NAME– Ricardo Chacon

From– Los Angeles CA , overlands in Texas and New Mexico

I used to be into sports cars then a buddy of mine purchased an older Toyota, and he started taking me on adventures. I was hooked! We got in trouble alot in that old thing lol. lots of good memories wheeling together. So I decided to purchase an off-road vehicle and build it myself with my own hands. I want my family to have some of the same experiences I had in the mountains to make new memories. The adventure is everything for me/wife and daughters !


DRIVE TRAIN – DANA 30 front Chrysler 8.25 rear with ARB air lockers and ARB dual compressor.

SUSPENSION Fox Racing Performance 2.0 reservoir shocks



POWER SOURCE/LIGHTING – GOAL ZERO 400 battery with Boulder 100 briefcase solar panels, ARB Series 2 freezer, battery fans.

EXTRA MENTIONS – Coleman propane stove, kitchen ware.


Makes me connect with nature and I love the feeling of freedom from the remote outdoors.🤙


Walk around of the Battle Cruiser 2.0 (BC2.0)

Personal information:

Mervine(Tony) Manuel

Retired US Air Force 24 years Veteran

Tent Camp over 50 years

Started overlanding in July 2019 (Angel Matos took me on a 4 day expedition New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah) Loved the experience and started my journey.

Battle Cruiser 2.0

1998 GMC Suburban SLT, 5.7 V8 Vortex, 4×4

3in leveling kit from Torch off road,

Tires are 265 x 70r x 16 BF Goodrich Ko2 (31.5)

Stock 480 gears

Automatic push button 2high, 4high, and 4low

Roof Top Tent is Smittybilt XL Gen 1 with additional 2.5 inch memory form and annex

2 Haul Max roof racks

1 ARB 4.5ft Awning

Homemade 5.5 PVC water tank 4.5 gallons of water

Waterport water system, solar container 3.5 gallons fresh water

Generic Recovery boards from Amazon

Bull guard

2 x 100 watt Solar panel with 135 amp hour AGM battery from Wal Mart with Honda 1000 watt Inverter

6 x 20 LED Solar light for perimeter security light from harbor freight with mounting magnets

1 x 60in multiple light LED 12 volt battery plug

3 drawer system (made from old wooden desk)

Rope, hammock, water hoses, lighter, tools, and bug spray

ARB side awning wall, 20x 12 stakes, hammer, mosquito punk, solar panel cord and solar panel connection

Stanley 2 pot system, generic jetbowl, 4x coffee cups collapsible wash basin, and 1x LED Lantern

1 large draw that holds Coleman grill/stove burner, 3x cast iron skillet, cooking/eating utensils, cutting board, single burner with wind deflector, and 2x 1lb propane tanks and 1 single liquid fuel tank

The barn doors are in the back for easy access: at this time no fridge yet but is in the works in the near future. Storage bin and military 3 stage sleep system.

Night time view of the annex and exterior lighting in the rear with awning deployed.

Me and my copilot Stela Manuel married for 34 years, looking forward to Big Bend National Park in Texas expedition October 2021…

Future plan- dual battery system and fridge/freezer…


Hosting a camp site for other groups

We wanted to start a overlanding group here New Mexico for a few reasons, first of all I wanted to help the community out so they/we can meet new people that have the same mindset / likes , and also put NM on the map for EPIC camping from desert terrain to mountains and streams. So we came up with NEWMEXICO 🇺🇸 EXPEDITION

After a year of running the group with having numerous events, Trail runs , epic camping,  etc . We have made friends around the country in our travels . So that said this past weekend NM🇺🇸E hosted “Toyota in Texas group” for some camping in the Jemez mountains in NM.

