As the title might be a clue, David and his Grand Cherokee Trailhawk spend as much time as possible touring highway 395 along California’s Eastern Sierras. The drive from Los Angeles required a vehicle with the comfort needed for long highway trips but that could get him in, and out, of the backcountry he desired. Join us in our Rig Spotlight of JeepingThe395.
Make/model of rig?
2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee (WK2)
Why did you choose that rig?
I was looking for something that would be comfortable on the highway and still capable enough for more than just fire roads right out of the factory. I had driven the car on rentals quite a bit before buying one.
Why do you overland?
I grew up camping with my dad and friends back home. I love seeing mountains and starscapes as often as I can. Hiking, camping, and getting some solitude away from the busy work week are all reasons I drive. We’re more of weekend warriors and take longer trips whenever we get the chance.
What drew you to vehicle based recreation?
Honestly just camping and hiking in general. Access to the more remote places, national parks and forests got me thinking more about the car I was going to drive to get there.
What’s your background?
I have a finance background and am currently working for a boutique technology consulting firm specializing in financial software implementations. My mom is Filipino and my dad is Thai. My sister and I are first generation here.
Where are you from?
Boston born and raised
Favorite trip or location?
All along the 395 honestly. If I had to choose one spot, it would be Mount Whitney. Hoping to hike it mid-summer along with some other ones along the Eastern Sierra.
Most important thing you have learned?
It’s always better to be over prepared. Things never really go as planned. But that’s one of my favorite parts about car camping, exploring, hiking, and just hanging out with friends in far out places.
Tips for people just getting into Overlanding?
Get to know your rig and it’s capabilities and just make sure you can get back safely. Also, try to stay organized – bins, boxes, bags, etc. try to group everything related to each other. It will make life infinitely easier.
Just think about what you’re going to use your car for and think about what you need and want to help it fit your needs. There’s also a LOT of DIY things you can do, so just give it some thought before going crazy with the gear. You really only Need a tent, sleeping bags, water, food and a med kit.
From the factory: The Jeep came with an electronic rear locker, low gear range, air suspension, and tow hooks on the front. It also came with a Mopar Front axle Skid, transfer case skids, and fuel tank skids.
Underbody Protection: Removed Lower Front Fascia -Chief Products: -Lower Front Guard -Sump Plate (5MM) -Transmission Skid -Trek 11 Rock Rails with kickouts
Tire Carrier: Wilco Offroad Hitchgate Solo Hi-Clearance-Hi Lift attachment/Rotopax mount-Front Runner Drop down table bolted on to the rotopax mount-RhinoUSA shackle and D Ring mounted to the receiver for recovery
Roof Rack: Gobi Ranger Rack with removable sunroof insert -Front Runner Dual Jerry Can mount tray -JEGS High performance Jerry Can mount -Axe/Shovel Mount (passenger rear)-Front Runner 2M Awning (driver side)-Thule Aeroblade 60” crossbars-Front Runner Rooftop tent (this comes down depending on what we’re doing)-Road Shower 4, 7gallon (this also only goes up when we have a long trip. Not showering is a little gross)
Lighting: KC HiLites Gravity Pro 6 LEDs (2x driving, outer) and (2x spot) -AAIWA (brand off Amazon) 36w 7” LED Floods, 2x each on right, left, and rear of rack, mounted onto the round bars with clamps,
Each set of lights has a separate switch currently (including the 2 front spots and 2 front driving lights, for a total of 5 at the moment. I don’t currently have a switch panel wired up for these so the wires are running under my floor mats inside a fire retardant wire conduit. I’m looking at installing a wireless relay in the back so I can just have the switches mounted near my rearview mirror.
Power: The Jeep Grand Cherokees with the Electronic Start/stop have 2 batteries underneath the passenger seat. I hooked up a third, 100AH battery in parallel to the larger starter battery in the spare wheel well compartment in the trunk. I ran the wires underneath the passenger side door trim and underneath the air tank into the wheel well. I cut holes in the plastic bracket and cut a 3/4” plywood board to fit inside the well where I could mount all the electronic components. I bolted some aluminum L Brackets to the panel and tie down points to strap the battery into place. We’ve been through a LOT of rough roads and it holds up great.
Components for the house battery setup: Universal Power Group 100AH Deep Cycle AGM battery-150A inline fuses-4GA wire for battery hookups-12GA wire for accessories-Cllena Battery Isolator (manual Switch) -Battery Doctor Intelligent isolator -BlueSeaSystems Fuse block -Project box to house the relays for the light switches-Cllena marine power panel with voltmeter (3 12v ports, 2 5v USB ports)
For the power panel I opened up the panel in the trunk on the driver side where there is direct access to the area underneath the vehicle trim and ran the wires directly to the fuse box. Short and simple. Filled in the extra holes with some velcro for when I want to run permanent wires out for a compressor, fridge, or power inverter/solar charger. Not sure where I’m going with this yet.
Interior: I also hooked up a few items to the seats/grab handles, all of which is removable in case I ever want to clean it out. Below is also a list of some of the smaller accessories I use:
Molle Seatback organizer (driver side) First Aid Pouch, Knife, Air Down tools (Boulder Tools), Maps and portable solar panel, Waterbottle holders, QuickFist Clamps on the Rear grab handles to mount flashlights, Molle Visor organizer (I’ve since placed this on the passenger side), RAM Mounts Phone mount (driver side windshield), RAM Mounts iPad holder, removable mounts to cup holder, Dual GPS unit, removable velcro mounted to windshield