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Liberte Austin bought her first pickup truck yesterday. I reckon her box-fresh Machine Grey Toyota Tacoma TRD’s a bit too suave for TTAG’s Hunting Editor, a woman who’s completely happy skinning and dismembering a dead animal. Liberte assured me that the Taco’s a serious off-roader, sporting a hands-free “crawl control” system that can get the truck through the worst sand, muck or snow.

I asked Liberte what mods she’s making to transform the TRD into the ultimate hunting machine. She demurred. “Why don’t you ask TTAG’s Armed Intelligentsia?”, she suggested.

So I’m asking. What should Liberte do to her Toyota Tacoma to make into a ballistic bad-ass? Some sort of gun vault in the bed? Lights for night hunting? Gun rack in the ceiling? Please include links and assume budget’s no biggie. Feel free to recommend smaller on-board hunter’s necessities: first-aid kit, cooler, ammo storage, bone saw, the works. Updates to follow!

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      • Those options are for the Hilux. The car Top Gear tried and failed to kill.

        And Toyota also make the Land Cruiser which is regarded as the best REAL 4×4 in the world.

    • I’ve pulled over multiple Toyotas with more than 300,000 miles. How many times has that happened with Ford, Chevy, or Dodge? Zero.

      Three weeks ago I responded to a crash with a Tacoma flipped over onto its side. A half dozen firefighters and I pushed it back onto its wheels. After that, I drove it off of the freeway.

      Chevy and Ford build great turbo diesels, but Toyotas last a long time. Tacomas are great trucks – if you don’t need a heavy duty truck, anyways.

      • I got t-boned in mine a few days ago by a woman in a minivan who ran a stop sign due to fiddling with her phone or GPS. I swerved to minimize the relative velocity; my Taco has a dent in the bed which mostly popped out with a good yank, a cracked hubcap, and nothing else. There was part of the minivan stuck between the tire and wheel, causing a slow leak. The minivan part popped out and the leak was gone.

        How did the minivan fare, you ask? Not nearly as well. Cracked radiator, whole front end gone, headlights everywhere. I’ll stick with my Taco. It’s stupidly capable offroad for RWD, to boot.

      • There are plenty of Ram’s with the Cummins running around with over 300k, some over a million miles. Just because you haven’t pulled them over doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

        • Heck I drive a freaking CARAVAN with 308000mi! Change the oil and drive like ______ man and most any car will last 50% longer than for the average owner.

        • Sure; Cummins is a great product. The rest of the truck is crap… Had the V-10… Great motor… was garbage…on my second Toyota… Just happens to identical to the one in the picture…..but mine is long bed.

      • Chevy Silverados with 400k to 500k miles on–250k + with still original hard parts (not counting brakes, that’s all)–TRD is Toyota’s spelling of TuRD–pretty girl, ugly truck

        • I would find it hard to agree that you will find a Chevy/GMC 4×4 with 250K and factory front end(ball joints etc) they are notorious for eating up front suspension parts. Especially on the HD trucks. The rest I wouldn’t doubt generally.

        • At least you named yourself after what you drive. There are more American made parts in my 2001 Tundra and 2016 Tacome TRD than in any Chevy or Dodge. Owned them all…can’t compare the quality of any but maybe a Ford to the Toyotas. Not even close.

      • In the brand wars I will simply say this:

        Once bitten, twice shy. Until American cars start being built better I’m not interesting in owning one again unless I can get something from the early 1990’s or earlier.

        My 1991 XJ was a beast that died too early due to hydroplaning. My 2012 JK was a total piece of shit. The last 5000 miles cost me $3000 to keep her running. I traded that thing in at 38K miles and the dumbass dealership still gave me $30K for her. My buddies 1990 F-250? Beast. Any Ford, Chevy, or Dodge that I personally know of and was built after 1999? Total dogshit. A single example out of the too many to list: my friend’s 2007 Trailblazer SS threw a rod after 4200 miles.

        As much as I love this country I don’t love our car companies. They can all FOD as far as I’m concerned. My wife drives a Tundra, I drive a WRX and I don’t currently see a reason to switch from Japanese cars/trucks until you’re gonna go high end European.

        • Your comment is not accurate today. Most cars have parts built all over the world and then assembled at one final location. 20 years ago you were correct. Now reliability has more to do with the driver and maintenance, and the individual design of the vehicle. If I’m not wrong I believe Toyota trucks are built in San Antonio and many of their other cars are built in Canada. My ford has an engine designed in Germany and built in the UK. My father had a Dodge colt that was a possibility built by mitizubishi, which is a far better bank than car manufacturer. Most of the problems with American cars in the last 40 years has to do with older manufacturing facilities compared to younger facilities in Japan and Korea that produced tighter tolerances and engineers that designed more fuel efficient engines. Bankruptcy has helped ford and near bankruptcy seems to have helped Chevy.

          With all that said, you buy Italian you better know someone with a tow truck.

        • I give no fucks where the car was assembled, who actually owns the company or where the parts were made. The 302W was a great motor provided you didn’t get one full of Labatt’s caps (I kid the Canadians).

