Matt Scott shares details and insights about selecting the best Gladiator model to purchase and how to modify it for backcountry travel, including suspension, tires and wheels, bumpers, and overland campers. 

What Makes the Jeep Gladiator So Special? 
1. Jeep Capability
2. Proper payload, easily greater than most of its competitors.
3. Easily modified for a wide range of conditions.
4. Solid front and rear axles with available locking differentials. 
5. Available manual transmission
6. Available diesel motor (late 2020) 

What is the best model Gladiator for overland travel?
Matt- The Rubicon because of the locking differentials and other accessories like swaybar disconnect, etc. 
Scott- The Sport with the Max Tow Package. 

Some Inspiration:
The XOverland Odin, built by Clay Croft and his team
Jeep Gladiator Wayout

Matt had the factory Mopar 2-inch suspension lift installed, which he has been happy with, save the rear Fox shocks. The spring rate is appropriate for Matt's load, but the rear shocks were valved for an unloaded truck. As a result, the blow through the available travel (rebound was also lacking). 

Scott and Matt discuss other suspension options, and Matt is most anticipating the AEV kit due to proper spring rates and history of good valving. However, that kit is not currently available. Old Man Emu was also discussed as a good option, but it is also not available. The only kit currently on the market that meets Matt's expectations is the Icon Vehicle Dynamics kit. 

Tires and Wheels?
Matt chose the Method Racing wheels in bronze, and selected the Falken A/T3W in 37" diameter. 

Warn Zeon 10-S

Camping Accessories?
AT Overland Habitat  (The camper that Matt chose)
The FiftyTen Camper
Patriot Campers PCOR System


Scott: Hello, and welcome to the Overland Journal Podcast, I am your host Scott Brady and I am here with my co-host Matt Scott, and you just got back from Baja!

Matt: Ya, like three weeks down in Baja. In my new Jeep Gladiator.

Scott: That's amazing.

Matt: it's not necessarily new anymore. I just hit 15,000 miles on it. But we are talking about building a Jeep Gladiator today.

Scott: Ya, we’re going to talk all about Gladiator today. We’re going to talk about which model to purchase, what are some of the first things you should do to modify it and some additional accessories around camping and overlanding in general, suspension, We’re going to talk about all those important topics. ANd it's certainly timely, they are incredibly popular and now there's enough of them on the road that people are starting to modify them. Not just the big aftermarket companies that we were able to get some of the early one. You actually got one of the very first Gladiators off the line. Wasn’t that a special package or something?

Matt: So, it was actually one of the gladiators that was pre-speced so the dealer said: “yes, give me the Gladiator, we are allocated a certain amount before the specifications were announced.” So, mine basically pretty much has everything. It was prior to the trail cam being announced, but, yes mine is probably within the first few hundred vins. Normally that kind of means alarm bells go off for a lot of liability and things like that but zero issues.

Scott: Yeah, it’s been really good for you. And I would say that your Gladiator has been, probably between yours and Clays Odin Gladiator, some of the two more better traveled Gladiators in the country.

Matt: Definitely, Like i said 15,000 miles on mine. I got it two days before the Overland Expo. I don’t drive it everyday, it's a vehicle that we've invested some money into in terms of the AT Overland Summit Camper and lithium batteries and specific modifications, enough that we don't want to drive it everyday. That would wear the vehicle out prematurely. 15,000 miles of adventure. We drove it out to Overland Expo after it was kind of first built with the camper and everything, and just got back from.. I don't know what you want to call it a traverse or whatever, all the way down Baja all the way to Cabo. Had my tacos down in Cabo and came back. Ya, it's been a really good vehicle and I have to say that I’m pleasantly surprised with it. You know inside maybe it gets a little bit cramped, in the passenger compartment and that's where you recognise it is still a Jeep Wrangler, but still is more spacious than a Defender 130, which was always more my kind of dream car. Then this comes out.

Scott: Ya it is the modern equivalent of the Defender 130.

Matt: And having spent quite a bit of time in a 130, this is at least 1.5x better. It's a modern car, it has radar cruise control, and it's relatively powerful I think.

Scott: Especially with that new transmission. That made a huge difference.

Matt: That 8 speed. You know that is the same 8 speed that BMW uses in almost off of their vehicles. It's in all Bently products, all Rolls Royce products, it is a fantastic transmission.

