As the planning for the Oregon Pacific Crest Trail Fastest Known Time attempt transitioned into a discussion over transport, the realization that our Subaru Outback might be insufficient became clear. We needed more space for all of our gear and a place to sleep that did not require us to constantly move things around. I knew of Wonderland Expeditions from doing some research on 4×4 camper rentals, and through Go Beyond. We reached out to them and asked if they would be willing to sponsor the attempt. They agreed to provide us the Bandit at a very generous discount. Without it, I would have been hard-pressed to make it to some of the areas to support Jameson and Danielle.
Wonderland Expeditions provides various vehicles for rent. The Bandit is a Toyota Tacoma crew cab with a Magnolia pop up tent, a cab on the truck bed, and a bed inserts with built-in drawers. They also have a number of other vehicles, almost all of which are 4×4, and a couple of teardrop campers. What they provide doesn’t end with just the vehicles. Included in the price is pretty much anything you might need to have a successful adventure. For us this included 5 gallons of potable water, a large propane tank to go with the included stove (a stove that heated water so much faster than our butane one burner), sleeping gear, chairs, a table, cleaning supplies, a lantern, first aid kits, roadside emergency pack, jumper battery, and so much more. While the Bandit does not have a rack for a storage box, they were able to provide a tow hitch storage tray that worked like a champ.
If you have ever driven a Tacoma, then you know what to expect. The Bandit is an SR5, crew cab, long bed, 4×4, 6 speed automatic. When you get behind the wheel you easily feel like you could go anywhere. Wonderland Expeditions has outfitted it with all-terrain tires that allowed us to go on some pretty gnarly roads without turning on four-wheel drive. The seats come with washable covers, and all-weather mats are also included. The truck has a tow package which would allow you to tow one of their teardrop trailers with ease.
For this particular adventure, we had a lot of gear on top of what was included with the truck. A lot of that was food, so having the tow hitch storage tray on the back made a huge difference. We ended up placing the large cooler provided by them, as well as the box with all the silverware, bowls, plates, pots and pans, etc (also provided by them) on the storage tray. The only downside to this setup was having to remove them to get into the built-in drawers in the decked platform. This decked platform is a mixed blessing: the drawers roll in and out with ease, and the platform is sturdy, but this setup feels like it eats into the trucks storage capacity somewhat. We did end up using the wider drawer as the main running food storage area, which was incredibly convenient as it placed everything in easy view and quick access. In terms of accessing everything that was packed into the back of the truck, the side windows of the cab open so we were able to reach in and grab what we needed without having to remove too much. That said, we did end up having to use the back seat as a place for our clothing, shoes, and a place to hang laundry.
The Magnolia rooftop tent
This is a fully manual rooftop tent with a fiberglass shell and canvas sides. It has an integrated mattress, although we set it up with the additional pads that Wonderland provided every night for added comfort. The tent is relatively easy to get set up and does a great job of protecting you from rain, as well as staying dark during the day. The main issues arise from the following: getting used to the ladder to get in and out, and the process of lowering the tent. We always wore our sandals when going up and down the ladder as otherwise, our already sore feet would hurt more. It also made going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, an already annoying thing to do in a normal tent, even more tedious. That said, one night was spent sleeping at Timberline on a very windy night and the tent easily kept the wind at bay and kept us warm inside. When it comes time to lower the tent so you can pack it back up, the canvas sides will spill out over the edges on each side as you lower it. This means that you will need to push them in on each side in order to get the tent completely lowered and latched. While it gets easier the more you do it, a few items (zipper pulls for example) would inevitably pop out right when you thought you were in the clear. This meant having to raise the tent slightly again to push those back in. Not the end of the world, but something to factor in with regards to overall camp breakdown.
The Pre and Post Rental experience
Reserving a vehicle is done via their website and is super simple. On the day of the reservation, we drove to their location off of Columbia Ave. in North Portland. Doré met us when we picked up the truck, as did her partner Ryan, and then Dore met us when we dropped it off. During the pickup process, there was a pretty typical amount of paperwork as well as the vehicle inspection that you would expect when renting a vehicle. She went over what gear she included, and how to operate the rooftop tent. It was a super straightforward process, and the drop off experience was even easier.
No matter whether the Bandit is available, as I mentioned in the beginning, Wonderland has other vehicles to choose from. Whether you are looking for a truck with a popup camper, a 4Runner with a popup tent, or a Sprinter style van, they have you covered. They also have two teardrop trailers that can go off-road, and have CVT rooftop tents on them. Plus they include all the gear you could need to make your adventure a success! I highly recommend working with Wonderland Expeditions to get you set up for your next adventure. You will not regret it!