Fast forward to 2011 and things have markedly changed. Consider the burgeoning aftermarket accessory range, the availability of umpteen cooking appliances, chainsaws, generators, laptop computers, enough food and water to feed the Brady bunch and you begin to get the picture. Quite frankly, we all carry so much 'stuff' when we go bush that a visit to a weighbridge would probably find many rigs greatly overweight.
There are two key aspects to setting up your 4x4. Firstly, an honest appraisal of where you will realistically use your vehicle will enable you to make a checklist of suitable accessories that you may or may not need. To state the obvious, if you purchase your 4x4 principally as a tow vehicle or as your suburban drive, things like lift kits, winches, dual tyre carriers, driving lights, additional underbody protection, diff locks, etc, will simply be a waste of money. Conversely, if you intend to join a 4x4 club and aspire to some fair dinkum 4x4 adventures, then much of this equipment will certainly enhance your vehicle's capability. When purchasing your gear, remember to buy from reputable companies and be sure that the equipment you are adding is make and model specific. Long gone are the days of a single item fitting all vehicles, which is why companies such as ARB invest heavily in research and development of products that are vehicle specific. Checkout what is available for your vehicle.
The second area to consider is the interior of your vehicle. How you set it up will again depend on intended use, the size of your family and even how many hours you spend behind the wheel each week. There are many products available that can improve how you utilise interior space, including items such as overhead consoles which can accommodate a UHF radio, to sturdy and well finished drawer systems. One of the dilemmas of packing a 4x4 is the diversity of gear you will carry, the frequency of use of some items, and the awkward size and shape of some equipment.
Heavy items like vehicle spares should be packed low in the vehicle to maintain the lowest centre of gravity, but since they are carried as insurance, can be packed in a more awkward storage location. A drawer system tailor made to suit the cargo area of your vehicle can be a great starting point. Spares, recovery gear, tent pegs and mallet, axe, etc., can be accommodated in one drawer, while another can be used as your travelling pantry, storing food and cooking implements. Similarly, a cargo barrier should be fitted, as this ensures any item in the cargo area cannot 'fly' over the seat when bouncing across rough terrain. Lighter objects can be stored on the roof, but these should be limited to bulky items such as a swag, tent, sleeping gear and fold up chairs.
Before beginning to set up your 4x4 for touring, check out how other people have done it, explore what's available from aftermarket manufacturers and only purchase items that you need. The temptation is to add as much as possible, but this should be resisted!