Scott: You really can feel it. I think it's a great pairing to that 3.6L So what made you decide to buy one? I eman, you do have vehicle ADD, but what made you decide after all of these years of choosing to have more obscure vehicles, what made you decide to buy a jeep and what made you think that it needed to be the GLadiator? What was the thing that actually made you decide to make that big purchase?

Matt: You know that is a little bit tough. I have definitely always been interested in the concept of a Jeep pick up truck. I guess when I started with Overland Journal, we had that Brute and I’d drive that a little bit, just the concept of it was just really nice. That had, in my mind, always been a vehicle with great proportions, and was purpose built. I think that's the reason why I fell for it so much. It's built for off-road.

Scott: It does feel like a real honest vehicle to me. That's what I like about the current Wrangler, they’ve not done anything to it to really screw it up. So many car manufacturers have taken long standing brand models and really kind of screwed them up.

Matt: They’ve turned them into crossovers or some kind of shared platforms …
Scott: Ya, isn't the Blazer, something… I mean it used to be a solid axle ..

Matt: It’s like some kind of Chevy sedan thing now or whatever.. But..

Scott: The Gladiator seems really honest to me. Particularly in that sport configuration with the max tow package, max payload. I really like it.

Matt: I don’t know. I love the thing. It’s a very personal vehicle for me. I mean I’ve known Mark Allen who is the head of design for Jeep for quite a while now. I know the guy that designed the tires. I know the guy that designed the camper. And it’s just personal to me. I think that the Jeep team, I have seen the changes that they’ve made. I see the feedback that they take from people and they actually listen. I see how they are out on the trail. You can’t fake driving skill. When journalists can’t get through something, we just did the Rubicon in Gladiators stock, with the two co-head engineers; Pete and Liz for the Gladiator. Mark, who’s the head of design. Jim Morrison, not from The Doors but the CEO now of Jeep and you can’t fake driving skill. All of those guys are driving manual versions through the hardest obstacles there, because they’re probably the only ones that could.

Scott: Most of the journalists couldn't drive manual transmissions..

Matt: Probably for most of the journalists on that trip, sorry but it's true. It’s just an honest vehicle. It has a great approach angle, the brake over angle is not super great but that never really bothered me because I knew the moment when I saw that way out concept at Easter Jeep Safari that I was going to put it on 37’s. 37’s fit, they look perfect, they fit with 2” factory lift. Now, I caught the vehicle and then they put the lift kit on it. It was fine. The rear shocks are absolutely horrible. They were so close. Basically they had a 2.5” shock with factory valving.

Scott: Was it underdampened? Or..? Was the damping too firm?

Matt: It just had no dampening. At all.

Scott: So it would just blow through the travels…

Matt: Just no compression, no rebound. It was like.. You know, I don't know how to explain it.

Scott: That’s interesting because the max tow capacity, max payload unit that I drove actually drove really nice. So the rear shock was fine on that.

Matt: This is the aftermarket MoPar thing i should say. Spring rate is great. Front shocks were great, I’m on my second set of rear shocks at this point. Basically waiting for the aftermarket to continually embrace this vehicle while I have some Kings on order.

Scott: So for the overlander, what would you say is the right model to buy in your opinion?

Matt: You know, I really think it's whatever you can afford. Scott I think you have a lot of points with the sport with that max tow package. I think now that you can get those wide track Dana 44 axles on every model, outside of the Rubicon, you just have to have that max tow package. Those come with 4.11s I don't know if it necessarily matters anymore. Normally I would say go with the Robicon because you get some additional advantages.

Scott: There are definitely some advantages. You get the locking differentials, which I think can be a real advantage. Although, I was surprised by how effective the traction control was.

Matt: You have modern traction control on the JL and the JT platform now.

Scott: I think with that long wheel base, just putting an air locker in the back could be a pretty good solution. And then you have the factory high payload which is now 1700lbs of payload. That is significant. It's more than any other compact pickup on the market. More than the Tacoma, the Colorado, it's more than any of the other compact pickups.

Matt: You have half ton components. The brakes are large. I'll use mine for an example. Large tires with people right at gross vehicle weight and it drives like a normal vehicle. The platform was designed with modification in mind. I think that is the largest thing that separates it from let's say with a Ranger, that probably rubs with a 33” tire. Or a Tacoma that if you want to put 35s on there requires fenders, long travel. Jeep just kind of knows..

