DENALI D7 Driving Light Review | Excellent Design and High Performance Driving Light

We have had our hands on the DENALI D7 Driving Lights for over 6 months and the results are really impressive. Our D7's have been installed on a couple of our 4x4 trucks and their permanent home is on the steel bumper on our Lexus GX470.


We wrote another article of our first impressions of the D7 that you should read before continuing on. In the past 6 months of use we have explored all of our local trails and even made a trip to Moab, UT with the DENALI D7 lighting the way. Read on for an in depth look at the D7 and hear our opinions on their performance.

DENALI Lights-Top Notch Build Quality

The build quality of the DENALI D7, like every product that we have handled from DENALI, is top notch. The case is tough and sleek looking, while not being obnoxiously designed like a lot of other light brands. We are fans of traveling under the radar when possible, so the discreet branding and simple design is appealing. The D7 optics use seven CREE LED's placed behind a polycarbonate lens with a rugged rubber gasket to keep the elements out. The D7 is IP67 rated and we can attest that after several submersions, our D7's are still completely sealed.

Each D7 comes with a proprietary DENALI 3 wire plug at the end of the light and adapters included to wire up your lights if you aren't using the DENALI harness. We opted to use the DENALI harness and ease of installation and the plugs click in with no drama and 10,000 miles of trouble-free driving.

The most appealing selling factor for us, besides the performance of the light, is the size. At 4.5" in diameter, the D7 is small and packs a massive punch. The light fits perfectly in our Explore Overland front bumper and is less obvious than a light bar or larger set of lights. As much as we like camping, we often spend time in hotels or AirBnB's while we travel and having a light that doesn't scream "Please steal me" is an added benefit.

The D7 comes standard with a clear lens, but DENALI offers a Selective Yellow and Amber lens as well. Swapping the lenses is extremely simple and only requires the removal of 4 small screws on the rear of the casing.


The D7 is Stupid Bright

We have had the opportunity to test the D7 in a variety of conditions including forests in the Ozarks, long highway stretches, and desert runs in Moab. We are a bit blown away each time we flip the switch, these lights are crazy bright. Each D7 cranks out 7,665 lumens per pod and the spot beam pattern reaches over 1,200 feet at 1 lux. In real life conditions, the D7 projects light nearly 2,000 feet in a usable beam.

On our most recent camping trip to Moab, we got caught out in a rain storm and came back to camp to find our tent overturned and water inside. Not only did the D7's save our bacon on the drive back to camp in a torrential downpour, but also lit up our campsite while we drained water and re-pitched our tent. The amount of usable light is simply amazing. Where we live in rural Oklahoma, most roads are poorly lit at night and the chance of hitting a deer or other animal is pretty high. We use the D7's as our high beams nearly every day and have noticed many hazards well before they became problems.

The DENALI D7 is a Great Value

I understand that claiming a light kit that costs $700 is a great value will come as a shock to some. If that is you, it's probably best that you look at the pretty pictures and move on. If you have found that you typically get what you pay for when it comes to gear, keep reading.

At the current price for the D7  light kit ($699.99 USD), the D7 comes in at a cost of $0.04 per lumen. The nearest competitor offering claims 7,500+ lumens at a cost of $1,179 ($0.15 per lumen). The competitor's offering of similarly performing 7 LED spotlights costs 275% more than the DENALI D7. The decision for us is really easy, the D7 offers superior optics at an affordable price, relative to the alternatives.

There are absolutely a ton of offerings from name-brand lighting companies at cheaper price points for this size of light. However, at the lower price point you lose total lumens, distance at 1 lux, and cheaper build materials. DENALI is extremely straight forward about light performance and even offer ISOLUX charts (like above) for all of their lights. Tracking down light tests for many of the bigger lighting brands is extremely challenging.

We have found that the motto of "buy once, cry once" applies to nearly every gear purchase we make. After using cheaper big name lighting brands and amazon knock-offs, we will only be running quality lighting on our vehicles. Safety is not department that we want to skimp on.