Their journey started in far Texas , going across a few states for some amazing wheeling and camping in Utah! They got into Albuquerque late afternoon super exhausted from their travels. so we wanted to give them a safe and secluded camp site close to Albuquerque in the mountains for the night as they pass through. We took them on a old 1800s logging railroad trek that carves its way through the Jemez mountains through tunnels and canyons. The trail ended on top of a mountain overlooking the mountain range.

we all know and have been there researching ,and watching YouTube videos about the areas/trails you think you’re going to make camp. But you will never find those hard to find local spots on the internet…. It’s always nice to have a group to help with locations.

I gotta tell you ! What a great group of guys/friends all looking for the same thing …. ADVENTURE.

This is exactly why we wanted to make an Overland group! so we can help the community come together. So if you’re ever in New Mexico and need a safe and secluded camp area remote or not just look us up we’re always willing to help.

WEEKLY RIG WALK AROUND #1 Tortuga Blanca Overland

I am going to start doing a RIG walk around every week and I want Lee to be the first start it off! So here we go!

Over the past year of overlanding crossing multiple States, traveling thousands of miles and camping in very remote parts of this great country we live in , not only me and Lee have become best friends but we have become brothers.




Vehicle: 2013 Toyota Tacoma TRD 4×4

Suspension:  Total Chaos 2 inch long travel upper and lower control arms, King 2.5 coil overs with reservoirs, Limit straps front and back, King Double bypass shocks in the rear, King bump stops, Front body mount chop, Lower control arm cam tab gussets, Welded spindle gussets, McNeil Racing fiberglass front fenders, 2 inch extended chrome moly front axle shafts, All Moog steering joints, Outlaw Overland rear axle housing brace, Alcan 1000 lb. over stock rear springs, Total Chaos welded hoop kit for shocks, Welded shock mount relocation on axle housing, Archive Garage ‘Hammer Hangers” and rear brace, Archive Garage Shackle flip kit, Extended brake lines, Custom Firestone airbags using Daystar cradles so the suspension can flex properly. 

Drive Train: 4.0 motor, 5 speed auto transmission, Scan gauge 2 engine and trans monitor, add a trans cooler 3 times stock size with inline filter, Mounted a 11 inch fan to the front of the trans cooler for trail riding, CSF Aluminum race radiator with the trans fluid bypass, Disassembled the clutch fan, baked out the factory oil and replaced it with RC car 10k oil for more pulling power from fan, High output alternator will the next install, Dual battery system from Matt at Off Grind Engineering, Odyssey batteries, Dual ARB air compressor, 3lb air tank mounted under rear bumper Slee Off-road compressor mount, SPOD lights and Locker controls, Nitro 4.88 gears, Nitro Chromo Moly rear axle shafts, ARB air locker in front diff. 

Bumpers and Body Armor: Custom made bumpers from Travis at SOB bumpers right here in New Mexico, Front bumper has full hoop coverage over head lights with integrated led bar and amber running lights, Warn 12k Zeon winch, Rear bumper is a High clearance dual swingout with metal molly system on driver with 2 gas jerry’s and spare tire on passenger, Rock sliders are ALL-PRO off-road as well as the belly skids. 

Tires and Wheels: 16-inch Method 305 Flat Black Wheels, BF Goodrich 285/75/16 KM3 Mud tires.

Comms and Lighting: Communication is HAM radio with Midland Antenna and Cable, Rigid Industries hood pod lights, RI 30 inch light bar, Baja Designs squadron rear back up lights, Expedition Essentials dash media bar, RAM mounts, Garmin InReach satellite tracker/SOS, 10 inch tablet with Gaia GPS mapping.

Camper Unit: Alucab Canopy Camper, Alucab 270 awning, Alucab shower cub, 2 126 watt Sunflare panels, RedArc power monitor, front runner shovel, pickaxe and axe mounts,  Blue Ridge Overland Trash bag, Snowmaster Refrigerator, AT Overland propane tank mount, Prinsu roof rack, MaxTrax recovery boards, Lifer Saver Jerry can/ Gas. 

