Jeep Wrangler Build for Two Years Around Africa
The build of my Jeep is extensive, with each modification carefully thought out and planned. The build focused around primary goals, I will lay out the rationale and decisions for each.
Weight was a primary consideration for each modification, as was limited interior space.
Goal 1: Strong 4×4, big enough to sleep in, fit inside a 20 foot container.
- 2011 Jeep JK Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon.
- 3.8l V6 Gasoline engine, 6 speed manual transmission.
- Locking front and rear differentials, electronic sway bar disconnect.
- 4.10 axle ratios.
- 4:1 transfer case ratio.
Goal 2: Extremely capable off-road
Two years around Africa, especially West Africa, requires a very strong 4×4 vehicle. I chose the Rubicon for the factory diff locks, stronger D44 front axle, and low range transfer case. In addition to that, I have added:
- Suspension: Stronger and improved handling with mild lift
- American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) 2.5″ lift with Geometry Correction Brackets.
- Bumpers: Radiator protection, stronger
- AEV Front with Skid Plate, AEV Rear, Tire carrier and High Lift Mount.
- Tires: All-round performance, extremely durable, mild clearance increase
- Wheels: Extremely strong
- Recovery: Going solo for two years, I need to be able to get myself unstuck.
- Warn Zeon 10-S. From $1229.00 on Amazon (synthetic rope to reduce weight).
- Maxtraxx MKII Recovery Mats. From $324.99 on Amazon.
- ARB Ultra Light Snatch Block. From $88.35 on Amazon.
- Hi-Lift Extreme Jack. From $110.49 on Amazon.
- Hand Bow Saw. From $18.34 on Amazon to remove trees and limbs if needed.
- Lighting: Inside and out, being able to see is a must
- Rigid Industries Truck Lites LED Headlights. From $370.10 on Amazon.
- Rigid Industries R2-46 LED Driving Lights. From $719.99 on Amazon.
- Rigid Industries Security Kit for Driving Lights. From $21.73 on Amazon.
- Rigid Industries JK Fog Light Replacement Kit. From $225.74 on Amazon.
- 2 x Rigid Industries LED Scene Floodlight. From $94.99 on Amazon.
- 2 x Rigid Industries A Series High Strength LED Light. From $click on Amazon.
Goal 3: Interior living space
A two year expedition is not a vacation, this is my life. Given that I’m building my Jeep into a house on wheels, I want interior living space – to be able to escape the bugs, the rain, or even just escape the world for an evening will help keep me sane enough to continue.
The build and design is centered around a Pop up roof and interior cabinets I designed and built.
The roof is lighter and more aerodynamic than a roof rack + Roof Top Tent combination.
- Pop-up Camper Roof:
- Interior: allows for standing, sitting and sleeping in the rear of the Jeep
Goal 4: Improved Sleeping, Cooking, Eating
Two years from Alaska to Argentina on my previous expedition taught me a lot. I love camping, though after two years I was done with Ramen noodles and tinned soup. I want to eat vegetables, cheese and meat. I want to sleep up off the ground out of the mud. With that in mind, the following modifications where made:
- Kitchen & Cooking:
- Coleman Single Burner Gasoline Stove. From $61.23 on Amazon.
- MSR Base 2-Pot Set. From $click on Amazon.
- GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Fry Pan. From $24.71 on Amazon.
- MSR Coffee/Tea Filter. From $14.24 on Amazon For that morning cup.
- Outback Adventure Products Trailgator.
- See the full DIY Tailgate Table Utensil/Tool Organizer article
- Awning: Sun shade over the kitchen area at the rear
- Shower: Keep it simple, keep it light
- Fan for sleeping: Light, charges off USB, has speed settings and internal battery
Goal 5: Ability to be self-contained for weeks at a time
My aim to to get far off the beaten path, so I need to be able to support myself. With that in mind, I added:
- Water System: Water is the number one limiter for days without resupply
- 12 gallon Drinking Water Tank Mounted Under Body.
- Pura UV 0.5 micron Filter & UV lamp. From $355.44 on Amazon.
- See the full DIY 4×4 Drinking Water Tank, Pump and Filtation System article.
- Batteries: Isolated batteries mean I can run the fridge for days without starting the engine
- Solar: To charge the second battery
- Additional Gasoline: A range above 500 miles is a must
- On Board Air Compressor & Tire Repair: self-repair is a must
Goal 6: Secure Storage for all my stuff
The stock Jeep glovebox and console are just plastic, and the hood does not lock. I improved that with the following:
- Secure Storage:
- Additional Locks:
Miscellaneous Other Modifications and gear
- Navigation: I drove AK-Argentina without a GPS. I’m not doing that again.
- Electrical: I don’t like inverters – they are inefficient, heavy and hot.
- Tools & Spares: Just the essentials.
- for diagnosis.
- K&N Recharge Kit. From $8.77 on Amazon to clean and oil air filter.
- 12v Soldering Iron. From $6.28 on Amazon and tons of old wires.
- Gorilla Tape. From $12.46 on Amazon is much better than duct tape.
- for electrical diagnosis.
- Torque Wrench. From $48.50 on Amazon 1/2″ drive.
- Tons of standard stuff – sockets, allen keys, torx bits, screwdrivers, wrenches, hammer, pliers, cutters, saw, wire, solder, etc.
- Camping / Other: Stuff to make life on the road more enjoyable.
- Camera Gear:
- Canon 60D DSLR. From $698.99 on Amazon.
- GoPro Hero Video Camera. From $359.95 on Amazon.
- Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 Lens. From $661.18 on Amazon.
- Tamron 18-270mm f3.5-6.3 lens. From $314.60 on Amazon.
- Hoya Circular Polarizing Filters. From $50.89 on Amazon.
- Pelican 1400 Case with foam. From $78.73 on Amazon.
- Manfrotto Tripod. From $59.54 on Amazon.
With that, my house on wheels is complete.