Full-Size Overland Trucks: Not Just Toyotas & Land Rovers Anymore

Updated on Aug 10, 2023

Where mid-size pickups and SUVs once dominated the overland scene, there's been a recent movement away from smaller chassis. The full-size market has become saturated with off-road-oriented models in recent years, from the RAM 2500 Power Wagon to the Ford Raptor and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2! 

While you may be tempted to ask, “Why? What’s the point of wheeling a full-size pickup?” we think a better question is, “Why not?” Unless there’s a secret, unwritten code written by the original overlander (we checked, and there isn’t), overlanding in a full-size pickup isn’t just possible, but recommended.

Follow along as we dive into everything you need to know about overlanding in a full-size truck. Learn all the reasons why you should consider a full-size platform as your next build and all of our top selections to get you on the trail!

What Are the Key Characteristics of an Overlander?

We know, full-sized pickups, especially ¾ and 1-tons, are typically used for work and hauling the family. Oversized cabs, spacious beds, and rugged truck suspension are ideal for hauling everything from kids and pets to tools and building supplies; they’re also great for towing heavy loads. 

While their large form factor isn’t ideal for squeezing through tight trails, consider for a moment every other feature they possess, including: 

  • Rugged 4x4 suspension (often coil-sprung solid-axle in HD models)

  • Beefy steering knuckles and differentials

  • Factory limited slip

  • Ample cargo room for all of your tools and gear

  • Large fender wells for oversized tires

  • High ground clearance

  • Powerful drivetrains

These features tend to lend themselves very nicely to the trail. For further convincing, let’s outline some key features of an Overlander and why full-size trucks just work.

Off-Road Prowess

One of the key features of every Overlander is off-road performance; you can’t expect to reach your campsite if your truck can’t ford a stream, climb a hill, or navigate a rutted trail. 

Luckily, most full-sized pickups are available with beefy limited-slip rear axles and 4WD–practically everything you need. In addition, several heavy-duty 4WD pickups, like Ford Super Duties and RAM 2500s and 3500s, come with solid front and rear axles suspended by coil-sprung, multi-link suspension upgrades, just like the Jeep Wranglers you passed on the trail last week. 

If ride height is an issue, finding lift kits and oversized tires for a full-size pickup is quick and easy. Lift components, as are heavy-duty dampers, are readily available to further improve trail performance. 

Cargo/Payload/Towing Capacity

So we’ve proven that a full-sized pickup can make it to the campsite, but what about all the gear you’ll need to pack? Wheeling is only half of the battle; overlanding focuses just as much on remote camping, requiring you to bring shelter, food, and assorted supplies. Tack on a full-size spare tire, jack, and assorted tools, and you’ll quickly realize how fast cargo space gets eaten up.

Luckily, full-sized pickups feature far more cargo space than the average mid-size truck or SUV. With deep 6–8 foot long beds and spacious crew cabs, you’ll have no trouble squeezing all of your gear onboard. 

Don’t worry about overloading either; with payloads reaching 2,000+ pounds and towing capacities stretching upwards of 10,000 pounds, a full-sized pickup can haul all of your gear, a buddy’s, and a fully-loaded Tacoma!

Powertrain: Performance and Fuel Efficiency

Overlanding in a fully-loaded rig can put excessive strain on an underpowered drivetrain. With a full load of gear, oversized tires, and heavy body armor, it’s pretty easy to bog down a naturally-aspirated four or six-cylinder. 

Full-sized pickups typically come with heavy-duty power plants to match their increased size. From burly V8s to twin-turbocharged V6s and turbo diesels, most full-sized trucks have the power to spare. 

However, fuel efficiency is an area where full sizes may struggle, but it’s not uncommon to see modern engines with mileage in the high teens.


There’s nothing worse than an unreliable rig on the trail. Lengthy trail fixes or calling for a remote tow can ruin a weekend. As a result, we always recommend staying away from platforms with sub-par reliability ratings. 