Extra Mentions:  ARB tire plug kit, ARB tire deflator, Blue Ridge Overland tool bag, gas and battery Stihl Chainsaws, Custom Med Kit, Custom built shower unit, Custom built water filtration system, Recovery Kit, Goal Zero solar generators, Cook Partner stove and Dutch oven. 


Why do I like Camping? 

My love of the outdoors started when I was a young boy growing up in a very rural part of Mississippi. I was raised on a small farm, where I worked hard labor at a very young age with my grandfather learning what it was like to work with your hands and have something to show for it at the end of the day. We owned a little grocery store called “Ready’s Grocery” where we sold normal products, gas, and fruits and vegetables we had left over from my granny canning. I fished after work in the morning until dark nearly every day. I didn’t even know about my love for the outdoors until I grew up, I just lived it! At 18 I joined the United States Marine Corps as a 0311 infantryman, which later was deployed to Japan where I became a Jungle Warfare Instructor. This was right up my alley, I lived in a hammock under a tarp nightly in triple canopy vegetation teaching Marines repelling techniques, survival, land navigation, tactics, SERE level B, and human tracking. So, my life was living in the jungle constantly, crossing rivers, constantly wet, drying our boots and clothes by the fire nightly! After leaving the Marine Corps I became a Federal Agent for the Department of Energy transporting our Nation’s Highest Assets. Which requires constant field training, again right up my alley for living and loving the outdoors. But with all this said and as I’ve gotten older life has just gotten to fast! I always think back of those times as a young boy and being with my grandfather swinging on the porch with not at care in the world. Reflecting on how everything has changed and the direction we as a nation are headed got me thinking on how to temporally escape it. I bought a Tacoma years ago that had some gear I’d never seen before “RTT” etc.. So, my wife and I started going camping a lot after that, researching other gear etc. Until it has completely consumed our life! We do this year-round nearly every weekend! If we are not out I’m generally turning wrenches and do vehicle maintenance to go out. It has became a lifestyle and passion to explore and enjoy the outdoors and meet new people. It’s a running joke around the fire at night. How could anyone like doing this! LOL We love this life and will never leave it. THE READY’s

What could I tell someone that’s getting into “overlanding” 

I would start with is the love of the outdoors what you crave? If so, it doesn’t take that much to get out there and start doing this. Yes, you can spend your life savings in vehicles, parts, gear, etc. But you don’t have too. Matter of fact you should just take what you need to get to camp, recover yourself, protect yourself, eat and sleep. Do this for several weekends straight, it might not be what you were thinking it would be in the first place and you haven’t wasted a ton of money because your buddy does it and you thought you would like it. If you do decide to get into this sport well that’s another complete story on what works, what doesn’t, what not to do, where to start, etc. So, my advice is get out and enjoy nature, respect nature, leave places cleaner than you found them, follow fire bans and the laws on protecting it. And see if its for you! 


Magdalena,New Mexico

This weekend the NEWMEXICO 🇺🇸 EXPEDITION group headed to southern New Mexico .

We had 13 Rigs that came for the adventure. started near Socorro New Mexico and headed south on a dirt road for 30 miles to make camp .

The trail went through a high canyon deep in the desert.
The group camped on the southern end of the Magdalena mountains overlooking multiple mountain ranges in New Mexico. WHAT A VIEW!

Camping with a group of friends that like the same thing are hard to come by … You won’t find BETTER friends !

So next time your in New Mexico looks us up if you want to join in on a adventure and meet good people that love camping !


Over the past year of camping on the trail and trying to figure things out on the rigs a few of us came up with the 5 things you don’t want to do “overlanding”.

1) Weight/Suspension! Know the gear you are going to be using on your rig before upgrading you suspension, like how much water you are taking ,how heavy is that ARB fridge with food is, tools , bedding, RTT etc…. It’s all about the weight! We all came across this problem before . Upgrading the suspension before adding your millions of pounds of Overlandy gear and seeing the rear end sag… it sucks! Knowing I have to put more time/money into it again. So know what your going to be adding to your Rig before finding the suspension ! A few of us have learned the hard way.

