Welcome to Baby Jeep Overland!
here we will chronicle our adventures in our Jeep Patriot. we hope that our story will inspire you to get out and explore, no matter what gets you there. We are trying to break traditional ideas of offroad and overland vehicles can be and, to help create a market for affordable offroad and overland accessories for smaller less traditional vehicles.
Anyone who has a vehicle that they take pride in has a thing.
That one thing that stands out about their vehicle. For some it is a stock
Honda Civic with jet black perfectly clean tires, others have a really loud
rumbler, or it is just a really unique vehicle. For me, it is the stunned look
on the faces of people who watch me climb a steep hill or crawl a rock
cropping, or squeak through a mud hole that reaches my door handles. I love
saying “yep, that’s a Patriot”. It gets more complicated when people ask; “why
did you go that far with a Patriot?” The confusing, enlightening, frustrating
and endlessly rewarding adventure that the actual build process turned into is
a topic of its own. The reason and motivation behind the build are to inspire.
The SUV market has changed in a big way. The flooding of the
auto market in the mid and late 90’s with SUVs sporting refined interiors and style
paved the way for the CUV. Where we have ended up is a demand for roomy
vehicles that are a bit more than a car but less than a truck and make us feel
like we can plow through snow and whatever else could show up. To any purists
it can be summed up by the fact that Jeep has more AWD vehicles with fully
independent suspension than they do a true 4x4; they have one. This has caused
a higher demand for SUV style vehicles but has decreased the demand for their
capability. Or has it?
Perhaps we in the offroad community have just overlooked
these new vehicles or we as a consumer base are not demanding enough capability
in the small SUV segment anymore. Or Both?
I bought my Patriot because my Chevy Colorado gave up. I
loved my truck; I started a construction business in that truck. Once my
business outgrew a compact truck, I lifted it and put a tent in the box, it
brought a lot of fun to my life as a single guy who worked too much. I was
recently married with three adopted kids and a mortgage; overlanding did not
get a huge priority so when I needed a new vehicle the criteria were different.
It didn’t take a lot of shopping to decide on a Patriot; the price tag was tiny
and the warranty was great and it had “4wd”. I didn’t plan on more than getting
to a few campsites, the cottage and to work in the Canadian Winter.
My Patriot had proven a great choice with my initial goals in
mind. It wasn’t long however before I couldn’t help but see what it could
really do. I took it on a real “trail” not a gravel road but a trail with real
demands. I was blown away, I spent the
whole time hoping and praying and my Patriot never showed a sign of stumbling.
Testing turned to playing and soon I realized I was foolish to leave my
offroad/ overlanding passion behind.
First came the lift; at the time there were two, I chose a
spacer lift because my dealership said they would warranty everything since
mopar had used it on concepts. It helped a lot, enough to get my confidence up
to attend a trail run by a local offroad club. After some convincing my wife
and I were allowed to attend in the baby jeep and despite making it through the
entire trail with ease it was clear; baby jeeps were outsiders.
As is the case with everything these days I soon found myself
on the internet looking for ideas and like minded people. Obviously Patriot groups
were a big help; my favorite being Jeep Patriot Around The World, and overlanding
groups seemed to be encouraging of most things. Offroading and Jeep groups had
a lot of negative things to say. This showed me that offroad driving at its
core was stuck, devoid of any new truly useful technology, the mindset that
older is better and the refusal to be a part of the new market means that when
all the XJ’s and TJ’s are gone; we will be limited to 8” of ground clearance,
limited flex IFS and long base pick-ups. The offroad world needs to embrace new
vehicles and maintain a demand for capability and an Aftermarket.
A purist mentality was not the only
issue I wanted to shake up when I decided to build my “car” for offroad travel.
The fact is that many vehicles have held onto offroad capability, in my opinion
Jeep is still at the forefront with their aggressive AWD systems especially in
the trailhawk series but many AWD vehicles have very capable limited slip
programing and can be vessels of exploration. There are too many people that do
not believe their vehicles can handle any offroading, and they are wrong! I
must admit I was the same reluctant CUV owner on my first trail but I am now on
a mission to inspire more people with less traditional offroad vehicles to use
them, to their full potential and to experience the natural beauty of our
Why a Baby Jeep? First and foremost
because it’s my Jeep and I love it, it has renewed my family’s sense of
adventure and brought us to new and beautiful places. Frankly however, an XJ or
4Runner or JKU could do the same thing and honestly get to more places that the
baby jeep can’t get to. The point of such an elaborate build on a Jeep patriot
comes down to three things for me. The first is to help shake up the opinions
of some die hard “real Jeep” fanatics and the offroad community; I have always
viewed the Jeep lifestyle as being about inclusion and adventure. The second is
to be at least a small part of progress in the offerings from manufacturers of
SUV/CUVs and their aftermarket parts. DO we need more affordable small body on
frame, solid axle vehicles again? Or do we need low gearing, stiffer unibodies
and a proper offroad aftermarket for the new AWD offerings? I don’t know but I’d
love to see more choice for those of us that want to get off of the beaten
important thing I hope to achieve from Baby Jeep Overland is to give inspiration.
I hope we never stop exploring on small scales. I hope people see what I am
doing and where I am going and realize they can go too. I hope you follow our
adventures in our little Jeep and go out on your own. No matter what you drive;
there are places you can go. You will be pleasantly surprised by what you can
bring into your life with even the most understated means.