Jeep Gladiator Build Thread - 18 months around Australia with The Road Chose Me

straypoet

Active member
As I move around Australia I'm seeing a TON of well-built Overland vehicles, but none come close to this one.
Ruth and Tony spent two years driving around Africa on the same route as me in their Defender 130.
Awesome vehicle! Love how they customized it. :) thank you for sharing that one.
 

Dan Grec

Expedition Leader
Hi Everyone,
Northern Australia is turning super tropical, and I have to take in as much as possible while I'm here.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living organism on earth, and is UNESCO listed.
I had to get out SCUBA diving and have a look at this incredible underwater world for myself.

If you've ever wondered what the underwater world looks like, I show you in my latest YouTube video:

-Dan
 

SkiWill

Active member
Hi Everyone,

A couple of weeks ago I asked for questions across social media, and now it's time to answer them all.

Join Katie and I as we run through your questions about the Australia expedition, the Jeep, ourselves, and a whole lot more!


-Dan
Hi Dan,

Thanks for Q/A time. One of Katie's comments of "bear infested Canada" got my attention since I just returned from a "bear infested" part of the US. When you're in Canada, do you sleep in the Ursa Minor camper in Sandy? I'm just curious how you deal with having your canvas sided sleeping quarters essentially on top of your food and kitchen?

I've always loved your UM and Sandy set up in general, but thought that your Australia SWAG set up where you could sleep far away from all of those tempting smells in the vehicle could be quite advantageous back "home" in North America as well since that's basically what I do when backpacking. Cook food, hang food/kitchen, sleep upwind of tempting smells.

I would love to hear your thoughts on traveling through bear infested areas as we live in a bear infested area and will travel through a bear infested area of Canada this coming summer as well.

Best Regards
 

Dan Grec

Expedition Leader
Hi Dan,

Thanks for Q/A time. One of Katie's comments of "bear infested Canada" got my attention since I just returned from a "bear infested" part of the US. When you're in Canada, do you sleep in the Ursa Minor camper in Sandy? I'm just curious how you deal with having your canvas sided sleeping quarters essentially on top of your food and kitchen?

I've always loved your UM and Sandy set up in general, but thought that your Australia SWAG set up where you could sleep far away from all of those tempting smells in the vehicle could be quite advantageous back "home" in North America as well since that's basically what I do when backpacking. Cook food, hang food/kitchen, sleep upwind of tempting smells.

I would love to hear your thoughts on traveling through bear infested areas as we live in a bear infested area and will travel through a bear infested area of Canada this coming summer as well.

Best Regards
I sleep on top of sandy all the time and don't worry about it.
I'm not worried about the chances of a bear climbing up there and opening the canvas because he smells some residual cooking smells.

-Dan
 

Dan Grec

Expedition Leader
Hi All,

The CREB Track in Far North Queensland is infamous for extremely slick mud, deep water and remoteness. After road it's considered "extreme" and I've seen videos where it's impossible to walk up the slick inclines to attach a winch rope!

The jungle here still has living remnants of a world 50-130 million years old, and it feel exactly like exploring Jurassic Park.

Teaming up with a bunch of big Land Cruiser Troop Carriers made for a lot of fun, and it was great to compare the Jeep to these monster 4.5L V8 Diesel machines.

Katie also used the winch for the first time and did great!


-Dan
 

Dan Grec

Expedition Leader
Hi All,

The Frenchman's Track in Far North Queensland dished out mud, a very deep and fast flowing river crossing, tons of flexy bits and absolutely stunning landscapes.

This was easy the sketchiest riving crossing of my life, and we spent a very long time assessing the safest way to get across.

We again teamed up with a young couple in their 78 series Land Cruiser Troopie, and a BIG GU Patrol to get it done.
We had a great time comparing the different vehicles handled the obsticles, and the others simply couldn't believe how easy the Jeep made it look. While they would get BIG wheel lifts and wheel spin, the Jeep walked up everything at almost no speed.
I'm coming around to the automatic transmission for the technical stuff, and the low range Rubicon gearing is king for control.