Oztent RX5-30 Second Tent First Impressions

The roof top tent game was not for us, at least not the $1000 roof top tents-the “cheap ones”. We have historically used a backpacking tent more than anything else in our off-road adventures and that worked fine. The backpacking tent is likely the best compromise between setup time, durability, cost, and storage requirements. As we have traveled and met others that camp a lot and are tough on their gear, we have come across an interesting tent and decided to give it a go- the Oztent RX5.

Continue reading “Oztent RX5-30 Second Tent First Impressions”

DENALI D7 Off-Road Lights First Impression Review|1986 Toyota 4Runner

1st Gen 4Runner Off Road Lights

These Lights Are Ridiculously Bright

We had the opportunity to test the DENALI D7 LED Auxiliary light set and spoiler alert, we were blown away by the performance. I (Zach) had heard from friends and coworkers that the D7 was a powerhouse and to watch out for blinding reflective street signs when rounding corners with the lights on. I was a bit skeptical initially, but my first impression of the DENALI D7 confirms all of it!

Continue reading “DENALI D7 Off-Road Lights First Impression Review|1986 Toyota 4Runner”

Gear Review: Helinox Chair One XL

This piece of equipment was an investment, there is no doubt about that. Spending over $100 on a camp chair seems like a lot, which is why we didn’t buy a set when we left in 2018 on our round-the-country skoolie adventure. In hindsight, I wish we had because the Helinox Chair One XL camp chairs are worth every penny. We picked up a pair of chairs at Overland Expo 2019 EAST and put them to the test in the months following. 

Our comparison for the Helinox is coming from our use of the most basic standard camp chairs that everyone’s grandparents have tucked away in their garages-they come in a bag and they are clumsy to say the least. Obviously a $100+ chair will work better than a $12 Wal-Mart chair, but will the improvement be enough to justify the cost difference? We think so. If you are a fan of the tried and true fold out camp chair and you don’t see any reason to upgrade, more power to you. If like us, you have always looked at the fold up camp chairs in your rig as a monstrosity that need to be replaced with something small, lightweight, and comfortable that is built to last a really long time, keep reading. 

The biggest improvement from our old chairs to the Helinox chairs is the size; these chairs pack up small without compromising on comfort, but more on that later! The Chair One XL is the biggest of the square Helinox chairs and packed it measures 4.5” x 5” x 18.5”, a huge improvement over the nearly 5” x 5” x 36” dimensions of our old school camp chair. The Helinox is also a winner in the weight department, coming in at a slim 3.3 lbs. whereas our old chair weighed nearly 9 lbs. if you count all of the small grains of sand still stuck in the legs from our last beach trip. The new chairs are light enough that we would consider taking them on an extended paddle trip or an ultra luxurious bike tour. We are now much more confident in being able to pack our chairs for a walk to the park or up the trail for a picnic a few miles away. 

Another alluring factor that drew us toward the Helinox is the manufacturer’s 5-year warranty! You read that right-FIVE YEARS! Do you know how long your camp chair warranty lasts? I do, until the moment you sit down in it the first time. The peace of mind associated with a 5-year warranty on a product that we use weekly is invaluable!

The only area where the Helinox is not a clear winner for both of us over a standard camp chair is comfort. For me (Zach) that’s not to say that the Helinox is not comfortable, it is, just not any more comfortable than a normal camp chair. Rachael finds the Helinox much more comfortable than the camp chair which I can attribute only to the fact that I am an ogre and she is much smaller. There are also no cup holders on the helinox chairs which is not a huge miss for us, but some might not enjoy sitting their beverage on the ground. 

The Helinox is a worthwhile upgrade for you if:   

  • You use your camp chairs as a piece of furniture for full-time travel  
  • You are tired of trying to find a good place to store huge camp chairs    
  • You use your gear enough to value a 5-year warranty

The Helinox might not be worth it for you if: 

  • You don’t like gear that is expensive   
  • You don’t use your gear enough to warrant the price

For us, the Helinox is a no brainer and we are disappointed that we didn’t upgrade sooner. We will decommission our old chair that is still functioning to storage and maybe put it in storage for when the niece and nephew come to visit some day. Until then we are going to keep enjoying our Helinox chairs!

