This 4th of July, Savannah and I opted to push our comfort zone and join an off-raod group (Instagram: @overland_raptor_runs) for a three day overlanding trip. We had gone camping with the kids before, and we had gone on long road trips with the kids before, but this was going to be our first true overland effort. Flagstaff to Grand canyon, 100 miles entirely off-road.

Google Earth view of off-road route

I will say, the success of this trip is entirely thanks to the group organizer Chad Jensen. He took the time to make pre-run the route and make a detailed GPS track to ensure that it was a viable way to get from point A to point B. That bit of information beforehand was the deciding factor that made us confident that we wouldn’t get stranded in the middle of nowhere with the kids. (P.S. Chad is also a very experienced fitness trainer and runs his own gym Elite Aesthetics in Gilbert, go check it out)

Ford Raptor Truck offroad drift

There were three key things we learned.

  • Have multiple people keep an eye on the GPS route
  • Air down your tires
  • Run amber chase lights (if traveling with multiple vehicles)

GPS: There was a point in the trip when the lead car was holding their iPad upside-down… so as you can imagine, our convoy started going south instead of north. Luckily several others caught on to the problem. For this trip, I downloaded the Gaia GPS for this trip, the free version lets you have a feel for it, but I opted to pay the $36 for the annual subscription to have access to satellite maps and be able to save them for offline use (since we’d most likely not have any service on this trip).

xplrcreate air compressor inflating tires after air down for offroad driving

Air Down Tires: Our truck is virtually unmodified, with factory heavy duty towing suspension, this makes it STIFF. We deflated our tires down to 25PSI, this was a game changer. The ride was instantly softer and more bearable. We run a off-road proven BF Goodrich KO2, its a 35in tire on a 17in wheel, so the side wall is burly and able to handle the lower tire pressures without pinching or losing the bead. Just be sure you have a way to inflate them at the end before getting back on the highway.

xplrcreate 2014 f150 with smittybilt roof top tent overlander xl amber chase lights

Amber Lights: I almost scoffed this off and didn’t install these due to the time crunch right before the trip, and there is at times a negative “bro” stigma associated with LED lights. But, we are so glad we had them. Until you’ve been in an off-road convoy, you won’t believe how much dust gets kicked up by the car in front; there were times we just couldn’t see the road. That’s where the rear facing amber lights on the car ahead of you are critical; the yellow light is able to penetrate the dust, so you at least have a visual reference of roughly where the car in front of you is. One thing I would change, is in an effort to be modest, I aimed the lights down a good bit in fear of them being too “blinding”. Let me tell you, in dusty conditions, the brighter the better; the car behind you will thank you. (I will do a write up on the LED light project next, so check back soon)

Overland Raptor Runs 4th of july group

The entire trip we only had to make one detour, where a trail we were following turned out to enter private property. If you come across this situation, please do as we did, respect the land, and turn around.

Safe travels and enjoy your next overlanding adventure!

xplrcreate overland raptor runs group by campfire grand canyon flagstaff
Milkyway galaxy seen from campfire at Humphrey's peak
smittybilt overlanderXL roof top tent on 2014 ford f150
2012 Ford Raptor at Flagstaff Lava Tube Caves
4th of july camping trip overlanding
2018 Ford Raptor kicking up dirt