STARTING ON TWO WHEELS
I started riding dirt bikes when I was a kid. I went from an 800cc Yamaha in 1978 to different bikes over the years. My last bike was an XR650, which I got rid of about 12 years ago. Over the years, I’ve owned different off-road vehicles and have been involved in off-roading in one way or another. The first off-road vehicle I ever built was a 1996 80-Series Land Cruiser and the reliability of it was the best thing about it.
I picked up a Jeep Wrangler a few years ago because their Rubicon version was a solid base to start a new off-road build. My OVRLNDX Jeep JKU is actually my second Jeep. My first Jeep was my dad’s old XJ that I loved to drive everywhere back in the day. So, you can say that I’ve always liked Jeeps.
ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER
Besides off-roading, my other passion is photography, which is another reason why I purchased the Jeep. I wanted a vehicle capable enough to take me and my cameras to those awesome shoot locations. I’ve been interested in photography ever since I got my first Minolta AE1 and I also love camping and exploring, so the Jeep is perfect for that, too.
I do a lot of research when it’s time to pick parts for the build. I also tend to go with brands that have a good reputation in the industry. I do most of the work myself, but not when it comes to fluid changes. It’s kind of a hassle to dispose of old fluids without harming the environment so I leave that up to the professionals.
My Jeep also does have a lot of custom parts like the drawer system in the back which I designed and built myself using aluminum extrusions and bracketry, wood and carpet lining materials. Also in the works is a custom air down/up system that I’m working out the kinks on. My favorite mods on the Jeep would have to be the wheels, tires, and suspension. Oh, and the rooftop tent. I can safely go to remote, picturesque and uncrowded places without the risk of getting stuck and I can spend more than a day doing it by having a safe and comfortable sleeping area. As a member of the overland community, I’ve learned a lot from others in the scene over the years. This community is like a family and I’ve met the most wonderful people ever! I’ve met several of my best friends through overlanding.
I can’t over emphasize how much I like the Teraflex long-arm suspension because it offers the best on- and off-the-pavement ride and performance. The Genesis dual battery system also gives me so much peace of mind that my Jeep will always have enough juice to crank up even in Arctic weather. Recently, I went to 38” Milestar Patagonia tires…come on 38s! Although I like how my Jeep is set up already, there’s no end when building a Jeep! I’ll probably do a motor swap in the future given this Jeep already hit the 114K-mile mark on the original engine.
I’ve been to a lot of places, but the most challenging trails I’ve ever done is Black Bear Pass in Colorado. Even though it’s not technically challenging, it sure is mentally tiring. My Jeep didn’t suffer any scars during the trip, but I was exhausted after coming down those narrow switchbacks. There were a lot of white-knuckle moments on that one!
A while back, my pals and I discovered that eating good and tasty food was totally possible while camping or on the trails during our overlanding trips. Since I don’t eat meat, there aren’t many options out there for easy-to-prepare camping food. It didn’t take long before I brought the home kitchen to the trails and campsites. Almost everything you see in the trunk of my Jeep is my devotion to outdoor cooking, good food and healthy eating. The ARB freezer keeps perishables fresh and my drinks cold. The custom cabinetry holds my pots, pans, plates, cups, roasted coffee and spices, which are all nicely organized in separate drawers. I installed a Powertank propane bottle mount on the C-pillar for my skottle. Because of my love for cooking gourmet meals on the trail and with the admonition of close friends, I published a book called “The Overland Cook” to give outdoor adventurers some of the food possibilities while they’re out enjoying nature. People shouldn’t limit themselves to eating Mountain House on the trails. I have a tuna dish in the cookbook that you’ll love and is easy to prepare at camp. So far, the cookbook has been selling well!
FAIL TO PLAN, PLAN TO FAIL
Even though the destination isn’t always set in stone, I do plan a route, download any maps needed, determine fuel and supply stops and mark waypoints and camping spots. I also check for camping rules for the area to know beforehand. It’s also important to determine the number of vehicles in the caravan. The group has to tread lightly to prevent any trail damage.
