Building a Hilux from Nordkapp, Norway to Cape Town, South Africa: Four Wheeled Nomad

April 23, 2020 2 min read

Building a Hilux from Nordkapp, Norway to Cape Town, South Africa: Four Wheeled Nomad

By Four Wheeled Nomad: Words by Lisa Morris, images by Jason Spafford

Making the jump from two wheels to four was not a decision we entered upon lightly. We purchased a Toyota 4WD, guiding it through its transformation for our current expedition from Northern Norway to South Africa. I’m hoping all our efforts and choices will reap the rewards from Cape to Cape, and that the gear and aspirations on which we’ve loaded up will see us through the next leg of swapping the life conventional for the drive of a lifetime. It’s hard not to grin.


Preparing a Hilux for overland travel

Investing in a 2015 Hilux 5-speed transmission for $15.6K destined to become a live-out-of-vehicle, I wasn’t convinced we’d made the right choice. Over budget, at least the rig’s low mileage and rep for Herculean strength should pay dividends for years to come. Similar to an underpowered Tacoma but with better fuel consumption being a diesel, Hiluxes are available in Europe and Africa, keeping life simple regarding parts and repairs. The 2.5-litre engine won’t win any races, although its power should suffice for where we’re going. 


Rooftop Tent 

Opting for the Skycamp because it’s a lockable, easy-pop, four-birth hard-shell was a no-brainer. An additional rainfly adds to its weather-sealed properties, and because the tent is ventilated, it means the thing doesn’t condensate. Its biggest USP: setup time is a minute.  

Opening the skylight, windows and a big porched door contribute to feeling connected to the outdoors, with mesh and blackouts on each. Foremost, the vistas are better because you’re higher up. Flexibly, the universal mounting system fits most vehicles. As weight-conscious but spacious homes atop of your 4WD go, it’s an Ewok special. The angled top offers protection from up to 50 mph wind when erected, while it’s unaffected at 75 mph packed. Like all canvas tents, once subjected to heavy rain, we air it out to prohibit mold, etc.


Roof Rack and Equipment 

Before installing the roof rack, Jason cut it down to accommodate the space above the cab. This was due to the rooftop tent overhanging the area where the roof rack would normally be situated. Also part of the hardware is a Hi-Lift jack, MaxTrax, a shovel (Front Runner Outfitters), an assortment of spanners, sockets, wrenches, and screwdrivers, an air compressor, and a tyre-repair kit.


For over 11 months we dedicated ourselves to kitting out the truck, as every step of the build mattered to us. As the weeks elapsed, we stayed heads down, backside up. There were things we’d given up for the expedition such as togetherness and our privacy. But we were beholden to the bigger picture. Aspiring towards a self-contained base from which we could comfortably live without needing to resupply for days if not weeks at a time. To us, that’s rolled-gold. fourwheelednomad

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