Man's Best Friend and an Overland Adventure: Transforming Your 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands
November 27, 2023
Man's Best Friend and an Overland Adventure: Transforming Your 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands
If you're an adventure enthusiast who loves exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations and want to take your trusty four-legged companion along, your 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands can be more than just a stylish SUV. With the right modifications and accessories, you can transform it into a versatile overland adventure vehicle, perfect for exploring rugged terrains and remote locations with your best friend. In this blog, we'll guide you through the steps to prepare your Bronco Sport for unforgettable adventures.
Step 1: Planning Your Overland Adventure
Before you start the transformation, it's essential to invest time in comprehensive planning. Overlanding involves more than just hopping in your vehicle and driving into the wilderness. Proper planning ensures that you have a safe, enjoyable, and hassle-free journey. Here are some detailed steps to consider:
1.1 Determine Your Overland Goals:
- Start by defining your overland goals. Are you planning short weekend getaways or extended, multi-week expeditions? Knowing your objectives will help you make informed decisions throughout the planning process.
1.2 Research Terrain and Climate:
- Research the specific regions and terrains you plan to explore. Different terrains, such as deserts, mountains, forests, or beaches, require different preparations. Also, consider the climate variations, as it will influence your clothing, shelter, and vehicle needs.
1.3 Duration of Your Trips:
- Decide on the duration of your overland adventures. Short trips may require less equipment, while longer journeys demand more comprehensive preparations. Think about how many days or weeks you'll be on the road for each adventure.
1.4 Gear for Your Furry Friend:
- If you're bringing a pet along, ensure they are comfortable and safe during the journey. Pack their essentials, like food, water, a leash, and any medications or comfort items they may need.
1.5 Create a Checklist:
- Develop a detailed checklist of essential items you'll need. This list should include but is not limited to:
- See Below.
1.6 Vehicle Layout and Modifications:
- Determine how you want to arrange your vehicle's interior and exterior. The layout should maximize space and efficiency for your specific needs. Some overlanders prefer built-in storage solutions or even custom modifications to accommodate their gear and lifestyle.
- Standard Ground Tent: Ground tents are a classic and cost-effective choice. They are available in various sizes, styles, and price ranges. Look for a tent that suits the number of occupants and offers quick and easy setup. Ensure it provides protection from the elements, including rain, wind, and insects.
- SUV Rear Door/Tailgate Tent: An SUV rear door or tailgate tent is a versatile and convenient shelter option that attaches directly to the back of your vehicle, providing extra living and sleeping space during your overland adventure.
- Rooftop Tents: Rooftop tents are becoming increasingly popular among overlanders. They provide a convenient and elevated sleeping platform, keeping you off the ground and away from potential critters. Look for a rooftop tent that is easy to deploy, durable, and offers good ventilation.
- Travel Trailer Or Pop Up Camper: If you prefer a more comfortable and well-equipped shelter, consider a travel trailer or pop-up camper. These options often come with amenities like a kitchen, toilet, and sleeping quarters. Ensure your Bronco Sport has the towing capacity for the trailer you choose.
- SUV Mattress & Custom Camper Module: Some overlanders opt for custom solutions, like a mattress that fits inside their SUV or a camper module that can be installed in the rear cargo area. These setups provide a compact and versatile sleeping space while leaving the rest of the vehicle available for storage.
1.7 Consider Adventures:
- Think about the types of adventures you want to experience. Are you more inclined toward off-roading, wildlife watching, or photography? Your choice of equipment and vehicle modifications should align with your adventure preferences.
- Establish a budget for your overland adventures. Keep in mind that overlanding can be an expensive hobby, so plan your expenses accordingly, accounting for vehicle modifications, gear purchases, and ongoing maintenance costs.
1.9 Legal and Safety Considerations:
- Be aware of any legal requirements, such as permits or licenses for specific areas. Safety is paramount, so ensure your vehicle is mechanically sound and that you're up-to-date with any required safety regulations.
Building your own Overland Camper Setup.
Here are some tools Tools & Materials you'll need:
- Drill or impact
- Drill bit kit
- Miter Saw
- Jig Saw
- Router Kit
- Measuring tape
- Pry Bar
- Wire Stripers
- Utility Knife
- Heat Gun
- Sandpaper sponges
- Cardboard for test fit layout
- Gorilla Tape
- Melamine wood sheets
- Melamine edging for counters, shelves, etc.
- 1.5"x1.5" x 8' Plywood or lumber for the structure
- Stainless Steel 90 degree brackets
- Heavy Duty Hinges
- Nails, screws, etc.