I usually always check everything all the time, especially the suspension components that tend to come loose after an off-road trip. It’s also important to bring extra nuts and bolts, fluid and tools, just in case.
It’s also important that you don’t go alone. I always travel with another vehicle as capable and prepared as mine. Bringing some type of communication device is also very important. Never go alone to places that you are not familiar with. Know your vehicle’s and your own limitations. Let someone at home know where you will be at all times.
Get familiar with the trails and tread lightly. Have a “pack it in, pack it out” philosophy. Educate yourself and understand why you are not supposed to bring firewood to camp. Instead, buy it where you’ll burn it or gather firewood on-site, if permitted. Learn about human waste disposal, too!
TECH SPECS – 2015 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hardrock Edition
- TeraFlex CT-4 Alpine Long Arm Suspension System
- TeraFlex Outback Coils
- TeraFlex Speedbump Bumpstops
- TeraFlex HD High Steer System
- TeraFlex HD Drag Link Flip Kit
- TeraFlex HD Tie Rod
- TeraFlex HD Ball Joints
- Falcon Series 3.3 Shocks
- Falcon Nexus 2.2 Stabilizerc
- WARN Zeon 10S Winch
- Deadman Off-Road Earth Anchor
- Deadman Off-Road Murder Spork
- 40,000-lbs 4″ Tow Strap
- Factor 55 Flatlink Shackle Mount
- Safe Jack “The Sergeant” Off-Road Kit
- TRED 4X4 TRED Pro Recovery Ramps
- ARB On-Board Twin Compressor
- RotopaX 2 Gallon Fuel Pack
- RotopaX 2 Gallon Water Pack
- Custom Air Management System
- WARN Shackles and Snatch Block
- Blueridge Overland Soft Shackles
WHEELS, TIRES, AND DRIVELINE
- Custom Made Drawer System
- Teraflex Wasatch Cargo Rack
- Blueridge Overland JKU Attic
- Blueridge Overland Air Tools Bag
- Blueridge Overland Tool Bag
- Blueridge Overland Utility Pouches
- Blueridge First-Aid IFAK BagÂ
- Blueridge Trip Planning Bag
- Blueridge Molle GP Pouches
- Blueridge Beard Tamer Bag
- Blueridge Molle Seat Back Panel
- Blueridge Headrest Storage Bag
- Blueridge Tire Storage Bag
- Blueridge Cooking Kit Bag
- TembotTusk Regular Skottle
- TembotTusk Adventure Skottle
- Flatpit Grill Kit
- Lixada Portable Gas Stove
- Camp Chef Professional Knife Set
- Cosimini Custom Knife
- Goose Gear Cutting Board
- Full Spice Rack
- Bialetti 12 Cup Espresso Maker
- Snow Peak Field Barista Kettle
- Ukumari Outdoors Utensils
- WILCO Off Road MC2X Bumpers
- ARB Differential Covers
- Falcon Shocks Skid Plates
- EVO MFG ProTek Skid System
- AEV Corner Guards
- Offroad Elements M8 Limb Risers
- GOBI Ranger Roof Rack
- Rubicon Hardrock Rock Rails
- Kargomaster Safari Hinge Step
- Falcon Rear Shocks Skid Plates
- Under the Sun Grille Insert
- GenRight Off Road Aluminum Fenders
- KC HiLiTES G6 Pro Sport Gravity LED Lights
- KC HiLiTES Gravity LED Headlights
- KC HiLiTES G4 Gravity LED Fog Lights
- KC HiLiTES C2 LED Area Floodlights
- KC HiLiTES 2″ Cyclone Auxiliary LED Lights
- KC HiLiTES 28″ Rear-Facing Chase Bar
- KC HiLiTES 7″ Carbon Pods
- KC HiLiTES 10″ Flex Array Amber
- Switch-Pros 8 Switch Controller
- Custom Made Rear Window LED
ELECTRONICS AND MOUNTS
- Freespirit Recreation Adventure Series Auto Roof Top Tent
- Freespirit Recreation ReadyLight
- Front Runner Expander Camping Chairs
- Waterport Potable Water Day Tank
- Fold To Go Portable Toilet