last updated 25/10/2015
To help you when you’re decking out your 4WD for offroading, camping and touring, here is a page identifying the after market components and general gear that have been added to our 2007 dual cab manual Toyota Hilux SR5 3L turbo diesel D4D.
Click on photos to view full size images.
ARB Steel Bull Bar
Reason for choosing: The ARB bull bar is strong and offers a good approach angle. Another good feature is the copious bench space available on this bull bar, which is very handy when out bush. It has the most bench space out of all bull bars on the market today. Useful for putting your beer on, leaving some tools on or for cutting up bait etc. Don’t forget to check the bench space before leaving camp, as it’s an easy spot to leave and forget something.
Review: Heavy, but strong. No problems, but have not yet tested it on any stray roos. The bench space has proven to be really useful.
ARB Rear Air Locker
Reason for choosing: I’ve heard conflicting reports on auto-lockers in terms of their on road mannerisms. There wasn’t much info or field experience on e-lockers at the time I wanted a diff locker so I ruled them out (as time goes on it appears that e-lockers are a viable alternative). Being a critical mechanical component I thought I’d go for the safe option with an ARB air locking differential. It’s expensive, but has a proven history of toughness and reliability. I went for a rear locker, as the rear end is stronger and the factory limited slip diff didn’t do much so I was happy to blow it away.
Review: Works perfectly. The ARB compressor used to actuate the air locker also doubles as a backup compressor for inflating my tyres. The compressor is mounted under the hood in the spare space usually reserved for a second battery. If you want to use it to pump your tyres make sure you specify when buying it, because it requires some extra fittings and the hose.
Diff lockers are really good. They make it easier to advance up uneven terrain, allowing you to go slower which reduces wear to your vehicle and improves safety. My old Suzuki Sierra had no diff lockers, and I often had to use speed to make it up uneven terrain which gave the car and its occupants a severe hammering. Diff lockers also make it safer descending steep and uneven terrain when under engine braking. It prevents the vehicle slipping through the diffs and the forward lurches this causes, making the descent safer and more controlled.
Black Wolf Mojave SG6 Dome Dent
Reason for choosing: Wanted an alternative to the roof top tent to free up the car and reserve our camping spot when staying in one spot for a while. A ground tent gives us a base station where we can chuck our junk and have everything set up permanently whilst we go on day trips in the car. We chose the Black Wolf Mojave SG6 because it’s big, strong and not too expensive.
Review: This tent is big. It has two rooms and an annex. It easily fits 6 people with room to store bags etc. It’s high enough to stand in easily and the walls are steep sided giving plenty of head room. The poles are thick and strong and the tent is pretty sturdy especially when the guy ropes are pegged. The outer fly tends to sag a little without guy ropes. I think it’s pretty easy to set up given it’s size but still is quite a bit more difficult to set up compared to smaller dome tents. It’s best to have two people to set it up. Internally it has a few good features – lots of pockets, curtained sky panels, an access point for a power cord, heaps of windows and ventilation, a shelf that hangs from the roof and a couple of zip-up storage areas in the bottom front corners.
This tent is much heavier than say a cheap 4 man dome tent. It weighs over 20kg and is pretty bulky when it’s packed. On one hand I think I’ve over-done it. Too much of a step up from a much less bulky 4 man tent. Too big for two people, especially since it’s not even our main accommodation On the other hand it has been pretty good when staying somewhere for a while. One room is the bedroom with a blow up mattress, the other is a living room with a blow up couch and somewhere to keep our bags etc. With so much room it’s quite comfortable to live out of. For example when the wife has done relief teaching at some schools on our way around Australia it’s given her somewhere to put all her stuff and get ready in the morning and in bad weather it’s given me somewhere to set up a table and laptop and keep myself occupied while she’s working. Also we’ve been able to accommodate friends visiting us thanks to this tent. So I’m not convinced yet whether such a big tent has been a good or bad decision. Either way it’s a good family tent that we’ll definitely use when we have our own family.