2) Don’t sleep under a Widowmaker…. (Dead tree) . I’ve seen this and it’s very common that people do not LOOK UP. So when you make camp next time look at your surroundings and make sure there isn’t a tree that can kill you when you’re sleeping in your cozy RTT.

3) Being inexperienced on the trail…. Know what you and your vehicle is capable of. Have a planned route and know what the terrain is. If you don’t know ,do your homework. There are groups out there that are willing you help with boots on the ground Intel. The Gaia app is a good app for trip planning . There is numerous other places to find trail details like trailsoffroad.com, Onx off-road app .

4) Not having fire awareness . ALWAYS BE AWARE OF THE CAMP FIRE ! We don’t need our Forrest on fire now . DONT BE THAT GUY! make sure the fire is watered down and dead before moving locations . Always make sure there isn’t a RED FLAG warning before you start a camp fire in your NF.

5) DONT FORGET THE COFFEE! Every good adventure starts with a cup or two and enjoy the good views where ever your camping next!

Out with the IFS

Over the few months of being on the trail with the 93 Toyota the front suspension was super stiff “no flex really” and I was always replacing parts and getting alignments after every trip…. I decided to upgrade.

After doing research I decided that I would go with Trail-Gear SAS “solid axle swap” …

I found the axle in Flagstaff Arizona. I drove to pick it up with my father on a weekend. While on the trip I bought the Trail Gear SAS 3in lift kit for the front, for the rear I purchased an ARB old man emu leaf springs with Trail-Gear 6-in shackles. With all the weight of the Overland gear I needed to add a coil spring in between the frame and leaf springs this is called a ZUK MOD. This did not impede the way the axle flexed nor did it make it rough on washboard roads which was a plus.

This took me about a week of cleaning and a weekend to install . After installation I found out there was binding from the driveshaft due to the low pin third member. I had to swap it out with a high pin from an fj80 due to the drive shaft angle. The front and rear gear ratio is 410s .

After about 8 months of traveling on the trail with the kit , it was well worth it ! Traveling on washboard roads , going over obstacles , and over all durability of the front end made a big difference and well worth the upgrade .

Overlanding for trout

Well where to start …. Ever since I was little I would go fishing with my dad and enjoy the summer days catching rainbow trout and some mysterious brown trout along the Pecos river or somewhere in Jemez NM . My dad is a great angler and teacher but I bet he didn’t know those memories he thought me would cement within me… So after growing up and starting my family I wanted to get the angler in me out and teach my wife about fishing . I took her to the spots my father took me when I was a kid and she was HOOKED after reeling her first trout out of the water! We would go out every weekend looking for trout to bring home and cook . But adventure beckoned and I wanted to go even more remote and further away to fish new waters .
My father
I started building my 93 toyota for camping and fishing so it would be bullet proof on the trail for exactly what I wanted to do. I fabricated and mounted a custom fly/spin rod holder to the side of the truck and made it out of stainless steel for strength (to lessen the hit of passing trees). With truck fishing upgrades installed my wife and I were ready to take off for #expiditiontrout.

We started out on our long trail together, looking for the mysterious Rio Grande cutthroat …. We were headed for fishing in northern NEW MEXICO. Every now and again our journies would bring us to honey holes of brookies that were waiting to be caught! You could throw any fly in the water and pull a Brook out, I most remember the beautiful and vibrant orange streaked just across their bellies. Now, that place is my secret and most favorite place to be in OCTOBER. After fishing many waters and catching thousands of fish my wife cought a 17in trout right out of the Rio Chama and holds the record in my house today (lol).

