The two most noticeable variables in travel – regardless of where you are going – are comfort and ease. In the case of road-trippers and overlanders like ourselves, this is as simple as getting in and out of our vehicle and having a place to relax when we need to take break. That's one of the main reasons I love driving on my vacations in America. I am in control over pit stops and destinations based on my own energy levels. I'm not imprisoned to a seat guarded by the notorious “seat belt” light and the stewardess finger-wagging brigade.
So out on the open road, what is someone to do? Woe is me! Well, by now, you might be used to my “Building up the Bear” series and know whats coming. That's right. Something new.
In this case, I am starting with a couple upgrades that most people with trucks have considered at one point or another. If you have a family and like to travel on wheels, and if you can fit said family in a truck, I would urge you to consider a SnugTop and a truck fridge.
I finally got around to getting a SnugTop with roof rails so I could put either a rack or another CVT Rooftop Tent up on top as well as some accessories. Another upgrade I made was getting the side “windoors” which are windows that both slide open in the middle and pop open like hatches for easy access and ventilation. The bed of my truck is 8 feet deep and I can't just lean in from the tailgate to get at what might be near the front.
Another great use of the SnugTop is a RDCS (something I made up to mean Rapid Deployment Camping Solution). There have been a number of times when Chelsea and I have been driving for 8-10 hours and had to call it on account of the boys melting down. With a SnugTop, we could pull over and find a nice level parking spot to sleep for the night. With the stability my truck provides, the setup takes about as long as it would take to throw your kids in and close the door. That's it. Just pack pillows and blankets and you've got yourself a rolling room for five or so.
With the recent improvements in wheels and tires, I also took it upon myself to remove the stock steps on the truck. I found they were not helping in general clearance and looked…well, blocky. So I busted out my Ryobi impact wrench and they were gone. Gone to the dark cobwebby spaces of my mind and the back corner of my 40 foot shipping container. This left the boys helpless, however, to get in the truck without my help. I'm 6'4″ and the floor of my truck is basically at my mid thigh (around just over three feet high).
The solution was to get AMP steps installed. These are automatic steps that put themselves away just after you are done with them. Open the door and down pops a step strong enough to hold 600lbs and ready to help you get into your vehicle. What's more, they come with two sets of LED lights to illuminate the ground when they are opened. Then, after you get in (or out) and close the door, a moment later they tuck up and disappear under the truck. They are also child safe so they stop automatically if a little arm or leg gets pinched between.
Finally, I had been waiting until I had my SnugTop to consider the next addition. An ARB 82 quart off-road fridge/freezer. That's right, a fridge that goes everywhere our truck does. This means NO MORE ICE! What really motivated me was the idea that I could load up blueberries and raspberries for the boys straight from the store along with sandwiches and other soft things and not have to worry about them getting wet from melted ice. I also don't have to worry about running out of ice as I never need it. Whether we're on a road trip or I'm just running to the local feed store on a hot day, I always have a steady supply of cold drinks.
Yes, I have used it to impress my beer-loving friends at the beach.
I just went to my local Off Road Warehouse and had them install a dual 12v outlet in the back of my truck which is always live (I don't have to turn on my truck to use it). This is even better as we found we could plug in the boys' tablets and Chelsea's phone and watch some Netflix on one of our impromptu stops along the way. BONUS!