After a couple of years of intermittent use one of the tent poles split. It split when lifting it up to create the dome. This tent is pretty big and lifting in this way creates a lot of stress on the poles. Best option is to have someone standing inside the tent lifting it up from the inside. This takes the stress off the poles. Once the poles are properly in place the tent is strong and the poles will not split.
Bridgestone D694LT 31 x 10.5 R15 tyres
Bushranger Plugga II Tyre Repair Kit
Reason for choosing: Seemed like a reasonable kit that I found online.
Review: Comes with all the gear you need to repair a tyre. The reamer and insertion tool feel sturdy. I haven’t had to use it yet.
I’m not carrying a second spare tyre. Didn’t have anywhere to put it. I could have put it on a rear carrier but wasn’t sure whether it would annoy us since we access the tailgate nearly every time we stop the car. Plus too much weight hanging so far back is risky when hitting up tough tracks. Not towing reduces the risk of tyre damage, especially from impact forces on the rear tyres. Many punctures are repairable with the plug kits. I carry a tyre tube which can be used when the damage can’t be repaired with a plug kit. The chances of having two tyres that are both so badly damaged that they can’t be repaired with a plug kit and can’t contain a tyre tube is pretty slim. If that happens I’ll be shoving grass in the tyre, bush mechanics style. By adjusting tyre pressure to suit the terrain and driving carefully, I feel the risk of two irreparable flat tyres in a row is quite low.
CTek 25A Intelligent 12V Battery Charger
Reason for choosing: I wanted a good multi-stage regulated 12V charger to quickly charge my batteries when parked up with access to mains power, for example in caravan parks. Also I wanted something that could behave as a fixed voltage supply if I needed it. The CTek does all these things and also has a recondition cycle which attempts to reduce sulphation.
Review: Worked great for around 5 years. I use it only at caravan parks, although sometimes if the price for power is too high I get unpowered sites and use the solar. If staying in one spot for a while and leaving the charger connected for long periods, I switch it to supply mode. This fixes the output to 13.8V and prevents overcharge occurring. Overcharge can be caused by loads triggering the charger to elevate it’s voltage output even though the battery may be 100% charged.
After around 5 years of use it stopped working. I pulled it apart and found two large capacitors with bulging tops. This indicates the capacitors have failed. I replaced the capacitors for a few dollars and the Ctek is working again.
Capacitors are an easy thing to check when an electronic device fails. If you see any bulging or leaking capacitors then change them out. It’s a common problem and is cheap and easy to fix.
Cold Steel Bushman Survival Knife
Reason for choosing: Good reviews. Reputation for being able to be used and abused. Made from a single piece of steel. Handle allows it to be fitted easily to a shaft to make a spear.
Review: This knife is too tough and macho to put in the kitchen section. It deserves to be in with the toughest 4WD equipment. I’ve smashed the crap out of it. Gets used for everything from chopping down trees to cutting veggies. I’ve cut down trees up to the thickness of a can of coke with this knife. Chopped away in the same manner you’d use an axe. The edge does not roll or chip and it stays sharp. I’ve carved walking sticks, billy can tripods and spoons with it. I’ve used it to hammer off oysters from rocks and to smash apart shell fish and mud whelks. It’s easy to sharpen and will sharpen to a very sharp edge that it maintains well. It is medium weight, not as thick as some similarly sized bush knives, so doesn’t have as much inertia for chopping big wood, but means it’s not so tiring to use for lighter work.
The sheath works well. The storage pocket I use to hold a small sharpening block. I’ve heard some complain of the knife falling out because there is no positive latching or strap to lock it in, only friction. I haven’t had a problem, seems to wedge in there pretty tight.
Being carbon steel, it will rust if left wet or unclean. So need to watch that. Sometimes, when I can be bothered, I give it a spray with oil to help it resist corrosion.
I put some bicycle inner tube on the handle to give it a bit of grip and shock absorption.
Dunn and Watson 170kg Lockable Drawer Slide
For details on drawers and fridge slide, click here.
Reason for choosing: Only heavy duty full extension drawer runners I could find to suit my requirements.