          Chevy, Dodge, Ford, Chrysler, GM etc can all eat a giant bag of dicks because their cars and trucks are shittily designed and built with the exception of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Location of assembly or origin of parts doesn’t mean anything when the engineering department needs to be lined up in front of a firing squad. Sorry, when a vehicle has less than 40K miles on it, has half a dozen plus recalls and costs thousands to keep on the road for 5K miles it better be running the Baja or it’s a POS. (Oh, and don’t even try to blame the driver for that nonsense. They couldn’t even make the heads on that 3.6 Pentastar engine correctly. Don’t even get me started on the other problems they didn’t even try to fix under warranty even though they knew damn right well they were problems.)

          When I say “American cars” I mean cars generally thought to/understood to be/historically American owned companies such as the brands I list above which are all complete and utter crap at this point.

          I’ll take a Japanese car from a reputable company like Subaru or Toyota over ANY of those brands ANY day of the week. Not just for the better quality but for the abundance of aftermarket/OEM replacement parts that don’t cost twice what they should. That 2012 Rubicon I had was the last “American” (in quotes, that better?) car I will buy until some company has a solid 10 year track record of building rock-solid-reliable vehicles that take a beating and keep rolling and don’t send you literally six major recall notices in the first two years you own it only to be followed by more and more (the ones about how the electrical system will start fires are really nice to receive!).

          At this point I’ve known multiple people with each of the brands mentioned above, or known people with multiple vehicles from those brands. Probably averaging about six that I know of personally per brand. Every single one was junk. So it’s not a lemon here or there, it’s piss poor engineering.

        • This every single word of this.. It’s so funny people want to talk down about a Toyota and the truth is they are probably the best light truck ever made its not a diesel but some people don’t need a huge truck you can’t turn around in a parking lot.. I’ve seen hardbody tacoma’s and nissan’s do stuff that I honestly didn’t know was possible.. Why do you think you see them is South America and war zones… They are tough and reliable period just check blubook values especially with 200k miles the miles don’t even effect value much..

        • Which brand’s owners are known to own 9mms, and which have .45s? We gotta get the caliber wars going on here somewhere.

      • I read a bit of statistical analysis recently that said “Want to speed without getting tickets? Drive a big, diesel-powered domestic pickup without any modifications, in plain colors.”

        Seems the driving a 3/4 or 1-ton diesel pickup is the equivalent of a Jedi saying “I’m not the speeder you want to pull over.”

        It wasn’t because the diesel pickups were driving slower than average in traffic – it was thought to be because a plain-jane diesel pickup seems to indicate “I’m just a working schmoe, out driving between jobs” to traffic cops, and cops, being working class folks themselves, don’t seem all that interested in busting people who are just going about their business.

        Now, the tarted-up trucks and the “coal rollers?” Oh, I’ve seen dozens of those things on the side of the road, with a WHP officer walking up with a big ol’ smile on his face…

        Still doesn’t match the “Bust ME!” sign that seems to be on the butt end of every Benz, BMW and high-end sports car I see tooling through the west.

        • The trick to speeding is not being stupid about it. It really doesn’t matter what you drive as long as you’re not dumb.

          I’ve had two WRXs from Subaru (sports cars) and a total of six years of driving such “ticket magnets”. I was pulled over once. Didn’t get a ticket because it was a fishing expedition by the Ohio SP looking for drug traffickers. In fact, in 16 years of driving I’ve had exactly one moving infraction (red light) which I totally deserved.

          Having a high end radar detector helps too. Not as much these days due to laser monitoring but it’s still useful if you’re in a group since it will pick up splatter from the laser from another car and warn you to slow down.

        • With a two-door BMW, I got stopped. Lots. Once I had a kid and moved to a BMW station wagon, no tickets. Cops are sympathetic to dads who have to drive station wagons, it seems. Kid’s through college now so my next car will have to be a used Ford Focus…..

          THE TRUCK: Well, brush bars and a winch, with rollers to run the cable over the roof to drag large deer, hogs, and bears up onto the truck bed. Or hell, just get a cap and a super-good stereo. Stick to hunting grouse.

        • What color was your Beemer? I’m just curious. Also, what’s your driving style?

          I’ve driven sports cars since I was in my early 20’s in… like 20 states including most of the Eastern Seaboard without a problem. I got pulled over twice on BS fishing expeditions due to NM tags on a sports car in the Mid-West/East but I was along major drug trafficking corridors when that happened. I’ve been well into the triple digits in most of those states and still no tickets. I had a lot of cops right up my tailpipe in Ohio but that’s because my NM tag looked exactly like Ohio “party plates” (multiple DUI offender) from a distance.

          Other than that, as I said, one ticket and I deserved it. I should have been patient but after seven minutes at a red light at like half past two in the morning with 0 other cars in any direction I just went for it and I didn’t see the cop in the parking lot watching the intersection.

          Maybe I’m just lucky.

        • BRA_A_A_TTT! My convertible BMW is over 5 years old now (also fast), and each year it has been to both coasts, and one year to the Canadian border as well. It is defective somehow, will not go slower than 10-20 over the speed limit. I’ve been stopped a couple times, not even a warning ticket. Car is always clean, I am always polite, stops are usually over in seconds.

    • You’d prefer a truck from a company that took scores of billions of your tax dollars? I was a life long Chevy guy, but I think $85 billion of our money is enough. I hope they go bankrupt (again) and disappear forever. And Dodge? They not only cleaned up on tax money, but now they’re owned by Fiat! You really want to ride around in a Fiat truck? Fortunately there’s still Ford, but I’d rather be seen driving a Toyota or a Nissan than Chevy or Dodge. YMMV.

