Three of Our Favorite Adventurers Spill Their Road Trip Knowledge

The best 4x4s, most epic road trips, and the essential gear to pack
November 18, 2018Words by Veronica Seder

When the weekend rolls around, we’re doing everything in our power to have our cars, trucks, and vans pulled out of the office and on the road to our weekend adventure at 5:00 sharp.

Winter’s creeping around the corner, so we’re squeezing in as many road trips as we can before there’s snow on the ground and we have to trade in our tents for warm, cozy cabins. So, in the name of all things adventure, we tapped our community and sat down with three of our most seasoned road trippers—Huckberry Ambassador Forrest Mankins, Huckberry gear buyer Logan Stoneman, and Huckberry Ambassador Isaac Johnston—to get some road trip wisdom bestowed upon us.

Read on for the best road trip playlists, some very close calls, and why popcorn seems like either the best—or maybe the worst—thing to have with you.

Forrest Mankins' 1984 TOYOTA FJ60 Land Cruiser, aka Burt
 



Forrest Mankins


Hailing from the midwest, Huckberry Ambassador Forrest Mankins is now based in Whitefish, Montana, and works as a commercial photographer and director. A lifelong road tripper, he’s been our go-to guy whenever we have a question about where to go and what to bring with us on our next trip. Forrest just finished up a 6-month, 20,000+-mile road trip from the midwest to the arctic circle in Alaska and back for an upcoming documentary, “A Life Alive.”

Forrest Mankins' 1984 TOYOTA FJ60 Land Cruiser, aka Burt

Make, model, and year of your vehicle? 

1984 TOYOTA FJ60 Land Cruiser, aka Burt

How’d you acquire it? 

My father acquired it from a customer of his fly fishing shop in 1999 and spent the next couple years overhauling it. My sisters and I all drove it to high school and around town, and I was lucky enough to end up with it. Note: this was pre-Instagram, the days before every 18-34-year-old guy suddenly had to have one. I’ve spent the last 15 years pouring oil into that thing.

Forrest Mankins' 1984 TOYOTA FJ60 Land Cruiser, aka Burt

Best place the car has taken you? 

My favorite and secret camp spots in the northwest of Montana. Whoever is around shows up, and we have a fire, cook, and catch up on life. There’s usually a dip in the river involved as well. Those are the nights I always think about and memories I’ll be forever grateful for. I’ve also driven Burt from Oklahoma to Alaska and back—lots of cool places along the way but nothing beats the time with friends in the land near our own backyards.

Craziest road trip story? 

My friend thought it would be smart to leave for a trip to Alaska in March, and on our first night on the Alcan Highway, we ran into a total whiteout blizzard. We crept a few miles over the course of maybe an hour and finally found a turnout to an oil field in the middle of nowhere, Alberta. We had so much gear with us that we both just crawled into our sleeping bags and slept in the front seats. It could have just as easily blown for a week, but thankfully things cleared up the next day, and we realized how lucky we were to have clear weather in the north country this time of year. One of those things that reminds you just how far from home you really are.  

Forrest Mankins' 1984 TOYOTA FJ60 Land Cruiser, aka Burt

Road Trip Advice? 

Pack light on clothes/extras and heavy on tools. I always make sure to have a good spare tire, hand pump (like the kind for bicycles—the 12v air compressors always blow up, and you can pump up a tire with one of these and get off the roadside faster than waiting for help), patch kit, extra oil, coolant, etc. A pair of jumper cables, axe, good jack, and basic tools are also crucial. Going out into our wild lands comes with some responsibility—my pops always says “if you’re going to get yourself out there you’d better be prepared to get yourself back” and that’s always stuck with me. You don’t need as many t-shirts and changes of clothes as you might think, but when you’re broken down somewhere your tools become gold.

Forrest Mankins' 1984 TOYOTA FJ60 Land Cruiser, aka Burt
 



Logan Stoneman
 

Born and raised in Arizona, Logan Stoneman is now based out of San Francisco where he works as Huckberry’s head outdoor buyer. He made the move up north three years ago—and with the Bay’s proximity to mountains, coastlines, and deserts—he couldn’t be happier. When he’s not hand-picking the best gear to sell on Huckberry, he’s most likely on the road somewhere between the North Cascades and Joshua Tree.
 

Logan Stoneman


Make, model, and year of your vehicle?

Ford F150, 1997, EDDIE BAUER EDITION

Logan Stoneman's Ford F150, 1997, EDDIE BAUER EDITION

How’d you acquire it?