Review: These sliders are expensive but are heavy duty and perform well. They are 100% full extension runners. When extended with a fully loaded fridge chock a block with beer, they feel sturdy and secure. I had one problem with one of the locking latches breaking off, I think due to repeated slamming it shut with a lot of inertia from the fridge. I repaired by re-fixing the latch with a screw in the same spot that it was initially riveted to. The other annoying feature is that it requires two hands to open – one on each release latch. They are rated to 170kg, but come under the 227kg range of sliders. The 227kg range all have the same construction, but longer sliders have a load derating.
Indigo Campers Ebay Annex
Reason for choosing: Cheap, came bundled with the Indigo Ebay roof top tent.
Review: Very good, takes 2 minutes to setup. It is held rigid on all sides by telescopic aluminium poles and only needs guy ropes to keep it down on the ground. Has withstood heavy south west WA summer winds. A bit difficult to open with only one person, with two people it’s very quick and easy.
I got some Rhino annex L-brackets that are designed to bolt onto the Rhino aero cross bars to hold the annex at the front end. At the back end I bought some L-brackets from Bunnings and used U-bolts to fix them to the canopy roof racks and then mounted the annex. Usually you should not rigidly fix the cabin roof rack to the canopy roof rack due to the movement that occurs between them. There is so much play in my canopy roof racks that I am able to do it safely.
I added a small bit of velcro to hold one of the straps up, otherwise the strap would close in the rear door. Other additions are a LED light strip in the annex housing and a rope run across the front to hang clothes, towels and regularly used utensils like the spatula.
Ebay Aerial 3G
Reason for choosing: cheap, good quality, and good gain.
Review: Works well, provides an extra couple of bars of reception strength. Came with 5m of cable which was sufficient to run from the bull bar through the engine bay to the passenger cab with plenty to spare. See detailed article for complete description on phone and internet setup using our Samsung Galaxy phones.
Ebay Canopy Roof Racks
Ebay Cigarette Lighter Inverter 125W
Reason for choosing: Super cheap on ebay, pretty low risky electronic gismo. Much lower standby current draw compared to larger inverters so won’t deplete the vehicle’s batteries. Compact and convenient to use for low power applications like charging laptops, shavers and cameras.
Review: For the first six months it worked really well, mainly charging our laptops. The fan made a bad noise from new. After 6 months of almost daily use, the fan ceased. To the credit of the inverter, it actually shut down once it overheated rather than destroying itself. I sprayed some penetrating oil which freed the fan but it still sometimes fails to get going on initial startup and requires a tap to get it moving. Not sure if I’ll continue to tolerate it or just get another one given how cheap they are.
ABR Sidewinder Dual Battery Isolator / Voltage Sensing Relay 120A
Reason for choosing: Cheap, low risk electronic relay.
Review: Works perfectly. Good hysteresis to prevent repeat cycling. Works well in parallel with the main battery charging solenoid to ensure the main battery does not get depleted and also gets recharged by the solar panels. No DC-DC converter for me, I wanted maximum charging current to the second battery which you get through direct connection to alternator, and I did not want my second battery held at an elevated voltage all the time, causing extra battery wear, when I didn’t need it.
For 12V system design guide, click here.
Redarc Main Battery Charging Solenoid / Voltage Sensing Relay
Reason for choosing: Needed another voltage sensing relay to allow my solar panels to charge the starter battery, and my auto-sparky had this one in stock.
Review: The solenoid re-engages the main starting battery when the auxiliary battery is fully charged, even if the starting battery is below the isolation voltage of the dual battery isolator. This allows the starting battery to be kept at full charge by the solar panels rather than being slowly depleted. With this arrangement I use a few amp hours off the top of the charge on the starting battery each time it cycles down at night. This reduces the depth of charge on the second battery, thus providing a net reduction in battery wear between the two batteries (battery wear grows disproportionately at deeper discharges). It also means overall I have a few extra amp hours of capacity to run the fridges etc.