      • Good point. GM had a market capitalization (total value) of $6 billion, when it accepted $50 billion of taxpayer money, ended up paying back $25 billion before all called it good. Well, not all, actually, *I* sure didn’t. Should never have happened.

    • Ouch… that’s OK… I will be her BF in Texas. I would have no problem going anywhere, hunting and doing lot’s of fun things in that truck with her. Ha ha.

  1. FabFours bumper replacement. You can scrape Bambi off the front of your truck without firing a round. Meat may be a little bruised, though.

    I’d say supercharge it as well, but TRD stopped producing those OEM parts a couple years back.

    • I’d definitely put a winch on it. They’re handier than a pocket on a shirt! Great for hoisting up a deer, hog, etc. and even getting unstuck (imagine that). ; (~

    • Unless you tow heavy loads constantly, and over long distances, the cost of owning a diesel (initial cost, maintenance, operating cost, etc.) will take well over 150K miles to balance out financially in order to justify the purchase of a diesel over gasoline truck.

      And that assumes no major issues like needing new injectors or a tranny, in which the diesel repairs would cost double or more. Thereby increasing the mileage needed (possibly over 250K) to balance out the cost.

      For 9 out of 10 folks, the diesel is a want to item, and nothing more.

      • It depends not only on towing, but also on what your local fuel prices are like. In some states, diesel fuel taxes jack up the price of fuel by a considerable amount. Here, diesel is now about $0.40/gal higher, mostly thanks to road fuel taxation.

        Something that most people don’t factor into the diesel vs. gas argument is a) how long do you plan to keep your vehicle, b) what’s the value retained by the vehicle when you’re going to sell it (diesels command a higher price in the used market as well), and c) how handy are you? If you can do much of the common work on a diesel yourself and you plan on keeping the vehicle for a very long time, you will come out ahead, as diesel engines last a lot longer (with proper care) than gas engines. Sure, oil changes on a diesel cost more – they require more oil. But if you sample your oil, you find that you don’t need to change the oil anywhere near as often as the manufacture recommends. I run synthetic oils, high quality filters and sample consistently – I have drain intervals of 7500+ miles. Suddenly, my actual costs vs. book-projected costs start to diverge dramatically.

        I’ll keep my 2000 F-350 Superduty until it dies or I die. It works, it’s paid for, and I can work on it easily. It’s needed only a water pump (thanks to following Ford’s recommendation for SCA instead of testing the coolant) and one clutch (thanks to Ford’s stupid dual-mass flywheel – which is now gone). Other than that, it needs new tires every 50 to 60K miles – and those are a bit more expensive. When the 7.3L gets to the point it needs to be rebuilt, I’ll pull it and sell it off as a core, and drop a Cummins B5.9 in there, and run it for another 300K+ miles. The ZF-6 transmission will run forever; they’re as bullet-proof a manual box as you could hope for. If you have an automatic tranny behind a diesel – well, now the cost curves go upwards like a rocket. There’s only one automatic transmission I would put behind a diesel, and that’s an Allison, and they need overhauled about every 4,000 hours. A manual transmission needs only new lube when you get to feeling guilty about it, and competent operation. That’s the formula for low costs: simple diesel engine + manual transmission + competent operation and you’ll come out ahead.

        Diesels, however, are not the best off-road rigs. They’re great as a hunting rig to haul a nice camper into position, but they’re not for rock crawling or tight trail work.

        • All those are fair points, DG.

          But, most folks do not haul, do not DIY maintenance/repairs, and won’t drive 15+ yr old vehicles. So, the squeeze is not there.

          My father will undoubtedly, like you, be driving his ’06 Cummins 5.9 until the day he dies. And it’s only worth 10K less wholesale than what it was new.

      • I owned a ’92 Chevy turbo diesel from ’94 to 2000 and my observation was that they may last twice as long, but they cost twice as much to fix when something does break. And DG, as far as the price of fuel goes, a gallon of diesel contains 148,000 btu while a gallon of gasoline contains 125,000 (ethanol is around 89,000 I think). The fuel is denser so it’s going to cost more, kind of like whiskey will always cost more than beer (per gallon).

        If you don’t do a lot of heavy towing, I’d stick with gas myself.

        • The reason why our diesel fuel now costs more than it did 20 years ago (when diesel was actually cheaper than gasoline) is that when we went to ULSD, our diesel was suddenly marketable in the EU.

          Until then, we had all our diesel to ourselves – and it was cheaper. When we got our 2000 F-350, diesel was cheaper than gas by about $0.40/gal.

        • Another observation I had was that the price changes to diesel lagged behind that of gasoline. When prices were going up diesel became cheaper but when they were going down it got much more expensive. Usually diesel was about 10% higher when I had mine. But you are getting more fuel for your gallon either way. Diesels also have a thermal efficiency about 30% higher than gasoline. The flip side is that if you’re not doing a lot of heavy towing you can probably get by on a lighter (half ton) truck, so fuel costs tend to be a wash.

    • I’m guessing the costs are not comparable. My 2002 Tacoma is still doing fine, though it has needed mare maintenance than I would have expected.

