We’re starting with a full sized 1998 Chevrolet Suburban 4X4 which we’ve owned for about 12-13 years. It has served us well for all of that time in our real estate development careers hauling people, materials, equipment and furniture in Chicago and Miller Beach Indiana. We’ve taken excellent care of the vehicle and it has taken very good care of us as well. We’ve made no modifications to the vehicle but have outfitted it with a sports equipment carrier:
The Yakima Pro 21 Titanium Skybox;
an additional roof mounted weatherproof box; a custom built roof mounted spare tire carrier to give us additional room inside the vehicle;
a rear mounted bike carrier, the Yakima Swing Daddy, which swings out to the side with bikes attached to access the back doors of the vehicle;
an interior Truck-Tool-Box with two large pullout drawers about five and a half feet long for clothes etc.
A four foot long truck box mounted to the top of the drawer box for kitchen supplies;
and another truck box mounted between the front seats that we call “the office” with files, maps and electronics as well as a mobile printer/scanner/copier for when we’re in business mode.
Attached to the box with the drawers I’ve built a platform so that when the back seats are folded down we can store additional luggage underneath and we’ve added a dense foam pad which lays over the truck drawers and the platform to create a comfortable place to sleep in a pinch.
The racks and carriers hold sports equipment including trekking and camping gear: a tent, large and small back-packs, sleeping bags, hiking/climbing boots, camp stove etc.; snorkel and swim gear including a big beach umbrella and even some wetsuits; kiteboarding gear; bikes and biking gear including panniers for a potentially long, multi-day ride and even skis, boots, poles and helmets just in case we wind up in Patagonia during the ski season. Needless to say we’re loaded for bear!
Under the platform we store our easily accessible overnight bags, as well as additional clothes for the current season. Tucked in corners here and there in the vehicle we have beach chairs, a portable table, a solar shower, yoga mats, a fire extinguisher, mechanical tools and auto accessories including a manual 4-ton “come-along” winch in case we get stuck in a ditch. I’m reminded of the original road travelers who used to drive around the west in our country when cars and roads were first coming on the scene. They used to travel in caravans with full tool kits including more than one spare wheel and tire.
The car is old, 17 years at the start, with over 165,000 miles on it, but it’s a known entity and from what we’ve read it’s easier to get an older car serviced in the places we’re going than some of the newer ones. A 350 V-8 is an extremely common engine and parts are readily available in most urban areas along the route we’re planning. It’s not uncommon for this generation of Chevy Suburban to continue running for 250-300,000 miles. We’ve had the vehicle mechanically checked and serviced extensively at the start of the trip but we’re very aware that things can happen and if they do we’ll have to deal with them on the run. The bottom line is that the book value of truck is just $3,500 and although it is worth many times that to us, it would be a sustainable loss if it completely failed and fell apart.