I had my auto-sparky install a jumper across the isolator’s terminals so that I could force it to close on demand.
For 12V system design guide, click here.
Ebay DVD / GPS / Entertainment Stereo System
Reason for choosing: All in one, with more functions than any brand name unit, and at a fraction of the cost.
Review: Does what it says it does. The interface is a bit glitchy and not as flash as brand name units. Touch screen works ok but sometimes fails to recognise a touch or has a large delay or detects the touch in the wrong position. Needs the odd reboot. A few chinese characters hanging around some menus. Apart from these interface issues, it works really well. We use it to watch movies and load it full of mp3s on the SD card. The GPS works surprisingly well, and the street database and points of interest database are up to date and accurate. We’ve used the point of interest database to find shopping centers, service stations, caravan parks etc rather than resorting to searching the internet on our phones.
A problem with the Hilux is the upwards angled mounting for the stereo. It means it’s not at the ideal viewing angle so you lose some contrast. It also catches a lot of ambient light when facing up, washing out the screen if it’s a bright day. I cut a bit of card up to provide some shade and reduce the glare, making it possible to see the display during the day.
Ebay 8W LED Flood Light
Reason for choosing: Cheap and low power usage. This is a flood light used for night fishing etc.
Review: Very bright considering its low current draw. Can leave it on all night without dramas. The housing seams robust but the bracket broke after a few months. Didn’t like corrugations. Provides a good wide and bright flood. The cable runs across the steel roof platform then down between the cab and the canopy and through a grommet in the tray into the rear canopy area and finally to the switch box.
Ebay LED Light Strips
Reason for choosing: Cheap, low risk electronic light, low power usage, and comes on a 5m reel that can be cut every few cm to suit your applications.
Review: Bright and reliable. Surprising how bright they are, they provide really good lighting for sifting through the drawers, preparing dinner etc. One strip is mounted on the canopy tailgate and the other inside the annex housing, both controlled by the light switch box in the tray. Used about 3m of the 5m coil.
Ebay 15W LED Reversing Light
Reason for choosing: Cheap, low risk electronic light.
Review: Works perfectly. Controlled by a manual switch from the dashboard rather than off reverse selection, so that it can be used when not in reverse.
Indigo Campers Ebay Roof Top Tent
Ebay Rear Reversing Camera
Reason for choosing: came with DVD / GPS stereo head unit.
Review: Works perfectly. Displays automatically on the head unit when reverse is selected.
Ebay Solar Regulator 40A MPPT
Reason for choosing: Cheap, low risk electronic gismo, high current capacity. In general MPPT is best as it tries to maintain your solar panels at their most efficient operating point. Apart from improving charge efficiency to charge your batteries faster, they also regulate the charge voltage to prevent overcharging and reduce battery wear.
Review: Works perfectly. I have it mounted near the wheel arch in the tray area on the right side of the drawers. Has a selection of charge profiles and final charge voltages including one specifically suited to AGM batteries. I don’t have a DC-DC converter to charge the battery when the engine is running. When the engine is running you aren’t cycling the battery so optimized charging profiles are not so important, and I’d rather have the faster charging rate afforded by direct connection to the alternator (theoretically up to 100A charging current). When stopped, the batteries are cycling but are being charged by the solar regulator according to the selected charge profile. Also, the more you charge a battery, and the longer you hold it in that charged state, the greater the grid corrosion which shortens the life of the battery. With a DC-DC charger you are always maintaining a high charge, even when you don’t need it, even when you aren’t cycling the battery, which shortens the life of the battery. Elevating the charge only when cycling on solar means the batteries are held at the elevated voltage for a much shorter period of time.
For 12V system design guide, click here.
Ebay Solar Panels 3 x 130W
Reason for choosing: super cheap compared to brand name units. Even if their ratings and temperature coefficients aren’t as good as brand name, it’s still worth it.
