Building, Driving and Adventuring the MTN4RNR


Things are noticeably more fun in thin air. It's where I tend to go to get away from everything. To help get me there, I picked up a 2016 4Runner Trail Premium on a recent trip to Bend, OR. I hadn't intended on buying a truck on the trip, but when the numbers add up sometimes its best to pull the trigger and enjoy it! The overall goal with this build is based on function. I want to make sure that everything added on to the vehicle has an intended purpose or use. This will not only keep my budget in check for the build, but really create something that works well for my intended purpose. Yes, it takes longer to "get there" but in the interim, I am still getting out and enjoying the adventures that the rig can handle under it's given build condition. So follow me on my adventures and take a look at some of the modifications that I do along the way. I'm in it for the long game!

As it sits: [08/20/2016]

Build Details:

Drivetrain: Stock

Suspension: Stock

- 4x4 Labs Sliders

- Stock Trail Editions/Cooper Discoverer STMAXX 275/70R17

Vehicle Additions/Modifications:
- 1Up USA bike rack
- The MTN4RNR hatch mod
- Blue Ridge Overland Gear visor organizer
- RAM dash mount for iPad [Nav, weather, topos, etc.]
- Thule rack [transfer from old truck]
- Ruff Tough Kennel (home of the Maeve)
- Custom CA license plate
- LED back-up/license plate lights from XenonDepot
- HID low beam headlights from XenonDepot
- LED rear hatch lights from XenonDepot
- LED fog lamps from XenonDepot
- LED interior & puddle lamp upgrade from XenonDepot
- Gobi Ladder
- Differential/E-locker breather mod
- Baja Designs 20" s8 LED bar
- Ellis Precision aluminum transfer case shifter knob
- Baja Designs S2 Pro LED light - The "who needs a hand hold" ...mod
- ARB compressor
- The MTN4RNR 4Runner Platform
- The Kenwood HAM Radio Installation

- ARB E-Z deflator
- ARB 30' 24K lbs. snatch strap
- 4-3/4T shackle, painted school bus yellow because spray paint
- Hitch shackle recovery point I transferred from my old truck
- Gloves
- Towel
- First aid kit
- All stowed away in an 8 gallon Action Packer Front Runner Wolf Pack
- MKI MaxTraxx (x2)

- Amateur Radio License - Technician
- Yaesu FT-60r (X2)
- Diamond SRH77CA 15" antenna (X2)
- Yaesu MH-34B4B Speaker/Microphone

- Gaia GPS Pro

Long(er) Term List:
- Mobile FM transreciever
- Roof rack
- Roof top tent
- Rear bumper with swingout
- Front winch, bumper style TBD

Short(er) Term List:
- Suspension upgrade
- Awning

Trip Reports:
- West Camino Cielo Road, Santa Barbara, CA - November 2015
- Crawl to the Top - January 2016
- Big Sur, CA - March 2016
- Hollister Hills SVRA - April 2016
- Big Sur, CA - May 2016
- Stanislaus NF, Highway 4 to 88 Adventure - May 2016
- Rattlesnake Road exploring - June 2016
- Ellis Peak/Tahoe National Forest - June 2016
- Lola Montez/Fordyce Creek - July 2016
- Downieville to Sloat - July 2016
- Slick Rock / Corral Hollow - August 2016
- Bald Mountain OHV - August 2016
- Labor Day Adventures in the Sierras - September 2016
- Niagra Rim/Eagle Peak - October 2016

The day I bought it:

The day after I bought it:

I will be putting it to good use, and trying to keep up with additions and mods here as I can!

More to be added...​
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1up USA Bike Rack

A closer look at the 1up rack I have for my bike. I have really liked this rack since I got it earlier this year. Very functional, simple and well built. I would highly recommend it to anyone in the market. I have the single, and one add on that I use as needed. The single makes parking easy, and allows for the lift gate to open without lowering the rack.



MTN4RNR Hatch Mod

When you bring the new truck home, and the lift gate doesn't clear the overhang... Custom limiting strap, installed. Uses a Nite-Ize CamJam XT on the d-ring in the corner, and a carabiner attached to the lift gate strap.



Recommended books for Overlanding


BROG Visor Organizer

Quick to add to the truck was this visor organizer from Blue Ridge Overland Gear. It has Molle paneling on one side, velcro on the other and a zipped compartment for vehicle documents, cash, etc. The velcro works perfectly with their pouches they sell, which I am soon to order for being able to zip small items into. Very well made in the USA. You'll get a tag on any/all of their products with the cutter and the sewer's name on it. Little details like that from products and manufacturer make me very happy and very brand loyal. I also have one of their Hydroflask sleeves, and have a list going for a bigger order from them in the future. If you like to organize your stuff in a very cool way, give these guys a look.

Visor Organizer
Blue Ridge Overland Gear



FJ Inspired Emblem

I picked this piece up from bhicks22 [] on his website: Products | BH3D Printing

Fought for a while on where to put it, and settled on the lift gate, passenger side, FJ40 style. Backed with 3M adhesive in CNC "channels" to make the emblem as flush as can be, this aluminum emblem is a well built piece.

bhicks22 [] also makes the forum infamous TEQ replacement emblems featured on this thread:

I am hoping to work out something a little more custom in the coming months to stay tuned!