- Paint Pen for touch ups
- Roll of Black Carpet (for professional/finished look)
- Bungee Cord
- Stainless Steel D-Rings
- Industrial Strength Velcro
- Hose for water
- Water hose fittings
- Water hose brackets
- Zip ties
Overall Construction Process:
Follow these general steps to build your overland setup, but adapt them to fit your specific space and design:
- Measure and cut the cardboard to create the general layout.
- Confirm seat positions, open and close vehicle doors, test fit items on cardboard layout to ensure proper fit.
- Measure and cut the plywood to create the base frames.
- Assemble the base frames using stainless steel 90 degree brackets and screws.
- Test fit the base frames.
- Install the black carpet around the base frames and trim black carpet to fit.
- Measure and cut the Melamine sheets to build the base, walls, shelves and counter tops.
- Assemble the structures using stainless steel 90 degree brackets and screws.
- Test Fit the base frames and structures.
- Install the structures to the base frames using stainless steel hardware.
- Install the Melamine edging, Hinges, D-Ring Hardware, Bungee cords.
- Sand any rough edges and ensure everything is secured and stable.
- Complete hose routing, wiring routing, etc.
- Install remaining finishing touches.
By thoroughly planning your overland adventures and considering these aspects, you'll be better prepared to enjoy your journey while staying safe and comfortable. With a well-organized approach, you can create unforgettable memories and explore remote and beautiful destinations with confidence.
My 2021 Bronco Sport Badlands Overland/Camper Setup:
Step 2: Essential Off-Road Upgrades
Your 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands comes with capable off-road features, but you can enhance its performance by adding some essential upgrades:
- All-terrain or off-road tires for improved traction
- A lift kit for increased ground clearance
- Skid plates to protect the undercarriage
- Upgraded suspension for a smoother ride on rough terrain
Step 3: Roof Rack and Cargo Solutions
A roof rack is a must for carrying additional gear such as kayaks, bikes, or a rooftop tent. Invest in a durable and versatile roof rack system that suits your adventure needs. Additionally, consider cargo boxes or bags to keep your belongings organized and protected from the elements.
- Roof Rack Cross Bars
- Roof Basket
- Roof Platform
- Roof Rack & Platform Accessories (Kayaks, Bikes, Skis & Snowboards, etc.)
- Roof Rack & Platform Accessories (Traction Boards, Fuel, Spare Tire, Privacy Awning For Bathroom/Showers, Shade Awning, Antennas, etc.)
- Roof Bags & Roof Cargo Boxes
- Roof Hard Cases
- Bull Bar (with winch or lightbar)
- Trailer Swing Hitch
- Molle Boards
Step 4: Dog-Friendly Modifications
Your furry companion is an essential part of your adventures, and ensuring their comfort and safety is paramount. When preparing your Bronco Sport for overlanding with your dog, consider the following dog-friendly modifications and essentials:
- Invest in high-quality, waterproof seat covers to protect your vehicle's upholstery from mud, fur, and dirt. Choose covers that are easy to clean and provide a comfortable surface for your dog to sit on during the journey.
4.2 A Pet Barrier or Harness:
- To keep your dog secure during the ride, consider installing a pet barrier or using a dog harness that attaches to seat belts. This prevents your dog from moving around the vehicle, reducing distractions and ensuring their safety in case of sudden stops or accidents.
- Hydration and nutrition are crucial for your dog's well-being. Opt for collapsible water and food bowls that are easy to store and carry. These items are essential for providing your furry friend with food and water during rest stops.
4.4 Pet First Aid Kit:
- Accidents can happen, and it's important to be prepared. Assemble a pet-specific first aid kit that includes items like bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, and any medications your dog may require. It's always better to be safe and have the necessary supplies on hand.
4.5 Treats and Treat Storage:
- Reward your dog for their good behavior and offer them comfort during the journey with their favorite treats. Store treats in a convenient container to keep them fresh and easily accessible.
4.6 Food and Food Storage:
- Pack enough of your dog's regular food for the duration of your trip. Consider portioning it into individual meal bags to simplify feeding on the go. You can also invest in pet-specific food storage containers to keep the food fresh.
4.7 Water and Water Storage:
- In addition to collapsible bowls, carry an adequate supply of fresh water for your dog. Portable water containers designed for pets are handy for on-the-go hydration. Ensure your dog stays well-hydrated, especially in warm or dry climates.
4.8 Poop Bags and Storage:
- Responsible pet ownership means cleaning up after your dog. Carry a sufficient quantity of biodegradable poop bags and a dedicated storage container to keep the area clean and odor-free.
4.9 Paw Cream:
- If you're traversing rough or hot terrain, protect your dog's paws with a dog-safe paw cream or balm. This helps prevent injuries and discomfort from hot pavement or rough surfaces.