Review: Works perfectly. Strong aluminium frames, thick heavy glass fronts. Have endured severe corrugations and offroading with no problems. I’ve clocked them at rated power output in bright sunshine. The cables run across the steel roof platform then down between the cab and the canopy, through a grommet in the tray, into the canopy area and finally terminating at the solar regulator. They are a bit heavy for my fold-away rack system. Lifting them overhead is a bit awkward. If I did it again I’d probably go for something smaller – maybe 3 x 100W. Or use only 3 x 130W and have them in a fixed position on the roof rather than needing them to be folded out.
Ebay Switchbox for Lighting
Reason for choosing: Ease of shopping online.
Review: Works perfectly. Each switch is fused. Cigarette lighter socket has proven to be useful.
Ebay True RMS Inverter 2500W
Reason for choosing: Huge capacity for the price. Low risk electronic device.
Review: This was a bit dodgy. Internal input terminals were loose which caused it to switch off on undervoltage at low power levels Tightening fixed the problem. Also internal output inductor was installed too close to output terminals causing an occasional short. Bent inductor out of the way and added some rubber insulator between to rectify. Not sure if it can deliver 2500W continuous but does do 1200W continuous (powering thermomix on heat cycle). The electronics seem ok and the housing is sturdy, but the quality of putting it all together was a bit off.
Firststart 100Ah AGM Battery
Reason for choosing: Generally, AGM is the best solution for touring. Resistant to damage caused by deep cycling, able to tolerate vibration and can be charged at a very fast rate which is good if you want a quick top up by running your motor. The Firststart brand is a good value solution.
Review: Works perfectly. I’ve clocked it charging at over 30 amps from the alternator. Would expect it could sink even more current with a more depleted battery. I had it installed in the tray, as the spare space under the hood was occupied by the diff locker compressor. It is behind the right wheel arch, wedged between the drawers and the side of the tray with some carpet underlay as padding. This is good because it stays cooler, extending the life of the battery. The effect of elevated temperature on lead acid batteries is significant, enough so that some manufacturers void the warranty when stored under the bonnet. As a guide, each 8 degrees C rise in temperature halves the life of a lead acid battery. That’s very significant when considering how hot it can get under the bonnet of a car with the engine running, especially in the sun on a hot day.
After just over 2 years of use, this battery has died. It died from being left in a completely discharged condition for many months whilst we traveled overseas to South East Asia and America. I do not blame the battery. Do not leave lead acid batteries in a state of discharge for any length of time. It ruins them. I replaced this battery with another ebay AGM.
For 12V system design guide, click here.
Reason for choosing: Good value, good quality.
Review: Works perfectly. I lost the template (wife chucked it out) and Ironman sent a new one free of charge. Support from Ironman was good. The plastic does not seem to have deteriorated after a few years of being on the vehicle.
Ironman 40mm Lift Kit with Constant Load Rear Springs
Reason for choosing: Good value, most reviews were positive so I took a punt on this cheaper alternative.
Review: The constant load rear springs are really heavy duty. Without load they lift much more than specified and require the brake cable to be extended. They are so stiff that without any load I’m not sure whether they flex at all, which yields a very bouncy ride. This is common to any springs that are underloaded. I imagine the Ironman standard load springs would handle much better without load. With several hundred kilos of load they are much better. Fully loaded with close to a tonne on the back, they level off nicely to about 40mm lift and keep the rear end feeling tight and handling well. One problem was the handbrake cable bracket could not be bolted onto the new springs, as the bolt holding the spring clamp was in the way (refer to picture). I used a cable tie to hold it.
The front springs handle well but provided less than specified lift. I contacted Ironman and I was impressed with their fast and helpful response. No blame games or excuses, just offered replacement springs of a thicker gauge. I was about to leave for our tour around Australia so didn’t have time to replace the springs. Instead they express posted a couple of spring spacers. Spring spacers aren’t a great solution for lifting as they introduce risks of breaking stuff. However I only needed around 10mm of extra lift to meet spec, and these spaces are only 5mm high. Ironman assured me that these small spring spacers would not introduce risks of over extending ball joints or damaging the strut on full compression. So far so good.
I was afraid that Ironman would offer poor after sales service, being a cheap online alternative to other brands. Their service exceeded expectations.
