Walkaround Wednesday: Backwoods Adventure Mods’ 2022 TRD Off-Road Tacoma

Backwoods Adventure Mods Overland Products For Trucks And Vans

Behind The Curtain Of This American Manufacturing Company

In the past couple of years, Backwoods Adventure Mods has taken the off-road industry by storm with their hybrid aluminum/steel bumpers and epic build quality. You might’ve seen their off-road armor on many of the most well-known rigs out there, including Brenan’s (@trail4r) own portal build.

We had a great opportunity to correspond with Grant Wilbanks (@grizzy.gram), the marketing guy for Backwoods and founder of the YouTube Channel, Arkansas Offroad. In this article, we’ll cover our conversation with Grant while taking a look at their showstopping shop truck, a 2022 TRD Off-Road Tacoma. Continue reading to learn more about how they built this truck from the ground up and what makes this Arkansas-based company stand out amidst the competition.

Walkaround

Backwoods Adventure Mods 3rd Gen Tacoma Overland Build Walkaround

About:

Base Vehicle:

  • Year: 2020
  • Make and Model: Toyota Tacoma
  • Trim: TRD Off-Road
  • Cab: Double Cab
  • Bed: Short Bed
  • Color: Custom Wrap by Pureblind Wraps

Wheels/Tires:

  • Yokohama G003 Geolandar Tires: 35×12.5×17
  • Stealth Custom Series Blaze10 Wheels, Gloss Gunmetal: 17″x9 -38mm

Suspension/Drivetrain:

  • King 2.5 Shocks (with adjustable reservoirs)
  • DRT Fabrication Cab Mount Relocation
  • Dirt King Upper Control Arms (Install & Review)
  • Dirt King Lower Control Arms (Install & Review)
  • Dirt King Spindle Gussets (Install & Review)
  • Archive Garage Stealth HD U-Bolt Flip Kit
  • Nitro Regear – 5.29 Gear Ratio (Review)
  • Extended Rear Brake Lines

Fab Work:

  • Marlin Crawler Lower Control Arm Frame Brace
  • Archive Garage Shock Relocation Kit
  • Archive Garage Hammer Hangers
  • Tubbed Firewall

Armor:

  • Backwoods Hi-Lite Overland Front Bumper with Bull Bar (Install & Review)
  • Backwoods Front Bumper Support Brackets
  • Backwoods High-Clearance Rear Bumper with Dual Swingout (Review)
  • Backwoods Rock Sliders
  • Backwoods Aluminum Skid Plate Package

    Lightning & Electrical:

    • Backwoods Pathfinder Fog Lights
    • Backwoods Pathfinder PROWLR 9″ Driving Lights, White
    • AlphaRex NOVA Series LED Projector Headlights (Install & Review)
    • AlphaRex LUXX Series LED Taillights

    Camping/Cargo:

    • Backwoods DRIFTR Roof Rack
    • Backwoods Dual Universal Jerry Can Carrier
    • Go Fast Camper Platform Camper
    • Agency 6 Billet Grab Handles (Install & Review)

    Recovery Gear:

    • Agency 6 Fairlead
    • Agency 6 Shackle Block (Review)
    • Agency 6 Aluminum Off-Road Shovel
    • Warn VR EVO 12-S Winch

    Interior:

    • Midland MicroMobile MTX275 GMRS Radio
    • Midland MicroMobile MXTA25 3dB Gain Ghost Antenna

    Other:

    • ALPHAequipt Carbon Fiber Air Snorkel
    • Custom wrap by Pureblind Wraps
    • ARB Twin Air Compressor (Install & Review)

    Company Overview

    Backwoods 3rd Gen Tacoma Build

    Backwoods Adventure Mods designs and manufactures USA-made offroad armor and accessories, mainly for late-model Toyotas and adventure vans. On the Toyota side, we make products for 3rd Gen Tacoma and 5th-gen 4Runner, and we’re currently working on the 3rd Gen Tundra and will soon be on the new 4th Gen Tacoma platform. We make front bumpers, rear bumpers, roof racks, storage boxes, a variety of front bumper add-ons, and more.

