Backcountry Vehicles

Zep

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Jumping into the really expensive gear category...

I'm curious to know what vehicle people use to get to their favorite backpacking/hiking/fishing destinations.

Unfortunately, some of my trips get planned around my '98 Honda Accord. Eventually, I'm going to get a vehicle than can get me to some trailheads that the Accord just can't. For example, one of the trips I'm planning for next summer is into the West Fork Blacks Fork drainage of the Uintas. It would be nice to be able to ford the river and not worry about some of the extra rough spots.

Ideally, I'd like a vehicle with 4WD, high clearance, and room for 4-5 people with gear. This has led me to dream about vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, Toyota Tacoma Double Cab, and Nissan Xterra.

For now I'll keep dreaming, but what are people using to get to their little harder to reach destinations?

Zep
 
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#2
I really got tired of 4-wheeling in my F-250, so recently I bought an '04 Grand Cherokee. They're relatively cheap compared to the other models you listed and are quite capable (moreso than all but the Wrangler). I picked mine up for six grand, then put another grand into it with a 2" lift and larger tires.

 
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#3
Unfortunately, some of my trips get planned around my '98 Honda Accord.
Haha...I was in the same boat until I bought an Outback earlier this year. I drove a '90 Accord around forever. I like the Outback as an all-around vehicle. It's got great clearance for its class (it made the WFBF river crossing this last August). Decent MPG. AWD. Refined for in-town driving, etc. If I wanted to fit 4 or 5 with gear, though, I'll need to get a cargo rack. Might not fit the bill if you're looking for 4WD though.

My 3 good friends drive a) Tacoma b) Ridgeline c) XTerra and they've all been really good vehicles on our outdoor adventures...each having its own strength.

...recently I bought an '04 Grand Cherokee.
Every Cherokee owner I know has LOVED them. Good pick up.
 
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#4
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited. Been a Jeep owner for over a decade starting with a few Cherokees and now the Wrangler. I love it! It will get me anywhere I want to go in the backcountry and still cruise at 80mph on the highway smoothly. The 4 door has plenty of room for gear and other passengers.
 

Nick

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#5
I think when it comes to just getting through some rough terrain to a trailhead, most high clearance 4WD vehicles will do. But if you're ever going to need to carry a lot of stuff, I think a pickup with a shell is the best way to go. I've had three Toyota trucks now and one 4 Runner SUV and I'm pretty much in love with my Tacoma. Perfect combination of seating and cargo capacity, IMO.

I really liked my 4 Runner but found that not only is it lacking in cargo room, but I didn't want to ruin my interior by stacking in dirty/messy things like firewood. Hell, even if they're clean, packing a bunch of stuff in there tight wears down the interior on a bumpy road. I put a roof rack on it to try to offset the need for more space but it was more trouble than it was worth.

This is my current setup, 4 door Tacoma TRD Off-Road with a shell. I'm considering going up to a 4-door Tundra when they do the redesign in 2014.

In Teapot canyon, loaded down with gear, beer, water and gas to supply 3 guys for 6 days
IMG_6483.jpg

The load on day 1 of The Maze
IMG_6076.jpg

But no matter what you choose, this is what really makes an awesome off-road vehicle: :)
IMG_8496.jpg
 

blueeyes

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#6
I lust after the Toyota Tacoma's every time I ride in one. If Nick didn't know where I lived his Tacoma wouldn't have been back at his camp when they came out of Mystery.

Currently drive a Subaru Forester love it. Except I lack high clearance.
 

Zep

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...so recently I bought an '04 Grand Cherokee.
Hadn't looked as much into the Cherokees thinking they would be just as expensive (if not more) as the Wranglers and a bit less capable.

I like the Outback as an all-around vehicle. It's got great clearance for its class (it made the WFBF river crossing this last August).
Currently drive a Subaru Forester love it. Except I lack high clearance.
The clearance issue is what concerns me the most about Subarus. That and the opinion that they just don't fall into my classic view of a backpacking/outdoor vehicle.

Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited.
If the vehicle was only for outdoor adventures, the Rubicon would be great. Sadly, it's harder for me to justify this type of vehicle.

4 door Tacoma TRD Off-Road with a shell.
The Tacoma Double Cab tops my list at this time. Great reviews for offroad ability. A bed for dirty gear and possible sleeping. And a little easier to justify outside of just the outdoor adventures... for the times a bed might be useful around town for yard work/hauling stuff, etc.