Just a head’s up: this page contains affiliate links. If you use one of the links scattered throughout this page, a portion of your purchase price will help fund our adventures (at no cost to you). Thanks for reading and shopping with our links!

Gear Review: Sea to Summit X-Pot

We were first exposed to the X-Pot at Overland Expo 2018 WEST in Flagstaff, AZ when we worked a little bit at the event and decided to splurge on a piece of gear from one of the vendors. We settled on the 2.8L Sea to Summit X-Pot and fell in love.

2 years later- Stress cracks and discoloration, but does not effect performance one bit!

The X-Pot is downright versatile! Below are some of our favorite features:

  • BPA free, heat resistant silicone – built to EU food-grade standards
  • Hard anodized 6063-T6 aluminum base conducts heat really well for outdoor gourmet cooking
  • Durable translucent strainer lid
  • Stainless steel ring embedded in the rim provides stability

The ultimate feature of the X-Pot lies in it’s ability to collapse to about the thickness of our bus dinner plates and stow away flat and out of the way. Check out the image below for a size comparison.

The X-Pot heats just as well as any of the cheap cookware that originally found their way into our bus and we are just waiting on something else in our kitchen to break so we can replace it with a Sea-to-Summit unit, we like our X-Pot that much!

Our X-Pot has started to discolor around the aluminum base but the color does not effect performance one bit and to be honest, we are really hard on gear. We expect this unit to last a good while longer and we can’t wait to take it on an overnight paddle or bike trip next time we get a chance.

2 years later- Careful with the simmer, stuff can get caked pretty easy.

We have used our X-Pot on a variety of cook tops including our MSR Pocket Rocket, Coleman Camp Stove, and our new Camp Chef Oven top with great success across the board. We have simmered veggies at low heat and boiled water on high with no complaints. This pot is essential gear for anyone with limited space in their kitchen.

Just a head’s up: this page contains affiliate links. If you use one of the links scattered throughout this page, a portion of your purchase price will help fund our adventures (at no cost to you). Thanks for reading and shopping with our links!

Gear Review- Oveja Negra 1/2 Frame Bag

The simple things in life tend to make the most joy. I was skeptical of the usefulness of bike packing frame bags for a long time before riding with my uncle in South Dakota last Fall on his Salsa Warbird equipped with a Revelate Tangle 1/2 frame bag. I had a flat about 20 miles into our ride and my uncle wanted to show off his new tire pressure gauge (also awesome but more on that later), he reached into his frame bag and it was like a scene from Mary Poppins…stuff just kept coming out. He pulled out his air gauge, a Clif Bar, and I caught a glimpse of the rest of his kit stuffed in there and I was a little impressed. That awkward dead space above a traditional bottle case setup was now useful!

I started shopping around using the following criteria: the bag had to be made in a small shop (think not sweat shop), it had to be a spacious 1/2 bag, and it needed to be at least water resistant. I quickly came across my selection, the Oveja Negra 1/2 Frame Bag. Oveja Negra is a relatively small shop in Salida, CO and they make truly cool products in a seriously cool place! 

Below are the bag specification from the Oveja Negra website:

  • Full zip main compartment (drive side)
  • Half zip tool pocket (non-drive side)
  • Hook & loop closure hydration/wire port 
  • Adjustable/removable Velcro® One-Wrap® top tube straps allow for a more customized fit
  • YKK® Uretek water resistant zippers
  • X-pac® VX21/VX42 water resistant face fabrics
  • Cordura® abrasion resistant fabric along tubing
  • MIL-SPEC webbing and binding
  • High Density closed-cell foam padding along down tube
  • Reflective Oveja Negra logo
  • MADE IN THE U.S.A. of domestic and imported materials

Build Quality & Design

The craftsmanship of this bag is really high quality and it shows right out of the box. All of the zippers and fabrics are water-resistant and look/function great! I opted for MultiCam Camo as the color matches my Revelate Designs seat bag, but there are 6 other colors available and if you reach out, I am sure Oveja Negra could whip up something custom. The zippers pull and function as they should and the placement of the zippers is really well-thought out and accessible from the saddle. 