Scott: They’re really good at it.

Matt: Ya, they get it. They understand, they are at all the events, they know 35’s stock with no lift, 37’s with my factory lift I do not rub at all.

Scott: If I remember the Gladiator isn't just a stretched JL, they actually brought in the Ram engineers and they designed an entirely new chassis. Specifically for towing capacity and payload. I know that some of my early conversations with Mark Allen, is that he recognized that this was an opportunity to make one of the best, if not the best, mid-sized overland vehicles sold today. He wanted to make sure that he ticked all the right boxes. And I have to say that it is one of the things I appreciate most about Jeep. I was at SEMA over ten years ago and one of the guys that worked for me at the time says: “Hey!! This guy just came running up to me down in the south hall and he said, `` You work for Overland Journal?” I said: “yes.” And I looked at the guy and he handed me his card and it was Mark Allen, Chief designer for Jeep. Mark was a subscriber to the magazine and Mark is a traveler himself. I remember him telling me about his motorcycle trips down in Costa RIca and he's truly a traveler himself. We see that reflected in the vehicle and that is probably why it feels so honest.

Matt: It's just so practical and good for travel. You have a lot of right angles with the camper, the AT Summit on the back, I have a lot of vertical walls. You put that same camper on a Tacoma or a Ranger or something, you would have a 15 degree angle going down to the bed. It means your beds are a little bit wider. But I think that the space is so much more usable on a Gladiator. We took the back seats out for the Greyhound, and there is a lot of room back there. It’s just a well thought out vehicle. It's very purposeful and I think it’s important if you are someone that is kind of moving around on vehicles, supporting companies that are supporting this industry, and Jeep has been there from the gitgo, and they listen. I can take this vehicle absolutely everywhere in comfort. People are always trying ‘my vehicle is better, this model is better…’ I don’t really care, I probably won't have this truck in a year anyways, and I’ll probably be eating my own words but the breath of capability this machine has. I hit 90mph on a dirt road in Baja. In a truck on 37’s with a little V6 and it was smooth as could be.

Scott: I really enjoyed driving the one that we had, we even did some towing with it, connecting some of the bigger trailers we had. It was really impressive in that regard. I think if you had to own one vehicle that you expected to do everything? Technical terrain, daily driving capabilities, you wanted to tow your sailboat up to Lake Powell. Whatever that was if you could only own one car, the Gladiator might be it.

Matt: Ya, well what is the vehicle everyone wants? People are like.. “It doesn't have a solid axle. I don't want it.” Ok, well this does. “I want it with the diesel engine.” Well the diesel engine is coming out. “Oh, well I want a manual transmission..” That is coming out. “I want lockers.” Whatever excuse people like, there's really no excuses to this vehicle.

Scott: Other than it's expensive. That’s my only dig against the vehicle is that it is expensive once you trim it up.

Matt: Ya it is expensive. Everything we are talking about, on mine, mine was over $60,000. But you can get one in the mid $30,000’s. And everything that I am saying, it equally applies. You're not going to have the saddle leather interior, and the navigation, and whatever. But who cares. All the important parts are there. I challenge you to take a base Tacoma or Gladiator or a Ranger. Put 35’s on them to see how quickly the Tacoma falls apart. Even with the best of the aftermarket, it's gonna squeak. It’s going to drive like crap.

Scott: You’re still at the limits of the differential diameter..

Matt: You're blowing CV’s and your spending, to make that package reliable, which can be done. I know there are people that have done it. But I don’t have that much dedication to a single platform. I just don’t. So it’s just a very easy vehicle. Mine really isn’t that modified. I use factory bumpers, the MoPar bumpers are great. If I want to take the wings off to make it a stubby bumper because, I don’t know.. That looks cool on Instagram and I can do that. Doesn’t really do anything for me. Factory winch mount, factory sliders that I have taken across the Rubicon, dragged them across rocks, they're for overlanding and they are all you need. .You don't need to put these garage built, steel, super heavy sliders on there. This is a hydroformed piece of steel that is purpose built for the vehicle.

Scott: And they work really well. I think it's some of the best factory sliders I’ve ever seen.

Matt: ya. There's always somebody that's trying to break everything, and if you're that guy cool. Go buy some sliders, it's a Jeep, there's a million of them out there.

Scott: If we are thinking of it purley from a travel perspective, I think that the way that they come on your jeep is perfect.

