5th Gen 4Runner Beginner Budget Build: Top 6 Mods & Overland Gear To Get You Started

5th Gen 4Runner Overland Budget Build

What Are The Top Products On The Market For A 5th Gen 4Runner Budget Overland Setup? We Cover The Basics To Get You Started!

Like many new 4Runner owners, I found myself wanting to test the capabilities of my truck. However, I quickly learned that if I wanted to have some real fun in the mountains, I would need to make some changes. I didn’t have unlimited funds, so I decided to create my own take on a 4Runner budget build and some affordable gear that would take me where I wanted to explore.

I began my modifying journey on social media and Trail4Runner.com, just like anyone else trying to build out their 4Runner. The overwhelming amount of companies and brands made it extremely hard to weave through the products that would work for me and my build, all while not breaking the bank. So, I set off on a journey of making my 4Runner budget build while still using quality products.

Determine What You Need

Overland 4Runner Builds on Mountain

First and foremost, figure out what you’re using your 4Runner for.

A budget build will look different for those who are only going for the looks of an off-roader rather than those who are using their rig to camp and actually go off-road.

My needs quickly evolved over time, and that’s okay. You can always change things up as needed, but it’s smart to think through your build before spending your hard-earned money.

For this post, we’ll talk through the best budget-friendly products for the weekend overlander… for my needs.

Everyone’s needs are different and there is no one “best” mod for every build. These are just the mods that worked for me when I got started. Feel free to comment below and let me know what worked for you.


Building a 4Runner on a budget

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Tires are probably the most important part of your overland build and I would highly suggest not skimping here. Having high-quality all-terrain or mud-terrain tires will allow for a much better grip on terrain when off-roading. In short, more traction from your tires will allow you to better traverse through different surfaces. 

An important note is that A/T or M/T tires will wear faster than that of a highway-terrain, especially on pavement. This is something to keep in mind if you daily your 4Runner because tires are expensive and can quickly wear with long and frequent drives. If you daily drive long distances often, consider an A/T tire over an M/T as all terrains wear better/slower on long-distance daily drives. If you’re unsure of what to run, Trail4Runner has a tire buyers guide that walks you through each type of tire and the many brands in that tire segment. I highly recommend checking out that post before buying tires.

When I started looking for tires, I read through many forums and Facebook posts to make my decision. Ultimately, I went with the Falken WildPeak A/T3W because they were rated very highly among 5th Gen owners and had the best traction in the rain. When you live in the rainiest city in the world, good tires with lots of siping are a must.

Some of the tires’ other features include a 55,000-mile warranty and are 3PMSF severe snow service rated. They even exceed the Rubber Manufacturer Association’s requirements for traction in severe weather.

Another comparable tire is the BFGoodrich  All-Terrain T/A KO2. These are about $50 more per tire than the WildPeaks and have a warranty of 50,000 miles. They feature BFGoodrich’s Serrated Shoulder design which allows for maximized grip in mud, snow, and over rocks, especially when aired down.


5th Gen 4Runner Budget Build

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When you think of wheels, you may think that they are purely for aesthetic purposes. That may be true for many 4Runner owners, but off-road wheels do have their purpose. Many wheels are rated to hold up to a certain load which is especially important when you start adding weight to your 4Runner. If your wheels can’t withstand the added weight, that will be an issue.

My personal favorite, although subjective, is the RockTrix RT112. These wheels are not only beautifully designed but RockTrix wheels are the epitome of off-roading wheels. These wheels are crafted for the most rugged terrain. With a -12mm offset, you are able to clear bigger tires, which comes in handy when rock crawling.

You can choose between a matte black or a bronze finish option on the wheels. I have had my RockTrix wheels on for almost a year now and have nothing but positive things to say about them. They have withstood all types of terrain, climbed over rocks, and driven through rivers. After a good deep cleaning, they still look as good as new.

Another option that is well-loved in the 4Runner community is Method Race Wheels; specifically, the 305 NV. This wheel is a bit pricier but it is a crowd favorite. Method Race Wheels makes high-quality wheels designed with off-roaders in mind. This particular wheel has an extra heavy load rating that may come in handy for full-blown overland builds. With the customizable lip bolts, you can also match your wheels to the rest of your ride. 

If neither of these wheels meets your needs, check out our blog post for the top aftermarket wheel options.


Budget Build 4Runner Off-Road

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  • Cali Raised Trail Edition Bolt On Rock Sliders: Check Price
  • Ironman 4×4 Heavy Duty Skid Plate Kit: Check Price

Undercarriage armor is crucial when doing any sort of off-roading. It’s all fun and games until you puncture your gas tank or destroy your rocker panels on a rock.

Armor will be one of the most expensive additions to your build but there are some very good options that don’t break the bank. Many people start with rock sliders for their ease of installation and relative affordability compared to other forms of armor. If you’re unsure of how to buy rock sliders, Trail4Runner has a great overview of rock sliders and everything you need to know about them before buying a set.

Rock sliders attach to the frame of your 4Runner either via welding on or bolt-on. They act as reinforcements to protect your rocker panels from rocks and stumps. This multifunctional modification also acts as a potential pivot point to get around corners and even a recovery point if needed.

