Some say Jeep owners will always remain Jeep owners, they simply upgrade to newer vehicles over the years. And while that may be true for many, some flip the script when their needs change. Of course, we know that once a Jeeper, always a Jeeper, even if one adds another horse to their stable. That is certainly the case with Jon Sackett. While his off-road roots are deep with Jeep, he didn’t stray too far when his needs changed. While he still owns a Jurassic Park Jeep replica, his daily driver shifted over to another vehicle in the Mopar family: a RAM Power Wagon.
“Sackett was tired of hearing his friends complain when the Jeep couldn’t keep up with the trucks on washboard trails. All signs pointed in the direction of him getting a truck.”
The Jeep JL Sackett exited was a notable build. A cover feature in Tread a few years back, it was also shown off at SEMA Show in 2019 and recognized by many online. While it was able to rock crawl with ease and be nimble on tight trails, he found himself not needing those features as most of his friends were in trucks. Not to mention, the lack of space was limiting the gear he could bring. Sackett often relied on friends with more space to bring items that he couldn’t fit in his Jeep JL. As he describes it, “This sorta made my build feel inadequate for the type of adventures I love the most, which was just getting out to the middle of nowhere, to a beautiful location, and setting up camp for the weekend.” Also since the vehicle was his daily driver, the height also limited him. Finding a place to park wasn’t easy, as parking garages were usually not an option.
After a move from California to Phoenix, Arizona, Sackett knew it was time to make a change. Keeping up with traffic driving 80+ on the freeway was tough in a squirrely Jeep, and Sackett was tired of hearing his friends complain when the Jeep couldn’t keep up with the trucks on washboard trails. All signs pointed in the direction of him getting a truck.
When it came time to pick a truck, that was easy for Sackett. Just like the Wrangler, the Power Wagon has roots in World War II. It was the workhorse for the U.S. Army as it was able to transport supplies and more troops to the front lines where the Willys were not able to; similar to the conundrum of what Sackett found himself in. As Sackett says, “The Power Wagon was like the Rubicon for the RAM trucks.” Just like on his Jeep Wrangler JL, the Power Wagon has a disconnecting sway bar, front and rear lockers, and more. To him, it seemed like a larger version of his Jeep with more room for people and gear. Now with a significant other and a dog, the extra room was that much more important and the decision to buy a RAM Power Wagon was an easy one.
As the time came to decide the direction of the Power Wagon build, Sackett decided to think it through a bit and enjoyed driving the truck stock. He enjoyed a vehicle that was smooth and easy to drive on the highway. He took it camping a few times, using a ground tent, and preferred that setup. Mostly, he was impressed with how the truck handled both on and off-road in its stock form, not to mention all the extra room he now had. Around this time, he also started his own business, from which the vision of the truck and business aligned. “I knew I wanted to build the truck out to not only be badass and get me through anything but also still feel like an OEM truck for around town and doing things for the business,” Sackett tells us. From there Sackett Ranch was formed and the truck followed suit with a ranch look.
While the Bed Rack headache rack may stand out in style, the rest of the truck is all off-road. Liking the AEV Prospector and Prospector XL, Sackett wanted something even more badass than a Prospector XL. He wanted a Prospector with disconnecting sway bars, lockers in front and rear, and a powerful 6.4L V8 engine. Since AEV didn’t build Power Wagons, Sackett took matters into his own hands. Themed as a ranch truck, it would be a powerful off-road beast capable of hauling gear for work, towing vehicles, and taking him out to camp and off-road on the weekends. AEV bumpers with the Brush Guard give the truck the look he desired and extra clearance for difficult trails. He mounted AEV wheels with 37-inch Toyo Tires Open Country Mud Terrains, keeping the suspension stock.
“While the Bed Rack headache rack may stand out in style, the rest of the truck is all off-road.”
The headache rack gives the Power Wagon the ranch look, but also provides needed protection when hauling around overland gear and items for work. Sackett says, “I have been able to haul giant steel bumpers in the back of the truck that I would have definitely busted out the rear window if I didn’t have the Bed Rack back there.”