Nick, what do you think of the backseat space? I'm assuming its the full double cab? Backseat passengers complain too much?

Zep
 

Nick

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#8
Nick, what do you think of the backseat space? I'm assuming its the full double cab? Backseat passengers complain too much?
I'm a pretty big guy at 6'4" so it can get tight behind my seat but still works most of the time. Perhaps the best people to answer that would be the people have ridden in my truck...

lostlandscapes, neiloro, drclef, Zoemaster, colefeet, Ndheiner, Smokey, audraiam, blueeyes, failure2send, wanderinfinn, gnwatts, Cody, langutah, Dan Ransom, whitwilli, Udink, Yellowstone 1

Who'd I miss!? Haha! That was kind of fun!

Anyway, yes, it is the full 4-door with a full backseat. We usually consider 4 people to be the max but we've stuffed more in when needed to get between trailheads.
 

JD

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I have loved both F150 supercrews I have owned. For cargo its nice having a truck with a shell or cap all your gear tucked in and not messing up the front of your ride. Toyotas are nice but the room was not there for my long legs with no one riding behind me if someone was to ride behind it would never work. Anyway you go figure in a ton more for fuel than a accord if you get a suv of any type. This was the old one DSC02319.JPG
 

blueeyes

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nick I liked it best when driving it! But no problems for me sitting in the back.
 
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#11
I thought nick 's truck was very roomy unless everyone is 6'4 like Nick.
 
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#12
I'm a pretty big guy at 6'4" so it can get tight behind my seat but still works most of the time. Perhaps the best people to answer that would be the people have ridden in my truck...
Well, I rode for hours behind nick recently. I am 6' and it was marginal even though he was kind enough to shorten up on his side so that his knees were probably hitting the wheel. I also own nearly the exact same truck, a double cab Taco, and know from experience that the backseat isn't the most spacious or comfortable. If you can stagger short and tall people it isn't too bad for sub-six hour drives but the seat back is too vertical to be truly comfortable. I LIKE the backseat however if I can have it to myself and sit sideways with my legs up and a pillow to rest against.

That said the back seat is MUCH better than my extended cab, last-generation Tundras had been.

Also, the bed of my Taco is only 5' and no way you can sleep in back. Not even my tiny sweetie can stretch out back there. You can get a longer bed but I advise against it because the truck will be huge WRT wheelbase/overall length and you might even rest the center undercarriage on the ground in Nick's picture of his truck in this thread.

Lastly, the Taco does great off-road especially with the Off-Road edition. Hopefully nick will tell us all about how he dragged neiloro, lostlandscapes and I on the "shortcut" in Robbers Roost recently. His Taco got us home even though it was touch and go for a few nail-bighting minutes. We locked the differentials, the transfer case, the hubs, and everything else we could lock just to get out of there :)
 
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#14
I really got tired of 4-wheeling in my F-250, so recently I bought an '04 Grand Cherokee. They're relatively cheap compared to the other models you listed and are quite capable (moreso than all but the Wrangler). I picked mine up for six grand, then put another grand into it with a 2" lift and larger tires.
I'd also add that the Grand Cherokee's that I have wheeled in have been some of the most competent off-road, stock vehicles I have ever driven. 3+ no bid deal in a stocker with an experience driver. The Wrangler's are mainly the only ones better in my experience. Plus the Grand Cherokee is a pleasure to drive on the highway. Always a bonus considering that is where most of the miles are spent.
 

Nick

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#15
I don't think the question is whether or not four lengthy people can fit comfortably in the 4-door Taco, but rather can you fit the gear of four people in the rear. We've cut it close on more than one occasion; thankfully, nick is a bonafide Master Packer. His work is a beautiful thing.
Just depends on how cold it's going to be. Something about the 11 bundles of firewood, full size folding table and a bunch of sub-zero bags really eats up space! :D
 
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#16
Hey, nick, bring out that picture of your truck getting stuck in the Swell! :)

This is what I like to take out into the desert:

IMGA0741.JPG

Oh, wait...that was a different desert.

I drive a 2005 Xterra, and I love it.

P1000743.jpg

P1000747.jpg

However, I'm in the market for a new vehicle, and I'm torn between a new Xterra, a 4runner, or a Tacoma. I don't know which one I'll end up going with.

But my Xterra has been great.
 
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#19
Those are painful to look at! I got stuck once in the snow in Colorado way up a Forest Service Road that I had no business being on, but luckily there were two guys in Jeeps out playing, and they pulled me out. That was in my old Frontier.
 

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