    The biggest thing that makes our company and products different from what’s out there is how we build our products and how we design them. We’re the only, if not one of the very few companies that build bumper systems with both aluminum and steel incorporated. Our whole goal is to provide a perfect balance of strength and weight savings by putting steel and aluminum in exactly the right places.

    Our front bumpers, for instance, use a two-piece design. The winch plate, which houses the winch and recovery points, is all made of heavy-duty steel. Our exterior shell is completely made out of aluminum, and it bolts onto the steel winch plate. What you get is full protection at a fraction of the weight, plus the aluminum shell doesn’t rust when scratched or banged up. We’ve seen 100%-aluminum bumpers and don’t like the idea of aluminum recovery points, so that’s why our winch plate and recovery points are steel – super beefy where it counts. We really try to lean into this “true hybrid” design approach in all of our products.

    Build Process

    Toyota Tacoma With Backwoods Swingout Bumper, Jerry Can Holder, and Go Fast Platform Camper

    The Tacoma was our first addition to our Toyota lineup. We knew we wanted something that would catch people’s attention as a show truck, but it also needed to be comfortable and practical to both drive and wheel hard. One of our favorite Toyota shops of all time, Mountain Yotas, took on the challenge of building our truck from top to bottom. Those guys really do excellent work, and we knew we could trust them with the build.

    As a brief overview, we did King & Dirt King suspension and stuck with mid-travel in the front, but did a bunch of upgrades in the rear, like the Archive Garage shock relocation and Hammer Hangers. Next, we chose 35″ M/T tires and did a 5.29 regear to better move them, along with gusseting up the front end

    The great thing about Mountain Yotas is they don’t just slap on a bunch of parts…they make them function properly. They clearanced everything the right way, including a firewall tub, and did all of the trimming necessary to make our truck perform flawlessly. They even broke in our gears for us. After the build was completed, they actually drove all the way from Colorado to us to hand deliver it on a trailer. Now, that’s service! After getting the truck, it was on to the final touches. We added a GFC camper and a few other accessories and she was complete.

    Best/Worst Parts Of The Platform?

    TRD Off Road 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma Rock Crawler Overland Build

    Our favorite thing about the Tacoma platform is its reliability and versatility. We’ve put quite a few miles on our shop truck both on- and off-road and it hasn’t had any issue whatsoever. We also love the aftermarket support system. It’s one of the most popular platforms for any accessory or part you could imagine.

    Some things that are lacking in the 3rd Gen Tacoma are the power, transmission, and frame. In stock form, the Tacoma does a decent job and these things go unnoticed, but as soon as you heavily mod it, the power and transmission start to wear on you. The transmission, even when tuned, is still annoying. It’s got two overdrive gears (5th and 6th), and it always wants to hunt back and forth between those gears. Again, you can mitigate this, which we have done, but it’s still there. As far as the frame, we wish it was boxed rather than C-channel.

    What Would You Like To See From Toyota?

    Custom Overland Vehicle Wrap by PureBlind Wraps

    We would love to see more power, a fully boxed frame, and an easier/less invasive way to fit big tires. However, it looks like a lot of this work has already been done on the new 4th Gen Tacoma, which we’re excited to dig into on the next build. A front locker would also be a really nice touch — maybe in the TRD Pro models? There are a couple of manufacturers that offer front lockers in their mid-sized trucks.

    Who Is The Tacoma For?

    Toyota Tacoma Overland Setup With Off Road Trailer

    The Tacoma is for a wide variety of people. It’s an awesome everyday truck, great for hunting, exploring, camping, wheeling, or getting Starbucks at your local mall.

    We love having a truck bed because it allows so much versatility in hauling camp gear, or in our case, show equipment. It keeps all of the dirty gear separate from the cab. The Tacoma is also relatively affordable, which is why it’s one of the most popular midsized trucks out there.

    Most/Least Favorite Mods?

    Kind 2.5 External Reservoir Suspension Lift Kit For 3rd Gen Tacoma

    Our favorite mod done to this truck is the long travel rear suspension setup. We’re running 14″ King smoothies paired with an Archive Garage shock relocation and Hammer Hangers on Archive Springs. It’s crazy how much articulation we can get out of the rear. It’s proven to be a monster on rocks or any trail we’ve taken it on.

