Prebuilt expedition vehicles like the EarthRoamer XV-LTS are cool, but some of the best things come to those who convert their trucks themselves. And if the owner happens to be one of the premier overland supply shops in the US, it's that much easier to turn a 9-to-5 workhorse into a world-touring bucket-list shredder. Salt Lake City's Equipt has done just that with "Sleepy," a dual-personality Toyota Tundra that can easily switch layouts based upon the day's agenda. Brand new-to-market gear and gadgets, including a dual-purpose propane stove-shower and a modular aluminum cargo box, make it even more versatile.
Look at this particular 2004 Tundra, and you immediately start daydreaming about traveling the coast, forest or desert, for days, weeks or months on end. "Lethargy" is the last thing that comes to mind. But Equipt founder and owner Paul May considers the first-generation Tundra Access Cab the sleeper of Toyota's truck fleet, which is where it gets its playful name.
Equipt's expedition Tundra may not be the sleepiest Toyota 4x4 out there, but it's easy to see what May means. Toyota is quite possibly the most heralded auto brand in overlanding, providing multiple platforms for expedition rigs of all shapes and styles - Land Cruisers, 4Runners and Tacomas are everywhere in this world. Tundras, not as much.
Equipt recognized that a 2004 Tundra over a Tacoma was a choice that might get purists twitching, or at least asking a lot of questions. The 195K miles on the decade+ old truck only added more questions. But after a full tune-up at the Toyota dealership, some new parts, a set of heated leather seats, and a more modern Panasonic head unit with Bluetooth, Equipt started feeling confident in its decision to save money on the older Tundra Access Cab.
"The Toyota Tacoma has become the 'go to' midsize platform for adventure travel pickups," May explains. "The two main problems with the Tacoma are power and payload. This Tundra answers both of those issues. It has the 4.7L V8, and with air bags on the back, it has a payload close to that of a 3/4-ton truck. Add the TRD supercharger to it, and it has close to the horsepower and torque of the newer 5.7L Tundras. But it is within inches of the length and width of the newest Tacoma."
As you might have guessed, Equipt has indeed added the supercharger and the air bags. The blown V8 puts out 353 hp, and the Firestone air bags with compressor and remote add payload and performance. The truck also has 3 extra inches (76 mm) of lift, Bilstein 5100 shocks, and 16-in wheels with BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires.
You might not recognize the Tundra face, but it's there, buried below the ARB Sahara Bar bumper, augmented lighting and WARN 10,000-lb winch. An ARB snorkel snakes its way up the fender, rising beside the A pillar.
The real party happens in back, though, where Sleepy's dual-purpose design kicks in. The truck has been designed for a mix of show exhibition and customer loan-out, and it can easily transition between carrying a Four Wheel Camper Fleet pop-top camper and a more open set-up with a custom two-tier Eezi-Awn bed rack providing the platform for an Eezi-Awn roof-top tent above and storage below. The latter setup includes a slide-out drawer and 52L National Luna stainless steel fridge in the bed.
Other miscellaneous equipment includes an Eezi-Awn Manta 270-degree awning, 500W inverter, stainless steel camp table with slide, and twin-cylinder air compressor. Water is stored in a 40L container mounted to the roof rack, and the truck also has mounts for a shovel, axe and jerry cans.
Equipt fills out much of the bed rack with cargo boxes from Alu-Box, a company for which it serves as the exclusive US distributor. These rugged, lockable all-aluminum boxes safely store all types of things - photography equipment and other electronics, camp kitchen gear, first aid, or basically anything small enough you want to keep safe behind metal. The boxes are also stackable, mountable and can double as a seat at camp.
Overlanding and camping involve so much gear of all sizes, things can easily get lost and disorganized in the volume of a large, single-compartment aluminum box. Equipt is helping customers solve the issue by integrating TrekPak's adjustable divider hardware, which uses foam walls and pins to create neatly sized compartments around all kinds of gear. So, for instance, you could make an organized kitchen box by storing cooking tools, utensils, accessories and spices neatly in their own perfectly sized compartments. You could then rearrange it for camera gear on a different trip. This $120 system is available for the $240 42L Alu-Box.
We've never used an Alu-Box, but we have used a Rubbermaid plastic tub for storing various camping gear. We always start with a neatly placed set of tools, accessories, and odds and ends, but invariably get to camp and open up a chaotic mess - triply true if there's even the tamest bit of off-road driving involved. On one particularly unfortunate trip, our kitchen gear was covered with a rather distasteful version of cold brew when spilled ground coffee and water mixed together and got all over everything else in the box.
Long story short, we know for a fact that a flexible organizer system could prove very useful, keeping gear neat, readily accessible and free of unwanted wet coffee grounds.
Another newly available Alu-Box upgrade, Goose Gear's top plate is a Bullet Liner-finished, no-slip wood box topper. These plates fit a number of Alu-Box models and come in $79 small and $89 large sizes, allowing the storage boxes to work as benches and stools without any worry about damaging the aluminum lid.
Another new US exclusive on offer by Equipt, which would prove useful in Sleepy or virtually any other expedition vehicle or run of the mill camping car, the Kariba 2-in-1 stove-shower lands on US shores from South Africa. Probably the slickest small accessory we saw at Overland Expo West 2017, the Kariba comes in both single- and double-burner models, pulling double duty as a propane/butane stove and a hot water heater.
Kariba's kits include a submersible 12V pump that can be dropped into a water bucket, drawing H20 into the coil heat exchanger and pushing it out the shower head for a compact, go-anywhere hot shower solution. The hot water heater element unscrews by hand and swaps out for a cooking grate that drops directly atop the burner(s), turning shower into stove.
Each Kariba hot shower-stove kit comes packaged in a plastic storage box that can be used as the water bucket. The single-burner stove-shower costs $520 and the double-burner $655. Equipt also offers Kariba shower systems without the stove capability for $495 and $585. It sold out its Kariba stock at Overland Expo West but is now offering pre-orders with free domestic shipping, delivery estimated for July.
We recently looked over the Eezi-Awn Stealth aluminum-shell tent, another Equipt offering, which you can see more of in our Overland Expo West 2017 small living gallery. You can also watch Equipt's handy Stealth walkthrough below.