We bought a First Gen Tundra and sold the Tacoma for our overlanding truck camper build

first gen tundra overland

If you’ve been following our pages for awhile you’d know that we have had a few different camping setups over the years. Whether it was the Gazelle tent, Livin’ Lite Quicksilver pop up camper trailer, or Softopper camping setup, all suited our needs for specific times in our life and various needs.

Through all that was my trusty 2006 Toyota Tacoma. It got us through a lot of trips and almost 8 years of joy, but its Achilles heel was always the fact that it was 2-wheel-drive. That, plus a few other grievances, led us to the big change I’m telling you about today.

Fast-forward to our recently-acquired First Gen Tundra…

It’s a 2006 Double Cab Toyota Tundra TRD Offroad and I’ve been absolutely loving it. It had about 181,000 miles when I bought it 7 months ago and now I’m up to 190k miles — mostly road trips and camping trips. The suspension was already done recently by the previous owner.

It currently has Bilstein 6112 shocks and JBA upper control arms up front. Bilstein 5100s, stock leaf pack, and RAS active suspension in the rear. I run 255/80/17 Toyo Open Country AT3 tires and love this setup.

Why switch from a Toyota Tacoma to a first generation Toyota Tundra for overlanding?

Besides the lack of 4×4 capability in my Tacoma build, there were two reasons we felt it was time to move on from Toyota’s popular mid-size overlanding machine.

1. Size for our growing family

With our two kids growing rapidly (12 and 8) and our 75lb. German Shepard dog joining us on most camping trips, the Tacoma cab was beginning to feel… small. Sure, I found ways to safely transport the dog in the bed of the truck, but occasionally (when it was too hot) we had to bring Shoshone (the dog) into the cab with us. Our trip to the Sierras last summer was the point when I decided the cabin of the Tacoma was just too small for us. The first gen Tundra in the double cab variant has plenty of room for our growing family.

2. Big change in our camping setup

Our camper trailer setup was great for us at the time, but we moved on.

I will go into detail about this in another article, but basically I decided it was time to sell the camper trailer and put a truck camper on the back of a truck. This is a huge undertaking and I wanted to make sure it would go on the right truck. While the Toyota Tacoma has plenty of power for a camper shell or Softopper, I had a feeling it would be lacking for a bigger truck camper build. The 2006 Tundra has a powerful V8 engine compared to the peppy V6 of the Tacoma. Not to mention the Tundra bed is a little longer and a little wider. This obviously is a big factor when deciding on a vehicle for a truck camper build.

Just outside of Trona Pinnacles last week.

We decided to go with OVRLND Campers, a company that makes lightweight truck campers out of Flagstaff, Arizona (ovrlndcampers.com). Similar to our Livin’ Lite Quicksilver, this OVRLND camper is made from aluminum and super strong! In the coming days/weeks we’ll be showcasing this beautiful truck camper in a new series here at Dirt N’ S’mores.

So as you can see I took into account how the first gen Tundra has a bigger bed than the long bed Tacoma, both in width and length. It’s not a massive difference, but at 63″ wide and 74″ long every — inch counts. The extra power was crucial to me deciding on moving on from the Tacoma. When loaded down it wasn’t fun climbing mountain passes and steep hills. In the Tundra I’ve haven’t had any issues so far.

Why the first gen Tundra over other trucks for my overlanding build?

I wanted something bigger, but not too big. To me the newer trucks, 2nd gen and 3rd gen Tundras, are just too big and the beds too small if you need a large cab. For the crew cab Tundra, your only option is a 5.5ft bed. If I wanted the double cab 2nd gen Tundra, the bed is plenty long at 78″ but the leg room in the back seats are similar to the Tacoma double cab.

First Gen Tundra (left) vs. 2nd Gen Tacoma (right). Both are 2006 year models.

As mentioned earlier, the double cab 1st gen Tundra provides a large enough cab for my family of four and a bed just a tad over 6 feet. It’s crucial that the bed would be long enough for one adult to sleep comfortably down below while sleep 3 up above in our OVRLND truck camper.

I’ve just never been a huge fan of the overall design of the 2nd gens and the 1st gen Tundra has always caught my eye. Not to mention it has proven reliability in that iForce VVTi V8 and 5 speed transmission (05 and 06 models). In the end I’m sure you can’t go wrong with any gen Tundra as far as reliability goes.

The truck named Razor Crest

So there you have it. We are building a true overland 4×4 setup with our newly acquired first gen Toyota Tundra and OVRLND Camper. The rig will called Razor Crest, named after the Mandalorian’s ship that he used to travel the galaxy and collect his bounties. Thanks to the kids for that great name!

Stay tuned here at the blog for more content on our new truck camper. We’ve posted plenty of content on your Youtube Channel and Instagram.

Happy Camping!

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