    Right behind that mod would have to be our GFC camper. The bed is completely empty so we can haul all of our show equipment like banners, tents, chairs, etc., but having the GFC up top makes setting up camp a snap.

    Honestly, as far as least favorite mods go, I don’t think we have any. Everything we have done to the truck was very intentional and we had great recommendations from the dudes at Mountain Yotas.

    What Makes This Rig Unique?

    Backwoods Adventure Mods RC Shop Overland Build

    The number one thing that makes this rig a true “1 of 1” is the wrap by Pure Blind. They work closely with Mountain Yotas, and they were able to crank out a true, hand-drawn masterpiece that represented our state of Arkansas. The monochromatic mix of grays and blacks and the Razorback (our state animal) really reflect where we come from. We are the only offroad bumper manufacturer in Arkansas, and we wanted to show that with a bang. Besides the wrap, we chose things like mud terrain tires, flexy suspension, and a snorkel because that represents the type of terrain we have in Arkansas… tons of mud, deep water crossings, and rocks.

    Another thing we really wanted people to see through our build is that we actually use it. Many companies build show trucks that only see pavement. All of us here at Backwoods are true enthusiasts and we use the company truck for what it’s meant for. For most of our shows, we drive the truck to the show, do the show, and then wheel/camp for a few days before heading home. How could you not?

    We like this build so much that we actually made a custom RC car with the exact same wrap. We even hand-painted the wheels and 3D printed our bumpers, roof rack, and GFC camper. Most of the time, our RC car gets more attention than the actual truck.

    How Was BAM Incorporated?

    Hybrid Steel And Aluminum Front Bumper Setup For Overland 3rd Gen Tacoma

    Obviously, since it’s a show truck, you’re going to want the full catalog of your own parts on it. It’s got our front bull bar bumper, skid plate system, rock sliders, rear swing-out bumper (which, unfortunately, was discontinued), and all of our smaller accessories. The next thing we’re doing on the truck is swapping our rear swing bumper for our rear high clearance non-swing bumper.

    We also have our own in-house lighting brand called Pathfinder. We’re running all Pathfinder lighting on our build including our newest 9″ PROWLR front driving lights.

    What’s Next?

    3rd Gen Tacoma Overland Build Articulation/Flex Ramp Test

    Currently, we’re developing products for the 3rd Gen Toyota Tundra including a roof rack, front bumper, rear bumper, and sliders. When that is finished, we will move on to the 4th Gen Tacoma and develop all of the products we did for the 3rd Gen.

    For 2024, we are building a new show truck ourselves. Since the tundra is a full-sized truck, it’s much easier to build, because almost everything is a bolt-on. We don’t need to do any serious trimming or gear work, otherwise, we’d be right back to Mountain Yotas. We’ve done lots of expansion to our facility and were able to get an in-house vehicle lift, so the plan is to build it here. We have tons of parts stacked up and will begin building our Tundra as soon as our lift is done. Hopefully, the truck will be ready by the 2024 show season. In the meantime, we’re on the hunt for a company 4th Gen Tacoma.

    Final Thoughts

    When most companies build a shop truck, they throw the catalog at it, spruce it up, and call it a day. That’s not Backwoods Adventure Mods. This Tacoma is a great image of what to expect: striking, top-notch, and overbuilt. It’s pretty rare that you see an off-road manufacturer actually wheel their shop truck; not only does this incur additional expense, but you risk scratching up your product and exposing a flaw. To take the same truck that you bring to expos and photoshoots and wheel it on serious trails shows a great deal of confidence in your product. In this case, that confidence is well-placed, and this Tacoma is their way of saying “Hey, if our armor is strong enough for us to wheel our marketing truck in Moab, it’s certainly strong enough for you.”

    A huge thanks to Grant and Backwoods Adventure Mods for sharing this rig with us. If you’re in the market for off-road armor, lights, or gear, you should definitely check out their site.

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