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Author: Subject: JT Rubicon build for camping and the trail
Ken Cooke
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[*] posted on 5-20-2020 at 10:47 PM


Ensenada July 2019

Good times with good friends and my Jeep!

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Ken Cooke
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[*] posted on 8-28-2020 at 11:44 PM


Leidys and I have been taking the Gladiator out every weekend, getting accustomed to its capabilities and comfort factor. We travel solo due to our health issues. The Gladiator has exceeded my expectations and then some.





The approximately 6" of front suspension lift provide enough room for the 38" Patagonia MTs to droop and stuff without fender interference.



Pleasant Valley - Joshua Tree National Park


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John Harper
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[*] posted on 8-29-2020 at 04:54 AM


You've done a great job with that Jeep, looks awesome! Congratulations, you should be very proud.

John
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[*] posted on 8-29-2020 at 08:04 AM


nice
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AKgringo
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[*] posted on 8-29-2020 at 08:19 AM


Ken, did you notice the graffiti on the rock in your second photo? Your Jeep is literally on LSD!



If you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much space!

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Ken Cooke
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[*] posted on 8-29-2020 at 08:55 AM


Quote: Originally posted by AKgringo  
Ken, did you notice the graffiti on the rock in your second photo? Your Jeep is literally on LSD!


The next time I return to Johnson Valley, I will carry along some sandpaper and remove that bs. The rock is a perfect RTI ramp that I plan on using to test brake line length.

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bajatrailrider
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[*] posted on 8-29-2020 at 08:59 AM


Ken your off road toy assume I hope to join you on next Baja run
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chippy
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[*] posted on 8-29-2020 at 12:24 PM


WOW! Nice looking truck! Probably one of the best modded Gladiators I have seen.
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Ken Cooke
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[*] posted on 8-29-2020 at 10:12 PM


Quote: Originally posted by bajatrailrider  
Ken your off road toy assume I hope to join you on next Baja run


Southern California isn't as interesting as Baja California. But, I'm not getting involved in any runs until the pandemic isn't an issue, Larry. Just today at Big Bear Lake, my wife and I shared the parking lot with a,"Healthy American" who was sneezing, coughing, with a box of Kleenex in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Trying to stay away from people outside of our household for the time being. Trying not to get bored out of our minds at the same time. Baja is 100% better.
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bajatrailrider
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[*] posted on 8-30-2020 at 07:07 AM


I'm with you Ken my area in baja is open and beach. it is as safe as it gets simple no people. Going to Ensenada shopping now that is scary.
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Ken Cooke
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[*] posted on 8-31-2020 at 09:23 PM


Quote: Originally posted by bajatrailrider  
I'm with you Ken my area in baja is open and beach. it is as safe as it gets simple no people. Going to Ensenada shopping now that is scary.

Larry - one year ago, I bought a 3M N-95 respirator as I was resurfacing my pool and needed to protect myself. If you can find a good N-95 respirator, you'll be safe from breathing in viral pathogens while near asymptomatic and symptomatic individuals alike.
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Ken Cooke
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[*] posted on 9-5-2020 at 09:22 PM


In the morning, I am going to install an over the knuckle steering modification that will improve the steering geometry and better overall steering feel that can handle the 38" tires.
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Ken Cooke
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[*] posted on 9-15-2020 at 06:08 PM


This morning, I decided that an easy weekend would require reconfiguring my camping routine and ditching the REI Basecamp tent along with it's ubiquitous poles, gangly rain fly and burdensome stakes. The air mattress that loses inflation at 3 am also will be tossed aside in favor of a new ARB SIMPSON III roof top tent and lower ARB annex for privacy. This will mount to the unusually sturdy ACE Engineering Upper Decker unit with roof top tent steel mounts.

The Upper Decker will contribute to a dust and water-free environment for my tools and gear while my tent will ride high enough to avoid creating wind drag at highway speeds and sway during off camber trail maneuvers. Probably one of the best configurations for a Jeep Truck (JT) Rubicon that is garaged at night and taken out on a regular basis with minimal set up time for my and my wife's busy schedules.

Arrival of equipment should be at the end of October 2020. In time for the desert season. I'm excited - looking forward to some remote travels to Death Valley this winter.
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Ken Cooke
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[*] posted on 9-15-2020 at 06:56 PM
The era of sleeping on the ground is coming to a close


Lots of good camping in Baja with this tent, but a roof top tent will be much better and increase day camping and outback camping possibilities.

