The Ultimate Adventure Photography Vehicle

The Ultimate Adventure Photography Vehicle

One of a photographer's least talked about yet most important tools is the horse he rides in on. Okay, so I doubt many photographers are still riding horses, but the concept is the same: a trusty companion that will take you from point A to point B safely and in many cases with style. After all, it's not like you're going to hoof it into the middle of the Baja Desert, camera equipment in hand.

While not all photographers are in the market for an off-road capable ride, let's take a second to look at some of the key features that adventure photographers like Seth Jacobsen of Adventure Driven, who regularly frequents some of the worlds most rugged terrain, are after when they’re building their ultimate photography vehicle.

Adventure Driven takes photographers to remote locations that one would otherwise never reach without their experience.

Key Features

Space

I’ve been a Jeep guy for years, and as a photographer, I can tell you that it takes a good deal of creativity to make room for all of the equipment you may need to fit inside the small cab. Traveling sometimes hundreds of miles into the most remote parts of the country, you want to pack everything you think you may need. Light stands, hard cases, food provisions,  and the other necessary photographic equipment take up enough room on their own; let's not forget about the recovery equipment that’s often needed during the event that you run out of driving talent. Interior space within your vehicle can be eaten up quickly, so choosing a truck or SUV that has the room for you and all of your gear is a must. 

This highly-modified Lexus SUV owned by Adventure Driven is a dedicated workhorse with great organization. The vehicle is used to guide clients to photograph remote locations.

Power

Cigarette-lighter outlets are only going to charge so much, so additional power sources are a must. Many vehicles like the Ford Raptor come with power inverters mounted under the seats from the factory. This is great for when you need to charge batteries, plug in your laptop, or power lights. In other situations, taking advantage of natural resources like solar power can help you charge the devices that may need it, without the hassle of draining your car battery. Solar panel chargers are becoming more popular as the technology is rapidly advancing and may save you from being caught at a location such as the Grand Canyon without power.  

200 W Rollable Solar Charger.

Shelter

Whether you plan on sleeping in, on, or under your ride, your vehicle is going to become your luxury suite and office as the sun begins to set. Obviously, roughing it in a tent on the ground has its benefits, but for many, rooftop tents provide the security from creepy-crawly critters of the night that’s needed when you want to lay down and review images under the peace of the stars. 

Rooftop tents bring out my fort-building inner child.

Who wouldn't want to hang out inside this rooftop tent?

Adventure Driven specializes in sharing the overland, off-road, and outdoor lifestyle with a focus on high-quality landscape and adventure photography that inspires others to find their own adventures.

Recovery Equipment

All of your expensive camera equipment isn’t going to do much good if it’s buried along with your vehicle in the mud or sand. Trails aren’t always maintained, and the reality is that you’ll eventually wind up stuck somewhere. Don’t let this be the end of your journey. Prepare by purchasing the equipment you’ll need to be yanked out of the mud or sand as well as basic tools you’ll need to make repairs along the trail. 

Don't let getting stuck keep you from reaching your photo destination.

External Lighting

As photographers, we're used to talking about lighting equipment. Chances are you don't talk nearly as often about lighting your path on the way to where you're shooting (astrophotographers) until it's too late. There are many incredibly powerful LED lighting options on the market today that blow away any lights you could mount on your vehicle 10 years ago and draw only a fraction of the power that their halogen counterparts did; this means more juice for other electronics. 

Adventure photographers can appreciate being able to see the trail as the sun goes down.

Style

Style is arguably the most subjective quality of a photographer's overland vehicle. Whether it’s a decked-out Baja-inspired pre-runner or a luxury SUV converted into the over-lander's dream, you ultimately get to make the final decision on the style of your ride. 

What gets you to your most remote photo destinations? I'd love to see your adventure vehicles in the comments below. 

Images provided with permission from Seth Jacobsen, Adventure Driven.

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25 Comments

This is SEXY!

seth Jacobsen's picture

Thank You, We call her Sexy Lexy

Daniel Schenkelberg's picture

BAD ASS RIG! i need this for all my desert racing coverage

seth Jacobsen's picture

Thank You, Sexy Lexy the GX470 is for sale you know :)

Dusty Wooddell's picture

Whoever snags it is getting bad ass rig for sure. What's next??