One of my favorite features of the 1/2 frame bag is the high-contrast interior fabric that really stands out compared to the outer fabric and the interior items that you will be reaching for. I was unsure about the bright green initially, but after using it once it made perfect sense!

Extra Touches

There are several pieces of the bag that really set the Oveja Negra bag apart from the rest of the pack. First, it looks really good! The reflective Logo and adjustable velcro make the bag really look good and function well on the bike. Second, the inclusion of a bike pump/tent pole strap in the bottom of the bag is a big deal. My old school long frame pump fits perfectly in the straps. The zippers have covers where they close for extra moisture resistance and there is even a hydration bladder port for running a large bladder in the frame bag. So many extra touches made this bag really stand out. 

An extra large size bag fit my 62cm Surly Disc Trucker really well and the adjustability of the velcro one-wrap makes this bag extremely adaptable for other bikes that I ride including my single speed. I am beyond excited about this bag and after almost 200 miles of use, I will not ride another gravel, touring, bikepacking or commuting bike without one of these bags strapped to it! 

To purchase or see more specs/measurements head over to the Oveja Negra website.

First Impression: Surly Disc Trucker Do-It-All Bike

This is my initial impression of owning and riding the Surly Disc Trucker. I am not affiliated with Surly in any way. I have been searching for a used version of this bike for a few years and I finally found one in Montana and shipped it across country for a steal of a deal. I will post a long term review after peddling the DT for a considerable time and update with a link here. Although my riding experience is with a 2012 model that I purchased used, I will be using specs from the current new Surly Disc Trucker.

Surly Disc Trucker Overview

Bike tourers have long since flocked to the Surly Long Haul Trucker (LHT) as a reliable, strong, and simple touring bike for excursions across continents or for grocery runs down the street. Surly upped the ante in the mid 2010’s with the introduction of the Surly Disc Trucker, the disc version of the Long Haul Trucker. Similarities abound between the two bikes with the major difference being the braking system. The LHT is equipped with V-brakes and is compatible with cantilever brakes whereas the DT uses a mechanical disc brake system.

The DT is available in 26″ tires for smaller framed riders as well as 700c tires for normal to tall riders. The biggest area that Surly was ahead of the game is what they call “Fatties Fit Fine”, a slogan printed on the side of the bike meaning that larger than normal tires fit this bike. The 26″ version can fit up to 26×2.1″ tires (with or w/out fenders) and the 700c version can fit 700×50 or 29×2.0″. I have fitted my DT with 29×1.8 Kenda Slant Six mountain bike tires and the size is perfect as a do-it-all one bike quiver. I can smash a long gravel ride or ride smooth single track with the same tires. I do have a spare set of wheels that will be equipped with touring tires in the mid-30c range for long tours or dirt road bikepacking without singletrack. The Alex Adventurer wheels that come on the Disc Trucker are solid and have been known to be setup tubeless with a ghetto setup and the right tires.

Components on the Trucker are high quality without jeopardizing the affordable nature of the bike. Compromises were made in places where possible (brake levers and saddle) and solid components were used in places that compromises shouldn’t exist (hubs and drivetrain). Most users are going to replace their saddle anyways as the WTB Volt is truly uncomfortable on long rides. I replaced my Trucker saddle with a Selle Anatomica. Expect a gear review on this saddle soon as it is my favorite all-around saddle for any riding activity.