  2. As the owner of two Toyota truck products (an old Tacoma pickup and an SUV on a truck chassis), I could not be happier with the quality and reliability.

    • Same here. The only thing I’ll ever buy. I don’t think I’ve ever had one go less than 300,000 miles before I head to do anything major to it. And even on the 4Runner that I put over 400,000 miles on, I never had to touch the engine for anything other than scheduled maintenance. I put 50,000 miles a year on a truck, and I won’t buy anything else.

      • I’ve wanted one since the 80’s when I heard about the the Chadian army with their Toyota 4X4 ‘Technicals’ bitch-slapping the Libyan army into next year.

        A 20 thousand dollar trunk (back then) taking out serious armor.

        Improvise. Adapt. Overcome…

      • Had a 96 4Runner I never should have sold problem free over 200k miles. Unfortunately my FJ80 Landcruiser with front/rear elockers was toast around 220k… 🙁
        Oh, and my recommendation if it didn’t come with them is a rear locker, nothing worse than getting stuck with only 2 wheels spinning…

        • The FJ-80 was the point where Toyota started to lose the clue who was buying Land Cruisers, and for what purpose.

          Today, I wouldn’t take a Land Cruiser off road at all. It’s just a collection of electronics looking for a place to break down.

        • Re the Land Cruiser – Sadly true. It looks and specs way too much like the Sequoia but with better suspension and more electronic doo-dads.

          The Sequoia is a great family vehicle for kids, dogs and assorted crap, it can tow a good load, and it’s great in the snow, but it’s not a real off-road vehicle at all.

        • The model she bought has a rear diff lock….just bought the same truck….even same color!! It is a beast in a nice manuverable size.

  3. It needs me in the passenger seat. A Brit can easily transform a mere pickup into a classy vehicle merely by being in it!

    By the way, that latter part is a joke!!!!

    • I”ve off-roaded for years and years without a winch. I have extraction tools, but no winch on the vehicle.

      One of the reasons why I don’t have a winch is that about half of the time when I get stuck, I would really need the winch on the rear end of the vehicle.

  4. Brush guard bumper first, then buy a set of maxtrax. You will eventually use them if you are using the truck right. Then put a row of skateboard tape on the roof so that your bipod has something to grab onto from when you are shooting from the bed. If it doesn’t have a bed liner put one in it, something you can spray out when it gets bloody.

  5. She will need a grill guard anyway, if she spends too much time around the Austin/Georgetown area. The deer are thicker than the Liberals living there. Really a good set of all-terrain tires, not too big since the engine is tiny. Then get aftermarket air intake so it will breathe better.

  6. Get a DU-HA (Down Underseat Hauling Accessory) – for the back seat floor. They are great – let you store all kinds of junk under the seat part of the back seat, and none of it will roll out onto the floor. You can even get a gun rack configuaration. Hides the stuff under the seat. Custom made to fit your particular brand of truck. High quality- I have had one since 2004, and it still works perfectly.

    Add a take-down Henry survival .22 rifle and 500 rounds of .22LR for those “stuck in the woods for a week with nothing to eat but the small game that you can shoot”. Cheap insurance.

    • You can’t slide anything under the seats of the double cab Tacoma. There are storage compartments under and behind the rear seats though. I keep emergency supplies behind the seat like food, water, water purification, a fixed blade knife, and first aid. I can stash more under the seat, but a rifle or ammo usually go there. An underfolder AKMS plus a chest rig of mags fits with plenty of room to spare. You can fit an M1 Garand down there too. In the center console I keep a trauma kit, two flashlights, a strap cutter, spare batteries, and some spare mags.

  7. Silliness I say with boxes, bumper and winches. Old guys know.

    Slide in pop up truck camper (All Terrain). Drive, Sleep, eat, hunt, heat, rifle storage, ice chest (stored in the cab) for cooling back strap and slabs o meat.

    Logistics platform to get the job done.

  8. That’s the new Tacoma with the VVT Engine which can switch from Otto Cyle to Atkinson Cycle. Also, it has both Direct Injection and Port Injection, hopefully, correcting the junked up valve issue which DI Engine have gotten a bad wrap from in past years.

    As a gear head, I appreciate the use of multiple technologies and systems in one engine design – way cool.

  9. Hunting means often out in the sticks. Far away from ‘civilization’.

    That means cellular signals are weak or effectively non-existent.

    Upgrade your comms. Get a cell phone range extender system.

    This company makes a few, ask around if there is better in your area.

    (Or get your HAM ticket and install an HF – VHF rig and talk thousands of miles when conditions are right…)

    • I’ve been a ham since I was 12, used to run mobile rigs (my first HF mobile rig was a Swan 270, almost all tubes and 270 watts plate input power), and every now and again, I think about putting a rig into a modern electronic mousetrap vehicle.

      Then I sit down, open a beer, and drink said beer until the idea passes.

      Modern vehicles are just one huge RFI abatement exercise. My Superduty is so noisy that its own AM radio is nearly useless at night on the road. If you really want to run a HF station in a mobile situation, get a diesel pickup with an engine that has a fully mechanical fuel rack. Ah, blissful silence.

      • “Modern vehicles are just one huge RFI abatement exercise.”

        Yes, yes, yes and more yes. I did it for a short while with the mostly solid-state sweep tube final 101 EE, and the experience was exactly as you described. They have some very small and very expensive ones nowadays for those inclined.

