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The ultimate travel setup


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I decided after several trips became way too overcomplicated by issues related to shutting and travel, i needed to figure out a better way. An idea formed in my mind that if somehow i got a car, trailer, and a dirt bike, i could set up my own shuttles, and the dirtbike could get me into areas that might shave days off my walking time, like the maze area of canyonlands. However, i needed something i could also use for normal road trips and commuting to work.

Step one - I needed a new car. As reliable as the old honda was, i finally had some money coming in and the civic was leaking oil pretty bad from the rear main seal, creating a mini environmental disaster wherever i parked it. As i researched a newer car, the toyota matrix stuck out. The rear seats in the back fold flat, and the front passenger seat also folded flat, allowing me to sprawl out in the back of the car on road trips (I'm 6'1", so this isn't very easy normally). The matrix was also manufactured as a Pontiac Vibe, and other than the exterior sheet metal and badging, its exactly the same car. It was a bit bigger than the civic so it had more space, also allowed a class 2 tow hitch, had a OEM roof rack option, was possible to get as a manual, and the gas mileage was better than 30 mpg.

After a bit of searching, i found a very good deal on a pristine 2005 Pontiac Vibe in Las Vegas. Had never seen snow, no rust, and minimal wear and tear with a very exacting service record. After getting it inspected, i flew out and drove it back home. After getting it back home, i got myself a Curt Manufacturing hitch and wiring harness and set her up with a tow package.


Step two - i needed to find myself a "trailer in a bag". Truthfully, i had been searching for one of these for awhile as they had gone out of business and could only be found used. I had put up a craigslist notification if anything matched it, and behold a few weeks after getting the new car, one popped up in northern colorado. A trailer in a bag is a "lightweight" trailer that litterally comes apart into enough pieces that it can be stored in a very large canvas bag. It weighs about 150 lbs, which is light for a trailer, but still pretty hefty. It would allow me to haul just about any motorcycle, including a full off road dirtbike, easily behind any car, even a small one like the vibe. Also, i could take it apart and store it in the trunk when i was shuttling myself back and forth for security and connivance. My garage and my backyard is also pretty small, so it made storage in between trips very easy.

Step three - now i needed a motorcycle. I already had a motorcycle endorsement, but i hadn't owned a motorcycle for a few years. I knew i wanted something that was street legal, and something that was also very capable off road and lightweight. The DRZ400S was the obvious choice, but it didn't seem like there were any good deals on a used DRZ, and i kept looking. The Yamaha WR250R also sparked my attention, but those were even harder to find used, and even more expensive than the DRZs. While browsing, i stumbled upon a guy selling a plated 2006 WR450F. Its not quite ideal for a dual sport bike, but it would be much more capable than a DRZ, with better suspension and more power. It looked like it had enough aftermarket options available for a rear rack (cycleracks), gas tank (acerbis), and a few other modifications (race tech suspension, etc), so i went for it. I still had most of my old motorcycle gear, so after getting a new helmet and some Sidi boots to protect my head and ankles, I was ready to rock. :D


Step 4 - Lastly to create the ultimate travel rig for adventuring, i needed somewhere for my gear so i could sprawl out in the back of the car, or have enough space if a few friends wanted to come with for a trip. I'm a huge fan of REI garage sales, and at the last one i went to, i found a Yakima Rocketbox pro 12. Its the smallest one they sell, but plenty big for me, and everything seemed to work fine on it. After talking with the store manager, i got him to discount it down to ~$110. Score! Most of the trailer could also fit in the roof box, making it even easier to store during the shuttles. :cool:

Should make road trips super easy, and allow me to do some fun shuttle trips. Hopefully it will also allow me to section hike the colorado trail this summer without having to set up a shuttle every weekend, and provide even more stories for the future issues of the magazine. :)

Maybe one day i can afford a 4 door jeep wrangler with a ursa minor topper, but until then, this will work just fine.

Anyone out there have their own travel rig? What do you use for your road trips?


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  • 4 weeks later...
  • Premium Member
Aaron Zagrodnick

I can see this being useful for point to point solo hikes, nice setup and definitely an interesting way to go about it without getting excessive weight wise etc. I'd be interested to see what the trailer looks like.

I would say in the Maze however hiking access wasn't too bad in my opinion with a little dirt road walking to miss the rougher driving sections. :D

As far as a travel rig, for backpacking trips just the vehicle here, and I'll sleep in the bed of the truck if I absolutely have to but I sleep better in my tent - so try to plan the trip so that I'll already be on the trail by dark if at all possible or car camp that first night if needed, but I can see how your setup in regards to all the seats folding flat could be nice for those late night trailhead arrival times!

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Awesome set up!

A friend of mine used to have a similar rig. He had a 94' two-door Cherokee and an even older Suzuki 250. He did a lot of trail riding with the Suzuki but it was also street legal. He took one of those shelves that slide into a hitch receiver and welded a few modifications to it so he could pull the bike onto it by himself and securely strap it down.

We did a couple of float trips in Southern MO where we would drop the motorcycle off at the pull-out point and take the Jeep upstream. We'd pull the canoe off the roof, hit the water, and when we got to our destination he'd ride the bike back and get the jeep while I cleaned stuff up. Worked out great! I was always a bit jealous of his ability to be so independent with two types of model transportation in one, practically.

He talked a lot about taking it to Colorado, but I'm not sure if it ever made it.

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Nice way to go. :)

I sold the Wrangler (going to upgrade to an Unlimited Rubicon at some point) but still have the bikes and the kayaks.

DR400s makes an awesome adventure vehicle!



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