Matt: Totally. And it has that real slider which is incredibly effective, I’ve had the vehicle hung up on it before, and it works.

Scott: Have you used a High Lift off of the rock sliders yet?

Matt: No, I haven't used a high lift in like, I should be careful there, but I don't’ generally carry around bodankers. I am more of a traveler than a technical crawler. So I don’t even carry one with me anymore.

Scott: Well, and the challenge with the high lift off of a Wrangler is the suspension has so much travel. And you often reach the limit of the high lift extension before the wheels even come off the ground. Bottle jack, right?

Matt: Ya, its bottle jack. Max tracks. Whatever I have to do. Changing a wheel is not necessarily a huge thing.

Scott: Just bring along a piece of thick wood that supports the vehicle in soft conditions.

Matt: Not that a high lift doesn’t have its place.

Scott: It certainly does. Just depends on the conditions that you are in. One of the things that I was thinking about is, from my experience with the vehicle. I think it does benefit from a little bit of suspension lift. And that is because of that break over angle. When I was testing the max tow package vehicle, even in Sedona, trails that I wouldn’t even normally notice, I had to take some different lines because of the ability to hit the belly pan. So I think adding an inch or two, maybe three inches of suspension lift and then accompanying that with some 37” tires seems to really resolve that problem. What are your thoughts on suspensions right now. If you were right now to look at a couple different options, two or three options for suspension on the gladiator, what are you leaning towards right now?

Matt: You know the unfortunate reality for overlanders right now is that there really aren’t that many options.
Scott: There's a AEV kit out.. finally.

Matt: I don’t think it's actually out is the problem. That is what I will go towards a AEV springs, they actually kind of consider payload and things like that. But right now there is a lot of junk out there. There's a lot of companies that were really quick to repurpose their JK stuff. A lot of companies are really quick to throw whatever out there. Because there is a lot of cheap stuff on the market for the Gladiator right now. That's where I personally struggle, having more weight in the back of the vehicle, I need a coil that has a proper spring rate for more weight.

Scott: Old Man Emu has not released new coils yet for the Gladiator.

Matt: Icon has some stuff out. Unfortunately it didn't work out in timing for the Baja trip.

Scott: Icon does a good job.

Matt: Icon does a great job. They have a Gladiator they actually use. Their big prototype vehicle I guess is Clay’s that Expedition Overland owns, and that's probably about as heavy as you should or could get a Gladiator with their P-Core (?) campers set up on the back. So unfortunately right now if you want to buy a Gladiator and you want to lift it, I just say go with the MoPar set up. Because you’re getting factory tuned spring rates, spring frequencies, things like that. But if you add any kind of weight in the back the rear shocks just need to be thrown away. Otherwise they would actually be a really great shock. They're just so horribly valved, it's hard to begin to start why they are so bad. But there will be stuff coming out, I mean, King has shocks coming out, Fox has shocks coming out, Icon has some adjustable shocks coming out.

Scott: Then the stuff, if it hits.. Because they always address payload with their springs.

Matt: I have to think the next evolution of my truck will probably see an AEV Bumper
One of the things I actually like about their bumpers is they actually kind of meet the fenders. You can actually reduce a lot of wind noise in the Wrangler. And again increase that approach angle in front of the tire by using that AEV Bumper and they are not that much heavier as well, they are very thoughtfully designed.

Scott: And you end up with quite a bit of animal strike protection which is always something when we fit a bumper to our vehicles, we’re looking at a couple things in mind. We want to be able to fit a winch for self recovery particularly when we travel solo. Which is what you did in Baja, you traveled all by yourself. And also the ability to prevent animal strike damage or even small vehicle impacts when you're traveling. You know, you're in a village and somebody backs up into you, you don't want your airbags to go off and your vehicle disabled. So I do like to run a front bumper that does well and is robust enough to manage those small vehicle impacts, animal strikes and of course self recovery. I’m much less interested in ultimate technical terrain performance of the bumper. Like day after day of abuse. There are certainly applications for that but I don't tend to seek that out. Because I’m often so remote that I can't take those kinds of risks every single day with the vehicle. I do like the idea of the ARB bull bar or the AEV Bull Bar because it does give a lot more protection, and they both do a great job thiers.

Matt: Ya, ya. Again I’m partial to the AEV stuff. I mean, I bought this truck because it is a factory Brute. They’re just great..

