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2021 ZR2 CCSB Bright Blue Metallic
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We're planning on doing some off road camping trips starting in Spring. We have been car camping since our honeymoon in 1986 and started 4x4 camping with our 1987 Jeep Comanche with a shell and carpet kit - decades before I learned the term "overlanding". In 2001 we switched to a Chevy Avalanche Z71 with a truck bed tent (with the tailgate and midgate down we had over 12 feet of living space available). Now we have the 2021 Colorado ZR2 that we're going to set up with an ARE Z shell, carpet kit, Topper EZ Lift, and Weekender Tent plus ARB awning. I'll post pictures of the little modifications we're making as we go along. We plan to leave the suspension stock - my wife thinks the ZR2 is already hard to get into and we're waiting on our Victory 4x4 step sliders to arrive.

Here is the new truck
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The first mod we made was to cut down our garage door opener to fit into the chapsick cubby.
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We used the clip we took off the garage door opener to make carabiner holders for the seat pockets so our take out food doesn't dump as we drive home.
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With our accessory allowance we got a GM keyless entry keypad so we can't lock ourselves out of the truck when we're camping.
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My wife likes Grogu.
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When we hit the trails, Grogu will come off and the Rhino hitch recovery point will go on.
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I made a tablet mount and purchased a 10 inch GPS enabled tablet and installed GAIA GPS premium on it.
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I also added a clip to the key fob so that on a bumpy road I can unclip it from the key to stop the annoying key fob swinging.
 

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2021 ZR2 CCSB Bright Blue Metallic
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
We installed a Prinsu Cabrack. The 3/8" hole drilling was really tough, especially in the front. I drilled 3/4" holes in the weather stripping for a cleaner install (rather than cutting the weather stripping into segments and discarding the pieces under the mounts.
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We installed ARB quick release awning mounts on both sides of the truck so if we end up at a camp site where it is better for the awning to be on the driver side, we can easily move it over.
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We installed MaxTrax and HiLift mounts. I trimmed them a bit to fit my ActionTrax which are a little thicker than MaxTrax. I also trimmed the HiLift mount a bit to fit closer to the carriage to prevent any motion.
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I went back later and trimmed the ARB mounting brackets and drilled new holes to lower it because I didn't like how high they were. Now with stock suspension the highest point on the truck is 6' 6 1/4" (not counting the antenna which is flexible) so we can get into the mall parking garage which has 6' 8" clearance.
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Here is what the awning looks like.

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2021 ZR2 CCSB Bright Blue Metallic
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm still waiting for the ARE Z shell, but in the mean time I figured out where the Topper EZ-Lift jack screws can go.
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With the jack screw footings installed, I could cut the holes in the Bedrug in the proper places.
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I figured out how to mount my carpet kit to maximize storage space. I used aftermarket aluminum truck bed tie downs to provide a mounting point for the front of the carpet kit so no drilling into the truck bed was required. For the sides I used the support notches in the side of the bed and the bed rails. The lower notches are to allow the wires on the left and right side to pass through.
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Fitting the side boxes into the bed so that I can measure the size needed for the cross members.

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Assembling the boxes on the dining room table (the garage workbench is currently occupied).
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What it will look like in the truck bed. I haven't installed the rails for holding the center panels yet. I just dry fit the boxes so I could measure for the six side box lids.
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The rectangular hole on the driver side back of the box is for the Topper EZ-Lift controls.
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2021 ZR2 CCSB Bright Blue Metallic
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I added an aircraft style safety switch to the front of the control box so I don't have to reach in to push the safety button on the back side of the Topper EZ-Lift box. When the cover is down and the fold down rear panel is down, there will be no way for the lift to inadvertently operate.
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This is as far as I've gotten. The truck now has over 500 miles so we can drive without restrictions and use the freeway (although there is no place to go since CA is locked down). I'll add to this thread as I progress.
 

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2020 Colorado Z71 Trail Runner
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I'm looking forward to seeing this progress. I have a Nomad tent from Topperlift which I love. I'll be curious to see how the EZ Lift works, etc.
 

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Sweet build out so far. I like the dual awning mounts to switch sides. That was something I've dealt with, having to strategically position the truck(s) for awning deployment.
 

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Is it a long or short bed? I measured my short bed I came to the conclusion I couldn’t add a topper and sleep in it. Curious what you are doing. Looks cool.
 

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2020 Colorado Z71 Trail Runner
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Is it a long or short bed? I measured my short bed I came to the conclusion I couldn’t add a topper and sleep in it. Curious what you are doing. Looks cool.
Looking at the pictures, it's a short bed. If I understand correctly, he's doing something similar to what I did, but adding the lift so the shell can be raised when camping. This is mine without the topper lift. Easily 7+ feet on length. Much more comfortable than my old 4Runner to sleep in.

