, a Warn winch, and a Hi-Lift jack. Odds and ends include Mopar floor mats, GPCA grab handles, a Maximus-3/Rhino-Rack roof rack, rooftop tent, and Rhino-Rack awning.
Overlander: Paul E. Cameron III and Paul E. Cameron IV
Vehicle: ’15 Nissan Xterra PRO-4X
About: “I live in New Mexico on top of a mountain at 9,000 feet. I am retired and love to explore the mountains and lowlands of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah,” says Paul. The Nissan is outfitted with Old Man Emu rear leaves; Bilstein struts up front; Dick Cepek Trail Country EXP tires; various armor from ShrockWorks, including bumpers, skidplates, and a spare tire rack; and a Smittybilt winch. It also has an air compressor and tools, like a Hi-Lift jack, shovel, and axe. There’s also a SnoMaster fridge. Other overlanding equipment includes a Smittybilt Scout trailer with a generator, propane stoves, grill, portable bathroom, shower, LED lighting, Yeti cooler, 8 gallons of potable water, and 8 gallons of extra gas.
Overlanders: Andrew Dauscher and Abbey Walsh
Vehicle: ’04 Jeep Grand Cherokee
About: “In May 2018, we took a giant leap—we packed everything we owned into a storage unit and moved into the Jeep full time. Over the next six months, we used the Jeep as a base camp; we traveled through 10 states and 9 national parks—we hiked, camped, rafted, wheeled, and wrenched. It was truly like summer camp.” To do this, the Jeep has Tom Wood’s driveshafts, full skidplates, a Dana 44 rear axle with an ARB Air Locker and 4.56s, a trussed Dana 30 frontend with a Detroit Truetrac and 4.56s, an Iron Rock Off Road long-arm kit, 4 1/2-inch Clayton springs in front and 6-inchers at the rear, plus BFG KO2s. HK Offroad made the tire carrier and hidden winch mount, and the roof rack and rock sliders are custom-built. An ARB compressor, Canyon cooler, dual-battery setup, and 360-degree remote-activated lighting are among the other items.
Overlanders: Scott Matthew Lewis and Krista Edwards Lewis
Vehicle: ’08 Lexus GX470
About: “I overland because it’s in my blood—literally. Meriwether Lewis (think: Lewis and Clark), the OG overlander, is one of my ancestors and an inspiration. His overland adventures changed the course of American history.” The Lex has a 3-inch lift, Fox shocks, ICON coil springs and upper control arms, and Metal-Tech rear upper and lower control arms and links. The Black Rhino wheels are decked out in BFGoodrich KO2 tires and Metal-Tech is the name on the rock sliders and bumpers. There’s also a Smittybilt winch, Rhino-Rack roof rack and awning, ARB dual air compressor, 13-gallon water tank, lots of lighting, custom-built slide-out rear storage, stove, and iKamper tent and enclosed room.
Overlander: Aaron Meyer and Stacy Meyer
Vehicle: ’06 Jeep Wrangler
About: “When I was 14 and learning to drive a 4×4 off-road, I remember looking down a two-track dirt trail that I was driving on and wondering where it went as it disappeared into a grove of aspen trees. My dad warned me about getting the old ranch truck stuck so I took dad’s advice and turned around. That experience has been my motivation to find out what is down that next dirt road and to plan for it.” The Jeep has a 3 1/2-inch lift, front and rear Detroit Truetracs, a Currie AntiRock sway bar kit, 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler MT/Rs, a Derale tranny cooler, and a trailer brake controller for the ’13 custom-built box trailer, among other items.
Overlanders: Travis Chrystal and Lily Chrystal
Vehicle: ’71 Chevy K10
About: “The roads less traveled provide a much different view, taste, and smell than any concrete or asphalt road could ever hope to provide.” To take those roads, there’s a Tuff Country 4-inch lift, Bilstein shocks, Spartan lockers, and Holley EFI. The truck also sports a custom bed rack with rooftop tent and Warn winch.
Overlanders: Bart Miller and JR Rowntree
Vehicle: ’17 Mercedes Sprinter
About: “Overlanding takes me back to my childhood roots when I would hike and camp along the Appalachian Trail. As I get older and free time becomes shorter, vehicle overland travel allows me to see a lot of different areas in a very short period of time.” The purpose-built Sprinter has necessities such as Backwoods Overlander Mods front and rear bumpers, a winch, Rigid LED lights/pods, dual onboard air compressors, BFG KO2s matched to 17-inch Method Race wheels, a Safari snorkel system, and a roof-mounted solar panel. You’ll also find a fridge/freezer combo, custom flooring and panels, toilet, 20-gallon onboard water system, and MaxxAir roof vent.
Overlanders: Dan Cressall, Brooke Cressall, and Dana Cressall
Vehicle: ’08 Dodge Ram 1500
About: “I retired my rock buggy 10 years ago after an accident at the sand dunes. It didn’t take long for the mountains and desert to call me back.” The Ram gets around with heavier springs and fabricated upper control arms; 35-inch-tall rubber; airbags; a Detroit locker at the rear; a solar panel; an ARB rooftop tent, awning, and fridge; and a bed rack with under-tent storage and lights. There’s also a Warn winch, an onboard air system with tank, a camp oven, LED lighting, hot and cold running water, and an in-bed battery.
Overlander: Curtis Cole
Vehicle: ’93 Toyota Hilux Surf
About: “Overlanding allows me to slow down and see things at my pace, to take others with mobility issues to see things they could have never experienced otherwise, and pass on knowledge to my grandchildren the way my grandfather did for me. With my medical knowledge and this vehicle, I am able to still serve and give back to my community. “
Curtis’ diesel-equipped, righthand-drive Hilux has Warn bumpers and winch, custom rock sliders, 33-inch tires, and rooftop tent.
Overlander: Patrick James
Vehicle: ’18 Ram Power Wagon
About: “I lost my wife of 41 years to cancer January 2018. Overlanding has given me adventure and helped me move on and meet new people.” He gave the Power Wagon an AEV lift, raised air intake, switch pod, and diff covers. There’s also a Hellwig rear sway bar, an ARB dual compressor system and fridge, 37-inch Nitto Ridge Grapplers, and a Genesis dual-battery system. Other must-haves: a 2,000-watt Go Power inverter, a Decked drawer system, a Road Shower unit, a Leitner active cargo system, an Alu-Cab awning, and a James Baroud rooftop tent.