Scott: AEV deserves a lot of acknowledgement and respect for the fact that they, no doubt, were the proof of concept for Jeep.

Matt: If i was in a position back then to buy a Brut, I would have. This is just how it world out I guess.

Scott: Yes, they were very, very cool vehicles. Now, once you get that little bit of suspension on there, what are your thoughts around tires and wheels right now? Did you change your offset at all?

Matt: I did.

Scott: What did you go with on the 37’s?

Matt: You know, I can’t remember the exact offset but I know I run Method 702’s, it’s a fairly aggressive offset. I kind of like that, I have a fairly high center of gravity with the camper and I’ve done my best to keep things low but a little bit of increased track width isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The vehicle in Rubicon spec comes with Falken tires, your choice of either MTs or ATs which again is like Jeep listening.

Scott: If you live in the desert get ATs..

Matt: Exactly. I’m a really big fan of the Falken AT3W. Again, I’m not a rock crawler I’m not the guy that looks, “Oh, can I drive up that?” For the sake of driving up it. There has to be something on the other end for me. To be able to have a snow peak rated tire is just huge for me. THeres only two tires out there that have that and that's the BFG All Terrain KO2 and the Falkens. In my experience, the Falkens just seem to last a little bit longer. And I like the fact that it's kind of still an OE tire. And the Methods look great. You know, my kind of thing these days is black vehicles with bronze wheels and the Methods look really good.

Scott: How’d the black hold up to all the desert pinstriping in Baja?

Matt: It was fine. It’s pretty good paint. You know the nice thing with the Wrangler again, its purpose built. So you have your fenders that are out, probably at the max from the center of the body, 12”. So if you are a skilled driver, you can work your way around it. I don't really have any pinstriping on the car. YOu know if you think about it the cab isn’t actually that long. And I’m used to driving press cars where scratching is not an option, so. The paint quality seems good, its had a lot of gas station car washes and by gas station car washes I mean, everything is literally so dirty I take the little squeegee and clean it *laughs* I’m just impressed with the build quality on the vehicle. I know a lot of people with Crystler and with Jeep have quality control concerns and it’s just never been an issue for me. How many miles have we put on Jeep press cars…?

Scott: Hundred of thousands.

Matt: And not a single failure. I mean the only thing is that the windshields constantly break. Mines broken right now, and it’s been broken for 10,000 miles and I just .. it’s just going to happen again.

Scott: Anytime you take a flat, upright piece of glass, but somehow the G-Wagons windows don’t get broken. I don’t know what the difference is. Maybe the G-Wagons are always driving so much slower. *laughs*

Matt: Ya, mines broken. *laughs*

Scott: I had to replace mine recently. But Jeeps always, always you have to replace the glass it seems.

Matt: I think the big thing is the camper on this. It’s actually not that modified. Stock bumper, stock winch mount. I put a Warn Zeon winch on there with spiderwire synthetic rope. It's just fantastic. The thing that I actually like, I like the remote control kind of set up. It's pretty beefy. And it also means there is no traditional clutch release on it so nobody can really mess with it.

Scott: Yes, that's definitely an advantage. A way to plug in another remote. Even as an option I think that would be nice because there are times when you forget to charge the remote, or lose the charge cable. As far as performance, that winch is unbelievable.

Matt: And obviously I put Max Tracks on it, I’m full disclosure, I’m the Max Tracks guy. This truck, the reason I can have these things is because I’m the importer for Max Tracks in the US. So you can see it at all of the shows that we are at. I regeared it to 488 so I think one of the interesting things on the Gladiator, from talking to the engineers that actually designed it, the payload of the vehicle is limited by two things. One is actually the airflow coming into the engine. That's why the Gladiator has the different mesh behind the grill to promote more airflow from the higher wattage fan. The second is actually the gearing. One of the reasons the sport model has such a higher payload, one it has less features on it, and it weighs less, but it also has smaller tires with the 411’s. So I actually went to 488’s and I used the Dana Spicer. So factory gears that went into the Dana axles, I used Dana Spicer diff covers, and it’s all just a good factory look package. Everything is kind of salt sprayed to factory specifications. It’s not going to rust, you know I said this kind of joking around that I wont have this vehicle, but I actually think this could be the one that I have for a while. Again, especially with that camper on the back.. That thing is so well insulated and so well made.