4.10 A Comfortable Blanket and Dog Bed Inside for Resting:- Create a cozy space for your dog inside the vehicle by adding a comfortable blanket and a designated dog bed. This ensures they have a comfortable place to rest during the journey or while you're at camp.
4.11 Shaded Area and Elevated Outdoor Dog Cot or Outdoor Bed:- When you're relaxing at camp, provide your dog with a shaded area to escape the sun. An elevated outdoor dog cot or bed can keep them cool and comfortable while protecting them from the ground's temperature.
4.12 Leash and Ground Stake:- Even in remote areas, it's essential to have a leash and ground stake for situations where your dog needs to be secured. This allows them to enjoy some outdoor freedom while keeping them under control.
By incorporating these dog-friendly modifications and ensuring you have all the necessary essentials, you can make your overland adventure a positive and safe experience for both you and your furry friend. Remember to prioritize your dog's well-being and comfort throughout the journey, as they are your faithful companion on this remarkable adventure.
Step 5: Camping Gear and Shelter
If you plan to spend nights on the trail during your overland adventure, a quality sleeping setup is essential for a comfortable and restful experience. There are various options to consider, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Whether you opt for a traditional ground tent, SUV Rear Door/Tailgate Tent,
a rooftop tent, a camping trailer, etc. make sure it aligns with your comfort and adventure preferences.
The right equipment and preparation will ensure you have a restful and enjoyable experience while exploring the great outdoors.
- Jackery Solar Generator Kit: The Jackery Solar Generator Kit is a portable power solution for your overlanding adventures. It consists of a solar panel, a rechargeable power station, and various outlets for charging devices, powering lights, or running small appliances. It harnesses solar energy to provide a reliable source of electricity while you're off the grid.
- Dometic Refrigerator: A Dometic refrigerator is a portable and efficient cooling solution for keeping food and beverages cold during your overland journey. These refrigerators are designed to run on 12V DC power from your vehicle's battery or other power sources, ensuring your provisions stay fresh.
- Dometic Power Faucet & Sink: The Dometic Power Faucet & Sink is a compact and portable water system that provides a convenient source of running water for cleaning, washing dishes, or personal hygiene. It's an excellent addition to your campsite, offering both practicality and comfort.
- Dometic Water Tank: The Dometic Water Tank is a storage container for fresh water that you can use for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and showering during your overland adventures. It ensures you have a readily available supply of water for various purposes.
- Shower Setup:
- A shower setup typically includes a portable water source, a showerhead, and a hose. This setup allows you to enjoy a refreshing outdoor shower, perfect for cleaning up after a day of exploration and staying refreshed on the road or cleaning off gear, etc.
- Shower Awning: A shower awning is a shelter or canopy that provides privacy and protection while you use your outdoor shower setup. It shields you from prying eyes and adverse weather conditions, making your shower experience more comfortable.
- Awning: An awning is a retractable shelter that attaches to your vehicle, providing instant shade and weather protection during your overland adventures. It's a quick and easy way to create a comfortable outdoor living space, shielding you from sun, rain, and other elements. Awning systems are typically designed for simple setup and durability, making them a practical addition to your overlanding gear.
- Travel Bag: A travel bag is a versatile and durable piece of luggage designed for your adventures. You can use it to carry your clothing, personal items, and essentials for your overland trips.
- Travel Containers Liquids (Shampoo & Soap): These containers are specifically designed to carry liquid toiletries such as shampoo and soap. They are leak-proof and compact, ensuring your personal hygiene items remain organized and accessible.
- Organizers & Bins: Organizers and bins are essential for keeping your gear and supplies tidy and accessible. They help you sort and store items like cooking utensils, cleaning supplies, and tools efficiently.
- Molle Boards: Molle (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) boards are customizable and adaptable panels that can be installed in your vehicle. They allow you to attach various accessories and gear securely, optimizing your storage space.
- Microwave: A microwave can be a convenient appliance to have when you're camping. It allows for quick and easy heating of pre-cooked meals or beverages, saving you time and effort.
- Coffee Maker: For coffee enthusiasts, a portable coffee maker is a must-have. These devices are designed to brew coffee while you're on the road, ensuring you start your day with a fresh cup of your favorite brew.
- Skillet : A skillet is a versatile cooking pan that's ideal for preparing a wide range of meals while camping. It's suitable for frying, sautéing, and even baking, making it a kitchen essential for overland cooking.
- Mattress: A comfortable and supportive mattress is vital for a good night's sleep during your overland adventures. Look for options designed for camping and outdoor use, offering durability and insulation from the ground.
