017 – Nicole’s 4Runner Dog Adventure build

This is Nicole’s 2021 Toyota 4runner Venture Build. Nicole is from the San Francisco Bay Area and travels solo with her 3 dogs! The dogs love the extra space (coming from a Mini Cooper) and the back rolldown window. Nicole has traveled the dirt of 8 states since getting the 4runner in Nov 2020, excluding all the trips around California. She’s looking at a Baja trip and a Canada/Alaska trip in the near future so if you have tips please reach out to her!

Let’s see how this rig is built!

Build Details

2021 Toyota 4Runner Venture (with KDSS)

Mileage: 50,000+ miles
Front & Rear suspension: ARB OME lift kit, BP51 3” heavy duty
Front Diff: Stock
Rear Diff: Stock, e-locker
Diff Gearing: Stock
Brakes: Stock

Tires: BF Goodrich KO2 275/70r17 (no rub, no BMC)
Wheels: Stock TRD Pro
Skid Plate: RSG Metalworks
Rock Sliders: RSG Metalworks
Other Armor: Cat. Converter guard from RSG Metalworks

Air compressor: onboard ARB Single
Recovery gear: Rhino USA – Shackles, Kinetic Rope & Tire Repair Kit
Roof Rack: Thule
Roof Cargo: Thule
Awning Side: Overland Vehicle Systems 180° (recent add)
Fridge: Dometic CFX3 25 (recent add)
Stove: JetBoil Genesis single burner
Water: WaterCell X 10 liter from Sea to Summit
Water filter: Platypus Gravity Works

Mattress: Deepsleep Overland custom fit for 4Runner
Stove: JetBoil Genesis single burner
Table: Alps Mountaineering
Chair: REI Flexlite camp chair
Camp Mat: CGear sand free mat
Dishes, Utensils, Water Storage: Sea to Summit
Window Insulation: Weather Tech
Window Mesh: SnapShades
Quilt: Enlightened Equipment
Dog Blankets: Rumpl

Grille: Taco Vinyl pro style grille
Dash Cam: Garmin Mini 2
Dash Mount System: LabOps Gear no-drill dash base & Bulletpoint Mounting Systems mounts
Shift Knob: Trail 4Runner
Bottle Jack: Safe Jacks 6-Ton tall bottle jack kit
Fire Extinguisher: Element E100
First Aid Kit: Adventure Medical Kits “Me & My Dog” kit

Jump pack: Wagan Tech iOnBoost V20 Torque lithium
Ham Radio: Yaesu FT5DR handheld & Comet 2M/440MHz mobile antenna
GMRS Radio: Midland GXT1000 pair
Battery: Wagan Tech Lithium Cube 325

Fog light: Squadron-R SAE, Baja Designs
Ditch light: S2 Pro wide cornering, Baja Desings
Chase light: 2 Sport driving combo, Baja Desings (pending install)

How did you discover overlanding?
I sort of stumbled into overlanding when my big dog, Baloo, outgrew my Mini Cooper and I needed a larger vehicle (he’s 100 lbs)! I have always been outdoorsy and have been hiking, backpacking and tent camping for many years; however, I always had small, low-clearance vehicles which really limited the places that I could get to. So, when I was shopping for a larger vehicle I knew that I definitely wanted 4-wheel drive because it would allow for a lot more adventure possibilities. The detail that sealed the deal on the 4Runner was it has a roll-down rear window for Baloo (kidding, but also kinda not). Dog window aside, I quickly realized the awesomeness of the rig that I chose and the 4Runner is now my most favorite vehicle that I have ever owned! I especially love how the 4Runner can handle rougher trails and get me “off the beaten path” where I can be away from the crowds and deep in nature

The first time that I took the 4Runner camping I slept in the back using my backpacking mattress and sleeping bag and I have been building out the rig ever since. Since it is my daily driver and because I am a backpacker I have tried to keep my build fairly stealthy and minimalist. To save money on labor I have done all of my own mods in my driveway (except for my sliders and skids which RSG installed for me while I was on a road trip through Colorado). Because I am usually traveling alone, I started taking some automotive classes at a local community college to learn how to work on my own truck in case something breaks while I’m on the road. I guess it’s fair to say that I have gone pretty far down the rabbit hole with this hobby!

What is your favorite piece of overlanding gear you have?
My favorite piece of overlanding gear is a tie between my Deepsleep Overland mattresses and my Overland Vehicle Systems 180* awning. The mattresses are one of my favorite things because they are sooooo comfy. The awning is a recent upgrade and I am loving it because it is freestanding and I don’t have to worry about the dogs wrapping their leashes around the legs.

Why do you overland?
Overlanding (being out in nature in general), for me, is a way to press the reset button. It allows me to step away from the fast-paced daily grind, slow down, reflect on this life I’m living, and it reminds me to stay focused on the bigger picture.

Please let Nicole know what you think about her build and follow her on Instagram!

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