Scott: Let's talk about that. AT Overland Camper. What made you decide on that model? I know it was one of the first ones available.

Matt: It was one of the first ones, our warehouse is right next to AT. I’ve had other wedged campers, I think the gofast is a great option too, we really wanted to build more of a little sail boat inside. What the AT Summit offered me was the ability to have things like a dual pane acrylic window.

Scott: That's right they run the turn overland windows.

Matt: That's right, the turn overland windows. It’s a foam core sandwiched aluminum construction. It actually has 30mm of insulation built into the walls and then its carpeted inside for condensation. It’s really easy to put up and down. You can put solar panels on the roof if it has channels for that and all of your wiring. The roof is actually insulated as well and then the tent fabric actually has four layers on it. There's an insulation kit that is optional. Literally this pulls out like a jacket liner with velcro and that has an outer layer to prevent that condensation coming from the tent itself. And another white interior layer. And it’s really quiet inside, I have to say we sleep really well.

Scott: You don’t get a lot of flapping and zipper noise..

Matt: NO.. flapping. Well there's no zippers.

Scott: Oh thats huge.

Matt: Everything's all velcro. Mario knows what he's doing, he spends a lot of time in these things. We put a diesel heater in it. We have the MSA Drawers, we have a drop slide with a national luna weekender 50 fridge. We really like that fridge because we have the ability to make ice…

Scott: Margaritas..

Matt: Ya, margaritas without ice are really uncivilised. *laughs* and that's not overlanding that's called car camping. So, the diesel heaters were great and we kind of got that figured out. We even used that thing down in Baja. It has the ability to smoke you out or the ability to kind of keep you warm. And in terms of use of space that bed also articulates up. So when you're in the camper, not only do you have about 3’ at the end of the bed, since the bed does go over the cab of the truck quite a bit, you can then push that bed up on struts. Again the bed is also 30mm foam core insulating material, so you're not sleeping on a cold surface. Then you get the full use of the space inside. You don’t have to make your bed everyday. You leave your bedding in there, there is enough space.

Scott: So if you gotta hunker down in bad weather, you can do it.

Matt: Ya, you can hang out in there and we’ve put some XXX in there and kept the interior very simple. You have to respect the payload capacity of a vehicle and I think a lot of overlanders throw more and more and more…

Scott: They never take it away..

Matt: and more…. This is really modular for us. We have a lifesaver jerry can for water, it's very light also. We do a lot of travel overseas, maybe we’ll take this vehicle on the Silk Road. So the ability to have water filtration, pressurized water and water storage is huge. And those Alubox boxes are great, because they're just so light we can leave them outside and they are waterproof, so then we get that interior space if we have to hunker down against bad weather. We can put all that stuff outside and we can get that space.

Scott: And you don’t have much on top. I think you have some Max Tacks and …

Matt: Max Tracks are on the side. And we just have an overland solar 160 watt panel.

Scott: Ok. And does that seem to run everything you need it to?

Matt: You know, we have a 170 amp hour lithium battery. It’s massive. It's like what you’d put in an RV essentially. For those that don’t know, Lithium has 100% state of charge, so there's actually 170 usable amp hours, roughly in that battery. This is like four lead acid batteries. It’s about 50lbs or something so, the solar panels there but I have to worry about that like a week into camping.

Scott: Well, there's a couple other campers on the market now. The new one from Fifty Ten. The one thing I really liked about that was it was really big on the inside.

Matt: HUGE.

Scott: Because of the way it overhangs the back of the vehicle. You have to use the flatbed system that they provide as well, and it doesn't end up getting very expensive, nearly the price of the vehicle by the time you get it all done. If you want the fully built out interior. But they do a great job with that. I think Goose Gear is the one bringing those in. I really did like the big open space on the inside of that. And then there's a couple others on the market. There's the P-Core from Australia..

Matt: Which is more of a canopy style ..

Scott: It's definitely not a camper. It looks great. I mean it looks really really good.

Matt: Ya, if I want a utilitarian set up, with that flat bed you’d really gain a lot of usability from the truck and the ability to take that canopy on and off so easily. They’ve really designed that well and I want to say it integrated water, and they're under $10,000 for that. And it's quite attractive.

Scott: Ya and I think it looks really good on the truck. It looks very purposeful but you just can’t sleep in it. You still have to sleep in a roof top tent or something.

