Have you seen #vanlife trending on social media lately? Well, we took that idea and dreamed up #cruiserlife. Yup, we converted our 2001 Land Cruiser into one epic road trip vehicle. Since November, this bad boy has helped us cruise comfortably across America to explore destinations like the Oregon coast, Crater Lake, Escalante, Mammoth Lakes, Alabama Hills, Death Valley, Moab, Arches National Park, Joshua Tree, Zion and more! I’ve recently gotten loads of questions on Instagram about our setup so I thought it might be helpful to do a little blog post on the topic.
Our first order of business was to maximize storage. We needed space to store our tent, camping gear, and luggage. A roof rack was an obvious place to start. We ended up going with a Rhino-Rack Pioneer Platform. We liked this option because it was stylish and resourceful. It makes loading and unloading equipment easy. The best thing about the Pioneer Platform is that it has been specifically designed to carry existing Rhino-Rack accessories including luggage bags, jerry can holders, spare wheel holders, shovels and loads more.
Next, we purchased a cargo box. After doing some research at Rack Attack, we went with a Thule. This was an important purchase for us because it allowed us to store stuff outside the vehicle. We often travel with our two pups, so they need the back end for comfort while we are driving. It also attaches perfectly to the above Pioneer Platform.
Lastly, we installed two big ARB drawers in the backend of the Cruiser to add even more storage. This is where we keep things that we need handy during our travels. Typically, this is our stove, cooking utensils, lanterns, dry food, gear and personal belongings. This setup provides an insane amount of storage in the back — I still surprise myself sometimes with how much we can stuff back there. The drawers also make a nice platform for our bed, which I’ll explain in a bit.
Sometimes for ease and comfort, we like to sleep in our car. This is really useful if it’s just a quick stop to get some z’s or if the weather is cold/windy. The bed in the back also keeps the dogs super happy when we’re driving. It gives them both their own personal space, which they prefer. I wish our dogs would cuddle together but they don’t (tear).
To get the bed just right, Chance created a wooden platform with hinges, which allows us the flexibility to fold the bed/seats up (to store it away) or lay it down (so we can sleep). On top of the wooden platform, we purchased a Tempurpedic 3-inch foam mattress topper from Bed Bath & Beyond. We then purchased queen sheets from Target and a queen duvet from Ikea. We also have a wool blanket from Pendleton that we use if it gets super cold. Overall, it is REAL comfortable. We’ve slept peacefully through 20 degree nights in little to no pajamas. One thing that makes this possible and gives us some privacy is the custom insulation panels Chance made for each window. This keeps the heat inside the vehicle. It also keeps the sun out on a hot and toasty day as well. Here is a link on how to make them.
We had a second deep cycle car battery installed with an inverter and outlets inside the cruiser so that we could charge our electronics at night without draining the main battery. This allows us to keep laptops, cameras, Garmin accessories and phones juiced up during multiple days on the road.
We also purchased two gas jerry cans. When you’re out exploring sometimes you go off the beaten path and when you do that, you don’t see gas stations for miles. It’s always a good idea to have a backup plan so we keep those bad boys filled with gas just in case we need them!
We needed a night light for the car so that we wouldn’t use the car battery at night so we installed rope lights around the perimeter of the Cruiser. It’s just battery powered, no plug needed. It’s something really simple, but it makes a big difference at night when you’re trying to find things or get situated. The ambiance is a nice touch too.
A recent addition is the awning. This provides excellent shade when it gets toasty out. I highly recommend this if you’re planning to cruise through the desert. With our dogs, it was a must to keep them cool and out of the sun. When we’re not exploring, we like to chill and hangout — enjoy lunch, etc. You can usually find us sitting under our awning on some fold-out chairs or a blanket.
Chance and I are both pretty healthy, and since we own both a Jet Boil and a Coleman Classic, we do a lot of cooking on the road. Knowing this, I do a ton of meal prepping and a key factor in keeping everything yummy is our Yeti. It also keeps my La Croix super cold (because we all know how important that is!). If we need more space and can’t bring the big white Yeti, we use our small Arctic Zone cooler. I also highly recommend purchasing two Yeti ramblers. They are great for coffee, tea, soups, granola bowls, and WINE!
We own lots of miscellaneous camping gear like an ax, a shovel, traction mats, forks, knives, etc. but below are some of the larger items I wanted to mention because I get asked about them too.
- Tent: We actually own two. The small one is Poler and the large one is Ticla Mojave. They no longer make Ticla tents, which is a shame because I love ours! It is the ultimate glamping tent.
- Bags: Both of our sleeping bags are Mountain Hardware. We also have two Poler nap sacks we bring with us when it’s chilly to use by the campfire.
- Sleeping Pads: Exped and Nemo.
- Hammock: For fun, we purchased an ENO hammock. It is awesome to take on hikes so you can sit and enjoy the view + relax from the summit. It’s also just fun to have at the park so you can lounge and read a book.
So there you have it! This is essentially how we created our adventure mobile. If you have any questions, drop a line below in the comments section and I’ll do my best to answer all of them.