2017 Toyota Tundra Crewmax Camping with Confidence

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Taking an American truck on a truly American tradition: camping.

What’s more American than loading up your truck to go camping with your family over the Labor Day weekend? How about if that truck is designed, engineered and built in America? Yep, we took the American Toyota Tundra camping and it simply delivered in all areas.

For years now, I’ve driven (and even owned) many different Toyota Tundra pickups. Some weeks, I have nothing going on, so I drive them empty. Some weeks I tow a lot with them and then there are weeks when I really get to have fun like camping. With our experience with the Tundra (including owning a 2014 model), I knew we would be in good hands and so did my wife who exclaimed in glee.

Why? Simple, we know what the truck can do and how much it can hold. As soon as the sand-colored Limited arrived, my wife and I got busy making it fit our needs. Filling the doors with water, hanging and hooking up head-rest mounted DVD players and loading the center console with snacks and Kleenex, we both chuckled at how easily the Tundra absorbed all of these items. While we miss the double glove-box found in the pre-2015 models, the current generation still offers a massive amount of interior storage.

Then, there is the rear “cavern” of room with the Crewmax. Our boys, 8 and 5, have this wonderful (sarcasm) habit of hitting each other. The Crewmax solves that problem. They really have to lean over to give each other some “brotherly” love. And when they attempt to do this, we spot it pretty easily. Cramming the middle seat with books, DVDs and their Kindles also helps solve this issue. Again, tons of storage space in this truck.

Next, we loaded up the bed. My version of camping might be different than yours and after packing the typical gear like our tent, cooler, fishing gear, chairs, etc… I also tossed in my golf clubs for a round with the cousins. Yeah, I sneak away and play golf when I go camping. The 5.6” still had a little bit of room in it, but not much. Then again, we didn’t have much else to pack.

Loaded down, we headed south to the eastern plains of Colorado to Jackson Lake State Park. This is fairly sizeable lake with a sandy beach and fishing along the dam. Interestingly, we camped with our entire family and booked a special camp site set up for groups. I say this was interesting because all of my family drives pickups and it was fun to see some many different manufactures and age of trucks together. With older Ford Super Duty trucks, a Chevy 2500 and various Ram trucks, the Tundra, in my opinion, looked the best. Sure it was newer, but the strong front-end design stood out against some of the softer front-end designs of older trucks.

After the long holiday weekend spent swimming, golfing and fishing, we loaded up the truck and headed back with a new addition. During our trip, I was given a kayak as an early birthday present. This kayak was perfect for the weekend and everyone got a chance to use it. Now, we had to load this up.

Loading up the kayak was a bit of a challenge since the bed was mostly loaded up on our way to the camping site. Adding another item like this 5’ kayak meant some creative packing. Fortunately, I had plenty of bungee cords and thanks to the locking side rail tie-downs, I was able to lay the kayak on top of our gear at an angle and then strap it down.

On the way home, I was moderately concerned about the kayak since I tied it down using the bungee cords attached to the end of the boat and not the boat itself. With no experience, nor previous confidence, in those bungee cords, I wasn’t sure if it would stay put. As I drove, I considered how much an 8’ bed on this Crewmax would be better, however, as I arrived back at the house, I found my fears unfounded. The kayak stayed tied down and the 5’6” bed did the job.

Powering us there and back was the reliable 5.7L V8 mated to the 6-speed transmission. This engine may have its critics for the fuel economy; we saw 15 mpg, over 400 miles of driving, yet you just can’t put a price on reliability especially camping in the middle of nowhere.

In the end, I might have had some concerns over securing the kayak and three days of camping with my family, I did not have concerns with truck. I knew it would be up to the task and it performed perfectly for our needs.  Not that I expected anything different.

Tim Esterdahl is a regular contributor to YotaTech and Ford Truck Enthusiasts. He produces the weekly podcast Pickup Truck Talk.

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