Matt: Ya, Go Fast does make something for it too, they're a great option. The thing I like with them is they are really light, they are great for somebody that wants something maybe a step above a roof tent. If you have no ambitions of making your little sail boat inside, I think that it's also a really great option. I’m sure most of the wedge camper people have one. I haven't seen anything from 4-Wheel Camper..

Scott: ya thats what I was thinking about .. it’ll be cool when we start to see 4-Wheel Camper releasing models that will fit in the Gladiator. With a 1700lb payload, they sell these things all day long for Tacomas.

Matt: ya, and this is such a better platform. You can just tell that it handles the weight better. My partner's dad has a new Ram 1500, and we were kind of sitting underneath and comparing him to mine and there are truthfully a lot of shared components, rear brakes. I want to say that it's the only vehicle that has rear disks. Does the Ranger have read disks?

Scott: I think so and so does Colorado. The Tacoma is the only one that doesn't. It still has drums in the back. I think they had some reason for it that made no sense. *laughs*
So what's next for the Gladiator? You’ve driven it down Baja, where do you want to take it next? What do you plan to modify on the vehicle?

Matt: We are definitely looking at Yukon, northwest territory, Alaska this summer. If work allows it. We’re lucky we are able to travel as much as we are. We have to kind of respect that too. We do have a business to run. Hopefully that's the next big trip. I mean we are always doing weekends and stuff. We intend to hit some more stuff in Arizona. Probably go back down to Baja in March, the weather is just so perfect there. I built my dream Landcrusier. Diesel, secondary fuel tank. Everything you could imagine completely mechanically injected. It’s also one of our show trucks. Umm, I don't know? I don’t know if that's the vehicle I would drive around the world anymore? We are starting to kind of plan the Silk Road idea, maybe for 2021? I think it would be hard to take the Gladiator. The fatigue on the drive is so much less. Because there are those days when you don’t have unlimited time, you do have to put in those twelve-fourteen hour driving days and the ability to turn on that radar cruise control and just kind of go and … I don’t know, it’s nice.

Scott: When you get to Mongolia, it will only shut off with the camels.
Matt: It’s quiet inside too. I mean I know that's where the Gladiator has received some negative marks, is interior cabin noise. But I think it really depends on how you have it set up. I actually downloaded an app, a decibel meter, and it was right about 68 decibels, if I remember correctly. That's what they considered a conversation level. Definitely if you're doing 90mph with a head wind, which the truck will do, like we did across Texas coming back from Overland Expo. Ya, it’s a little bit louder but..

Scott: That’s when I noticed it. Once the speed gets up over legal limits, that's when it really starts to get a lot louder. There's only so much you can do.

Matt: Ya, but you only do that in America. (36;17)

Scott: That's right, you’d never get going that fast. Unless you're on the autobahn maybe. You have to take it around the Nurburgring Ring. *laughs* Your first time around the Nurburgring will be in the Gladiator. I love it.

Matt: So big plans for the vehicle in terms of where we want to take it? I don’t really know. I need to find a better solution for rear shocks. But other than that I think what's great about the Gladiator is Jeep has done so much. I don’t have to do an SPOD because I already have the factory thing that's controlled through the screen. There's just so much I don’t have to do.

Scott: It integrates a lot.

Matt: I have lights, it rides well. The control arm angles are nearly flat, lifted.

Scott: That keeps that roll center really low.

Matt: We built this vehicle to travel. That where our modification is, travel.

Scott: Hopefully all the money that you think you need to spend on modifications, because it doesn't need it, you can just spend on fuel. I love that. Well anything else going on? Any new gadgets you've been picking up recently?

Matt: Ohh! I do have one! I used it extensively in Baja and now use it to light my nightly campfire inside my house .. that was the wrong way to say that.. Not called campfires, fireplaces!! don’t light fires inside of my house. *laughs* It’s this little Kovea butane torch. It's called the Fire Z. I think I caught it on Amazon, it was like $20.00 bucks or something. What I like is that it uses little butane canisters which are available everywhere in the world. We actually moved all of our stuff over to Kovea butane canisters. It's a very energy dense source, but with this even on full blast it doesn't seem to use much and it is the best fire started I’ve used. I’ve had the Snow Peak one, I still have the SNow Peak one and actually used them side by side. Thiers is called the Giga Torch. The problem with theirs and while it is more aesthetically pleasing and more unique. More of an experience to start that fire which is what Snow Peak is about, you still have to have a separate lighter.