In 2020 NEW MEXICO started a new program called the “New Mexico Trout Challenge” to catch all 5 species of trout  and of course I couldn’t pass up that up. This specific adventure started overlanding across New Mexico back country looking for these 5 special trout in hard to find places that were very remote from people. It was such an amazing experience catching trout in the Gila , waking up in northern NM on a crisp morning on  the Rio Chama, fly fishing on the head waters of the Rio grande, catching salmon and cooking them for camp at night … Those memories will be with me forever… Long story short, I WON 1st place in the challenge! For me overlanding and fishing go hand to hand I am always looking for the most remote places to check out the stream and pull out my fly rod.

It is well said that “God subtracts the allotted time of man, those hours spent fishing” – Flywater

5 Things an Overlander Needs to Know: Getting Started

We all know how WILD this last year has been… With a worldwide pandemic, the constant chaos of life, and ever-evolving society,this year presented in own challenges in just figuring out how the heck to spend your free time – and not go crazy trapped inside some four-walled building. For my wife and I, Overlanding was the escape we never knew we needed until it found us – and thanks to the turbulence of 2020 we got pretty good at being “overlandy” pretty quick.

I have family that’s spent years out “Overlanding” and when the pandemic hit it was the perfect opportunity for me to really find out what the scene was all about. I spent countless hours learning about WHAT my ‘Overlanding Rig’ would need, and planning how I could assemble it. Being a fabricator I was able to watch those dreams come true – from inside of my own garage. Once I had the vehicle, we started making trips and learning all about the Overlanding lifestyle and would you would and would not need to be successful.

The last year of being able to get out and explore new places, enjoy new views, breathe fresh air, remember what LIFE is about has been liberating and wonderful but it would have been even better had we known these things before we started! –

  1. Planning a Route – this is THE MOST important part of the trip. Without a destination, and idea of how to get there – you don’t have any trip planned at all! For us, it was about discovering all the options. I tried out all different apps and maps to find what combo would be best for us. We landed on a couple of different apps to use, that all help provide us different recon info.
    GAIA App = trip tracking & milage detail/weather conditions
    OnX Offoad App = land details (what’s private and what isn’t), Gates along the trail that are locked and you will need to consider.
  2. Where are you sleeping – Good quality tent – (preferably one off of the ground) I did alot of research and wanted a hard shell RTT “like the falcon roofnest” but it would not fit inside my garage…so I went with a 23zero 62 walkabout soft shell and man I couldn’t be happier. The tent fits my wife and two dogs easily. The quality of the fabric is super durable and thick. The accessory list for these tents are great ! Boot bags /winter inserts / hardkorr lighting ect.. Plus the company is amazing!
  3. Staying warm in the cold months – Heating your tent. Over the past year camping through the seasons we learned many things…. we used a heating blanket and that did not do the job and it used alot of amps through out the night. Tried a propane buddy and NO NO ! my tent was a freezer with ice inside from the condensation from the propane! NEVER AGAIN! Mind you camping in the dead of winter isn’t for the weak… So had to fix this problem fast or my wife WOULD NOT CAMP AGAIN ! So we all have that tote or bag full of bedding that takes up so much space! Well NO MORE with a diesel heater ! Fixed all my problem and I also added a 23zero winter insert to help hold in the heat and keep the tent at a nice 73 or whatever desired temperature I want all night with one blanket.
  4. Storing your food – coolers are such old news. I used a yeti cool for years! So when I went on 3-6 day Expeditions the cooler had to go . I was tired of watered down food . So with the fridge technology these days I made the jump. A fridge is a great investment and it will not disappoint you at all. Changed my experience while camping forever! Food is fresh and drinks/ whiskey is cold!
  5. Communication– on my rig a do run a fixed HAM radio but the INREACH satellite messenger is the most valuable thing you can have if broken down or need help in the middle of BFE . I can communicate with anyone any where . They have different plans depending on you how much you use it. I would say this is a must have .

I hope this helps someone with a little bit of knowledge from the trail.