- Fan / Heater: Depending on the climate and season, a fan or heater can help regulate the temperature inside your shelter. These devices keep you comfortable, whether you're dealing with hot summer days or chilly nights.
- Electric Blanket: An electric blanket provides extra warmth during cold nights. It's an excellent addition to your bedding setup, ensuring you stay cozy and comfortable while sleeping.
- Pillows: Camping pillows offer portability and comfort for your head and neck. They are designed to be compact and easy to pack, allowing you to enjoy a restful night's sleep.
- Portable Toilet: A portable toilet is a compact and sanitary solution for answering nature's call during your adventures. It's a convenient way to maintain hygiene while camping in remote locations.
- Dishware: Dishware includes plates, bowls, cups, and utensils for your camping meals. Look for durable, lightweight options that are easy to clean and transport.
- Multitools: A multitool is a versatile and compact tool that combines various functions, such as knives, pliers, screwdrivers, and more. It's handy for repairs, cooking, and general outdoor tasks.
- Firestarter Kit: A firestarter kit includes tools and materials for igniting campfires. It often contains items like fire starters, matches, lighters, and firewood, ensuring you can cook, stay warm, and enjoy a campfire.
- Lights: Lights are essential for nighttime illumination and safety. Headlamps, lanterns, flashlights, and campsite lighting options are crucial for visibility after dark.
- Bear Spray: Bear spray is a specialized deterrent used to deter aggressive bears or wildlife. It's a safety measure when camping in bear country to protect yourself and your belongings.
- Bug Spray: Bug spray is an insect repellent that keeps pesky bugs like mosquitoes and ticks at bay. It's essential for a comfortable camping experience, especially in areas with high insect activity.
- Sun Screen: Sunscreen protects your skin from harmful UV rays, preventing sunburn and skin damage during outdoor activities. It's crucial for sun protection, especially in sunny and exposed environments.
- Water Filter & Purifier Tablets: These items ensure access to clean drinking water. Water filters remove impurities, while purifier tablets neutralize harmful microorganisms, making natural water sources safe to drink.
- Privacy Curtains/Shields: Privacy curtains and shields are used to create private spaces within your shelter or around your campsite. They provide seclusion and comfort for changing clothes, sleeping, or other personal activities.
- Windshield Privacy Curtains/Shades: Windshield privacy curtains or shades are used to cover the front windows of your vehicle, providing privacy and temperature control inside the cabin. They are helpful for maintaining a comfortable interior environment and keeping prying eyes out.
Step 6: Navigation and Communication Tools
Safety is a top priority when exploring remote areas. Equip your Bronco Sport with essential tools like GPS navigation, two-way or emergency radios, and a satellite phone or cell phone signal booster in case of emergencies. There are other emergency signal tools you can get such as flares, mirror signals, whistles, etc. Also Apps such as AllTrails help locate activities and trails and inform of the difficulty level as well as other conditions.
- GPS: GPS (Global Positioning System) device is a portable navigation tool that provides precise location information using satellite signals. It's essential for tracking your position, planning routes, and ensuring you stay on course during outdoor adventures.
- Handheld GPS: GPS (Global Positioning System) device is a portable navigation tool that provides precise location information using satellite signals. It's essential for tracking your position, planning routes, and ensuring you stay on course during outdoor adventures.
- Satellite Phone: A satellite phone is a communication device that connects via satellites, allowing you to make calls and send messages in remote areas without reliable cellular coverage. It's a lifeline for emergencies and staying in touch while off the grid.
- Flares: Flares are pyrotechnic devices used for signaling and drawing attention. They emit bright light and can be seen from a distance, making them valuable for emergency situations and rescue operations.
- Mirror Signal: A signal mirror is a reflective device that can be used to signal for help by reflecting sunlight or other light sources. It's an essential tool for attracting attention in emergency situations.
- Whistle: A whistle is a compact and loud signaling tool used to alert others to your presence or call for help in emergency situations. It's easy to carry and provides an audible signal when needed.
- Compass: A compass is a navigation tool that helps determine direction. It's an important backup for your GPS device and aids in map reading and orienteering.
- Smoke / Fire Starter Striker: A smoke or fire starter striker is a tool for creating fire in various conditions, including wet or windy weather. It produces sparks to ignite tinder and fuel, providing warmth and a signal for rescuers.
- Cell Phone Signal Booster: A cell phone signal booster is a device that improves cellular signal reception in areas with weak or no coverage. It enhances your phone's connectivity, allowing you to make calls and access data when needed.
