Dodge Ram Overland Rig – The Battering Ram – Dodge Ram Overlanding & Exploring Vehicle
Dodge Ram Overland Rig??? There’s so many different vehicles that you can build an Overlanding Vehicle out of. Overland vehicles can be any manufacturer, any configuration, but share commonalities of…
A) You can carry your sleeping gear with you (or sleep inside), and
B) Can travel long distances reasonably easily
Most Overlanders prefer 4x4 platforms to build from, and we’re certainly no exception. Being in the 4x4 / Jeep industry since 1999, we are FULLY aware of the power of Four Wheel Drive. 4x4 systems can get you out of a potential life-threatening situation…particularly if there’s no one around (most Overland Explorers camp off-grid away from cities)…and particularly if the weather changes quickly.
“Overlanding is self-reliant overland travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal. Typically, but not exclusively, it is accomplished with mechanized off-road capable transport (from bicycles to trucks) where the principal form of lodging is camping, often lasting for extended lengths of time (months to years) and spanning international boundaries.” (Wikipedia)
When we were brainstorming all the different rigs we could build from, here is the parameters we were working with…
Absolutely HAVE to have!
Winch / Recovery Gear
4x4 with beefy axles
Options for limited slip / lockers
Low Range Transfer Case
Able to run taller than 31″ tires
Easy outdoor access to gear
Easy to find OE/replacement parts worldwide
Easy to repair with onboard tool kit
Easy to find mechanics to repair what I can’t…
Nice To Have
Decent fuel economy
Not terribly tall
Not terribly long
Reasonable Aftermarket Parts support
Here’s a short video series from our shake-down run to the Verde River…not super-far from Phoenix.
What we learned:
Clearly, this rig is NOT built for tight trails like this one…but sure enough…it did an AMAZING job of pushing/pulling it’s way through this VERY tight trail, without any complaining, and only a few dents.
On the short list to install: Rocker Panel Protection, Skid Plates, Front and Rear-mounted Winch (or one that can be removed and brought to the other end?), Front and Rear Lockers, and would LOVE to figure out a way to do an Exocage for protection of the thin-walled aluminum camper walls.
The cab was GREAT for this trail…plenty of room…comfy buckets pulled from a Dodge minivan…and comfortable seating position.
The axles held up well…but that’s why we started with this platform that includes a Dana 60 front and Dana 70 rear axle.
The utility bed was SUPER-nice to have easy-access to our recovery gear, our camping chairs, our tools, our onboard CO2 container, etc. Unfortunately, it also took some underside damage from the several places we got hung up on (the road had washed out in several spots), but thankfully, it’s steel…and can be beat back into place fairly easily…and skid plates WILL be formed and installed before we get too crazy with it next time.
The rig is also a great tow-rig. We tossed the Jeep on a flatbed trailer and pulled it up to Moab for Grand Slam West…an annual event we attend…and were able to get 13mpg average. This rig is no race-truck, and we drove under the speed limit almost the entire way…but damned if it wasn’t comfortable and reliable. (Evidently we need a larger transmission cooler, though…trans went into “Overdrive-off” mode several times and displayed the “Trans Over Temp” idiot light on the dashboard several times…but we slowed down a bit and she made it back to Arizona just fine.
…to be continued…