What I Like About the Disk Trucker

  • The Disk Trucker is Tough- With a steel frame and simple components, the DT is designed to be a rock solid performer in all conditions. Repairs are made easy by the steel frame and widely available and common parts that can be found in bike shops around the world.
  • The Disk Trucker is a Surly- The trucker is sold in tons of countries around the world and is a favorite of tourers traveling around the world for a reason. These bikes last and perform well. Plain and simple.
  • The Disk Trucker is Customizable- Want to take a bike tour of South America? Strap on some racks and panniers and start peddling South. Want to ride some mellow singletrack? Lose the racks and fit a fat-ish tire and get after it. There is very little that this bike can’t do and there is a lot that this bike does really well!

What I Dislike About the Disk Trucker

Nothing. Seriously, nothing. I am a pretty critical person and I can find fault in almost any gear, but for what this bike is, it’s perfect for my uses. Obviously, components can be upgraded to suit your riding style or needs, but the bike is ready to go out of the box. If you expect speed and agility that comes from a carbon race bike, you will be disappointed. If you expect a squishy downhill bike, you will also be very sad. However, if you expect a solid, jack of all trades workhorse, you will enjoy getting on your Surly Disk Trucker everyday like I do.

Thanks for reading our blog post, it truly means a lot! There are affiliate links in this article that if you click on them, it doesn’t cost you any more and Amazon will send a portion of your purchase amount to us as a commission. Thanks for helping to keep us on the road!

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FREE National Geographic Quadrangle Maps

If you are like us, you spend a fair bit of time in the woods and often times a good map of the area that you are exploring is hard to find. We use GPS often, but sometimes we enjoy route planning on a good, ole fashioned paper map. A good practice that we have started its when taking off into the woods is to keep a paper copy of our map stuffed in a ziplock baggy somewhere on our person in case of GPS failure, dead batteries, etc. One of our favorite maps is the National Geographic Quad and now you can download them for FREE!

 The Nat Geo 7.5 minute quad is a highly detailed topographic map style that was created and used by the United State Geological Survey for decades. These maps are available for anywhere in the continental US and did we mention they are FREE.  Keep in mind that the USGS hasn’t updated these maps in a few years, so some landscapes may have changes a bit, but how much can a landscape really change?

How to Download Free Nat Geo Quad PDF’s
To download, navigate over to the National Geographic PDF Quads Page.
Enter an e-mail address to sign up, nothing is FREE anymore! You can always unsubscribe when they start sending you e-mails.

Find the area you want to explore on the map or search for a particular area.

Click a red box to open a new window which will contain an overview map of the 4 quads that your selected red box borders as well as the 4 individual quads themselves. 

That’s it! A super easy and extremely helpful tool for route planning and backcountry exploration. We are already planning out some backcountry routes for 2019 and you should too! 

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First Impressions of Full-Time Living in a Roof Top Tent

The nomadic lifestyle is so glamorous! Cruise Instagram for long enough and your feed will be flooded with mint condition $50,000 Land Rovers with $5000 tents on top and a half-naked woman seductively watching the sunset over a beautifully pristine landscape. Although there are some positive aspects of sleeping on the roof of your truck, if you travel full-time, a roof-top tent is likely not where you want to sleep more than a couple of weeks each year. We began living in our roof-top tent full time in December and these are our impressions early on.

Some Assembly Required

Most roof-top tent (RTT) manufacturers and YouTube reviews tout the simplicity and speed with which a standard RTT can be erected. While the construction is simple in design, setup can take 5-10 minutes depending on conditions. If it is cold, the tent cover and zipper can be much more difficult to open and take a considerable amount of time. If the wind is high, you will likely want to guy line your tent to keep the rain cover from flopping around in the breeze all night. If it is raining, it might not take any longer, but you will be wet and mad when you finally get inside. On the contrary, compared to most inexpensive ground tents, setting up a roof-top tent is very easy in most conditions.

86 4runner roof top tent
Windows down and closed to minimize setup time and exposure in near freezing temps

Some folks simply avoid popping up the windows and doors and minimize the time required to setup, but aren’t all of those breezy doors and windows why you wanted to camp on top of the truck in the first place? Also, most suggest a more expensive pop-up or clamshell style tent such as the James Baroud to minimize the amount of time involved in setup. But for the $4500 cost, you are halfway to a used hard-sided camper with a sink and a heater.

