The Rig (a.k.a Our Home a.k.a. LoJo):

2014 Toyota Tundra & Hallmark Milner Camper

We did fair amount of reseach on which type of vehicle we thought would work best for our first overland experience. We knew we wanted a 4WD.  We have driven a bit in both Central and South America in the dry season, and know that the roads are much worse in the wet season. We also wanted the ability to get off the beaten path, camp on the beach, explore national parks, etc., so it had to be a reliable truck that wouldn't need a lot of work since we aren't exactly the handy types. 

 

We decided on the truck camper combo for a couple of reasons. We rented a Westy in Hawaii last summer and although we loved it, we found it to be too small for us. We also wanted to be able to leave the bed made up all the time and have a seperate space to lounge. Also, Paula really liked the idea of the car part of the rig being seperate from our living quarters, so we didn't feel like we were living in our car. Those desires ruled out the Sportsmobile and the Synchro. Central and South America get very heavy rains in the wet season, and it can get cold in the mountains, so we knew we needed comfortable indoor living space. Paula also declared she wasn't going to, "climb down a ladder from a roof top tent in the middle of a rain storm in the pitch dark to go pee".  This ruled out a Landcruiser with a roof top tent.  Lastly, we were trying to keep the rig small enough to feel comfortable driving in small villages.  I'm not sure if we accomplished this last bit.

 

The Hallmark camper was by far the best built of those we evaluated, and the Milner model was the most roomy inside for a 6.5 foot truck bed.  We flew to Colorado to check out the factory and meet the owners of this family run business...and then we were sold. We spent a day going through the various options and configurations.  We customized a few things but the standard features were pretty robust.  We felt like this was a quality product with a fair price; that coupled with the customer service and attention to detail made us huge Hallmark fans. Much thanks to the Ward family and everyone at Hallmark!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We made a few modifications to the Milner model:

 

  • Installed (2) 150 watt solar panels on the roof and a roof rack.

  • Installed large marine hatch in roof for light, egress, fresh air, and star gazing

  • Attached the sand ladders to the big windows for protection, bolted from inside. These also turn into a BBQ shelf

  • Modified cabinets to include a small pantry and separately a spice rack.

 

We also looked at (and test drove) lots of pick up trucks, but ultimately we had a bias toward Toyota.  The 2014 Tundra is a new design with the same 2013 chasis.  The cab was the most comfortable of all the trucks we drove, and although this is not a 3/4 ton, everything but the semi floating axle is equivalent to a 3/4 ton truck.  We thought long and hard about an F-250, but that is a huge truck and in the end we think the Tundra will do fine.  We also liked the idea that Toyota is a common enough brand in CA and SA that we should be able to find a dealer to fix most things that could go wrong. 

 

We call our rig LoJo, as a tribute to John's amazing mom, Jo, and our beloved dog, Lola. Both passed away before we left home so we feel like they are our guardian angels on this journey. Also, both were tough old broads.  If the truck's half as tough as they were, we are going to be just fine. 

 

Modifications to the truck:

 

  • Aluminess front and rear bumpers with rear swingouts: bike rack, utility box, jerry can locker.

  • Firestone Airbags

  • Toyo M/T tires LT275/70R18 E 

  • OME Dakar Leaf Springs with an Add a Leaf

  • 12v ARB On Board Air Compressor

  • Installed console safe

  •  Security film on front and back side windows 

  • Icon shocks/springs - CAM Upper Control Arms