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It's a Rock Crawler, no, an Overlander, no, It's a Rocklander!
As it turns out, you don't have to choose between comfort and capability when building a Jeep! With both a bit of effort and the right assortment of parts, we finally created a healthy blend of serious off-road capability and uncommon comfort. After years of exploring the outdoors with various vehicles and equipment, we hunted down the parts needed to make this happen.
Building the Jeep Camper
We started with this 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon as it is the most capable stock 4x4 you can purchase in the USA, and it has the greatest aftermarket support too. After a ton of searching, we found this one in 2019 with the Ursa Minor Jeep camper top, TrekBoxx storage system, ARB refrigerator, Genesis dual battery setup, and many other upgrades already installed. Since then we've added a 2,000W pure sine inverter, back seat area storage system custom built by TrekBoxx, Tuffy security console, and a custom step that makes entering the camper easier. We also changed to the latest dual battery combiner form Genesis, and redid the electrical distribution to feed the inverter, amplifier, GMRS radio, and other accessories.
Improving the Off-Road Capability of our Jeep Camper
The AEV 2.5" lift it had when we bought it wasn't going to cut it where we wanted to go, so we immediately went to work upgrading things. We installed near-indestructible suspension links and steering from TrailForged, springs from MetalCloak, a PSC big-bore steering box, and massive Fox 2.5 DSC adjustable shocks in the longest configuration they make for maximum travel. In fact, this required chopping off the axle side shock mounts and relocating them, as well as installing Synergy relocation brackets at the body out back. A pair of Hutchinson bead lock wheels and 37" BFGoodrich KM3 tires were then added to round out the lift/tire situation.
To allow this rig to take a serious beating, we installed a pair of Axles from Dynatrac with 5.13 gears and electric lockers, as well as a full set of skid plates from Clayton. We also installed AEV bumpers front and rear as the rear setup carries 5 gallons of water, 10 gallons of fuel, a full size shovel, and the spare tire. We also liked the complete look, good coverage, and high clearance of the front bumper. Likewise, we ended up building rock sliders that double as storage for a folding step, air, fuel, tire chains, Shackles, the Hi-Lift jack, and 2 pieces of 2x6 Douglas Fir.
Improving the On-Road Capability of our Jeep Camper
Here's a harsh reality; if you drive your trail toy to the trailhead before you go four wheeling, you've got a rig that does mostly highway. With this in mind, we focused hard on suspension geometry and equipment to maintain the best possible road manners. For example, the Dynatrac front axle has more separation between caster and pinion angle to accommodate for the lift, so we've now got perfect pinion angle and caster to minimize driveline vibration and allow the steering to recenter as it should. We also run an effective wheel offset that's only 1.75" from stock because this is the closest that'd clear 37" tires. This keeps the scrub radius small to maintain good steering characteristics. Coupled with not running a hydraulic assist ram, it prevents the dead feeling steering that'd cause, and low scrub radius means the big-bore box has no trouble at all turning the 37's.
- 845RE (8HP45) transmission from a 2017 Ram 1500
- PCS transmission controller from Jeep Speed Shop
- Stock 4:1 NP241OR Rubicon transfer case
- Dynatrac high pinion Pro Rock 60 JK rear axle with 5.13 10" SuperDuty gears
- Dynatrac Pro Rock 44 JK front axle with 5.13 gears
- Tom Wood's 1350 driveshafts front and rear
- Teraflex JK Big brakes all around
- J8 Master cylinder and booster
- Mopar Performance Catalog Hutchinson double deadlock wheels
- 37x12.50R17 BFG Mud Terrain T/A tires for most of the season
- 315/70R17 Nokian Hakkapeliitta LT3 Non-Studded snow tires for use on frozen winter roads
- Staun Tire Deflators
- I'm forgetting something, more like lots of things...