Roof Top Tents are Cool

 Everyone knows it, that’s why we buy RTT’s. Having your camping shelter attached to your vehicle not only saves on interior storage room, but looks really cool. Although we think vehicle based travel and “overlanding” should be about the journey, most travelers will tell you that it’s still really nice to drive a cool rig. What’s cooler than driving to a remote campsite and simply flipping open your tent and climbing in. It’s not always that simple (see above), but it is a really cool concept.

Want to see which RTT we chose to live out of full-time? Check out our video review here!

Fair-Weather Domicile

This point is fairly biased as we have only camped in our RTT between the months of November and January in the Southern US and Mexico, but if you encounter cold temperatures in your roof-top tent, prepare to be cold. You are not only cold in the tent, you are cold when you go to the bathroom, when you wake up in the morning, and you are cold when you cook your food. We are working on installing a separate annex room the attaches to the underside of our tent to block out some of the cold and wind, but so far we have absolutely frozen in our tent. 

Sleeping has been moderately comfortable as we carry our backpacking sleeping bags and several blankets. However, there is no cuddling in the RTT unless you have a 2-person sleeping bag. 

Rain slows us down, but our RTT keeps us dry inside

Rain is a tricky enemy of the roof-top tent and we have had approximately 20 nights of precipitation in the tent and it makes everything more difficult. Humid air creates condensation at an alarming rate in a RTT and even with windows and vents open, water on the walls is inevitable. Pack a towel and dry it daily as you will need it to wipe down the moisture inside your tent. Alternatively, after a rain, the outside of your tent is wet as well. A decision has to be made to stay put and wait for the tent to dry out or pack up a wet tent and open it as soon as possible to avoid mold and water damage. 
Snow is as likely as rain in the Western United States and snow will make closing your tent a challenge. We have found that carrying a window scraper with a brush (the telescoping kind made for truck drivers) and sweeping off as much snow as possible before trying to pack up makes a huge difference. Still, there will be residual snow that melts and causes the same paranoia as rain. 

Camp Setup and Selection is a Chore

This point is comparative, maybe unfairly to our time traveling in our school bus conversion, but setting up and tearing down a campsite is a pain. In a hard sided camper like our bus or a pop-up bed camper, you pull into a spot (sometimes in a sketchy location), block out the windows and you are in your kitchen, bedroom, and living room. With the RTT, Rachael and I both have our assignments when we arrive at a spot including setting up the tent, digging food out of the back, setting up chairs, making dinner, climbing into the tent to cook dinner, climbing out to do dishes, brush our teeth, and pee, and climbing in a final time to sleep. 

Selecting a campsite for a roof-top tent is much trickier than a hard sided vehicle or camper. In a hard-sided vehicle your site needs to be slightly level and only marginally incognito. With a roof top tent you must consider a level spot for your ladder, wind direction and speed, and probability of drawing attention to yourself. Also keep in mind that most urban camping areas (Wal-Mart Parking Lots anyone?) are not RTT friendly. We have seen some folks pop their tent in the parking lot, but it seems to be considered bad form in most areas. 

The Views are Fantastic 

Waking up with snow on the ground near Alamogordo, NM

The feeling and sight of being in a tent and off of the ground is a lot of fun. The feeling is similar to camping out in a treehouse as a kid. The views are great as you are approximately 6-8 feet higher than the area around you which makes for a great perspective in most campsites. While camping on the Pacific Coast of Baja we were treated to some great starry nights that were enhanced that much more by being able to law down in our tent with the doors and windows open and watch the stars shoot across the sky with the waves crashing below. It can be simply sublime.

Overall Impressions

After traveling across the US for Overland Expo EAST and driving from Oklahoma to Baja California, Mexico we are convinced that the Roof Top Tent is a practical, fun, and affordable way to travel. When you consider the relative ease of setup compared to a ground tent and the extreme difference in comfort compared to a ground tent, a roof top tent makes a lot of sense for a lot of people. 