        (You had a Swan? One hand on the steering wheel and another constantly on that drifting VFO) 🙂

        “Then I sit down, open a beer, and drink said beer until the idea passes.”

        I keep waiting for this ‘wisdom’ thing folks supposedly get as they get older… None yet.

        If you don’t have an emergency satellite beacon, Ms. Austin, please consider one:

        • I fixed my Swan’s VFO until it quit drifting. A proper application of compensating caps with trimmers and you can get most of the drift out of those old VFO’s. The secret is to put the comp cap setup where it will be subject to the same heating as the coils/caps that are causing the drift in the first place.

          The great thing about a Swan is that, with the sweep tubes in the final, you get big power in a small package, as long as you keep the duty cycle down. Most of my mobile operation was decidedly low duty cycle. The one annoying thing was listening to the vibrator-like switch in the power supply whine constantly while the radio was on.

          My elmer had a mobile 1KW AM station in his Caddy Eldorado. Had a pair of 200A Leese-Neville alternators hung on double-V belts off the 500 CID engine, another set of batteries in the trunk, the final was in the trunk, tuned remotely. It was a heck of a mobile setup for the early 70’s. I think he did it just to be able to say he did it – not because he was an AM crank when SSB was ascendant or because he wanted hi-fidelity audio or something. I really think it was because he never tired of seeing the looks on people’s face when he’d open the trunk and show off a 4-1000 modulated by a couple of 813’s in push-pull – and then say “And see? I still have room left over for an overnight bag and a set of clubs!”

  10. Toyota makes a great truck and most are built right here in the good’ol US of A. Had a T100, 4Runner then a Tacoma. All were excellent and very capable off road especially the Tacoma with factory locking rear differential. What is great about them is nothing breaks or needs replacing except regular maintenance unlike my current Jeep. The T100 did need a new alternator after 200,000. Ex-wife had a Lexus for 20 years that never needed any work, but regular maintenance stuff. She drove quite a bit and I have no doubt it had over 300,000 miles when she sold it. And it never broke down.

  11. Tacoma is not a pick-up truck it’s a Jap El Camino. Has TTAG finally become the refuge for New Englanders who ruin Texas and Californians who ruin Wyoming? To be fair Texas has been doing a good ruining itself.

      • Who cares where they’re made, Jap El Camino is a funny thing to say. I’d gladly go Tundra or Titan over anything that comes out of that dumpster fire that is Chrysler. Everything east of Abilene should be renamed “Rhinestone Pusscake Land.”

  12. My first thought is some Tuffy lockboxes to keep her gear from getting stolen. Follow up with a Hi-Lift Jack , some traction mats and other tools for getting unstuck, some extra lights for both driving and working and some vehicle protection. There are also some very nice expedition style campers for Toyota trucks if you don’t want to sleep in a tent. Alternatively I have seen several Tacomas with rooftop tents on either the cab or a rack over the bed.

  13. Brush guard, bed liner, tire chains, winch, tow chain, small tool kit, jumper cables, duct tape, shovel, med kit and a roll of TP.

    Prosaic but useful items that can save a hunt or a life, even if they don’t look as tacticool (hunticool?) as roof mounted light bars or rocket launchers.

  14. Lift kit (Rough Country), brush guard, rails (Westin), fender flares, winch (Warn, Rough Country), roof- or brushguard-mounted LED light bar, duallie spots, for starters.

  15. Depending how off road you are going
    – long range fuel tank or jerrycans with holders
    – water tank with pump, great for cleaning game and yourself
    – bull bar with winch and driving lights. Nightvision HID the best
    – canopy or good storage boxes for hunting and camping gear. Water in with your food and sleeping bag is not good
    – tray liner as mentioned above
    – 12 volt outlets for fridge
    – second battery with isolator

    Usual things like first aid kit, some spare, water, food, clothes, blanket etc in case a short trip turns into I’m stuck for some reason

    • Yes. I have a 1986 SR-5 pickup. It’s still running, with nearly 200K miles on the clock. Just replaced the CV joints. At some point soon, I’ll just drop a reman engine into it – the 22R engine was nearly impossible to kill, but I can tell that mine is showing the wages of neglect and abuse. Sooner or later, it’s going to make an expensive noise…

      When they started down the road of making pickups with only extended cab configurations, they started killing the utility of their pickup line. From there, it was just an exercise in larding them up with electronic geegaws and frooferall.

      The old SR5’s and Land Cruiser FJ-60 series were very, very reliable machines, and very simple to work on, even in the field with limited tools and parts. My ideal hunting rig would be a FJ-60 with the inline-6 and manual transmission. Hands down, one of the most capable offroad rigs ever made.

    • I could not possibly agree more. Single cab 4×4 was the go anywhere, get you anywhere vehicle. Lightweight easy to work on not too expensive. I don’t need one, but I’d buy one just to have one.

  16. Well, for starters, I’d get a different configuration. Crew cab with a short bed really diminishes the use of a pickup. Seriously, how often will the back seats be filled?

    Since a long bed (a real 8′ long bed, not what Toyota calls a “long” bed at 6′ long) can’t be had in the Tacoma, I guess we’re too late for that. Ever since the marketing geniuses at the major auto companies decided to start marketing pickup trucks to women, the price has gone up, silly “features” are now festooned all over the vehicle, the utility has gone down, and the cost to repair them has shot through the roof like a homesick angel.

