How we prepared the rig for Iceland
As you might know or not, over the last years I've been planning and preparing a way to travel to the more remote places in and around Europe and be able to be there self-sufficient.
My search has had me try numerous solutions and options, such as; build a modified 4x4 car into a camper rig, buy a complete packaged 4x4 camper (quite pricey), go light with a rooftent, not go 4x4 at all and even look into expedition trucks. All factors weighed in, like, weight, dimensions, parking, taxation, usage in daily life, winter readiness and terrain capabilities, I landed on using a Toyota Hilux as a base vehicle and put a demountable camper unit on top, in my case a Tischer (because of it's high-end quality and finish).
Summer 2019 I received the keys of a brand new Toyota Hilux, in relative basic form. The reason for going new is the long term plans I have for this set-up. Buying a used pick-up of over 5 years old was still relatively expensive and with 150k on the clock it meant I would have to start worrying about reliability in 3/4 years time. New meant I have no worries for the coming decade.
The Tischer demountable campers are very popular and after renting one to test en putting in the official order, I still had to wait for 18 months before delivery. I understand that currently the waiting list is even longer with about 22 months! I could have gone for a competitor, however, the build quality and comfort of the Tischer units are really quite unmatched. There are some fancy solutions from the Us, but that would have meant I would require a US build base vehicle, and to be honest, 1- their terrain capability is not that great, and reliability neither. 2- With a big V8 engine, to keep fuel costs down I would have to run on LPG, which is a pain in the ass to get in remote places. Additionally, when in the rough stuff, being able to run on used tracks is a lot easier is your trackwidth is comparable to other 4x4's, the US vehicles are quite a bit wider. Thus going Japanese/European was a no brainer.
The car modifications
A requirement for having about 800kg on the back of the car, was doing a suspension upgrade. Weights running with or without water and and depending on the amount of luggage, being flexible with how more stiffening I would apply, I opted for air support by VB suspension.
In the cabin I can adjust the pressure quite easy with a build in compressor, to more firm when on tarmac and loosening things up in the rougher stuff.
I was planning to upgrade the front and bottom of the car to be stone and rock protected, to some degree, and while planning for the suspension upgrade, the company making the modifications, coincidentally just stocked the Rival kit I was looking for, and opted to do the upgrade while it was in the shop anyways. It meant, the entire underside of the car is protected, as well as the front is ready for a winch, would I choose to install one, which weight wise is not interesting for me at this time.
Interior wise, I didn't change much, I ordered the car with custom seats for comfort and easy cleaning. Exterior I changed the mirrors for extendable 4x4 mirrors, so I could see better along the car. I also find those extra caravan mirrors really ugly, so I wanted a robust set-up.
Car wise, the last and most recent modification I did was getting a snorkel (raised air inlet) installed by Saris 4x4 (a 4x4 specialist). I also changed the position of the diff-breathers while I was at it, since doing one and not the other doesn't really make sense. The snorkel to me wasn't essential for offroad driving, but for the highlands of Iceland it is a must-have, thus before taking the ferry it had to be on the car.
The engine bay is still quite clean and I could easily fit a second battery, which for extremely remote places would be a wise addition, but for now this will do.
Tischer options and modifications
The Tischer is quite ready to go in standard trim, however I have some special requirements. For one, while in continental Europe and using official camp sites, running your heating on propane makes sense for most, however, when going to more remote places, getting your hands on gas bottles might become a thing, and not having heating in winter is a simple no-no. Thus Diesel heating was essential to me.
Another must-have for me, was a compressor fridge. Gas fridges don't cool as well and again, it makes one gas dependent, which for my requirements of being able to go off-grid was a no-brainer.
To be able to run heating and the fridge off-grid, meant solar power and sufficient battery capacity was required. Thus I opted to install 2x 150W solar panels and a high-end 1150Ah Li-ion battery. It means I don't require external power at all, even in winter.
To be able to get on the roof for cleaning and maintenance, I opted for the access ladder. Also I had the roof carriers installed in case I would want a skiing box added. Another no-brainer for me, was having a bicycle rack, for the simple convenience not only to carry 2 bikes, but also to use it as a paramotor carrier, which works really well. For the summer months I also have the awning, which so far I didn't really use yet. But sure there will be times, some shade is a must have.
In the inside more choices where practical add-ons, such as an extra window in the sleeping area to be able to get a breeze in summer. Also a small storage cabinet a the bed was extra, to charge and store your phone and specs.
For cooking, I had an extra roof window with fan installed, which can both extract and add air to the inside, really convenient. And I installed a metal plate with magnetic spice jars, a hack which I really love.
Standard is the table, which can be turned in any direction to make the seating area into a dining area, or even a 4 person sit-in (yes, have already done that).
Also standard, but something I love and was a must-have, is the shower/toilet area. Being able to start your day fresh and clean, is a personal creature comfort which I'm not willing to do without. With a 100 liter fresh water tank, full it will be sufficient for 4/5 days, including showering.
The toilet is more of an emergency use thing, but off-grid the only way to go (in artic places, your personal stuff does not really get broken down).
Also for my GF, being able to use the bathroom with some privacy is a nice welcome.
So far I've used the set-up a lot, and made minor changes to improve before our first big trip to Iceland this summer (such as installing a 230V transformer), but in all the rig is really living up to and even exceeding my expectations. So when you see some cool footage showing up over the next months, most of it was done while using this rig (we named him "Jib").
Hope to see you guys out and about.