The suspension have been good performers and have handled severe corrugations and off road work really well. With a full load the vehicle is level and maintains good ground clearance for offroad work. The shock absorbers seem to have survived the corrugations after about 2 years of abuse. However after travelling a few thousand km on corrugated roads I started to notice the rear end does not feel as sharp as when the new suspension was first installed. I was getting some rear axle steering effect. When the suspension was around 2.5 years old I pulled it apart to find the bushes were completely shot. Replaced them and problem solved. The ironman bushes may not be the best quality but then a couple of years of touring offroad with a fully loaded vehicle may ruin any brand of suspension bushes.
Lonotec Lanolin Heavy Duty Treatment to Underbody
Reason for choosing: Well known corrosion inhibitor. We are doing lots of beach driving and won’t be able to wash the underbody often.
Review: Can attract dirt, but appears to adhere strongly to metal and affords good protection. A few litres is required to completely treat the underbody.
Reason for choosing: Came with the car.
Review: Works perfectly.
Outback Accessories 140L Long Range Fuel Tank
Reason for choosing: Came with car.
Review: Really good having the extended range when touring. Potentially up to 1400km range, it gives the ability to fuel up at major centers and pay less for fuel. Also provides greater flexibility when going bush. Does hang a bit low, below the side steps, so it is a worry when off roading. I dented it a bit on the Mundaring powerline track. There are 120L versions available that don’t hang as low and would be better suited to serious offroading.
Offroad Systems Aluminium Drawer Internals
For details on drawers and fridge slide, click here.
Reason for choosing: Only aluminium drawers I could find. The steel ones are terribly heavy. It’s quite wasteful carting around so much dead weight for the life of the vehicle. I used the Offroad Systems drawer internals to build a customized setup. The drawers are rated to 150kg per drawer.
Review: Strong and light. Maybe not as strong as steel versions – aluminium is naturally softer than steel, but they have held up fine on our tour so far and show no signs of deterioration. The runners are not quite full extension, probably 3/4 or so, which aint too bad but can make getting stuff out of the very back of drawers a bit annoying.
Maxtrax Recovery Tracks
Reason for choosing: Good reputation and widely used. Since I do a lot of beach driving, I wanted to get the best recovery tracks to make sure they work next time I’m bogged on the beach with a rising tide. I’ve seen reviews of the cheaper ones breaking easily.
Review: Work well, I’ve only used the Maxtrax in sand. Has been used to recover my vehicle twice and a bogged stranger once. They wear out quickly from a spinning wheel. Avoid spinning your wheels – the studs will be gone before you know it. If you’re bogged to the chassis with the wheels spinning freely, don’t shove them in and hope for the best. The wheels will just spin and wear out the studs. Get the shovel out first, get some weight back on the wheels.
General Recovery Equipment
Reason for choosing: Trying to find the right balance of recovery gear is hard to do. I am touring around Australia, not tackling hard core 4WD trails. The Maxtrax and a shovel will get me out of most problems. I decided I should still take some extra recovery gear just in case, especially since most of the time we are travelling alone. So I ended up with a snatch strap, winch strap, some shackles, drag chain, tree protector and a comealong winch. The comealong winch is cheap and not suited to regular use, however I have used it once on the trip and it worked well. It didn’t bend and it looks like it’s ok to use again. It has an integrated pulley for doubling up, giving it a maximum pulling capacity of 6 tonnes. I couldn’t justify big dollars and ongoing maintenance of an electric winch or good hand winch since it’s likely I’ll hardly use it. I’ve seen people use their electric winch when bogged in sand when all they had to do was let down the tyres. Most of the time it is possible to make do without a fancy winch.
Review: The comealong worked fine recovering my hilux up hill in soft sand. The pins didn’t bend. The handle didn’t bend. The problem was the very short pull capacity, requiring regular disconnection and resetting of the winch cable and winch strap. This made the going slow. The snatch strap I used once to pull out a chap at West Alligator Head in Kakadu. Snatch straps are a last resort and I avoid using them when I can. The drag chain I have not used at all and maybe was not necessary. It’s heavy.