- AllTrails App Or Similar: The AllTrails app is a mobile application designed for outdoor enthusiasts. It provides detailed trail maps, hiking information, and GPS tracking. Similar apps offer similar functionality, helping you discover and navigate outdoor trails and activities.
- Sand Flag: A sand flag is a brightly colored, high-visibility flag attached to your vehicle, often used when driving in sand dunes or off-road areas. It increases vehicle visibility and reduces the risk of collisions.
- Sand Flag Bracket: A sand flag bracket is a mount or holder for attaching a sand flag to your vehicle securely. It ensures the flag remains visible and upright while driving in sandy terrain.
- Reflectors: Reflectors are safety devices that bounce back light, increasing your vehicle's visibility in low-light conditions or when other vehicles' headlights hit them. They are valuable for reducing the risk of accidents.
- Lights Back Up/Battery Powered: Backup or battery-powered lights are portable lighting sources that can be used when your vehicle's electrical system is not functioning. They are essential for nighttime visibility, campsite illumination, and emergencies.
Including these items in your overland setup enhances your safety, communication, navigation, and emergency preparedness during off-road adventures, ensuring you are well-equipped to handle various situations and conditions.
Step 7: Adventure-Ready Accessories
Enhance your overland experience with useful accessories like a winch, recovery gear, and portable power solutions. These items can make a significant difference when you encounter challenging situations on the trail.
- Tire Repair Kit: A tire repair kit includes tools and materials for fixing punctured or damaged tires. It typically contains items like tire plugs, patches, a tire gauge, and tools for resealing punctures.
- Tire Inflator: A tire inflator is a portable device that allows you to inflate your tires when needed. It's essential for maintaining proper tire pressure, especially when driving on rough terrain.
- Tire Deflator: A tire deflator is a tool that allows you to release air from your tires to lower the pressure for off-road driving. It's useful for achieving the right level of traction on different terrains.
- Battery Jumper: A battery jumper, often known as a jump starter or booster pack, is a device that provides the power needed to start a vehicle with a dead or weak battery. It's a lifesaver in case of battery failure.
- Shovel: A compact folding shovel is a versatile tool for digging, clearing debris, or creating paths. It's useful for various outdoor tasks, including recovery and campsite preparation.
- Traction Boards: Traction boards, also known as recovery boards or sand ladders, are designed to provide traction for your vehicle's tires when stuck in soft or slippery terrain like sand, mud, or snow.
- Tow Strap, Tree Saver, Heavy Duty Snatch Block Pulley, D-Ring Shackles, Winch Line Dampener Bag, Recovery Gloves: These are all components of a recovery kit used to safely recover a stuck or disabled vehicle. A tow strap connects to another vehicle for pulling, a tree saver protects trees when winching, a snatch block increases winching capacity, D-ring shackles are attachment points, a winch line dampener adds safety, and recovery gloves protect your hands during handling.
- Winch / Self-Help Tow Strap: A winch or self-help tow strap is used with a winch to pull a vehicle out of difficult situations, such as mud or deep ruts. It's a powerful tool for off-road recovery. If you overland by yourself it is a must-have.
- Hatchet: A hatchet is a small, versatile chopping tool used for cutting wood, clearing brush, and other outdoor tasks. It's helpful for preparing campfires and creating a path through vegetation.
- Saw: A camping saw, like a folding saw or bow saw, is used for cutting wood and branches. It's essential for gathering firewood and clearing obstacles from trails.
- Tools (Sockets, Mallet, Screw Drivers, Pliers etc.): A set of essential tools includes items like sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, and a mallet. These tools are handy for vehicle maintenance and on-the-go repairs.
- Light Bar: A light bar is an auxiliary lighting accessory mounted on your vehicle, providing powerful and far-reaching illumination. It's useful for nighttime off-roading, enhancing visibility in remote areas.
- Jerry Cans (Extra Fuel): Jerry cans are durable containers used for carrying extra fuel. They extend your vehicle's range and are essential for remote overland journeys where fuel stations may be scarce.
Having these items in your overlanding setup ensures that you are well-prepared for various off-road challenges, vehicle maintenance, and recovery scenarios. They contribute to your safety, self-sufficiency, and peace of mind while exploring remote and rugged terrain.
Step 8: Safety and Environmental Responsibility
When overlanding with your furry friend, follow ethical and responsible practices. Always keep your dog on a leash where required, and pick up after them to maintain the environment's cleanliness.
Converting your 2021 Ford Bronco Sport Badlands into an overland adventure vehicle for you and your loyal canine companion is an exciting and rewarding project. With the right modifications, gear, and responsible practices, you can explore the wilderness and create unforgettable memories together. So, pack your bags, load up your faithful friend, and hit the open road – the great outdoors awaits!