    When I’m hunting, I have a cap on my Superduty and I often sleep in the back of the truck, because sleeping in a tent on the side of a moutain in 30MPH winds is really cold and annoying. Since this vehicle could only have a small camper, you might as well get a shell for the back. It helps secure your gear and give you a wind-tight place to sleep, altho the camping in Texas is quite easy.

    Right now in Wyoming, we’re getting down to -10F to -30F at night, depending on where you are in the state, so keep that in mind for my successive comments.

    For sleeping on the bed of the truck, I used a couple sheets of the pink solid foam insulation (available at any home improvement store) on the bed, which gives me a R12+ base under my foam mattress. This makes a huge difference in sleeping comfort in cold conditions, again, something I’m not sure is important in Texas.

    I tend to focus on making sure I can get my diesel restarted when it is cold, so I have an upgraded electrical system. Dual alternators, larger batteries and spare batteries in the bed. I also have an idle controller so I can keep the engine from wet-stacking in the cold, and keep the alternators at a real charging RPM for 14.4 volts output.

    My spare fluids, belts, tools, and accessories are in ammo cans – .50 BMG, 20mm and 30mm cans with MFP seals, held in with a homebrew bracket system. This way, when hunting season is over, (or we set in for the other six months of winter), I change my truck’s configuration simply by putting a different set of ammo cans into the truck. I always have spare fuel in jerry cans when I’m hunting in the west – sometimes, the fuel won’t be burned in the engine. Diesel fuel keeps for a very long time. I also carry anti-gel additives or a jerry can of #1 diesel from hunting season through to May.

    If you want to carry spare fuel, hunt down used jerry cans – the real ones, made of steel by the Blitz company, or whatever NATO is using for steel fuel cans. Don’t fool around with plastic cans. A bed liner + plastic fuel cans can equal gasoline fires from static electricity.

    If you’re going off road alone, you need to have a come-along, tow strap, anchor(s), hi-lift jack (get a real Hi-Lift, not a ChiCom knock-off – they’re already dangerous enough even with real US quality), a shovel or e-tool, tire chains (for all four wheels), etc. With a hi-lift and a shovel, I can get out of some pretty dire situations all by myself. I’ve gotten a car out of ruts with a hi-lift alone – you jack it up clear out of the ruts with room to spare, then you kick over the hi-lift, moving the car to the side up out of the ruts. As I said, get the real McCoy, not a ChiCom knock-off.

    I always keep some method of starting a fire in my trucks. Always. Here, that means both matches and butane lighters. When camping, I tend to use a MSR stove with white gas, altho I think my next MSR will be a multi-fuel stove fired by kerosene/diesel/white gas. Butane would probably be neater and work fine in your environment. Here, when it’s really cold, getting butane to come out of the bottles may require additional heat – which is why I back up butane lighters with old-fashioned matches.

    Make sure you have a real spare tire, not a size-reduced spare tire. Make sure you have an inflation pump with you, and a tire patch kit. When I’m going really far off road, I’ll bring my tire irons/spoons with me, a way of breaking the bead, along with a patch kit and a can of ether to re-bead a tire.

    BTW, that “Crawl control” “feature” on the Tacoma? That’s what we old men call “knowing how to drive a vehicle.” A little knowledge, a manual transmission, and that demonstration in the Toyota video would have been completely unnecessary. Apparently, knowledge about driving is in short supply among youngsters these days.

    • I have a really difficult time with your extended explanation of sleeping in the bed, followed by worries about restarting in the cold. What’s the problem with sleeping in the cab, other than you want a single cab, so the seat won’t recline? Double cab, recline the seat, turn on the heat, and overnight might cost 2-3 gallons of gas. Gonna be there all weekend? Carry a 5-gal can of gas and you’re done! And suddenly a long-bed is not so necessary (since you’re not sleeping in it) , a short bed will carry all the guns and gear you need.

  17. Don’t change a thing, put down the credit cards and back away slowly!

    Nothing is tackier than a 40k+ brand new truck that’s been all tarted up with afternarket bolt-ons. It’s a nice truck as is, and the TRD is about as well sorted as an off-road centered factory truck can be short of a Raptor.

    At the most I would say get a decent brush guard that fits with the factory lines of the truck, a quality spray in bed liner, and some nice floor mats to keep the outdoors off of the interior, otherwise leave it alone.

  18. Winch, grill guard, a bed tool box, bedliner, and a trailer. Maybe a shell or some sort of truck tent. Those would be the immediate upgrades if it was my truck.

  19. Hard truck cap for the back. I have one on my 2012 Taco, dry storage, place to camp if you throw a cot in there etc. Best investment I’ve ever made. Put a rack on the cap and you can add more storage or canoe.
    Also high quality set of LT tires, BFG all terrains. Tow strap, lockable bed storage. Better lighting for up front, weathertech mats.

  20. I’ll use the GLOCK>Cabot argument:

    For the price of one new TRD Taco, she could’ve bought X-number of capable older 4x4s, or built at least two into badass trucks…. one for hunting/SHTF, one for commuting…. while not needing extra $k’s of specialty tools, computers, and/or someone else’s time to do it.

    But with a name and lifestyle like hers, what she really should’ve gotten was an M715… not a glorified ISIS-mobile.