Checkout the full video now on YT:


-Dan
 

SkiWill

Active member
Well done as always Dan. I think you've really proven the Gladiator as an excellent platform when watching the weight as long as you can tolerate a little belly break over bump from time to time.

The Land Cruisers are cool and can carry a lot of weight, but Jeeps just work on 4x4 tracks with better articulation. I've always though the JT and JL platform was really only limited by payload and people carrying capacity, which is a deal breaker for my family of 5 sadly.

Kind of funny that the Land Cruiser drivers liked the heated seats given you guys were practically in the tropics.

I think these two videos also helped illustrate the benefits of not having so much weight up high, which has me thinking more about SWAGS. I've seen other videos from Australia showing SWAGS on a cot. Seems to me that would solve a lot of issues. Lets you sleep off the ground for a little more comfort on lumpy or rocky ground, but without 100 kgs on the roof. Any thoughts about where to find such a thing? I think Oztent has one that they import to the US, but curious about what the locals use in Australia since I know you mentioned SWAGS vary quite a bit in how practical they really are.

I took my RTT off my Land Rover because it felt tippy inside when driving, and your videos showed some tippy looking Land Cruisers from the outside.
 

Dan Grec

Expedition Leader
I think these two videos also helped illustrate the benefits of not having so much weight up high, which has me thinking more about SWAGS. I've seen other videos from Australia showing SWAGS on a cot. Seems to me that would solve a lot of issues. Lets you sleep off the ground for a little more comfort on lumpy or rocky ground, but without 100 kgs on the roof. Any thoughts about where to find such a thing? I think Oztent has one that they import to the US, but curious about what the locals use in Australia since I know you mentioned SWAGS vary quite a bit in how practical they really are.

I took my RTT off my Land Rover because it felt tippy inside when driving, and your videos showed some tippy looking Land Cruisers from the outside.
I personally will never have a RTT on my vehicles. Simply too much weight up too high, and too much of a hit to aerodynamics. With gas prices now my current ~18mpg is barely acceptable, so I have to improve that in the future.

I honstly don't know where to get a swag in North America, I've never looked into it, but I'm sure there are a few companies that sell them.
Remember it's basically a very durable "ready to go" tent - so it has all the downsides of a tent - you're on the ground, you can't stand up inside, etc. etc.
They are great for what they are, but it's not like luxury living or anything like that.

-Dan
 

Dan Grec

Expedition Leader
Hi All,

I've just finished editing the next video of our massive adventure on the Old Telegraph Track in Cape York.
This includes Australia's most famous 4x4 obstacle - Gunshot.
Here's how it looked:

DSC03276-sm.jpg
Safe to say it got the blood pumping, and this is just one of the many, many river crossings and mud pits on the four day remote adventure!

Early access to the video is out now for supporters on Patreon : https://patreon.com/theroadchoseme

-Dan
 

Dan Grec

Expedition Leader
Hi All,

The "Old Tele" track is in the Far North East of Australia, and takes you up almost to the very tip of the continent (which is only 1,500kms from the Equator... (1000mi)) ... so it's hot, sticky and tropical up here, even in winter (which it is now in Australia)
The track took us four days and includes some of Australia's most famous 4x4 obstacles.

There are many deep water crossings, including Nolan's (almost up to the hood) and quite a few very steep/tricky creek entrances and exits with big mud walls that can cause panel damage.

I drove the Jeep Gladiator, and I teamed up with a new VDJ78 Land Cruiser (4.8 V8 TD), a GU Nissan Patrol (4.2 TD) and an older HZJ75 Land Cruiser. It was incredible to see how the different vehicles handles the different obstacles, and how they were driven differently based on the vehicles strengths.

We had an incredible time, and on the final day we all said "Should we go and do it again right now?" - we loved it that much. I can totally see why people come up every year to do it over and over.