A popular and budget-friendly rock slider option is the Cali Raised LED Trail Edition Bolt On Rock Slider. These sliders are made from American 1.75″ DOM tubing and have a wall thickness of .120″. The bolt-on option for these sliders makes it easy enough to install yourself. They have many different options available so you can customize them for your off-roading needs.

Skid Plates

If you want to fully protect the underside of your 4Runner, a full set of skid plates may be a great option for you. There are many brands out there that cost thousands of dollars for a full set of skid plates. That can be a larger investment than sliders, but can potentially save you even more than that in repairs.

I personally run the Ironman 4×4 Heavy Duty Skid Plate Kit on my 2021 4Runner. I have had these on my truck for about 3 months now and have no complaints. One of the worst things I was worried about was a reduction in fuel economy. However, I have not seen any adverse effects so far.

This kit is made of 4mm steel and has an EDP E-Coat layer, making sure that your vehicle is protected against damage and corrosion down the road. The kit comprises three skid plates that protect the engine, transmission, radiator, and steering components of your 4Runner.


My Medic MyFak Medical Kit

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Now that we’ve talked about the exterior mods and armor, let’s dive into what you should keep inside your truck. There are three parts that I will be covering in this section: Safety, Recovery, and Communication. Having each of these covered will allow you to be prepared for anything out on the trails.

When it comes to safety, you should ensure that everyone along for the adventure is prepared and careful. This means having an extensive first aid kit that can hold you off until you reach pavement and cell service.

I don’t go anywhere without my MyFak Pro from MyMedic. You can’t go wrong with any of the MyMedic products; they are filled with the most extensive collection of safety gear that you may need at any time. As a bonus, they offer kits for your 4-legged adventure buddies as well. If this kit is a bit pricey for you, check out some of their less-extensive kits such as the Sidekick. This kit is still effective and will help keep you ready for minor injuries.


Off Road Recovery Rhino USA Tow Strap

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Anytime you hit the trails, it’s important to be prepared in terms of vehicle recovery. With the help of recovery gear, you can take the stress out of the unknown. There are a few different pieces of recovery gear that you should have on board:

  • Recovery Point: 4Runners don’t come with a safe recovery point and hitch receiver recovery points are a great option that won’t break the bank.
  • Soft Shackles: These are lightweight, easy-to-use shackles that are safer and sometimes cheaper than a commonly used steel shackle.
  • Tow Straps: As a general rule of thumb, get a tow strap that is rated for at least three times the weight of your vehicle.
  • Shovel: This comes in handy when you are stuck in a messy situation such as snow or sand.
  • Tire Repair Kit: There will be a day when either you or someone you are with punctures a tire. You’ll want to make sure you bring the necessary tools to fix it.
  • Tire Deflator: You can easily deflate your tires with a pen. However, if your budget allows, tire deflators kits are highly recommended.

I use Rhino USA Recovery Gear in my 4Runner. They are very affordable and extremely good products. As a bonus, you can find everything that you will need directly on their website.


MidLand Radios For Off-Roading

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The final component of being trail-ready is communication. Whether you are going out with a group of friends or solo, bring radios. More specifically, GMRS radios.

Radios can be useful in any situation and allow you to communicate when there is no cell service. I use the Midland 50 Channel Waterproof GMRS Two-Way Radio. Another option that is a bit less expensive but can provide the same communication is the Motorola Solutions Talkabout. The main differences between Midland and Motorola are the distance and number of channels. With the former, you get a 36-mile radius and 50 channels. With Motorola, you get a 20-mile radius and 22 channels. Again, it comes down to your needs.

Final Thoughts

How To Build A Budget Off-Road Ready 4Runner

When I set out to build my 4Runner budget build, I didn’t want to compromise on the quality and capability of my gear. While there were many brands available for the products I was looking for, many of them were outside of my budget.

Instead, I focused on lesser-known brands that still had positive reviews and an established presence in the off-road community. While I may have not gone with the most popular brands, I am very happy with my build and the path that I chose because it allowed me to spend a bit more money where I really wanted to.

Do you have any budget-friendly products that could be added to this list? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!

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Mike Markovic
Mike Markovic
10 months ago

Hi thanks for the great info. I’m very green to overlanding. My questions is for a starter vehicle. I’m looking at a 2018 4Runner TRD off-road. It has 100000 miles on it. Is this too many miles to start putting the money into a build? Vehicle is in great shape.

tanks I’m advance, Mike

Jesse Daiute
Jesse Daiute
11 months ago

I’m surprised a lift or leveling kit wasn’t on the list, unless I missed it.

John Meldorf
John Meldorf
1 year ago

Thx for the info; great write-up. Question: why did you not recommend a satelite phone or a GarminPro-type device for emergencies?

1 year ago

Great write up providing a baseline for new 4Runner owners wanting to get out and explore. I usually stick to forest roads and find myself traveling solo most of the time so suspension, tires and recovery (comms incl) were the biggest factors for me; allowing self recovery if ever needed. Later on, a dual battery set up, full camp kitchen with fridge and a 14 gal RV water tank with pump in the spare tire void fully completed the build…..for now. Having almost 2 years with this set up, I’m already looking into a future build to lessen weight, better the water system and add a lithium battery set up with solar options. Always a work in progress! And I love DIY projects and having the ability to build, change, repair and improve any of my build projects without the added cost of specialty shops and labor costs.

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