Reason for choosing: My spares consist of a tyre tube, duct tape, silicone tape, material tape, electrical tape, steel wire, metal epoxy glue, araldite epoxy glue, rope, paracord, cable ties and any bits of wood or branches that I can find on the side of the road that may help with the fix I’m attempting. I don’t have any spares. Got no space for them. I suppose I could carry a couple of radiator hoses or something, but that’s what the tape is for. Definitely no room for bulky suspension or drive train components.
Review: Haven’t had to do any serious dodgy mechanical repairs yet. My bonnet latch broke and I held the bonnet down with paracord.
Projecta Typhoon 150L/min Compressor
Reason for choosing: Very good flow rate and good value. I chose the Projecta brand, offering some piece of mind being a semi brand name, compared to the very similar no branders available online. Could well be exactly the same.
Review: This compressor has been flawless for many years and pumps up tyres fast. Has been in my kit since the Sierra days and has aired up the Sierra and the Hilux hundreds of times. Really has been used a lot, as I do a lot of sand driving. I do worry that the plastic feeling hose may melt off its fitting when the compressor is used for extended periods. Hasn’t happened yet. In the Sierra I carried it around in the plastic case that it came with. In the Hilux it is permanently mounted. Used it to re-seat the tyre bead on the Sierra a few times, which demonstrates its high flow velocity. The compressor is probably around 7 years old now and is still working great.
Poly Water Tank 55L
Reason for choosing: Fits perfectly in front of the drawer system in the tray of the Hilux. I wrapped it in some light rubber to give it some protection.
Review: Works perfectly. Very tight fit between the wheel arches in the tray, it won’t fit directly between the middle of the arches but is ok right at the front of the tray. Make sure you use food grade hose for your plumbing. Don’t make the mistake I did and use a garden hose. It makes the water taste like crap. Now it’s too hard to get to so I keep putting off replacing it. Mind you after 6 months of use the hose doesn’t flavour the water as much now. Maybe it’s just my tastebuds getting used to it.
Rhino Clamp On Aero Roof Racks
Reason for choosing: Rhino racks are expensive but have a good reputation.
Review: No wind noise, easy to fit. Worked fine for quite some time until I decided to tour around Australia. These clamp on racks don’t like corrugations. They move and they have damaged my door seals and door frames. If you plan to do offroad work don’t get the clamp on versions, unless you are only loading them very lightly. I upgraded to the permanently fixed roof racks.
Rhino Steel Roof Platform
Reason for choosing: I originally wanted the Rhino aluminium roof platform to save weight, but it’s not designed to fit the aero bars, only the heavy duty square bars. So I settled for the Rhino steel roof platform.
Review: It’s only a couple of kilos heavier than the aluminium version and is much lighter then some of the big heavy duty steel roof racks / platforms that you see. The grid mesh arrangement is quite practical in terms of strapping stuff in any orientation. I like that it has no sides so it’s easy to get stuff on and off. It has developed a couple of spots of surface rust so maybe its life is not as good as aluminium. I have sprayed with lanolin so hopefully the rust does not spread.
Stowabike City Folding Bike
Reason for choosing: cheapest folding bikes I could find. Folding bikes are too expensive for what they are. I bought these Stowabikes online pretty cheap including delivery.
Review: The simple steel construction is strong. It’s hard to go wrong with steel, which is assuring given how cheap these bikes are. They have been tossed around in the back of the Hilux and have many scuffs and scratches, but they hold up ok. Being steel they are quite heavy for a small bike – around 14kg. They ride well. All the fittings, brakes, pedals, rims, gear selector, derailer etc have worked fine. Not the greatest quality but acceptable. The gearing is quite short, suited for slow cruising and hill climbs. Being only 6 speed, the gearing is a compromise. You’ll run out of gears quickly when wanting to go fast.
The handle bars and the seat post extend quite high. These folding bikes easily cater for me at around 6 ft tall, and would be ok even for taller people.