This track has been on my "Top 10 global overland tracks" for a couple of decades, and I absolutely loved it and I'm so stoked I got to spend the time and do it right!

The full video of our adventure is on YouTube:
-Dan
 

alaskantinbender

Adventurer
Well done as always Dan. I think you've really proven the Gladiator as an excellent platform when watching the weight as long as you can tolerate a little belly break over bump from time to time.

The Land Cruisers are cool and can carry a lot of weight, but Jeeps just work on 4x4 tracks with better articulation. I've always though the JT and JL platform was really only limited by payload and people carrying capacity, which is a deal breaker for my family of 5 sadly.

Kind of funny that the Land Cruiser drivers liked the heated seats given you guys were practically in the tropics.

I think these two videos also helped illustrate the benefits of not having so much weight up high, which has me thinking more about SWAGS. I've seen other videos from Australia showing SWAGS on a cot. Seems to me that would solve a lot of issues. Lets you sleep off the ground for a little more comfort on lumpy or rocky ground, but without 100 kgs on the roof. Any thoughts about where to find such a thing? I think Oztent has one that they import to the US, but curious about what the locals use in Australia since I know you mentioned SWAGS vary quite a bit in how practical they really are.

I took my RTT off my Land Rover because it felt tippy inside when driving, and your videos showed some tippy looking Land Cruisers from the outside.
These guys sell rebranded King swags.


I picked up one of the Mid-46 swags to give it a try. It is a surprisingly large roll to toss around but plenty of room for my wife and I to sleep in. Works well under an awning like Dan has shown and keeps out the creepy crawlies.
I also have a smaller single swag that is more of a bivy sack that I don't use much, It's easier to sleep in the truck when I'm out solo.
 

alaskantinbender

Adventurer
Hi All,

The "Old Tele" track is in the Far North East of Australia, and takes you up almost to the very tip of the continent (which is only 1,500kms from the Equator... (1000mi)) ... so it's hot, sticky and tropical up here, even in winter (which it is now in Australia)
The track took us four days and includes some of Australia's most famous 4x4 obstacles.

There are many deep water crossings, including Nolan's (almost up to the hood) and quite a few very steep/tricky creek entrances and exits with big mud walls that can cause panel damage.

I drove the Jeep Gladiator, and I teamed up with a new VDJ78 Land Cruiser (4.8 V8 TD), a GU Nissan Patrol (4.2 TD) and an older HZJ75 Land Cruiser. It was incredible to see how the different vehicles handles the different obstacles, and how they were driven differently based on the vehicles strengths.

We had an incredible time, and on the final day we all said "Should we go and do it again right now?" - we loved it that much. I can totally see why people come up every year to do it over and over.

This track has been on my "Top 10 global overland tracks" for a couple of decades, and I absolutely loved it and I'm so stoked I got to spend the time and do it right!

The full video of our adventure is on YouTube:
-Dan
Very enjoyable Dan. You are showing a much more reasonable approach to exploring that most of us can appreciate. Thank you for making all the videos from amazing parts of the world that most of us won't have the opportunity to explore.
 

ccperkdog

New member
Hi all,

In today's HUGE YouTube episode I install what I'm calling 21st Century Dual isolated batteries with solar into my Gladiator.
Using a state of the art DC-DC charger with built-in MPPT Solar charge controller, a lightweight Lithium battery and a flexible 100W solar panel, this setup is a huge improvement in every way compared to my Africa Jeep.
If you've ever wanted to learn about dual isolated batteries, and the what/why and how of it all, this episode is for you!

I'm confident this is the best setup on the market for my needs, and I'm already impressed with how quickly and efficiently it's charging the house battery - and I don't even have the solar connected yet!


Let me know if you have any questions, I'm happy to help if I can.

-Dan
How is the Renogy system holding up as you trek all over Australia? Anything you would change?
 

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