    • Ditto….. More American made parts and labor in my 2001 Tundra TRD and 2016 Tacoma TRD Off-road than in any pos from Dodge or Chevy…(not sure about Ford and think ford’s building some quality stuff right now). Don’t hear the clowns that bash Toyotas say much about that!!!

  21. ARB or similar selectable rear locker (and a front one if you got the dough/sponsorship), aluminum front bumper w/winch mount, warn winch w/synthetic rope (XD9000i is fantastic and all you’ll need w/a snatch block), (together that’s a much lighter for the front end), warn winch bag, some mild intake products, stock exhaust so it’s quiet as you get to your spots, one size larger tire in BFG A/T or similar pattern (keep it low for low CG and ease of access to cab/bed), led lights front/rear, truck vault ( for your bang sticks, Leer 100XQ cap, (sleep on the vault!), Leer Locker (, First Aid kit, portable hot shower (zodi outback on Amazon), bumper dumper! (you DID get a class III on that thing right??, rocker sliders (, rear bumper of your choosing but I’d go aluminum to match the front and save weight, CB (still useful!), GoalZero Yeti 400 (Amazon), GoalZero 30M panel (Amazon).

    That’s a start! Granted, this list is for someone who might be able to get sponsorship for said goods. Keep it light, low, and capable.

  22. Based on my experience with my wife’s Tundra the first thing I would do is upgrade the headlights to the Angle Eye LED kit to avoid “roadkill hunting”.

    Console vault for pistols and electronics. There’s also a company that makes full length rifle safes that go under your rear seats but that’s dependent on your cab model (sadly doesn’t work on the Tundra CrewMax so we don’t have one).

    I’d change the bumpers out for ones that hold winches and slap 10,000lb winch(s) on her. I’d roll with a bumper that protects the radiator. (Like this:

    The rule is minimum 2x what the vehicle weighs so I’d go with 10K winches depending on model as the new Tacos can get up to 4500lbs but 9.5K you could probably get away with if you keep your mods light. I’ve had good luck with the Smittybilt XRC waterproof models. Half the cost Warn and they work just as well.

    You could consider a topper but that’s really expensive to get a nice one. There are a ton of aftermarket storage mods for the bed though. Just check out 4 wheel parts website.

    A radio. Preferably a mobile HAM but CB works too if you don’t feel like spending the cash and getting a license.

    Depending on where she hunts a lift and some General Grabber tires might not be a bad idea.

  23. Liberte,

    Your truck doesn’t need anything but a cell phone. If you ever get stuck, just call me and I’ll come get you out. Promise.

  24. 1) LED bar on the front with bumper bar. (possibly a winch depending upon where you hunt)
    2) Weathertech floor mats inside,
    3) Spray in bedliner,
    4) NRA Sticker

  25. First and foremost, stick an open-tip kydex holster under the steering wheel and practise drawing.

    Then, get a can for that weapon. It’s loud in there…

  26. And don’t forget the mud flaps with the chrome silhouette of a naked babe and a cover for the tow hitch that looks like a buffalo scrotum.


  27. I drive a 97 4runner with a four cylinder motor. It goes and goes. And cheaper on gas than my old dodge 4wd was. More reliable, too.

    I have a milk crate in the back with some metric tools, screwdrivers, pliers, etc. A roll of electrical tape and a roll of duct tape. Extra antifreeze, water and fix a flat.

    I’ve never been stuck. But I’m an old fart that will drive around a rock and not over it. But in case I have a pick, shovel, trail jack(I walked a chevy out of a ditch with a bumper jack) and come along.

    I’m always a little nervous crossing running water. Need some water wings for the rig.

    • When I lived in Anchorage, I bought a 2000 Toyota Tacoma 4×4 SR5 w/ 5-speed manual and 2.7 4-cylinder and drove it 187,000 miles without doing anything but replacing the worn out clutch plate at 130,000 miles and putting brake pads and spark plugs in it.

      Then, after 13 years, I found a hole rusted through the frame. The frame wasn’t built by Toyota, but by Dana, an American company. If not for that hole, I would still be driving that truck part time and would be well over 200,000 miles. Toyota covered the frame hole under a 15 year frame rust warranty and cut me a check for 1.5 times the Kelly blue book value (automatically rated excellent) to buy the truck back from me and condemn it to the crusher. They paid me $12,700 for a 13 year old truck with almost 190,000 miles on it, under a factory buy-back program. I don’t know how many other car companies would stand by their product like that.

      Best truck I ever owned, hands down. It was a tank in the Alaska snow. My business has nine Chevy Silverado 2500 and 3500 HDs, and none of them have been anywhere near as trouble free as that Toyota was.

  28. I really dislike winches, and I’ll tell you why:

    1. You’re not getting “just a winch.” Nooooo. You’re getting a bumper on which you can mount the winch, then you’re getting wiring, connectors and breakers to support the winch, then you need to get the control package for the winch, because standing next to a winch while you’re pulling isn’t safe.

    2. I’ve seen more guys with winches get themselves into dubious situations helping other people with their winches than I’ve seen guys getting themselves out of problems with their winches. Last winter, we had a guy who tried to winch his girlfriend’s vehicle out of a ditch, and he ended up putting himself into the ditch on top of her vehicle. They called 911, we came out, made sure everyone was OK, and then told them to call a tow truck. When they asked why we (the VFD) weren’t going to pull them out, we had to explain that a) we’re not a towing service, b) they were both fine, not a scratch on them, and c) if we put the fire truck into the ditch, now other people are endangered, and their cars would look really mangled.