Joshua Tree National Park - Brooklyn Mine Jeep Trail


Breakfast with NOBODY AROUND




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John Harper
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[*] posted on 9-16-2020 at 05:39 AM


The only downside(s) I see with those truck mounted tents are:

1. Gravity
2. Have to always park on a level spot, not always practical
3. Can't leave your campsite and explore, all or nothing.
4. Air mattresses are too cold, especially if you use a cot.
5. Tent always exposed to the elements, limited lifespan (?) Most home garages may not have clearance so always outside. YMMV.

I've found it pretty easy to travel/car camp with:

1. A cot to keep you off the ground, small footprint, instant set up
2. Thick Thermarest mattress (no cold air under you like inflatables)
3. Auxiliary tent (8x7) big enough to contain cot (rain, mosquito protection if needed) I only use a tent if absolutely necessary, otherwise it's always open skies for me.

I see several trucks in my neighborhood with those rack mounted tents, unfortunately none of the owners I've talked to have actually used them. Go figure. I just noticed one of the trucks has now removed everything, rack, tent, gas cans, traction mats. All gone. Maybe he's just storing it since he hasn't used it.

I'll be interested to see your experiences and observations, good luck!

John

[Edited on 9-16-2020 by John Harper]
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David K
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[*] posted on 9-16-2020 at 07:28 AM


John has some good points, but I have never felt an air mattress was cold...
The roof mounted tents have one issue, perhaps for older folks: The late night pee... Falling, missing a step on the ladder, etc. would be a concern.
My Instant Tent from Coleman has been nothing short of amazing for the past 9 years in Baja, so it will work a bit longer, I think?

Shell Island, 2015:


[Edited on 9-16-2020 by David K]




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John Harper
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[*] posted on 9-16-2020 at 08:41 AM


Quote: Originally posted by David K  
John has some good points, but I have never felt an air mattress was cold...


I used my Klymit Static V Lite insulated backpacking pad on my cot for a
short while. It's always worked great on the ground. But, I found I was getting cold at night, and realized body heat was just going out from the bottom of the cot. So, I went back to my Thermarest Camper XL pad, which is like sleeping on a bed, and being cold no longer an issue.


Eastern Sierra, July 2020 (Thermarest and 30* bag)

Wyoming, July 2019 (note Klymit pad and 15* bag!)

Good point about the need to pee at night, too. Nothing like being able to just get up and put your feet on the ground, a cot is the way to go IMO.


John


[Edited on 9-16-2020 by John Harper]
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David K
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[*] posted on 9-16-2020 at 08:54 AM


Yes, I do most of my solo camping on a cot... the air mattress is more comfortable but there is the time to inflate (electric pump is nice) and deflate and roll up. The cot is easy-sneezy. I took both during my 8 Baja Bound research trips. Some nights, I would not use the tent and sleep under the stars. But, if near the Pacific side (wet, cold) or on the winter nights (cold everywhere), I used the Instant tent. I hate cold (so does my wife), so we like Baja from June to October! My research rips began after Christmas 2016 until October 2017, then one more in August 2018.



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Ken Cooke
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[*] posted on 9-16-2020 at 11:12 PM


The Basecamp 4 by REI takes a good 15 minutes to 20 minutes to set up when you consider the stakes and the air mattress and the bedding. I have limited time on weekends and want the wife to be happy about going away over night and to not feel as if its a chore.
to mount on the back of the truck. When I leave the truck and lock the bed, the Upper Decker secures my cargo, tools, gear, everything. I plan on storing the tent when not using it.

The lower annex is nice because it will allow for privacy in places there usually isn't any to come by.

Two nylon straps allow one to lower themselves down as they climb down the proprietary ladder, avoiding a fall in the night.


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John Harper
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[*] posted on 9-17-2020 at 05:42 AM


The only issue I see with the Upper Decker is the same as with any regular camper shell. You always end up climbing into the bed of the truck to get anything up against the cab. Even when the Upper Decker is opened and lifted, you only have a narrow crack up by the cab to reach anything. For security, I'm sure it's fine, but as for practicality, meh. Have you looked into one of those roll up bed covers? My neighbor has one and it seems very practical and secure.

https://rollnlock.com/

And, if you're going to remove the truck top tent and store it, how much time are you really saving versus the 15 minutes to set up your regular tent? How much space does that take up to store, versus a tent and mattresses? Also, how heavy is that truck tent when putting it back on? I see it's listed as weighing 154 pounds? And, do you also have to buy a rack for your truck to mount it?

I'm just looking at the real costs versus the alternative of a new, easier to pitch standalone tent, a couple cots, and mattresses. Big delta, but, it's your truck and your money. I've been weighing the pluses and minuses of these setups since I first saw one several years ago. I car camp for over a month each summer, so I've tried every configuration of camping. Always looking for new and better ways, as long costs are reasonable.

I'm looking forward to a report on how this new configuration works out. Good luck!

John


[Edited on 9-17-2020 by John Harper]
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