I bought the 17-foot long BOAT (nickname given to the truck by Alex Souza, head photographer here at Huckberry) off someone from Craigslist.

Best place it’s taken you?

I go to Yosemite about twice a month. I've been to a whole lot of incredible places, but have really fallen in love with climbing Yosemite’s granite cliffs and domes. No matter the season or weather, I can't get enough of the park. The BOAT trucks up and down HWY120 so much that the taco stand I stop at knows me by name.

Logan Stoneman takes his Logan Stoneman's Ford F150, 1997, EDDIE BAUER EDITION to go climbin

Craziest road trip story?

The BOAT got stuck on Prewitt Ridge above Big Sur, a gnarly, washed-out dirt road 3,500 feet atop Pacific Coast Highway, with no cell service. Luckily, I was with a caravan of over eight friends who were able to push the truck out of a hole. Had I been by myself, I would have been stuck with a 5-mile hike and 10-mile hitchhike to get an insanely expensive tow.

Road trip advice?

Find a recipe of food and music that keeps you awake no matter the hour. For me, it’s absurd amounts of cheesy popcorn and a 179-song road trip playlist I’ve been creating for the last seven years: Hippie Zen. Another trip-saving tip: Spotify has comedy. Put on some Mike Birbiglia and time will fly.

P.S. The best road trips are those without service—make sure to download your tunes before you leave.

Logan Stoneman's Ford F150, 1997, EDDIE BAUER EDITION
 



Isaac Johnston


Huckberry Ambassador Isaac Johnston is a fourth-generation Montana native who makes his living as a photographer and outdoor personality. He grew up working for outfitters in the Great Bear Wilderness, driving loaded stock trucks at 13 and hiking miles in the backcountry as trail crew, and has never gotten over his excitement for having fun outside. A former CEO at a hospitality company, he left that career to create and share stories of the outdoors and spread the enthusiasm he feels every time he steps outside. A well-seasoned road tripper, Isaac’s most often accompanied by his wife and two daughters—his three favorite on-the-road companions.

Isaac Johnston

Make, model, and year of your vehicle?

2000 Ford F-250 V10

How’d you acquire it?

My wife and I have always owned a Landcruiser (or two). I’ve owned 11 of them over the years, actually. When I changed careers and started traveling while taking photos and videos, we needed something easier to live out of in cold weather. Sleeping in the rooftop tent or setting up camp outside in the snow wore us down, especially while traveling with our young girls. We tried a camp trailer (hard to tow in tight spots) and a Toyota Sunrader RV (too low, slow, and not 4x4). After talking about converting an old military truck into a camper, we settled on trying a pickup and camper combo. First, we found our camper (for free) on Craigslist and then we found our truck. This is the setup that works best for us.

Isaac Johnston's 2000 Ford F-250 V10

Best place it’s taken you?

My wife and I did a 20-day trip down the Oregon and California coast then back up through the deserts following hot springs with our two little girls—best family trip to date.

Isaac Johnston's 2000 Ford F-250 V10

Craziest road trip story?

Years ago I went on a road trip from Montana to Baja with four friends in a Toyota Camry. We crammed in there like sardines and strapped five surfboards on top—and of course, we drove all day and through the night straight there. In the middle of the night at the Idaho-Montana border, I had my friend grab the wheel while I polished off a bag of popcorn. He was looking at me and I was looking at him and when I finished the bag we realized that no one was looking at the road. We proceeded to fight each other for the wheel at 80 mph, eventually spinning off into the ditch and popping a tire. Pretty damn scary. Everyone was pretty shaken up and happy to be alive. We went to change the tire and discovered we didn’t have a spare and didn’t have cell service. Next thing we know we’re hitchhiking to the nearest town at 3 a.m. to bring back a tow truck to get us on our way.

I still think about how I was barefoot with both feet on the floor of the car because the cruise control was on—I never even had time to touch the brakes. Makes me smile to think of us fighting each other while I was barefoot eating popcorn at 80mph.

Road trip advice?

Use whatever car you can afford. Spend your money on the trip, not the gear. A beat down Toyota Camry can go 80% of the places a Land Rover Defender can, and it’s more reliable than your buddy’s VW camper van. Fall in love with doing trips, then optimize them later. A truck and truck camper are the best bang for your buck in car camping right now. I have less than $8k in mine and it works just as good as $100k sprinter van conversion.

Isaac Johnston's 2000 Ford F-250 V10
 



>>Next: 6 Things to Pack on Your Next Car Camping Trip
 


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