Excellent! Still at work and I have not read your article yet but the picture says everything. I was looking at the overland vehicle a month ago, Toyota Tacoma TRD pro will be my choice!

Anonymous's picture

I was pretty sold on the whole idea when I read the article, and then I saw your Facebook cover photo - I think that says it all:

https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/t31.0-8/14712906_1757931901138466_13336511...

Fetching image ...
Dusty Wooddell's picture

Not my photo, but AZ has the BEST sunsets

ALEXANDER TARDIF's picture

Love this! Got one of the last Xterra Pro's before they killed off production this year, precisely for this sort of thing :) Get's me and my kiddo to cool places during our road trips and camping. Truck will eventually get a bit more purpose built, but I regularly take it off the beaten path even in stock form...

juergen buettner's picture

Thats what I call a Ultimate Adventure Photography Vehicle :-)

That looks like a lot of fun, pretty nicely put together piece of kit. Not a lot of Lexus owners willing to take a scratch to go off the road. :)

Mind you, I'm staying with my Wrangler. The 4 door has lots of cargo potential, just pull the rear seats. The rest of the mods are readily available for Jeeps, including the rooftop tent, as it's really hard to beat the modification potential of a Jeep.

Terrain is an interesting consideration also. I've taken my Jeep down some tight places in northern Ontario that you're simply not going to take a wider SUV through, so the ultimate vehicle probably has some regional caveats thrown in. :)

Peter Nord's picture

All these motors are for wimps. A local art museum has a 1800s western photo exhibit. Included is a photograph of a mule carrying a 20x24 camera for glass plates tied on one side. One the other is a large box for the plates. Other mules are carrying the rest of the stuff. That's when "photographer" was an unknown word. They were operators.

Ken Clunk's picture

Honda Element Ecamper. It's the way to go.

Mike Bartoszek's picture

these are customized in cali right?

My non-daily does exactly what it needs to and has taken me everywhere with no complaints!

Missy Fant's picture

My husband bought me a Lexus 400h with the knowledge of knowing that yes, it will go off road and I will beat it up. I've been slowly adding things to it (as right now im buried in wedding season). Its been on long distances road trips through California and Washington, so heres to many more! Being a hybrid, we get decent gas mileage and being a Lexus, I know I can depend on it. I grew up constantly working on my cars, its nice not having to do that now

Next is solid camera storage built into the back....

Anonymous's picture

That Lexus might be one of the coolest rigs I've ever seen. Great job on the build!

Boris Martin's picture

This is what I used for a couple of years. E-350 6.0 diesel, converted to 4x4. Interior was done by myself. It was a very capable, roomy and comfortable vehicle. I sold it due to being extremely noisy. Despite my efforts to damp the motor's noise, I had to use earplugs on longer trips. I'm thinking to build another, this time I'm getting one with a V-8 or V-10 petrol engine...

Casey Fry's picture

All but one of those photos was taken within an hour of Flagstaff... based out of Flag? I used an Isuzu Trooper for my rig for a while and loved it; footprint of a mid-size, cargo of a full size, articulation was best in class. I use a 4Runner for adventures now, but space is an issue.

Mike Bartoszek's picture

I roll an Xterra and a VW bus -

Gregory Tillman's picture

Personally i've found my boring, standard Outback to be way more than sufficient for going about anywhere offroad. I've only gotten stuck once and that was all entirely my fault.

Junior Sams's picture

I always love this automobile. An investment you will never regret.

Jim McClain's picture

All the really good places in Feather River Country are up some unmarked dirt road. I was bashing my Chrysler Town & Country pretty bad, so I traded it for a Jeep Liberty. Now I have 2 joys: Landscape Photography, of course, and 4-wheelin' the Sierra Nevadas. There's enough room for my camera gear, my mobility aide (a Segway), and enough oxygen for about 16 hours of fun in the great outdoors. Since I live right in the middle of these mountains, it's a short drive home and I can go out for more any time I want.