4WD Touring Trucks Open Sky Touring

Long range remote tourer

Jamie Hazelden is a well-known personality who’s been around the 4WDing and remote touring scene for decades. Jamie has used all types of 4WDs over the years, but recently custom-built an impressive 4WD touring truck. Jamie accompanied us on a recent escape into the Simpson Desert, where we got an up-close look at his Mitsubishi Canter 4WD. We saw just how much gear it can carry and just how well it performs.

Amongst the many people adventuring around Australia’s backblocks at the moment is a growing bunch who have turned their backs on conventional 4WDs and have instead invested in small 4WD trucks. These vehicles are generally chosen not for their speed and agility, but for their load-carrying capacity and general capabilities for doing a bit of everything well. They are also chosen by those who don’t want to tow a van or trailer and prefer to live in and out of the truck instead.

4WD Touring Trucks Open Sky Touring

The Mitsubishi Canter (now Fuso Canter) is one well-known small 4WD truck that is often chosen as a base platform for this type of activity. Others are variations from Isuzu, Hino and Iveco, along with a lot of the older OKA and UniMogs. All of these have pros and cons and a multitude of options in terms of cab layouts and payloads.

These vehicles are still trucks though. That typically means they have a truck-like ride, can be noisey and are much larger, particularly in height. The size can be deceptive though and many are only slightly larger in dimensions than a fully decked out full-sized 4WD, particularly those carrying a roof tent.

Besides payload, they also bring truck-like reliability and a commercial-build quality. With one of these, you won’t be worrying about any of the chassis bending issues that many of the overloaded mid-size dual cabs suffer from.

All Terrain Warriors, based on the Sunshine Coast at Yandina, have been involved in pioneering the conversion of these trucks into touring and offroad platforms. 4WD trucks offer a great base for creating your dream touring vehicle. Layouts range from work and play combos to fully livable pods with long-range tanks and boat loaders. Changing out the standard truck suspension and dual rear wheels for parabolic leaf springs and larger single 4WD tyres is often the starting point.

Proving its worth on the road

When traveling through the Simpson Desert with Jamie, it was easy to see the amount of thought that had gone into the design of his 2001 model truck and how the base platform offered so many options for customisation. At first glance, it looked like a version of a Dakar racing truck, but upon closer inspection we found many practical camping features.

The Dakar look, which All Terrain Warriors custom built, certainly had no shortage of lighting for dark outback highways. An external frame positioned an array of Hard Korr driving lights below the windscreen, there was a light bar above the cab and a second smaller light bar hidden away in the bull bar. The Canter also sported Sherpa 25000lb winches in the front and rear, and, coupled with a full set of MaxTrax, was kitted out for the remote solo travel that Jamie had been planning.

As to performance, Jamie added an aftermarket turbo to the reliable 4.2L diesel and is now playing with the gearing to improve cruising speeds and economy. With the big 37-inch BFGs and the parabolic leaf springs and custom shocks, it was certainly able to traverse anything that we encountered in the Simpson Desert. This included a number of leisurely drives up Big Red, and not just the easy tracks. With tyre pressure down to 12psi, it did all four of the tracks up with ease, much to the surprise of many of the onlookers.

4WD Touring Trucks Open Sky Touring

Jamie designed this truck mostly for solo travel in his upcoming TV series project, The Australian Bushman. His plan is to travel all over remote Australia recording and sharing the stories of some of the last Australian Bushmen. The Canter has single sleeping quarters in the rear, plenty of spares, ample refrigeration and can also take a quad bike on the back and a tinny on the roof. Jamie worked with Enerdrive to design the 12V system, making use of their latest gear and a bluetooth enabled 200Ahr lithium battery at the heart of it all. The whole setup also makes use of Expedition134 boxes for storing food, cooking gear and recovery gear.

Want a new and innovative 4WD storage system? Check out the one-of-a-kind Expedition134 storage boxes favoured by many of Australia’s biggest 4WDing and camping enthusiasts.

Speaking of cooking gear, the kitchen area on this Canter is really well laid out and very practical. Everything you need is within easy reach. From the fridge and the pull out pantry to the cooktop and slide-out benches, it all works in a practical and simple manner. Once you’re done with cooking, it all packs away in next to no time, simply folding and sliding back into place.

4WD Touring Trucks Open Sky Touring

Want a quick tour of the 4WD truck by the creator himself? Watch the video below for a full rundown of everything that opens and shuts in this epic off-roader.

A worthwhile investment for keen 4WDers

From family tourers to remote live-in working setups, these 4WD trucks have a lot of appeal if you have the budget. SLRV Expedition Vehicles on the Gold Coast and Expedition Vehicles Australia on the Sunshine Coast are two other companies, also based in Queensland, developing everything from base working platforms through to luxury tourers.

4WD touring trucks can be a significant investment and potential buyers really need to do their research. You need to understand not just the purchase prices, but everything from insurance to availability of spare parts, to licencing requirements for drivers. Remember, if the GVM is above 4.5t, you will need a Light Rigid truck licence. And let’s face it, you really only buy one of these if you want to carry more weight.

However, these trucks are very reliable and have proven their worth. They’re also getting more and more ergonomic improvements to the interiors. Suspension seating, push button 4WD and touch screen entertainment systems are all now available on newer vehicles. Just a little something to make your journey that much more enjoyable. Who knows, one of these could be your ultimate tourer!

Welcome to Expedition 134

We’re excited to introduce the new Expedition 134 website, the new home for Open Sky Touring.

This change is another step in our journey to consolidate our branding and name in the marketplace.

While things might look different, the passion to make the toughest and most functional gear possible hasn’t.