We will likely be continuing our search for ways to integrate a hard sided pop up style camper such as a Four Wheel Camper into our 4Runner only because we spend a lot of time in our truck. If we were planning on traveling on vacation a couple of weeks per year and being a weekend warrior the rest of the time, a Roof Top Tent is PERFECT! For full time travel we really miss the warmth, comfort, and convenience of a fixed living space. 

Until that day comes, we will continue to enjoy the freedom, coolness, and simplicity of traveling with our roof top tent!

1st Generation 4Runner Suspension Replacement│Old Man Emu Dakar (MED)│Bilstein 4600

The suspension on our ’86 was tired, rusted, and inappropriate for the type of travel that we enjoy. The previous setup was an old heavy leaf pack, a 4-inch lift block, and really worn out shocks. The shocks were so rusted that you couldn’t tell if they were Old Man Emu’s or Monroe AutoZone specials. The leafs were flat and miserable to drive. We are planning to have quite a bit of weight in the rear cargo area of the 4Runner, the new springs should really make a difference with a full load.


The simplicity of these old trucks makes for a really easy suspension replacement. The front torsion bars are still in good shape and have already been cranked to compensate for the rear lift. The lift height on the rear should end up really similar to the previous height only the new setup will be much more comfortable and will work much better off-road.

I got to work pulling the front shocks and getting the new Bilstein 4600’s swapped in. This process was very straight forward and went off without a hitch. Remove the bottom shock mounting bolt and the top bolt and the shock slides right out. I am confident that you could still pull the shocks from the front of this truck with the wheels on the ground.

The new shocks are in up front and the temporary wheels are thrown on for the time being. Once we get a chance, we will switch all of the 31″ tires to the black wheels. Until then, they will be mismatched.

A little word on the shocks that we chose for this build. I have run Bilstein shocks on all of my previous builds for good reason. They are well made shocks with impressive support. The shocks offer a slightly stiffer ride over stock with much better rebound over rough terrain and they have a lifetime warranty.

The rears were a little bit more involved, since we are replacing the rear leaf springs and shocks. It is still overly simple, but the bolts are a little rusted and the suspension has been extremely mistreated. We soaked the bolts for a few days leading up in penetrating oil to try and loosen them up. I suggest having access to an impact or at least a breaker bar.

I don’t know what the previous owner had in mind with the yellow brake drums, but they had to go quickly. I used flat black paint to protect most everything under the wheel wells from further rust and deterioration. Getting the old shocks off was a breeze and removing the springs from the rear shackles was painful. Literally, blood was drawn while trying to get the springs out of the seized bushings. A big hammer and some patience and the rear suspension was in pieces.

The shackles were almost impossible to get off without dropping the rear tire. I went to drop the tire and found the bumper installed by the previous owner hindering my access to the spare.

We got to work pulling the bumper and setting it aside for our swing-out bumper project. Once the bumper was out of the way, the spare came down with ease, hopefully to never be hung in that spot again.

The new suspension went in without much issue and looks so much better already. The spring angle is 100% better and the 4600 shocks are perfect for the mild OME lift with one small issue. The OME lift is advertised as a 2″ lift. It is more like a 3-4″ lift and as of right now (empty truck, no topper) the shocks are the limiting factor on the rear. This is not ideal and we are going to keep an eye on this moving forward.

There is a reason that when you speak to Toyota gear heads that they all recommend Old Man Emu/ARB for suspension components on these rigs. They are proven, reliable, and tough. Short of installing a custom spring combination, this setup is hard to beat. We will see how these springs hold up on the road, washboard forest service tracks, and off-road trails.

New shocks all around and new springs in the rear make for a really good ride height and hopefully a really solid setup to build on. The beauty of this setup is that if the rear proves to be lacking, it’s easy to add an Add A Leaf (AAL) to the rear pack. We will report back with real-life results from our time on the road and update our impressions of this setup once we have had a chance to use it a bit.

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