The most annoying thing about the Stowabike City folding bikes is the handle bars are not quick release. The folding frame pivot and the seat post are both quick release, but you still need to get your tools out to do the handle bars.
The seats they came with were ok, but we already had better seats so we fitted them.
The bikes are now approaching 3 years old and are still doing great. Even when settled at home they still have advantages over normal bikes – short wheel base makes them really easy to wheel inside homes and around train stations etc. They are great for pulling wheelies since the short wheel base means you are sitting almost directly over the back wheel. The racks and mud guards make them a great bike for running errands around town in any conditions. I can ride it to my mate’s house with a six pack on the rack and get someone to pick me up and chuck the bike in the back of the car.
Super Cheap Auto Recovery Hitch
Reason for choosing: Saw it whilst wandering through the store.
Simoco CB radio
Reason for choosing: Came with car.
Review: Works perfectly but the antenna broke after many thousands of kilometers of corrugations.
Super Cheap Auto Radiator Bug Mesh
Reason for choosing: Saw it in the shop when wandering through.
Review: Works. Cable tied to any convenient points in front of the radiator area. I’ve been lucky to have not run into insect plagues so far, but the mesh is important if you are doing a lot of outback driving. I’ve seen some radiators with several kilos worth of grass hoppers / locusts embedded.
Sheep Skin Front Seat Covers
Reason for choosing: Took them off our old car.
Review: These are many years old and still going strong. Soft and comfortable.
Super Cheap Auto Canvas Seat Covers for Rear Seat
Reason for choosing: Not worried about a perfect fit, just wanted something to protect the seats.
Review: The rear seats are used as a storage area, so stuff is always being dragged in and out. The canvas has withstood it without a problem. It feels thick and durable. The fit isn’t great though, and the headrest covers didn’t fit at all.
Waeco 80L Fridge
Reason for choosing: Waeco fridges have a lower height than Engel. Engel would not have fit on top of my drawers. So Waeco was the default solution for me in the Waeco vs Engel wars. Waeco are very good units regardless.
Review: Works perfectly. Faultless so far. It’s a really big fridge though, takes up a lot of room. Sometimes I wonder whether I’ve overdone it with this unwieldy behemoth. Should have got something smaller and freed up some space. Other times I’m glad we got it, when we’re on big bush camps for a couple of weeks we can load up on heaps of meat and veggies and beer. The fridge’s power supply is branched off from the fuse feeding the cigarette lighter in the switch box in the tray, so that the cable and fridge are protected by the fuse.
Waeco 40L Fridge used as Freezer
Reason for choosing: Stuck with Waeco since I was getting the 80L version. They are a bit cheaper than Engel and are a very good fridge.
Review: Works perfectly. We use this as a freezer. Has easily held deep freezing temperatures through the warmest days. When set to a typical freezing temperature of say -12 deg C, the small area above the compressor at the front of the fridge is around 0 deg C, which makes it a perfect place to store a couple of drinks when we’re on the road, accessible from inside the car whilst driving. The fridge’s power supply is branched off from the fuse feeding the cigarette lighter in the switch box in the tray, so that the cable and fridge are protected by the fuse.
Setting a car fridge to be a freezer doubles its energy consumption. Given I already went all out with the monster 80L fridge, sometimes I think the freezer is overkill. But it has been useful for doing big meat shops at larger centers to avoid paying huge prices for meat in remote areas and keeping our meat in stock on the longest of bush camps. Also useful when you catch more fish than you can eat right away. The novelty of icecream on a remote beach is a good enough reason in itself to have a freezer.
The 40L fridge is also a good one to bring on it’s own when we’re just doing short weekend trips. Use it as a fridge and leave the 80L juggernaut at home.
Whitco Patio Bolt Lock
Reason for choosing: Easily available from Bunnings.
Review: I use these to lock my drawers. They have an internal spring clip which stops the bolt from sliding around too freely. The spring didn’t like the dust, binding up on the bolt. One of them I had to remove the spring, the other was ok with some lube.