Packing a family a 4 into a jeep or 4runner

A lot of questions about traveling with a family seem to center around sleeping arrangements, I'm more curious about how you pack a family of 4 into a jeep JK/JL or toyota 4runner? Show me how you organize things. Also figure its only going to be a 4 day, 3 night trip.

For reference, I like to go wheeling, like on the rubicon wheeling. I'm not bringing an RTT trailer out there. We currently wheel a 1994 4runner when the family goes.

We have recently gone on a 3 night camping trip and made it work, but we could not get to the food while wheeling and this is problematic with little ones. I wouldn't mind building a shelf type setup to get things organized, but I'm worried that it would make access to the stuff stuffed behind the fridge hard to get to as well as a shelf system may take up more space than it creates. Its pretty easy to stuff a lot of random things in crevices when there is no organization.

I'm potentially looking at moving to a JK/JL in the future and from what I can see those have even less storage space in the back. I'd love to hear how everyone gets their families out on the trail for a few days?

Kevin
 

WOODY2

Adventurer
JK or JL is a step backward carrying cap. wise IMHO. I would be observing others while on the trail to see how they handle this issue. Why reinvent the wheel?
 

twin_magnolias

Observer
I just sold my JKU because it lacked space for the four of us and the doggo. We had a interior rack/shelf and cargo slide from Front Runner that made it easier, but it was a maddening game of Tetris.

I couldn't imagine doing it in a Jk or JL.
 

Recommended books for Overlanding

Dreaming of Jupiter
by Ted Simon
From $16.12
Motorcycle Messengers: Tales from the Road by Writers who...
by Lois Pryce, Mark Richardson, Carla King, Sam Manic...
From $9.99

nwoods

Expedition Leader
I travelled all over the Southwest in a 2 door Jeep LJ with a family of 4. We were very tightly packaged, with the advantage of relatively small kids, but we offset that by packing a crap ton of creature comforts. It wasn't ideal, but it was possible. I did have to upgrade my springs and my exterior storage options:







 

billiebob

My Uncle drove a government issued Jeep in Europe
For reference, I like to go wheeling, like on the rubicon wheeling. I'm not bringing an RTT trailer out there.

Kevin
For me, the only option would be 2 Jeeps. One parent, one child per Jeep. Plain, old, cheap, used identical Jeeps. I'd never do the Rubicon with 4 people in the Jeep. I'd get 2 TJs, YJs or CJs. and rebuild them. No needs for mods beyond a winch and lockers.

2 of these would be perfect.


Why would you want to do this with a wife and 2 kids on board in a JKU.

The joy for the kids would watching the other Jeep rather than being cramped into a JKU.
My kids always enjoyed the attention of travelling alone.
Our best trips were with 2 vehicles.
Mom and daughter together.
Me and my son together.
Often trading out.
 
Last edited:

jadmt

Well-known member
I have had 4 jku's and we have done moab once with 3 adults (wife and 18 year old daughter) it was tight and we had a base camp. I have done the Rubicon trail and dusy ershim and it would have been really tough with even 3 people let alone 4. I guess if you had a roof rack and were able to carry much of the gear up on top it would work but by the time you carry a fridge or large cooler and tools etc you don't have much space. No if your kids are old enough they may enjoy just running along outside the jeep but maybe not. I know if they did that on the dusy they would be dirty beyond belief. I think it would take quite a bit of modifications for a new gen 4runner to do the rubicon but a fairly stock rubicon would make it no problem. My buddy just bought a new TRD 4runner and it has more room than my jkur.
 

BrittanyHighland

New member
Family of three, but we've full-timed out of our JKU Rubicon over 4,000 miles in Mexico. With a big carseat.

Our general setup:

-Rear is ARB fridge on the right, custom/simple drawer system on the left for kitchen items and a few small pantry items.
-To the right of the fridge in the cubby, we keep our tool roll and recovery gear.
-Back seat: truck cargo net is bungy-corded to the roof to store our jackets and a few other lightweight things
-Also in back seat: two Rotopax for water, Mr. Buddy space heater, three duffle bags (we each have one for clothes and personal items), one bag of non-perishable food, collapsible cooler that holds toys and books, and formerly a toddler potty.

I have a video if you want me to PM it to you. Just let me know.

It can be done, but payload is a real concern. We are going to graduate to a Gladiator Sport to get the 1,600-pound payload. For your short-term trips, you can definitely make it work. Go out, and make a list of everything you didn't use, everything you did use, and what you didn't take and missed. Fine-tune the list each time. It's a process.
 

Superduty

Adventurer
What do you mean by get to the food/fridge while wheeling? I dont think it will be possible to do without stopping and getting out of the vehicle. You definitely need a shelf system and a slide out for the fridge. At that point getting to the fridge is pretty simple. I do it in a TJ, but only 2 people. To get to anything else is a little bit of work as it is quite the puzzle to get everything on board and in the perfect spot.
 

Softwaremom

New member
When I bring my 3 younger kids camping.. Larabars are our friend. Amazon sells them. Having relatively healthy snack food stuffed in the nooks and crannies of our vehicle are really helpful. Try to use the booster seats that have drawers in them and cupholders.(one place for food the other for their water bottle) Just a little bit of space but it helps. I keep 2 bags near where my twins are.. the snack bag and the activity bag(if they get bored). Consider getting one of those bags that attach to the back of the seat. I also always pack a lunch for them and put it in a lunch bag that is not crushable.

hope this helps a little.
 