RAM dash iPad mini mount

I followed a bit of guidance from balistikboy's [] RAM mount addition [ ] and added my own. Removing the panel was easy but nerve racking because this was the first thing I had to do where I needed to pull something apart, drill something, and put it back together.

Parts used:
RAM 2.43" x 1.31" Diamond Ball Base with 1" Ball Unpackaged - RAM-B-238U | RAM Mounts
RAM Long Double Socket Arm for 1" Balls (Overall Length: 6") - RAM-B-201U-C | RAM Mounts
RAM 2.5" Round Ball Base with the AMPs Hole Pattern & 1" Ball Unpackaged - RAM-B-202U | RAM Mounts
iPad mini Car Mount & Cradle from LifeProof | LifeProof
Nuts, bolts, backing plate, loctite, beer.

1. Open your beer of choice, IPA for me
2. Remove passenger panel around the climate control knob using a bit of encouragement
3. Line up and drill holes in both the plastic and on the metal backing plate (mine was a piece from a hangar bracket I had laying around)
4. Install the ball mount with cap socket bolts, loctite and backing plate.
5. Throw 'er back together
6. Finish said beer

I didn't take any progress photos this time, but I will for upcoming additions. The mount holds up really well day to day, doesn't rattle or show signs of stress from the plastic panel it is mounted to. Now I can run nav, music, topos, and radar conveniently!

[Additional updated photo from 11/28/2015]


Cooper Discoverer ST MAXX - 275/70R17

I had a set of Coopers installed yesterday. I have the same set on my work truck, and have really liked them. I have 33k miles on them on the work truck with 9/32" remaining out of the original 18.5/32". Not bad for a full size GMC truck that tows a few times a week. Needless to say, I was impressed. Load range E with a 10ply tread. These tires are heavy as a mother weighing in at 58lbs a piece. After debating C vs. E rating, I went with the E rated mostly because if you are going to add some weight, having a heavier tire that is more resistant to pesky roots and rocks might help down the road. After driving home with them, I can't say that they are much "rougher" than the Dunlops that came off. But when you drive a work truck during the week, it doesn't take much to be comfy on the road, the 4R with the new tires is still mighty smooth. I will update the tire review as I put more miles on them in different conditions.


[Updated 11/30/2015]


Overland Bound #0614

I joined Overland Bound a while back on the forum, and upon arrival of the 4Runner in my life, I ordered the emblem and plan on being more involved in their expeditions. They just completed their first annual Off the Grid overland rally in the Sierras.

Check out the wrap up videos:

I can't wait to attend next year, and hopefully join along on some trips in the mean time. If you haven't already, check out their website! Overland Bound - Overland Bound



Adventure 001 - West Camino Cielo, Santa Barbara, CA

I finally got a chance today to get the Coopers a bit dirty. I headed north on HWY 101 out of Santa Barbara to connect with West Camino Cielo Road thru the Refugio road entrance. Click this link for the full GPS track:

I started at the Refugio State Beach entrance​

I found myself in the Coast Live Oak forests in the lower elevations​

After about 6-7 miles, I found my favorite sign​

Gaining elevation​

Then I found some side tracks that offered a bit more diffculty​

Tucking the Coopers​

View of the road​

Then, we stepped it up a notch​

In the end...​

Overall a great drive, 28 miles of mixed paved mountain road, and unpaved service track. I was able to get a bit more in tune with my 4WD system on the 4Runner, as well as discover more of it's capabilities. I swear, the Coopers are part velcro, as I was able to crawl up some ascents that were hard for me to walk up when I was checking out the trail before driving it. I am very much looking forward to testing this truck again, soon hopefully.

More to come...​


Adventure 002 - Salinas Valley Trip

Visited a friend in the Salinas Valley who conveniently lives in a field​

Then got to pull out my buddy's truck when he unfortunately lost momentum in the sandy gravel in a weird spot and sunk her​

4L, locker on, a quick tug, and she was out

Today was good, I learned some things. In the sand, 4L > 4H. Higher RPMS with lower speeds, and the quick option to hit the locker if needed. The Coopers hook up well in the loose stuff, and I figure if I had aired down, they would have done even better. I need to go back when I have more time, try a self recovery [eith another truck on standby] so I can have a game plan in case there isn't another truck around. This is the fun part of having a new truck, seeing what it can/can't do and preparing for the worst.​

Things to add:
- snatch strap
- (2) D-rings
- MaxTrax

More to come...​


LED License Plate/Reverse light upgrade

I upgraded the license plate and reverse light bulbs from the stock halogens. Goals were simple:
1. Hopefully increase the illumination and visibility from the reverse lights
2. Change the look of the rear end to better match the awesome LED stop/tail lights

To do this I used LED lights from Xenon Depot:

- Reverse lights -
921 T16 Philips X-TREME Vision LED

I didn't take a before photo, because you can go in your driveway and look yourself if you don't have the LED's already...



