TAT route planning and building truck basecamp

Trans-America Trail route planning through northern Utah and central Idaho. Travel project has evolved into a domestic focus by building out the truck into a basecamp and minimalist camper (lessons learned from taking a hardsided camper 3 months through Baja Mexico), in order to carry the motorcycle, mountain bike, and whitewater kayak. A lot already, i can acknowledge.

The desire isn’t to traverse the TAT solely on a moto, rather to leisurely explore and adventure certain regions along the TAT, with a basecamp and many more modes of getting around to play. In the area of central Idaho in particular, there are some incredible rivers (Snake River, Lake Cascade) and waterways to play around. Having the ability to set up camp in a certain bend of a river, to fish it or paddle it, and ride spurs from basecamp, are in my opinion more enjoyable at the moment than blasting through making miles/km on a trip. However I do look forward to trail angeling those that are traveling that way and passing by.

A whitewater kayak and gear is in the process of being added to the fleet. It occurred to me how compact a freestyle whitewater kayak can be while still having a plastic hull for rocks (as opposed to inflatable). Am looking forward to learning how to roll in both directions by mastering the technique in a swimming pool.

Truck fitout has been in the middle of summer, and still haven’t figured out a shade system. 270* awnings strung off the lumber rack in the bed sounds rad, am on the hunt for one up to 8′, or may eventually build one based on a roller furler sailboat jib. Also, am looking to downsize the toolbox from the fire engine Weatherguard riding on the bedrails, to something like a Delta 807000 between the 64″ bedrails, or a gull wing box in that same width. The idea is to then skin the lumber rack with hinges and panels; the wide red box on it now already hits the rack when fully open.

On top, am looking into the wedge pop-up in favor of the the solid roof panel, with the opening angle pointing towards the cab. That opens up the area above the truck cab as a deck, likely with a solar panel in the floor or flexible units taped to the cab roof or hood. Over the cab would be the star gazing platform, sunrise/sunset tower, and general lookout point from top of the rig. Build inspiration comes from the Go Fast rooftop tent, however am opting to custom build rather than pay upwards of $4000 USD for a RTT.

The rack on the truck is intentionally designed with a wide, lower spreader clearance in order to fit a truck bed cap underneath. Since the baseplates stick out past the bedsides, am in the process of building an exo cage by tying more tubes into the lumber rack. Then down low along the cab and bed, adding an entire 8′ stick of tube as rocker rails, that stick out far enough to also be functional steps. Adding skate deck grip tape on top, and the rocker tubes shall tie directly to the truck frame with more welded tube. Keeping it low profile and even notching the cab in some areas; the rails will be braced enough to pick up the truck anywhere along its body line with the Hi-Lift jack.

Over in the rear, the bed is a full size 8′ box with a Reunel rear bumper class IV receiver hitch. I’ve recently put aside the reinforced tailgate for a 3rd party unit made for trucks hauling a 5th wheel, where a quarter of the top center is clearanced in the shape of a trapezoid. The idea for running this tailgate is to have clearance around the hitch-mounted moto carrier that i’ve always used, the 4-bar linkage lift with a hydraulic bottle jack. Now with this 5th wheel tailgate, it can fold down flat even with the moto carrier in the locked and loaded position. Before, with the regular tailgate and moto carrier, trying to fold it down would hit everything and quickly become a liability.

Up front, the custom front bumper is finally getting some progress again. First is adding a winch plate, which I tied into the reverse shackle swap crossmember that braces the new spring hangers at the frame. It’s a good beam to work with but for a winch plate, wanted extra tie ins. The winch envelope fits completely hidden behind the plate bumper, and took some cutting and grinding to narrow the gap and tie the fairlead plate of the winch plate to the bumper. It’ll be like trying to pull the winch through the front bumper. Second, enlarged some of the pod light holes into rectangles to flush mount a pair of 6″ LED light bars down low.

Published by Manolo al Sol

Learning by adventure.. will curiosity kill the cat ?

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