Another functional key feature Sackett likes is the varied setup for the full-size spare tire. When he’s driving around town or back and forth to the office, he opts to mount the tire in the bed of the truck using the AEV vertical tire mount in the bed of the truck. This allows him to use his backup camera and keep the truck as short as possible when in the city. He also has peace of mind that his full-size spare is with him when on quick day trips to off-road and romp the dirt trails. When it comes time for a longer trip and he needs more room in the bed of the truck, he switches over to using the Rig’d Ultraswing Hitch Carrier. Not only does it carry the full-size spare, freeing up valuable bed space, but he can attach the 1Up bike rack to bring his Super 73 e-bikes. Also, he gets an added cooking space with the drop-down table on the Ultraswing.
“All MPG concerns also were diminished as the truck gets impressive results on highway miles.”
The goal with this Power Wagon build was to be a true all-around vehicle. As Sackett shares, “Sometimes it’s best not to go too hardcore one way or another. As I have learned over the years, every time you add an advantage in one category, you sacrifice in another. So, I really wanted to build something that was a balance.”
“Just like on his Jeep Wrangler JL, the Power Wagon has a disconnecting sway bar, front and rear lockers, and more. To [Sackett], it seemed like a larger version of his Jeep with more room for people and gear.”
Opting to now sleep on the ground, no longer in a rooftop tent, he has a pretty luxurious glamping setup. He sleeps in a Gazelle T4 Hub Ground Tent and a Gazelle G6 Gazebo is his camp kitchen. Best part, he is able to fit all the gear in truck bed with ease.
The truck is also able to rock crawl surprisingly well enough to satisfy Sackett’s needs. Even with its stock suspension setup on Bilsteins, Sackett believes it performs better over rocks than a lot of non-Jeep SUVs and mid-size trucks. Since his AMP Research power side steps aren’t rock rails, they keep him from driving over too crazy of terrain. Mostly ample clearance allows the truck to avoid most obstacles anyway.
All MPG concerns also were diminished as the truck gets impressive results on highway miles. Around town, gas mileage proved similar to the JL. However, on highway miles, he can average 500 miles on a tank of gas, fully loaded with gear and it rides like a Cadillac. On the highway, his Jeep would run at high RPM, get horrible gas mileage when loaded, and would only travel about 200 miles before it needed a fill up.
And while those items would be nice, Sackett also has peace of mind to know his full-size truck can keep up with the Jeeps, proven on a trip to KOFA wildlife refuge with his girlfriend, her dad, her brother, and friends. They all drove Jeeps and Sackett drove the RAM Power Wagon 50 miles a day for 4 days between Quartzite and Yuma. While there were some tight areas and he thought the truck would get hung up due to the overall size and longer wheelbase, the truck impressed. It did not scrape skid plates, rub fender liners, hit on approach or departure angles whatsoever. As we know, it could also be the driver. Nonetheless, he could not have picked a more beautiful location with lots of interesting places to stop along the way to test the capability and comfort of his truck.
We look forward to seeing the future of this truck and possible additions to the build. Next steps are an AEV suspension upgrade for more height and durability, although the OEM Bilstein suspension is impressive. The other item Sackett wants to add is an AEV snorkel, since he lives in the desert with lots of dust and wants to pull cleaner air.
To see more from this AEV RAM Power Wagon, follow @sackett.ranch on Instagram.
2022 RAM Power Wagon
Engine: 6.4L Hemi V8
Wheels & Tires: AEV Katla 17×8.5 with +27mm offset (front and rear); Toyo Tires Open Country M/Ts size 37×13.5R17LT
Suspension: OEM Bilstein shocks
Armor: AEV Front Bumper, Rear Bumper, front Brush Guard; Bed Rack Headache Rack
Exterior Accessories: AEV Vertical Tire Mount; MOPAR Retro Vertical Slotted Grille; KC HiLites Flex Era 4 w/ Amber covers; SDHQ mounts; WARN Zeon 12-S winch; RAM Rugged Cases 95L, 52L, 105L in truck bed;
Interior Accessories: Vertx VTAC Storage Cubes; Dometic CFX3 55IM Electric Fridge, water jug, electric faucet; Rugged Radios GMRS radio; Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium battery; Ignik Growler + Firecan; Camp Chef Versatop 2x
Editor’s Note: A version of this article appeared in TREAD July/August 2023.
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