It’s no secret that at Adventure Merchants & Outfitters we live and breathe adventures. Our business started from passion and our fully equipped Sydney workshop gives every 4WD the special treatment adding the essential touches so that your 4WD tourer is fully equipped for your travelling style.
In this blog we’ll cover what we consider to be key customisations and why our customers choose to include these features in their 4WD fitout. After reading this blog you’ll know exactly what to consider when customising your 4WD fit out for overland adventures.
Shelter, sleeping and living
This is what is needed for survival at the best of times; and it’s especially necessary when you are off the grid in your 4WD, but how much thought and planning have you given your shelter, sleeping and living options when you are travelling?
We recommend our customers to really consider how they want to spend their time, similar to any house renovation you need to prioritise the things that are more important for you and your family. Would you rather have more comfortable sleeping arrangements or go next-level with your living area?
Consider where you are planning to sleep, is it in a roof top tent or a ground tent, and what do you want to have in terms of a mattress? Are you going to sleep in a swag or an air mattress? Are you going to user a doona or a sleeping bag? We hate being cold, so having the right gear is always high on our list. But, more importantly what are you going to do if it buckets down rain for 4 days straight? Are you going to be able to sleep comfortably in these conditions?
As for living conditions, you need to consider if you want to prioritise having bulkier, but perhaps more comfortable chairs, or if you wanting ultra light chairs that are more compact to save on valuable space. And don’t forget shade options are extremely important, having something that can survive the 4 days of rain and provide plenty of shade coverage for the outback sun is going to be money well spent. We find many of our customers opt to devote a good part of their 4WD fitout budget to create a living space that the camping neighbours will envy.
But overall it’s important that your living setup is fast, easy, and requires no hassle to move things. Ideally anyone in family can help with the setup, which will ensure quick setup and pack down times. Spend less time setting up camp and more time enjoying the destination!
Before we even begin to discuss cold and dry storage options we want to talk about prep space. Having a pimped out prep space will make preparing meals easier and more enjoyable, so prioritising a dedicated space to this daily chore should be top of your 4WD fitout list. Having that area to stand and chop your meat and veg is a better option than sitting a chopping board on your lap. You should also consider making your prep area weather proof so you’ll never need to prepare dinner in the wind again, we’ve been there in our early adventuring days, and it’s a rookie mistake.
Now that your prep space is sorted, we can focus on where to store your dry food. Most of our customers will opt to allocate one of the draws to storing dry foods. Because you’ll be needing to access to that draw several times a day, even between camping spots, you are going to want this draw to be easily accessible. We see it far too often when people store their food in hard to reach places, it just makes things unnecessarily difficult, especially with good planning.
Cold storage is key if you want to spend some time off the grid. And your options of cold storage can range from cheap to expensive. But is the most expensive the best? Whilst we are opposed to big bulky retailers and heavy discounting on non-quality products, we can’t fault that if you head to BCF or Anaconda you can get a great deal on a Waeco fridge. We fit many Waeco fridges, it’s a good product at a good price point and a solid entry level fridge.
If you have extra room in your budget, then we’re able to order National Luna fridges. In our opinion, these are the best on the market. The quality of the aluminium case will last the test of time, and you won’t need to replace it after a few years. But starting from about $1,500-$2,500, it is an upgrade you can always add later.
If you are after a non-powered cooler, then Yeti products have reputation for good reason. They stay cold. Like really stay cold. Sure the price tag is there, but if you want a cooler that’s going to keep things cool then Yeti is the way to go. Who wants to find off meat 2 days into a 5 day off-road trip? And who likes warm beer? Not us!
As a rule of thumb, we find aiming to carry 2-3 litres per person for each travel day is enough water for food prep and drinking. This however doesn’t include showering. In which case, if you are a couple heading away for three days you’ll want at least 18 litres of water capacity. Double this for a family of four.>
Because water is so vital, having water storage as part of your 4WD fit out essential. If you were heading to the Simpson Desert for a week with a family of four, you’ll want water capacity of 60-70 litres to ensure a strong water supply. This would be enough to supply drinking water for 5-6 days.