    They thought (I guess) they were going to get a free pull out of a ditch. No, that’s not how any of this works.

    3. Many people don’t pay attention to their cable or rope on a winch, and they’re cheap about replacing it when it needs to be replaced. This leads to breakage under load, which can result in serious injuries.

    Rather than a winch, I’d rather have a Hi-Lift jack, tow straps, a good quality come-along and and some wood blocks.

    Here’s the American-made Hi-Lift. Do not use, carry, borrow or lend any foreign made hi-lift jack – ever, for any reason:

    Hi-lift jacks are dangerous when used by people who don’t know what they’re doing. They can bite your fingers (hard), they can slap you in the face, they can drop your car if you don’t operate them competently. That said, in the right hands, they can get lots of vehicles out of lots of problems easily and quickly. In the hands of someone who knows what they’re doing, a Hi-Lift (aka “farm jack”) can do amazing things.

    Get an American-made come-along. This makes the cheap-assed crap at Horror Freight look like, well, a horror:

    Jumper cables – I don’t screw around with store-bought cables in my F-350. I have a set of cables I made from 2/0 welding cable and a couple of all-copper clamps I found in military surplus. I’ve used my F-350 (which has an idle controller) to start lots of diesel engines in the coldest winters, and I could spin over a Deere 466 in -20F temps without a problem with my cables. Other, store-bought cables? I’d melt the insulation off of them. For a gas engined vehicle, OK, maybe you might back off to #2 copper wire. The chicom crap cables made with #8 wire? You’ll be sorry when you really need to make a jump happen.

    I carry tools enough to allow me to:
    – change tires
    – change batteries
    – change fan/serpentine belts
    – change radiator hoses

    If I’m going to be way, way off road (eg, in central Nevada, north/central ID, central UT, etc), I carry tire spoons/bars, a can of ether and a tire patch kit, belt(s), radiator hoses, oil, coolant, jerry cans of fuel (up to four), 4 gallons of water, etc.

    I always have a small cache of food, fresh water (and/or a water filter), a grungy sleeping bag, first aid kit, firestarting tools, extra fuel, coolant, distilled water, small grease gun (a real grease gun, with #2 grease), electrical tape, duct tape, some electrical connectors, spare fuses, etc with me when I go hunting. I’d never leave town with a reduced-size spare tire – matter of fact, I make sure that my spare is always the same size as my current set of tires. Many people forget this, and on a 4X4 vehicle, it can bit you hard when you forget.

    Things like guns? Feh. They’re the easiest to remember, and they’re always last on my list of things in the truck.

    Where you are in Texas? You can probably walk to town in a half day, so you don’t need to carry anything like my load-out for hunting.

  29. Game hanger for the tail hitch. Makes draining and skinning much easier in the field (as I’m told, haven’t had the privilege of using one, yet).

  30. Better bumpers or bumper protection, including good tow points at both ends. Better tires, including spare, based on local terrain. Air compressor and plug kit. Unsticking equipment, such as winch, snatch straps, chains, cables, gloves, snatch blocks, tree straps, clevises, hi-lift jacks, boards, shovels, axe/saw, machete, tire chains…. Some type of bed cover. Good rear-facing floodlights not connected to reverse lights/switch. Good bed light(s). Wash water storage. Gambrel for use with winch or come-along and snatch block to hoist deer. Maybe a hoist frame that fits your receiver hitch. Maybe a cleaning table or similar. Spare parts based on likely needs for your truck (fuses, bulbs, belts, hoses, locking hubs, tie wire, duck tape, elec. tape). Tools. Mud boots.

  31. There’s good advice above if you want to be loud and proud. My position is: I always want to be able to go grey if I need to. You’ve already got a nice, sleek grey truck. Keeping a ball cap, scarf and normal-looking backpack stashed in it would let you become anonymous pretty quickly if necessary. Keep your bug-out / hiking supplies there (sunscreen, bug juice, thermals, gloves, first aid, fire starting, communication, light, socks, shoes and other sundries) and you’re set personally.

    I wouldn’t do a whole lot that would tip anyone off that there’s much to the truck unless you know it’s going to be in relatively secure areas all the time. If you’re going to be travelling, in cities, or in less secure areas, I’d go with and some under-the-hood work, skid plates, and less conspicuous items that will increase reliability and your chances of getting back to where you want to be. Basic vehicle repair and safety stuff like spare fuses, wrenches, flares, a flashlight, fix-a-flat and a fire extinguisher should be available. Make sure you have a real (or effective) tire jack and lug nut wrench as not all vehicles these days actually bother to provide that and consider keeping a few spare lug nuts in a container just in case.

    One of the single best, cheapest and most effective vehicle items I’ve kept over the years was suggested to me by a British Colonel and veteran of WWII. He gave me a 1-liter soda bottle filled with sand. He said whether you use the sand to help you get off ice or dump the sand and fill it with snow or water, you can’t go wrong having a bottle handy.

    And… having gone that far and without trying to make the foregoing sound like a joke, I’d have to say: I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.


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