Scott: Ya it's like, kickin’ off and F4 Phantom, when that thing connects..

Matt: It’s kinda scary. Where this thing has a little trigger, it's very ergonomic, I use it every night. I don’t know why more people don’t carry something like that with them.

Scott: It’s all about fire when you're out camping.

Matt: Ya, I get some people, if they're only doing this on the weekend and they want to be the boy scout and they want to start the perfect fire, well.. Talk to me after a few hundred nights, you just want to get that sucker started. What about you?

Scott: Well I bought this GX470 a couple years ago and I’ve just been daily driving it or taking it on down to Phoenix.

Matt: It’'s a great car.

Scott: they are. I just haven’t done anything to it yet. Literally it's still stock after a couple of years, which I think is the longest I’ve gone with any vehicle, ever. But I just now got everything on order.

Matt: Cool!

Scott: Almost everything is here at the office and we’re going to start building that truck up with a bunch of ARB goodies. Some AEV wheels and I think it will look better.

Matt: Because AEV does wheels for six lug Toyota now. Are you doing anything interior?

Scott: It’s going to be a typical Scotty build so it’s going to be super sano very understated, not a bunch of complex systems but one thing I would like to do is look at a Sheelman Seats or a Ricaro (39;48) or something like that because with the factory it's the one real negative in most Toyotas, is the factory seats. The factory leather is just garbage, so it definitely needs a seat upgrade. So that might be the one thing that I do on the interior. I was thinking about maybe taking out part of the rear seat and running a fridge back there to get the weight a little further forward.

Matt: That would be cool, do like a Goose Gear seat delete. We did a Goose Gear seat delete in the Gladiator..

Scott: Did you like that?

Matt: Ya, that's Dax actual seat now. We did the ¾ deletes, we still have the one seat, and oh, man it's fantastic.

Scott: Nice, and do you put him in a harness when he's in the car?

Matt: He’s almost 80lbs and he's big and he moves around a lot and Greyhounds are very particular, little wonderful guys and girls but..I wish I could. BUt it would be the Greyhound scream of death, the moment he got himself tangled. We just drive like we have an infant in the car going home.

Scott: He’s your baby. Speaking of that, tell us a little bit more about what people can do to help support Greyhound rescues or get their own Greyhound?

Matt: Ya, I have talked about this before, I’m a huge Greyhound guy, absolutely changed my life. Look at your local Greyhound adoption club and they are all usually volunteer run. Usually these dogs don't have the best life, usually. THey come from the track, I don’t want to say that they are abused, but they are treated like a commodity.

Scott: They don't feel like they are part of the family.

Matt: Ya, they are just so sweet. I mean, this guy we had for a month and took him down to Baja and now this is his second trip going on the second year we have had him. He doesn't bark, they are just great. There's a great community on Instagram surrounding these dogs if you want to look at. I always say #GREYHOUND, #ADOPTAGREYHOUND, take a look at them. They're wonderful little creatures.

Scott: No doubt. Well thanks for sharing htat Matt and thanks for telling us all about your Gladiator. It's going to be really exciting to see this vehicle come to market in more numbers and see how people start to personalize them. See the integrated camper systems that are going to come out. I think it's going to be very cool to see how this car develops over the years.

Matt: The fact that in 2020, we have a, well soon to be developed Turbo Diesel, manual, solid axle pickup truck that you can take the doors and roof off of. How is that now cool!? Why would you want to drive anything else? *laughs* Life is fun, have fun.

Scott: Ya, it's pretty cool. No doubt. Well thank you all for listening and remember it's all about the experience, spend less on your vehicle then you do on your trips and we will talk to you next time.

Matt: take care guys.


The Overland Journal Podcast features the travelers, topics, and news related to the overlanding community and industry. This podcast is hosted by Scott Brady and Matt Scott, and is a production of the Overland Journal Magazine and the website.

Host Bios:  
Scott Brady
Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal, and is often credited with popularizing overlanding in North America. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and include three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar travels include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. @globaloverland

Matthew Scott
Matthew is a leading expert in automotive adventure. He has extensively explored the world's most-remote places by 4WD, and is considered an industry authority on overland travel. Matt is the only American to ever become an editor of a major Australian 4WD publication, and has over 15 years of competitive auto racing experience. @mattexplore