 

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2017 Colorado ZR2
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Is it a long or short bed? I measured my short bed I came to the conclusion I couldn’t add a topper and sleep in it. Curious what you are doing. Looks cool.
As far as I know the zr2 only comes in ccsb or eclb variation
Cool build so far. Been watching some builds to see what route I want to go with mine if I don't decide on a small travel trailer
 

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2021 ZR2 CCSB Bright Blue Metallic
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Is it a long or short bed? I measured my short bed I came to the conclusion I couldn’t add a topper and sleep in it. Curious what you are doing. Looks cool.
Short bed. As YETI mentioned you have to have the tailgate down to sleep in it. My carpet kit main platform will end up 55 1/2 inches long with a fold up/down foot extension of 16 3/4 inches making a total platform length of 72 1/4 inches. My wife and I are short so we'll have 10 inches to spare. I'm using lift off hinges to hold the foot panel in conjunction with some hinged legs that will rest on the tailgate. When folded down, it will fit in the space left between the carpet kit and tailgate. You can also lift off the foot panel to get it out of the way to make access to the storage space easier.

Here are some photos of the mock up of the lift off hinge. I had to figure out how close to the edge to mount it so it operates smoothly, closes the gap when opened, and still have clearance to lift off. From previous posts you can see the pin end of the hinge already mounted to the end of the side boxes. Two more hinges will mount at the end of the rear most platform panel which should be overkill in terms of weight capacity.
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2010 Chevy Colorado Crew Cab 4x4 Z71 V8
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Good thread. Love seeing the homemade stuff and a guy who still calls it camping.

I’ll be following this one. Keep the updates coming.
 

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2020 Colorado Z71 Trail Runner
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Short bed. As YETI mentioned you have to have the tailgate down to sleep in it. My carpet kit main platform will end up 55 1/2 inches long with a fold up/down foot extension of 16 3/4 inches making a total platform length of 72 1/4 inches. My wife and I are short so we'll have 10 inches to spare. I'm using lift off hinges to hold the foot panel in conjunction with some hinged legs that will rest on the tailgate. When folded down, it will fit in the space left between the carpet kit and tailgate. You can also lift off the foot panel to get it out of the way to make access to the storage space easier.

Here are some photos of the mock up of the lift off hinge. I had to figure out how close to the edge to mount it so it operates smoothly, closes the gap when opened, and still have clearance to lift off. From previous posts you can see the pin end of the hinge already mounted to the end of the side boxes. Two more hinges will mount at the end of the rear most platform panel which should be overkill in terms of weight capacity.
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I definitely need to follow along here. I also built an extension for over the tailgate to make a level sleeping platform (starting to think I should do a build thread). My extension doesn't actually attach to the platform and I've been trying to think of way to make that work. Lift off hinges may be the ticket . . .
 

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2021 ZR2 CCSB Bright Blue Metallic
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I definitely need to follow along here. I also built an extension for over the tailgate to make a level sleeping platform (starting to think I should do a build thread). My extension doesn't actually attach to the platform and I've been trying to think of way to make that work. Lift off hinges may be the ticket . . .
Those hinges are from Amazon. A little tough to find so here is a link:
Large Lift off hinges
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I took a break from the carpet kit project and made a scrap wood mallet with a tent peg pulling hook. We'll use it for pounding and pulling the ARB awning pegs. We'll also use it with the wood splitting froe that my wife is getting me for Xmas.
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I got back to the carpet kit and added the side rails for holding the center panels and I cut out the panels and made legs for the fold down panel. The blue webbing will be used to make loops for lifting the panels. The webbing is soft so it won't bother us while laying on the carpet kit. The grey foam pad in the background is part of the 3/4 inch sleeping pad which I'll cut and glue to the top of the panels for making a cushy surface for crawling around on (right now it is being used to cushion the driver's door when we open it in the garage). Our sleeping bag holds thermarest pads in the bottom so we'll still use that on top of the foam.
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I installed the center hinges for the fold down panel and attached the legs. I'll trim the legs to length when I install the carpet kit in the truck bed to make things nice and flat. That is when I can mark the location for the outer hinges as well. I added a cord to hold the legs so they don't fold up on us when we're in the carpet kit. The cord just loops over a screw in the leg so it is easy to unhook it so we can fold the legs and lower the back panel. With the lift off hinges we can lift off the panel and stow it on top of the carpet kit to gain easier access to the central storage area under the panels. (The rear panels are upside down in these photos since I needed access to the hinge screws, the side boxes are too close together too, I was just using them as supports.
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