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.
The now famous LC79 4×4 ‘Black Truck’ just wasn’t enough. Justin Montesalvo, director of Patriot Campers, had to go bigger and more extreme and show the world what his team was truly capable of. The love for Toyota Land Cruiser is strong at Patriot, so taking a LC79 and turning it into a 6×6 on portals was the next evolution of the Supertourer program.
The team at Patriot calls this monster the Mega6x6. It’s rolling on 37-inch BFG KM3 mud-terrains, has up to 8 inches of lift, and has a fully functional six-wheel drive system.
“The largest strength … is its massive ground clearance and low center of gravity. This of course is because of the portal axles, adjustable air-ride suspension, and massive tires.”
The build debuted at the Melbourne 4×4 Show in 2018. Since then, it has done a wide range of serious overland adventures across Australia and recently the U.S., after its SEMA Show debut in 2022. It is currently on the auto show circuit with Toyota U.S.A. between off-road excursions.
While there is no doubt this truck was built to turn heads and showcase the top-notch work at Patriot Campers at big shows, it was also built to be a real-world capable vehicle for long-range overland travel. Montesalvo and his team at Patriot Games TV have shown this time and time again by taking this beast on properly difficult off-road adventures and sharing those adventures on YouTube.
The only big issue the Patriot team has dealt with on the Mega6x6 over the years is the transmission. It started life with the stock 70-Series Land Cruiser 5-speed manual transmission, but in 2022 it was updated with a Wholesales Automatic 6-series gearbox from a 200 Series Land Cruiser. The Patriot Campers team often had to replace the clutch when coming back from trips due to the big loads it was being put under, particularly when off-roading and towing heavy loads. This was the driving factor behind their decision to switch to an automatic transmission.
A smaller issue was the suspension setup, which has gone through a few iterations of airbag systems. A setup from Airbag Man Air Ride System eliminated those early issues and has been working flawlessly for a few years now.
The only other updates over the years to the Mega6x6 have been tweaks to the PCOR canopy system. The build currently has a Half Canopy fitted to the tray, but over the years it has had different iterations, including a 3/4 Canopy and no canopy at all, depending on the trip demands it was undertaking at the time.
“The love for Toyota Land Cruisers is strong at Patriot, so taking a LC79 and turning it into a 6×6 on portals was the next evolution of the Supertourer program.”
You don’t see a lot of 6×6 Land Cruisers because they are overkill for most people, aren’t easy to build well, and aren’t inexpensive. The Mega6x6 uses a JMACX Off Road Solutions 6×6 conversion kit, which was developed as a revised chassis to accommodate the extra axle. The system weighs 772 pounds more than the standard 79 Series chassis and is thought to be the lightest of its kind on the market. The chassis upgrade provides a gross vehicle weight rating upgrade of up to 13,669 pounds. A coil conversion kit ditches the leaf springs and provides a much improved smooth and comfortable ride for long distance touring.
Taking this build a notch further are Mark’s 4WD Portal Axles, which offer more ground clearance without a big lift kit and help to allow big 37-inch mud-terrains to fit on this LC79. Helping stop this huge vehicle and six big heavy tires are WP Pro Brakes with 14.2-inch rotors and 6-piston calipers.
We asked Montesalvo what the strengths and weaknesses of this special truck are. Few would know the weaknesses of such a build because few are built and even fewer are actually used for serious off-road travel. Montesalvo has continuously put the Mega6x6 to the test, so he knows firsthand exactly what it can and can’t do.
The largest strength Montesalvo said the Mega6x6 has is its massive ground clearance and low center of gravity. This of course is because of the portal axles, adjustable (up to 8 inches) air-ride suspension, and massive tires. Stability is also a big strength, provided by the wide track width portals and six wide tires. Of course, all those tires—all six of which are powered—also offer an incredible amount of traction.
A few other strengths include the massive amount of space, load-carrying capacity, impressive towing capability, and range of the vehicle. Two replacement fuel tanks are fitted, which combined hold 63 gallons of fuel. An auxiliary switch manages fuel distribution between the tanks, while a pre-fuel filter kit keeps the fuel lines free of impurities.
“Montesalvo has continuously put the MEGA6x6 to the test, so he knows firsthand exactly what it can and can’t do.”
Add in 18 gallons of onboard drinking water and a massive amount of onboard power and you get a machine that can stay out on big adventures for extended periods without issue. Montesalvo also notes that the custom interior is a refined and comfortable place to be, making long-distance touring a breeze.
The only thing Montesalvo could come up with as a weakness is that “parallel parking can be challenging.” We have no doubt that could be a difficult task in a 23-foot-long truck, with six wheels, where only two wheels help turn it. Its length and width are also a challenge on some tight trails, especially those requiring tight turns between immovable objects.
With 354 horsepower on tap from the 4.5L V8 twin-turbo diesel that has been upgraded and modified by GSL Fab, now backed by a LC200 automatic transmission, not only can the Mega6x6 tackle impressive off-road terrain, but it can also eat highway miles with ease. A full host of X-Ray Vision LEDs mean driving at any time of day is as safe as possible. Also, with all its area lighting the Mega6x6 looks like the alien mothership has landed at camp.
Speaking of camp, this big truck has all the creature comforts of home. A large Dometic 55L fridge/freezer drops down out of the canopy, keeping perishables and beverages cold and even ice cream close at hand. The Half Canopy is a lightweight and robust solution that offers just the right amount of enclosed secure storage while keeping a large section of the tray available to transport big bulky gear like swags, motorcycles, and UTVs.
Be sure to check out this incredible vehicle in action on the Patriot Games TV YouTube channel. Watching this beast crawl through mud, rocks, and snow while fully loaded and towing a big trailer full of more fun adventure toys is a sight to behold.
Patriot Campers 6×6 Megatourer
Chassis: LC79 w/Jmacx Offroad Solutions 6×6 Kit
Powertrain: 4.5L V8 Turbo Diesel, Upgraded Turbocharger, Snorkel, Custom Air Box, Stainless Exhaust w/Dual Stacks, Toyota LC200 Automatic Transmission Conversion
Drivetrain: 14.2” Disc 6-Piston Caliper WP Pro Brakes Airbag Man Air Ride System, Mark’s 4WD Portal Axles,
Wheels & Tires: 17×9 Bob Jane T-Marts Monster Wheels, 37/12.5 R17 BFG KM3 tires
Accessories: PCOR Tray & Canopy w/Twin Spare Tire Carriers, Custom Metal Fenders, Rhino Rack Pioneer Platform, Hayman Reece X-Bar, PCOR Custom Bullbar & Side Steps, X-Ray Vision LED Lighting, Front & Rear Saber Offroad Winches, 240L Aux Fuel Tank, 70L Water Tank, Dometic CFX3 55L Fridge, Custom Nappa Leather w/Suede Trim Interior, 8” Alpine Infotainment System, Redarc Electronics Power Management System, 2 Lithium & 2 AGM Batteries, Twin Air Compressors, Twin Air Tanks, Redarc Solar Panels
Editor’s Note: A version of this article appeared in TREAD July/August 2023.
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