To work out water tank sizes to include in your 4WD fit-out ask yourself if you are planning more short-term or long-term trips? And how long you plan to be off grid before you’re able to refill your water tanks? It’s a fine balance between adding a larger water tank and trip duration.
Our first three points covering sleeping/food/water also overlap into this topic. Storage is why we have a 4WD fitout business, because good storage, just like for your home is paramount to a well-organised 4WD adventure.
We’ve already covered off a little about using a drawer for your 4WD and allocating space to gear that will help you live and sleep, but how exactly do you store it all?
In every 4WD customised fit out we complete we will almost always install a drawer system. We love Front Runner draws because of the way they glide and high quality they stand for, it’s what we are all about. Our customers always love their 4WD drawer systems because by allocating draws is the best way to compartmentalise all your gear. A drawer for food, a drawer for clothes, or a drawer for whatever else it is you want to organise.
We’re also big on modular storage options. These systems are great to store things such as duffle or firewood. Modular systems can also be mounted to your roof racks. And we’ve been rambling on about storage and we are yet to say anything about roof racks, yikes! We know it may be tempting to lean towards something cheaper - but strength and weight are super important - so don’t let cost be the only factor; like most things there are a lot of options - and of course if you’re not sure where to start, fill out an enquiry form and we will be happy to talk you through it.
Image: Roof racks driving out of our Sydney workshop
When planning out what storage requirements you actually need, you need to think about how many people travel with you. Do you have a young family, older kids, or is it just you and a partner? With the number of people counted, you then need to write a list of all the gear you want to take including taking into consideration summer or winter clothes. Actually writing the list will be helpful for you to understand what is and isn’t necessary, and provide your 4WD fitout company a good overview of what storage requirements suit you.
If you’re looking for a strong chair that takes up minimal space, you can’t go past Red Roads chairs, stored away at just 48cm long by 12cm diameter and weighing in at 2.2kg, these chairs are great for storage without impacting on comfort. If you go with a Front Runner Slimline roof rackwe highly recommend chucking on a stainless steel table with under rack storage - this gives you a huge amount of prep and eating space, whilst not chewing up valuable in car storage!
We ensure no matter what gear you take on your trip, you’ll be able to access it all easily and hassle free - provided you put everything in it’s dedicated home!
Last but not least, let’s talk power. A great battery system is a key element in any 4wd fit out. Power systems can start from $400 or go up to $2000+ and that cost varies depending on how long you want to stay in one place and what you want to do while you’re there, Do you want to be on the move more often or do you want to stay put; free camp or powered campsites?
At Adventure Merchants and Outfitters, we customise your power setup to compliment your adventure style. Power requirements for running a set up in Tassie in winter compared to the middle of Summer in the Northern Territory will be completely different. It’s details like this that we consider to help you build a power system you can count on when you need it most.
Image: Our Sydney workshop installing a power system
Next up, it’s time to talk about lithium vs lead acid and how you can plan these into a system that will work for now, then allow you to upgrade in the future. We find most of our customers will install a battery system that can run lead acid and lithium. Even if you can’t afford a lithium battery right now it’s better to have something that can do both and then upgrade to a lithium battery the future. Pre-planning now, will save you time and money in the future.
For 99% of our 4WD builds we recommend Enerdrive 40AMP DC to DC charger, they are reliable, they can charge all battery types and it also has a built in solar regulator, so no need for additional add ons - and you’ll be covered for any future upgrades.
Well that’s it… our top tips to consider when customising your 4WD fit out for overland adventures. If you have any questions or would like to know more information about customising your 4WD fitout with Adventure Merchants and Outfitters please call us on 02 7955 9005 or fill out the contact form. We can’t wait to chat about your specific 4WD requirements.