Herbie

Rendezvous Conspirator
It can be done, if the kids aren't too big and you pack light. A local club member did a family of 5 in an XJ for multiple years, and that was with at least 2 car seats or boosters. They used every trick, though, like packing the rear foot wells under the kids feet, etc.
 
What do you mean by get to the food/fridge while wheeling? I dont think it will be possible to do without stopping and getting out of the vehicle. You definitely need a shelf system and a slide out for the fridge. At that point getting to the fridge is pretty simple. I do it in a TJ, but only 2 people. To get to anything else is a little bit of work as it is quite the puzzle to get everything on board and in the perfect spot.
Yes, stopping to make lunches for example. We usually bring snacks in a backpack for everyone and keep that up near the front. Stopping for lunch though means unpacking half the truck to get to the bread.


I have not had everyone with me on the rubicon yet. I'm not sure if I ever will either, but I'd like too. I gave the rubicon as an example of the type of wheeling I'm trying to pack for. This past trip we spent 4days and 3 nights at Coyote Lake up by China Peak Ski resort. I was stressing out about a lot of things on this trip and afterwards I have to say we did pretty good with having just about everything we needed. My wife forgot the chicken nuggets and we ran out of bread on the last day. Kids weren't cramped in the back either. It is nice though, we wheel in, camp 3 nights then wheel out. I am hoping to do the Dusy in sept, but the family won't be going on that one, its too long and I'll have to setup multiple camps.

I am planning some spring upgrades in the rear as well as a change in shock valving for future trips, but it needed that anyways. I would like to make a fridge slide for easier access to it. I'm thinking of reorganizing the dry food and plates and such and maybe stacking those next to the fridge. However, most likely I will still need the space over all that for more stuff, most likely clothes. It looks like I'll be building some kind of shelf thing, I just need to figure out what.

As large as JK/JLs are you see very few people putting more than two persons in one when on trips. The newer 4runners have more space, but I already have a full size ram for fire road camping.

Kevin
 

1000arms

Well-known member
... I would like to make a fridge slide for easier access to it. I'm thinking of reorganizing the dry food and plates and such and maybe stacking those next to the fridge. However, most likely I will still need the space over all that for more stuff, most likely clothes. It looks like I'll be building some kind of shelf thing, I just need to figure out what. ...
What about, in addition to the fridge slide, another slide-out with a drybox/cabinet/... for non-refrigerated food? Maybe with a flip-down/pull-out/... food-prep surface too?
 
What about, in addition to the fridge slide, another slide-out with a drybox/cabinet/... for non-refrigerated food? Maybe with a flip-down/pull-out/... food-prep surface too?
That's and interesting idea. I have been wanting to come up with a fold down surface off of the tire swingout for the stove. Kinda also thinking of replacing the carpet on the tailgate to some UHMW cutting board like material.

The problem with a shelf is how to support it? Its easy to incase the fridge and just throw it on a slideout, but I'd like to keep the other side open to facilitate getting to the area behind the fridge. Unlike a jeep, the 4runner has significant depth in the back. Even with the fridge in there is still a good 14-15" of space before you hit the back seat. The key to packing is to use all the available space. I'm getting ideas so we will see what I come up with.

Kevin
 

Recommended books for Overlanding

Don't Go There. It's Not Safe. You'll Die.: And other mor...
by Jared McCaffree, Jessica Mans, Kobus Mans
From $19.99
Build Your Own Motorcaravan, Build Your Own Overland Camp...
by hn Wickersham , even Wigglesworth
From $44.99

1000arms

Well-known member
What about, in addition to the fridge slide, another slide-out with a drybox/cabinet/... for non-refrigerated food? Maybe with a flip-down/pull-out/... food-prep surface too?
That's an interesting idea. I have been wanting to come up with a fold down surface off of the tire swingout for the stove. Kinda also thinking of replacing the carpet on the tailgate to some UHMW cutting board like material.

The problem with a shelf is how to support it? Its easy to incase the fridge and just throw it on a slideout, but I'd like to keep the other side open to facilitate getting to the area behind the fridge. Unlike a jeep, the 4runner has significant depth in the back. Even with the fridge in there is still a good 14-15" of space before you hit the back seat. The key to packing is to use all the available space. I'm getting ideas so we will see what I come up with.

Kevin
One (big enough) outer case/cabinet that acts as a shelf inside the vehicle.

One long slide/drawer (inside the above mentioned case/cabinet) that holds both the fridge and the drybox/cabinet/...-for-non-refrigerated food.

One slide-out/flip-over stove-mount attached to drybox/cabinet (which is attached to the above slide/drawer next to the fridge).

One big baseplate for above case/cabinet that is much bigger than the bottom of the cabinet, covers the floor of the back of the rig, and helps hold case/cabinet in place when the fridge/drybox slide is pulled out (at least when weighted down with the gear shown in your photo).


Or, if you "want to think outside the box" :cool:, then see the following for ideas:

 

NatersXJ6

Explorer
My shelf in the JKU is bolted and strapped to the roll cage. The fridge takes all the space from back seat to rear door on one side, stove and duffels on the shelf, chuck box And dry goods and anything else on the slide out cargo rack next to fridge, RTT with bedding inside, chairs on rack in front of tent, firewood (rare) in Trasheroo, water on rear bumper, table under cargo slide. I’ve done long trips with 5, including baby in diapers, although they are admittedly not fun.

I’m transitioning to a trailer now, something to drop and explore out from camp.
 
Top