It’s funny how you can start out thinking “We’ve got this figured out – Jeep Wranglers are all we will ever need.” They are a great vehicle, but then the Gladiator came out with more cargo space, a much higher payload capacity and most importantly: enough space to have both a roof top tent AND a fully convertible roof. Yes, you know where this is going ….
Our shiny new Gladiator arrived in July and within minutes the orders for kit and equipment were dispatched.
Priority #1 was for high quality items, with plenty of organized storage and a durable setup which would withstand years of use.
Priority #2 was to keep the costs in check, to be clever on where we spent our limited budget.
Priority #3 … and this was new for us: the ability to have a convertible truck and a roof top tent on that very same vehicle.
However, they say the window to the soul of a vehicle is displayed via its wheels, so first step was for our friends at Extreme Terrain to hook us up with a set of Mammoth Split 8 matte black wheels. These allowed us to use the stock size tire, while providing an offset to give that wider stance. The Gladiator looked meaner immediately.With a convertible roof, the need to keep the black cloth seats is an important consideration, so a set of neoprene seat covers was next on the list. We expect to be vacuuming tons of dirt out of this thing over the coming years, so protecting those seats is key. That was the extent of our interior ‘modifications’.Excellent – our costs were in check so far.
Next step – get the open truck bed enclosed – we need somewhere safe to put all of our Overlanding gear. Our local friends at Nomad Ventures in Escondido (SoCal), took our order for an Alucab Canopy with a roof rack kit. While this was the biggest spend (apart from the Gladiator itself), we needed something solid upon which to mount our 3 person soft shell tent. The canopy only took about 2 hours to install and in our opinion, makes the Gladiator look even better.When it comes to organization, we wanted the bed to be clutter-free with everything easily reachable. Building a custom drawer system was considered, but in the end it made sense to purchase an off-the-shelf system as it does 95% of what a custom solution does, but at a much lower cost.
To summarize, we’ve just built a fully capable Overland Gladiator using just 3 big purchases: the canopy, a roof top tent and a truck bed deck system … that’s really it! Most important of all, the convertible top still slides back. Going topless in California is now available for anyone who wants to try out our brand new Gladiator on their next big adventure. We will even help you plan the trip, no previous experience required!