Vehicle Mods

Toyota makes some of the best off-roading and overlanding vehicles available on the market. In fact, the Tacoma is a hands-down favorite among off-roading enthusiasts and has held that status for a very long time.

Could the new Tundra take over? Here are our thoughts.

Overlanding versus Off-Roading

To start, we want to make a clear distinction between off-roading and overlanding. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they aren’t technically the same thing. Off-roading adventures are usually short-term and are done in vehicles designed to navigate difficult and challenging terrain. If you’re spending the day rock crawling or traveling up or down steep inclines, you’re off-roading. Yes, you may camp overnight in between your trail adventures, but if the weekend is about the challenge of the drive rather than about the destination, it’s a weekend of off-roading.

Off-roading vehicles need to be nimble and able to handle tough terrain. High ground clearance is essential, as is a powerful 4WD transmission. And, while you need room for all your gear, keeping things as lightweight as possible is definitely the goal.

On the other hand, overlanding is more about destinations; it’s about getting out there and exploring. Overlanding journeys tend to be long. The focus is more on self-reliance, getting off the grid, and seeing the world. While an overlanding adventure might take a vehicle off-road for a bit, most overlanding expeditions involve a lot of travel on the road, albeit on roads that are less traveled.

Since overlanders travel and live in their vehicles, space to haul everything plus the kitchen sink – quite literally – is a must. Many overlanders want to pull a trailer as well, making towing capacity and a powerful engine important features.

Comparing the Tacoma and the Tundra

With the differences between off-roading and overlanding clearly in mind, the team at Backwoods Adventure Mods clearly favors the Tacoma for off-roading. The Tacoma’s size, power, and other qualities give it superior performance on the trail.

When it comes to overlanding, however, the jury’s still out. It’s worth comparing the two vehicles to evaluate the strengths they bring to overlanding.

The Specs

By comparing the specs of each vehicle, their differences become apparent.




Ground Clearance

9.4 inches

10.6 inches

Engine Size

Four- and six-cylinder options

Six- and eight-cylinder options


2WD or 4WD

2WD or 4WD


4,505 pounds

5,680 pounds

Towing Capacity

3,500 to 6,800lbs

Up to 10,200lbs


159 (4 cylinder) or 279 HP (six cylinder)

381 HP

What do these specs mean for overlanding performance?

The Tacoma is smaller and lighter than the Tundra. It has solid ground clearance and is equipped with premium all-terrain tires. It also comes with a built-in Crawl Control system from Toyota that will get you up a steep, boulder-strewn hillside with ease. This is all great stuff for off-roading.

However, the Tacoma is small. There’s not a lot of space for storing gear, and its low towing capacity means it’s difficult to bring along anything extra. For overlanders, that can be a problem.

The Tacoma is an amazing vehicle. It’s nimble and easy to maneuver, has a comfortable ride, and the options for augmenting storage and performance are plentiful. For the team at Backwoods Adventure Mods, the Toyota Tacoma remains at the top of our list of favorite off-roading trucks, which is why we offer so many amazing mods, including the Hi-Lite series front bumper. Our Hi-Lite front bumper offers full protection and an excellent approach angle while weighing in at a mere 80 lbs. We also love overlanding in the Tacoma.

That said, the Tundra brings a lot to the table for overlanding, including the following:

  • Towing. The Tundra can pull twice as much as the Tacoma. You can pull a fully loaded trailer with all your gear and not strain the engine.
  • Interior Room. The Tundra has a lot of space; the wide cab is good for cargo, but it also gives you and your passengers room to spread out when enjoying long cross-country drives.
  • Power. The most powerful Tundra has 381 horsepower, which is enough to get you and your cargo out of pretty much anything.
  • Ground Clearance. With 10.6 inches of clearance, you never need to worry about scraping or damaging vulnerable components underneath your truck.

All this makes a pretty powerful case for overlanding in a Tundra. For off-roading, we’re not so sure. The Tundra is big and bulky, which is a problem for narrow trails, and its weight poses a challenge on difficult terrain. The Tundra also does not come equipped with the Crawl Control system, which is clearly a drawback if your adventures regularly take you over boulders and large fields of rocks.

Still on the Fence?

Honestly, you can’t really go wrong here. Since the Tacoma and Tundra are both exceptional vehicles, deciding which one to get can be a challenge. The Tacoma is the best bet if you want to go rock crawling or driving through tight, narrow areas. On the other hand, if you need muscle to get through dirt, sand, or snow or tow a lot of gear, the Tundra might be a better option. Either way, check out our guide to overland vehicle mods to equip your truck with the best and most essential mods from Backwoods Adventure Mods.

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