EP52 | Your Questions about Overland Vehicle Building Answered by Clay Croft and Tanner Johnson

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Episode Description

This episode is our first dedicated to answering listener questions and the topic is building and equipping vehicles for overlanding, camping, and outdoor adventures of all kinds.

Questions range from what the first modification should be on an overlanding vehicle to whether or not you should modify a vehicle in the first place.

Experienced XOverland truck-builder and Fleet Manager, Tanner Johnson, and XOverland co-founder, Clay Croft, provide answers to a list of user-generated questions along with sharing their own particular preferences when it comes to overland vehicle builds, even taking a look at their unique personal vehicle choices for outdoor adventures.

This conversation is packed with useful information and philosophy about building and equipping overland vehicles, and the time spent listening to it will likely save you both time and money as you take that next step in building your overland adventure vehicle.

Detailed Episode Summary

Part 1 (1:30-12:14) Our First Dedicated Q&A Podcast Episode! Subject? Truck Building for Overlanding and Outdoor Adventure: We’re outdoors behind the busy hangar producing our first outdoor podcast and Clay and Tanner are here to answer listener questions. First question? What is THE FIRST modification I should make to my vehicle to get it ready for outdoor adventure and overlanding? Clay and Tanner weigh in with their thoughts and answers.

Extra Resources Mentioned in this Part of the Episode:

Overlander Network Masterclass Build Series

Part 2 (12:15-18:15) Question 2: Suspension or Wheels and Tires First for Your Overland Vehicle Build? Tanner and Clay have lots to offer to help listeners find answers to this question, with detailed explanations about why stock wheels and gearing can be superior to aftermarket products and why or why not to replace the tires that come with your vehicle. Tanner also explains the relationship between brakes and wheels, why you might need to buy aftermarket wheels for your build

Part 3 (18:16-22:19) Why Should You Consider Upgrading the Brakes on Your Overlanding Vehicle? In answering question 2 about suspension, wheels, and tires, the discussion turns to brakes and why it can be beneficial–or even necessary–to upgrade them. Clay explains why all of the vehicles at XOverland run upgraded brakes and shares some harrowing stories of their use.

Part 4 (22:20-27:19) Question 3: Save and Build Your Vehicle All at Once or Build It One Piece at a Time? Clay addresses this question by starting with philosophy–critical thinking supporting his answer to the fundamental question. Clay and Tanner share money-saving tips for any overlanding build involving process and installation.

Part 5 (27:20-30:50) Should You Modify Your Overlanding Vehicle or Keep It Stock? What Are the Limitations of Your Overland Build? Should you modify it or not? Clay shares his philosophy around stock vs. modified vehicles, explaining why an overlander might want to keep her/his vehicle in stock form, noting the possible pitfalls associated with modifications as well as the potential benefits. Tanner explains how overlanding is defined by the activity, not the vehicle.

Part 6 (30:51-32:24) Clay and Tanner’s Personal Vehicle Builds vs. XOverland Builds: What are the differences between Clay Croft and Tanner Johnson’s personal builds and their approach to building these vehicles as opposed to the “Formula One” XOverland Builds?

Part 7 (32:25-36:50) Question 4: What Do You Need to Get Started in Vehicle-Based Adventure/Overlanding? A listener writes in asking how to get started in overlanding with a barebones 4Runner. Clay and Tanner explain how much a stock 4Runner offers to someone starting out in overlanding and how to assemble a low-cost, barebones camp kit that can take you around the world.

Extra Resources Mentioned in this Part of the Episode:

@scott.a.brady Overland Journal / Expedition Portal

Part 8 (36:51-41:53) Question 5: How to Overland on a Tight Budget? One listener wants to know if there less-expensive overlanding products for users who are starting out in overlanding, “cheaper” products that can help you get out there? Clay and Tanner share some helpful thoughts about how to get started camping and exploring on a tight budget, everything from hitting up yard sales to borrowing gear from a friend for the weekend.

Part 9 (41:54-46:26) Question 6: What is the Best Overlanding Vehicle Option for a Daily-Driver and Overlanding Vehicle? Our listener who writes in with question 6 is wondering what Clay and Tanner think would make for the best daily-driver/overlanding vehicle–especially when MPG (miles-per-gallon/fuel efficiency) matter. Clay, Tanner, and Jimmy explore answers, emphasizing the value of experience over the type of vehicle and accessories.

Part 10 (46:27-53:57) Question 7: Pickup vs. SUV for Overlanding and Vehicle-Based Adventure? Tanner and Clay explore the pros and cons of using a pickup vs. an SUV for overlanding and outdoor adventures of all kinds. Their discussion becomes detailed here, with lots to learn about both of these overlanding vehicle platforms. Tanner is an SUV enthusiast; whereas, Clay Croft is a pickup guy. Hear why.

Extra Resources Mentioned in this Part of the Episode:

Kurt Williams and Cruiser Outfitters

Part 11 (53:57-1:01:30) Question 8: Rooftop Tents vs. Ground Tents for Overlanding and Outdoor Adventures? What’s better for overlanding and outdoor adventures? RTTs (Roof Top Tents) or Ground Tents? Clay and Tanner look at pros and cons of these two options, share their own personal preferences, and look at specific use cases that support each of these options. Clay also explores using the vehicle, itself, as a shelter, as was the case in Expeditions 7 R.T.W. (Round-the-World) adventure.

Part 12 (1:01:31-1:06:37) Question 9: Truck “Canopy” vs. Roof Top Tent for Overlanding and Camping? Should you install a complete canopy system in your pickup bed or just go with an RTT on top of a bed rack for overlanding and camping out of your pickup? Clay and Tanner explain in detail why their personal preference is for a canopy system but also share what the potential cons are of a canopy system depending on specific use cases.

Part 13 (1:06:38-End) Wrap-Up and Final Thoughts: Clay, Tanner, and Jimmy wrap this episode up by looking at how people’s personal preferences and particular sense of style influence their choice of overlanding vehicle and how they go about building it and the fun that is at the core of overlanding and overlanding vehicles.

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