Written By Michael Simmons
Take a step into the world where Landscape Photography meets Overlanding. Landscape Photographer Michael Simmons gives us a glimpse into his overlanding rig and what makes it so special. Learn how he transformed his Toyota 4Runner into the ultimate Lanscape Photography Overlanding home on wheels.
For me photography came first then my Toyota 4Runner. My passion for photography got me interested in getting farther away and into the wilderness but I was lacking a solution to that goal. Then the idea, why not build a vehicle capable of doing just that.
Now Overlanding has been around for decades, and many might say the Australians started it with the vast amount of land to traverse down under but for me, I started from scratch with only one intended purpose, to get out and get that amazing shot and return home safely and intact.
I personally needed a vehicle large enough for my family and Apollo, my German Shepard, who often joins me on my adventures. I also need a vehicle that could get me out of any sticky situations I may find myself in. I chose the Toyota 4Runner for its size and impeccable history of off-road use and capabilities.
Now that I had my vehicle the slow process of building it out to the ultimate overlanding rig began. I decide to go with a roof top tent for my sleeping arrangements and found the 23Zero company to have some amazing roof top tents, and even better they had tents with light suppression technology which made it even easier to sleep when it was light out.
I then placed a winch on the front bumper to pull me or any of my traveling companions out and then placed extra lights on the front to assist in low light, inclement weather and dark driving conditions. I then designed a drawer system in the back to store my cooking stove and fuel as well as small camping essentials such as flashlights, lanterns, bug repellent and toiletry items. On top of the small drawer, I installed the slide out for my Dometic Fridge. The fridge is a game changer in camping or going off grid for a few days. No ice is needed and I can have fresh and even frozen foods.
But, what about the Camera Gear?
The most important part of the build was a dedicated camera and camera gear drawer. This drawer is lockable and padded to keep all my camera gear safe and secure when I'm driving and or out shooting.
I'm a Sony shooter so the drawer was designed to store my a7riv, a7sii and a7c camera bodies as well as my 24mm f1.4, 12-24mm f2.8, 24-70mm f2.8 and 100-400mm f5.6 lens. I used Pluck & Pull foam to make the size just right to keep the cameras and lenses from moving. The back of the drawer is also has enough room for filter kits, chargers and extra ball heads and lens cleaning gear. I have also got a spot behind the seat and between the drawer system to store my additional tripods. This drawer by far is my most important addition as it keeps the photography gear secure.
Now I have many other items in my rig that I didn't talk about and it definitely looks different than it did two years ago coming off the lot, but this rig is ready for many future photography adventures to come as well as keep me comfortable and my gear in optimal condition to capture that shot.
If you're interested in getting out off the beaten path to enjoy nature and solitude consider joining us on one of our amazing Overlanding Photography Workshops.