While reliability is subjective, full-size pickups are overall trustworthy platforms that are overbuilt from the factory. Heavy-duty powertrains paired with beefy drivetrains make for an exceptionally reliable experience; the beefier the parts, the harder they are to break! 

Especially on off-road centric trims, like the RAM Power Wagon or Ford Raptor, every component has been thought-through and over-engineered to prevent failures on the trail, something you can’t say about most mid-size competitors. 

Do Full-Size Trucks Make Good Overlanders? 

Do we even need to answer this question? Besides being on the larger end of the scale, full-size pickups are the ultimate overlanding platforms. 

Exceptional cargo space, off-road prowess, overall performance, and above-average reliability make for the perfect Overlander. However, it may be a good idea to keep an extra jerry can of gas or diesel on hand.

Top Full-Size Overlanding Trucks 

Now that we’ve settled that debate, let’s take a look at our experts' top full-size overlanding platforms. Each entry on this list perfectly blends all of the above qualities, making for a pleasurable experience on the trail, even in stock form!

2023 RAM 2500 Power Wagon

Kicking off our list is the 2023 RAM 2500 Power Wagon, a dedicated off-roader sporting massive solid axles and multi-link suspension front and rear for outstanding performance on the trail. While, unfortunately, RAM doesn't offer a Cummins diesel-powered version of the Power Wagon, the burly 6.4L HEMI V8 and factory 3.73 gears provide plenty of power to keep the ¾-ton pickup crawling through even the toughest trails. 

Other standard features include: 

  • Electronic swaybar disconnects

  • Electronic-locking differentials

  • Warn Zeon 12 winch

  • Bilstein monotube dampers

  • High-clearance front bumper

  • 285/70R17 Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires

2023 Toyota Tundra TRD PRO

In 2022, the Toyota Tundra received its first major redesign in 15 years, ditching the beloved 2nd generation design for an all-new 3rd. The new chassis sports an independent coil-sprung front suspension, multi-link, solid axle rear, and an all-new twin-turbocharged V6 powerplant. Much to the satisfaction of dirt-heads, the TRD PRO model carries over for the new generation, upgrading the chassis in several key ways, including: 

  • Crawl Control system

  • Multi-Terrain selection

  • Electronic-locking rear differential

  • TRD PRO FOX suspension

  • BBS forged 18-inch wheels

  • Falken Wildpeak A/T3 tires

  • TRD skid plates

Ford F-Series Tremor

For the current generation of aluminum-body F-series trucks, Ford offers a premium, mid-tier off-road package known as the Tremor. This package can be added to any other trim level on Super Duty models, while it’s its own trim level on the F-150. In either application, the Tremor features model-specific suspension, all-terrain tires, a factory lift, and rugged aesthetics. 

The F-150 Tremor features: 

  • Tremor-specific steering knuckles, dampers, and control arms

  • Electronic-locking rear differential

  • 33-inch General Grabber tires wrapped around 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels

  • Tremor badging and accents

  • Optional 4.10 gears

The Super-Duty Tremor features:

  • 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires wrapped around 18-inch alloy wheels 

  • Progressive-rate 2-inch lift springs

  • Tremor-tuned dampers

  • Terrain management system

  • Selectable locking rear differential

  • Optional Warn 12,000 Lb. winch

Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Trail Boss

To keep up with RAM and Ford’s off-road offerings, Chevrolet needed to update its Silverado platform with a dedicated off-road package beyond the long-running Z71. To accomplish this goal, the engineers at GM created the Silverado 1500 Trail Boss: a tough, mid-tier off-road package that takes everything we’ve come to love about the Z71 and improves upon it.

Standard features include: 

  • Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires wrapped around 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels

  • Factory 2-inch lift with Rancho dampers

  • Hill-Descent Control system

  • Automatic-locking rear differential

  • Heavy-duty air intake 

  • Underbody skid plates

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