Overlander Builds: Hourless Life’s Jeep Gladiator

Overlander Builds: Hourless Life’s Jeep Gladiator

by Stephan Edwards

Brittany, Eric, and Caspian Highland are one serious adventure family. Known as Hourless Life, you may remember the Highlands as Overlander’s very first "Overlander of the Month”. They just embarked on an around-the-world journey in their new Jeep Gladiator, and it’s a seriously impressive build. But beyond the Jeep’s specs, their approach to travel is truly inspiring.

Hourless Life


I had the exceptional opportunity to meet the Highlands at Overland Expo West in Flagstaff, Arizona back in September. It's easy to get fired up about adventure travel when you talk to Eric and Brittany. Their love for exploration is infectious, and you can tell they're immensely grateful for the opportunity that lies before them - seeing the world on four wheels with their young son Caspian. Ever the friendly and energetic five year-old, I even got to play some Hot Wheels with Caspian as the family counted down the final few days from the end of Overland Expo, to when they would turn their truck south to Mexico for the first leg of their journey. They embody their mantra: love, explore, study, share

And, speaking of hot wheels, let's not forget their new overland build. Trading in their old Jeep Wrangler for a fresh Gladiator pickup, the Highlands went over every square inch of the vehicle to prepare it for a decade of global travel. We knew we needed to get the down low on this impressive build.

Hourless Life Jeep


Overlander:
Tell us about your vehicle.

Hourless Life: Our family of three lives and travels full-time in a 2021 Jeep Gladiator Sport S, equipped with the Alu-Cab Canopy Camper.

OL: Why did you choose this specific platform?

HL: Before we discovered overlanding, we were really into off-roading and rock crawling with our 2014 Jeep Wrangler. When we decided we wanted to drive around the world, we took what we had – the Wrangler – and equipped it for overlanding. We ended up with a Franken-Jeep that was over payload and not ideal for either overlanding or rock crawling.

So when we had the opportunity to start from scratch with our Jeep Gladiator, we were able to learn from our experience overlanding 4,000 miles through Baja and interior Mexico with the Wrangler. We chose the Gladiator Sport S because it has the highest payload of any automatic Gladiator trim, a respectable 1,565 pounds (the manual Sport S payload is 1,700 pounds).

Size was another major reason we chose the Jeep Gladiator. From our time in Mexico, we learned how much we enjoyed experiencing life in small colonial towns. The cobblestone roads in town centers are often narrow and congested, and a larger vehicle would limit us from accessing those areas.

But because the Gladiator is a truck, and we paired it with the Alu-Cab Canopy Camper, we now have interior living space to retreat to when the weather is particularly unpleasant. Before with the Wrangler, we only had the cab and our roof top tent (read: our bed) for hanging out if we really wanted to be inside. We also have a Webasto petrol heater in the Canopy Camper, which is tapped into our stock fuel tank.

Hourless Life Jeep


OL:
 What are the strengths of the vehicle, in your opinion?

HL: No vehicle can do it all, but this is the vehicle that fits our family’s style of global travel. Jeep is renowned for off-road capability and there are countless aftermarket recovery products available for the brand. With this combination, we have the confidence to tackle routes we may not take with another vehicle.

Our Jeep Gladiator is also gasoline-powered, so we won’t have issues finding fuel anywhere in the world. If we were only overlanding in the United States, then we would’ve preferred the diesel model. But the infrastructure for ultra low sulfur diesel is not available worldwide yet.

OL: What kinds of gear and equipment make this the right overland build for you?

HL: Our Gladiator is our full-time home, built over 45 days in four different states. Our goal was to keep the build as stock as possible, so we can receive mechanical help from people we can’t communicate with because we might speak different languages.

  • Water: We have a 13-gallon built-in tank by Alu-Cab and the portable Lifesaver jerrycan water filter with 4.9 gallon capacity.
  • Fridge: National Luna Dual Control 50L Legacy Fridge/Freezer.
  • Interior storage: Goose Gear storage for the Alu-Cab Canopy Camper, including the 60% seat delete high platform in the backseat, which is where our fridge is located.
  • Electrical system: Our electrical system is managed by the REDARC Manager30 with RedVision. We’re powered by the Renogy 170 amp hour lithium battery and 280 watts of solar power from Cascadia 4x4.
  • Suspension: 2-inch Mopar lift with Fox shocks, Dobinsons dual rate rear coil springs, Air Lift rear air bags, Hellwig rear sway bar, and Teraflex bump stops.
  • Auxiliary fuel: The Long Range America fuel tank provides 17 gallons of additional fuel, giving us the ability to carry 39 gallons total.
  • Exterior lighting: All of our exterior lights are by Rigid Industries. We have Scene lights in white and amber, two spot lights, two flood lights, two fog lights, and the 10-inch E-Series Pro light bar.

Other exterior modifications: WARN Industries 9.5XP winch with Spydura Nightline synthetic winch rope and HUB wireless controller, WARN Diamond Cutter wheels, 33.5-inch BFGoodrich KO2 All-Terrain tires, Rock Hard 4×4 aluminum front bumper, AEV snorkel with Sy-Clone pre-filter, ARB air compressor on Wayalife mount, ARB diff covers, front and rear.

There’s quite a bit more, but these are some of the highlights. The full build sheet is available on our blog.

Caspian Highland


OL:
What's your favorite part of the build?

HL: Stuff is a poor substitute for experience and we never want to spend so much money on a vehicle that we don’t have money left over to travel with. Our favorite part of our home on wheels is what it enables us to do.

OL: Tell us a little bit about your travel plans.

HL: We have embarked on a 10- to 15-year overland drive around the world. Leaving interior Mexico in early 2022, we’ll continue south to the tip of South America. After driving up to visit Brazil, we’ll ship our Jeep to South Africa. From there, we’ll explore the continents of Africa, Europe, and Asia by vehicle. We’ll conclude our circumference of the globe in Australia. Our son is five right now and this journey will take up the rest of his childhood.

*     *     *

Now, if that doesn't inspire you to get off the couch and do a little bit of exploring yourself, nothing will. 

Check out the Hourless Life Jeep Gladiator build tour on their YouTube channel, where you can follow their travels as well.
 

Stephan Edwards with David Lewis

Images: Eric and Brittany Highland


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Overland Destinations: Utah's Kaiparowits Plateau
Overland Destinations: Utah's Kaiparowits Plateau

by Patrick Rich

When you want to see canyon country and experience desert overland there are many places to choose from in Utah. Instead of hitting up Moab, head southwest and experience canyon country right in the expansive and beautiful Kaiparowits Plateau. In this installment of Overland Destinations, we look at the Grand Staircase and the surrounding areas as an overland destination not to miss.
Product Spotlight: Guzzle H20 Water Filtration
Product Spotlight: Guzzle H20 Water Filtration

by Stephan Edwards

When traveling in remote locations, waterborne illnesses and other contaminants can ruin a trip in a hurry. Guzzle H20’s advanced multi-layered water filtration systems are compact, portable, and highly effective. 

Overland Tech: Trail Comms
Overland Tech: Trail Comms

by Patrick Rich

CB, GMRS, FRS, HAM - What to make of this alphabet soup of radio choices for your overland adventures? Find out more about overland communications and which radio is best for you.

KNOW THE TOP 6 PROBLEMS THAT RUIN TRIPS?

Learn how to avoid them and keep your trek on track.

You’ll receive follow-up emails from Overlander. You can cancel at any time and your information will not be shared.