Here are some before and after photos in the same spot of my driveway to show the light dispersal difference between the stocks and the LED's.


Rear camera

Side dispersion

Rear dispersion (shotty focus, but you get the picture)


Rear camera

Side dispersion

Rear dispersion (same shotty focus)

- License plate lights -
194 T10 W5W Philips vision LED




Overall impressions are that the reverse lights definitely brighter than the halogens from an illumination standpoint [not just a 'looking at it' standpoint, because we know the LED's will look brighter head-on]. And the license plate lights definitely make the back end look a bit more sophisticated and modern, which is what I was going for. Overall a good upgrade. Now for some HID headlights and LED fogs...

More to come...


Comparing the 4Runner to the Old Man's GX 460

I did a bit more of a side x side comparo with the 4Runner and my dad's GX. Just looking at the GX, without the 4Runner there to compare it to, it seems bigger. But next to each other, the 4R is a bit taller, and beefer. Larger tires helps :thumb3: I win!

Hooked him up with a set of Cooper AT3's right out of the box when he got the truck. STMAXX on the 4R vs. AT3's on the GX.

Trucks on the left were our rides a decade ago when his suburban (with 300k) was new and my 'Tank' was teaching me how to drive. We have both stepped up a few notches!


Recommended books for Overlanding


Xenon Depot Xtreme HID Kit Upgrade

I gifted myself a set of XenonDepot Xtreme HID's for the low beams on the 4Runner. I really like the ability to see as much as I can on the road, and once I saw the light output from my dad's GX (which is LED, but still much brighter) I knew that an upgrade was in order. After reviewing my options, I settled on the Xtreme HID kit, with the Philips bulbs.​

Parts used:
- Xenon Depot Xtreme HID H11 kit
- Drill of choice
- Milwaukee #9 step drill bit
- Scotch Extreme Fasterners
- Knee Deep Brewing Midnight Hoppyness

Everything laid out (including the fuses, which I didn't use)

I took off the plastic cover for the radiator, not knowing whether or not I would need to. To install the kit, you do not NEED to pull this piece off, but in the end I used two of the fastener holes on the outside to zip tie the wiring into a secure position.

I removed the negative battery terminal, and removed one side of the battery restraint to move it towards the engine, giving me a bit more space to access the light housing

I removed the dust cap covers and drilled two 1-1/16" holes dead center. I used a Milwaukee #9 step drill. I have found that they work very well with plastic materials and producing a very clean hole. It also allows you to start with a slightly smaller hole and make it gradually larger to make sure there is a snug fit. Drilling is always hard to do on a new truck, but that's what the beer is for.

I then fed the wiring through the hole, and secured the grommet. Interestingly, I read many on this forum that didn't like the idea of drilling the hole in the cap because it would compromise the sealing ability of the housing (dust, water, etc.). What I found interesting was that in the bottom of the same housing, Toyota uses the same style grommet boot to bring the factory wiring into the housing. It would seem that this kit would not compromise any of the sealing ability in the housing than what Toyota had already installed. I didn't snap a photo, but I might remove the cap and take one to add later.

I then installed the bulbs into the housing and hooked everything up to determine if I would need to reverse the polarity on the harness as indicated in the instructions.

Turns out the system fired right up with no wire swap needed.

Clean up time. I used Scotch Extreme Fasteners to secure the ballast and harness to the inner fender sheet metal. The kit came with a double sided 3M product, but I like the idea of being able to remove the ballasts easily if needed down the road. They are rated to hold 2lbs/sq. inch and seem to hold very well. After driving around, they show no signs of moving.

Passenger side (note the zip tie holding the harness to the radiator valence/support as mentioned in the beginning)

Driver side (note the zip tie holding the harness to the radiator valence/support as mentioned in the beginning)

Now for some comparisons

Before (no fogs)

After (no fogs)

Before (no fogs)

After (no fogs)

Before (sorry I don't have an identical head-on shot, but this is the best I have)


The photos show some of the difference, but don't do enough justice. Driving on the road, this upgrade is something that should have been included from the factory. Night and day difference. I am very happy with the product, and the outcome. Thanks XenonDepot for the great product!

Next up, Amber LED fog upgrade...

More to come...


LED Rear Hatch Upgrade

When I ordered the HID lights, I also upgraded the rear hatch lights to LED lights from Xenon Depot. I wanted to see how I liked the light color and output before I considered changing the interior lights out entirely.​

Parts used:
- Philips LED 3022
- Second glass of Knee Deep Midnight Hoppyness

The lights are removed by using a flat head screw driver on the driver's side of both lights. Lightly pry under the clear lens, then you should see a metal tab that you will push towards the center of the light. It will unclip the light from the hatch, and pivot down. The clear lens unclips with 4 clips on the outside of the light housing. The replacement of the bulbs in straight forward from there. If it doesn't work, turn it around and try again.




My impressions are that the color shift is very nice switching to the LEDs, but the light output I don't think is any brighter than the stock halogens. I don't think this will deter me from swapping the rest of the cab lights to LED, however.

More to come...​