Range Truck Upgrades: Tonneau and Tires
The Range Truck to this point has been great! It isn’t perfect, though. In a previous post, I talked about some of the things I wasn’t a fan of when I shared my first impressions. But overall, the truck is great. I recently made two significant upgrades to the truck: new tires and a Tonneau cover. I’m pleased with the new additions, although the new set of tires was bittersweet. These two truck upgrades make the truck much more capable in my mission to get to and from the range and around the rest of the world.
The bittersweet part of my truck upgrades? Tires
When I picked it up the truck was wearing a set of Firestone Transforce AT tires. They were fine. They looked like tires on a truck, nothing special. I figured they probably had 25% of the life left in them, so new tires were not a priority.
Destiny —or Why I Got New Tires
But then I made a trip to Century Arms in the Burlington area of Vermont in early March. It was a great trip helping with some fun video work with Graham Baates of GB Guns. Of course, I took the truck. It was a 1500 mile round trip with some decent snow at the start of the return trip. I wasn’t thrilled with the Transforce AT in the slippery weather on unfamiliar back roads.
Fate took care of that for me…
When I pulled into the driveway and hopped out of the truck I could hear an aggressive hiss coming from the rear passenger tire. There was a serious lag bolt still protruding ½ an inch from the tread that was quickly draining the tire… I guess that is a good place to get a flat.
The spare was brand new but it was a highway tire so the result was new shoes all around.
What tires and why?
I went with a tried and true set of tires that have provided long life many times in the past and inspire confidence under my seat: BFG TA/KO 2. The BF Goodrich TA/KO 2 is M+S rated for reasonable performance in the mud and in snow and they tend to last.
It doesn’t hurt that they look good as well. I had them mount the 275/70 18’s with the white lettering in and we were on the road back home in no time.
I’m pleased with how they ride under the ¾ ton truck. They aren’t as stiff as the Firestones yet they aren’t splashy either. I wasn’t thrilled to be buying 4 new tires, but I wasn’t broken up about it either.
They say that April showers bring May flowers. Apparently March is the new April and the showers came early. It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal except that with everyone being home thanks to COVID-19, it was a lot more enticing to bring the family along with me to the range.
With kids in the back seat, the gear went in the bed of the truck. Remember that part about April showers in March? The second upgrade that my range truck got was a Lo-Pro Tonneau cover.
The convenience of dry gear can’t be overstated. Camera gear? Range gear? Guns and ammo? It all needs to stay dry. The Lo-Pro makes it easy to cover it all up and it leaves room for my passengers. And even if they aren’t coming to the range, it still helps. Not everything needs to be unloaded after each trip. The tonneau cover allows me to keep items that aren’t terribly valuable in the truck between range trips, especially since I keep the truck in the garage.
I’m pretty big on security. That means I don’t store guns in my truck at all. I would never consider keeping them in my truck between range trips But the tonneau cover provides some security while I’m headed to and from the range. Don’t get me wrong, the Truxedo Lo-Pro I selected is a vinyl cover. Even though my Ram 2500 range truck has a locking tailgate, it’s vinyl…
The security the bed cover provides is simple. It prevents others from seeing what is in my bed. The fact is 90 percent of the time, 90 percent of American truck beds are empty. You and I are probably the exceptions to that. I don’t need to share that information with others.
I don’t want some desperate soul on the road to see my bed loaded with guns or gun related gear and think I might be a good target. The tonneau cover keeps anyone from thinking I have anything of value.
This isn’t my first go-round with tonneau covers. In the past, I have been thrilled with the Lo-Pro from Truxedo. It rolls up out of the way providing access to 99 percent of the bed. Although the rails clamp inside the bed rails of the truck, heavy and bulky items can be slid to the front of the bed with ease.
The cover looks good when it is in place as it is stretched tight and needs to adjust to stay that way. The cover self tensions. It keeps water out and my stuff in. I don’t need much more than that.
The Install is easy peasy. Clamp the rails to the truck bed rails with the provided c-clamps and tighten with a ½” wrench. Install the cover and snap the crossbar in place at the front of the bed. Roll the cover down, close the tailgate and press the cover in place until the latch catches.
I’ve installed the Lo-Pro before. It is a 20-minute job — 30 if you take the time read the directions. It might take 90 minutes if you can’t find the ½” wrench you keep in the garage….
With the tonneau cover, my truck looks better. I’m spending less time loading and unloading, and my gear is dry. Best of all: I’ve had a nice little bump in fuel efficiency.
Now that the back of the truck is covered the next task in building the best truck for an outdoorsman is scooping up some plywood from the box store and building out some in-bed storage. Something that is more organized and secure than an open bed. I hope to have it wrapped up for the weekend.
Of course, I will keep you posted.
Until then, what is your preference? Tonneau cover or truck topper? What other range truck upgrades have you done? Sound off below!
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Paul Carlson, owner of Safety Solutions Academy, is a Professional Defensive Shooting Instructor. He has spent the past decade and a half studying how humans can perform more efficiently in violent confrontations and honing his skills as an instructor both in the classroom and on the range.
Through Safety Solutions Academy, Paul teaches a variety of Critical Defensive Skills courses in more than a dozen states annually. Courses range from Concealed Carry Classes to Advanced Critical Defensive Handgun Courses and include instruction for the defensive use of handguns, rifles and shotguns. Safety Solutions Academy regularly hosts other industry leading experts as guest instructors to make sure that SSA’s students have the opportunity for quality instruction across a broad range of Critical Defensive disciplines.