On July 1, 2023, we headed out for Independence Day weekend camping trip to Mustang Island State Park, hauling “Wolfie” – our Wolf Pup camper – with Hydro Heep as usual. We never got there.
Our new hauling beast is named Hammy the Hemi.
On our last trip out, Hydro Heep acted a little bumpy along a stretch of highway on our way home. Hydro Heep is thusly named after its official color name (hydro blue). We stopped and did a tire and underside inspection, and then continued home. At home we had the tires inspected to see if a tire was damaged, and the tire shop found that the front right one was missing a balance weight. We thought that tire being out of balance was what caused the Jeep to shimmy a wee bit. It wasn’t. Hydro Heep is a model of Jeep with Freedom Package that is rated to tow 3500 pounds. Apparently that means it can pull 3500 pounds, but should not do so on a regular basis. We have been doing it twice a week for almost a year, and finally the driveshaft broke. So we learned about towing capacity: Just because the manufacturer states that their vehicle CAN pull an amount, doesn’t mean that you SHOULD pull that amount, at least not regularly. Don’t max out your towing capacity! Hydro Heep ended up being towed off the southbound highway, about half way to Corpus Christi on a flatbed wrecker with Wolfie now being towed by the wrecker. Thankfully, the wrecker also had room inside for Carol, the cat, and myself. (Our next worry was whether or not the cat would piss, puke and shit inside this guy’s truck.)
The broken driveshaft was covered by the previously purchased lifetime warranty, and Hydro Heep was in the shop for exactly one month.
The breakdown meant that we needed a new tow vehicle. Actually, we needed a new tow vehicle for two good reasons. Firstly, during the month that the Jeep was in the shop we had trips planned; secondly because obviously the Jeep wasn’t up to the task. Wanting a truck that would handle mountains without sweat or slowdown, even in extreme heat, Steve was set on a 3/4 ton pick ’em up truck. Steve originally wanted a Ford F-250 or an E-250 van, and spent a week looking around. There were great deals to be had on the Richey Auction, but Carol didn’t want to take that risk and prefered to deal directly with a reputable dealership. With a list of dealerships in our area, we ended up at Bluebonnet Ford where we saw many possibilities. Trucks being as expensive as they are, we looked at used ones, but even those are near new prices because of public demand.
We drove a couple of trucks, after narrowing our search to 2017 through 2021 models, and decided on this 2020 Ram 2500 Tradesman Hemi 4×4 with a crew cab, a towing package, and 6’4″ bed that’s covered with a folding fiberglass tonneau. Hammy is no hamster. He can pull 19,000 pounds, and that’s way overkill for our situation. Our payload + Wolfie camper weigh in at 4,000 pounds, max. Yes, the whole idea was to have overkill for long distance hauling in all conditions and all inclines and declines.
We immediately added storage compartments, with back of the seat pockets and wheel well swing out saddlebags (which are truly AWESOME).
For extra carrying capacity, Steve also installed a ladder rack that works with the truck’s folding tonneau cover. This AdaRac system is called Pro Overlander. Note the “Squatch Rated” coin badge we added for effect.
Steve installed these two red bicycle clamps to the floor of the truck bed for each of our bikes.
We also got two sets of J racks to carry our kayaks over top of the bicycles. These make the total height without kayaks to be 9.5 feet. We won’t fit through drive-through lanes of fast food joints, even without kayaks and without Wolfie in tow. Wolfie is 10.5′ tall.
I’m sure there’ll be more accessories added onto this truck in the future, so I guess there’ll be updates to this post.
WHAT WOULD YOU ADD TO IT?