Build/Rig Feature + Interview: Oleg Flaksman (Creator Of The SandyCats TrailWash System) & His 5th Gen 4Runner With RCLT HD Suspension
Welcome to another Walkaround Wednesday, our weekly segment where we interview the owner of a trail-built Toyota 4Runner and feature their rig.
Last week, we talked with Michael about his 2017 4Runner on 37s.
Today, we’re talking with Oleg Flaksman about his 2019 TRD Off Road 4Runner built to the absolute extreme. This isn’t your typical daily driver build; Oleg spared no expense to ensure that his rig can conquer the toughest of terrain and do so comfortably. Check it out!
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Each week, we cover a new rig to help people imagine what their own rig can look like.
- Instagram tag: (@sandycats_)
- Location: California, USA
- Year: 2019
- Make and Model: Toyota 4Runner
- Trim: TRD Off-Road
- Color: Custom Wrap
- Mileage: 25k
- Cooper Discovery STT Pro Tire: 37×12.5R17
- Black Rhino RENO Beadlock Wheels, Matte Black w/ Brass Bolts
- Radflo 2.5 Front Coilover on 650 lb. spring and 2.5″ Triple-Bypass Secondary Shock
- Radflo Hydraulic Bump Stops, front & rear
- Radflo 3.0 Triple-Bypass Rear Shock
- Dobinsons C59-849V 1000 lb. Coils Springs
- Airlift Rear Air Bag Kit 60769
- Custom Aluminum Fender Liners
Other Drivetrain Mods:
- Dana 60 Rear Bolt-In Axle Assembly Full Float – 40 Spline
- ARB Front Air Locker
- ARB Rear Air Locker
- Regear – 4.56 Gear Ratio
- RCV Front Axles
- Marlin Crawler Rock Crawling Long Travel (RCLT) Kit (includes UCA & LCA)
- 200-series Land Cruiser Steering Rack
- Custom-built secondary shock mount
- Custom-built rear shock hoops
- MetalTech Lower and Upper Rear Trailing Arms
- KDSS delete
- Magnuson Supercharger (Review)
- Aftermarket tune by YotaWerx Tuning LLC
- AFE Cold Air Intake
- Borla Exhaust System (Install & Review)
- CSF High-Performance Aluminum Radiator (Install & Review)
- Aftermarket power steering cooler with fan
- Aftermarket transmission cooler with fan x4
- RCI Full Skid Plate Package (Install & Review)
- Custom Skid Plate for Auxiliary Fuel Tank
- ShrockWorks Rock Sliders (Install & Review)
- C4 Fabrications Hybrid Front Bumper
- Outgear Solutions Custom-Built Rear Bumper w/ fold-down table
Lightning & Electrical:
- Baja Designs XL Pro Auxiliary Light Pod x2
- Baja Designs Squadron Pro Auxiliary Light Pod x2
- Baja Designs Squadron SAE Auxiliary Light Pod x2
- Baja Designs S2 Sport Auxiliary Light Pod x2 (Install & Review)
- Rigid Industries 30″ White Light Bar
- Baja Designs LED Rock Light x8 (Install & Review)
- RedArc BCDC1240 40A DC Battery Charger
- BattleBorn 100 amp Battery
- EcoFlow 100 Battery (backup)
- Victron Power Management System
- Victron 400W Inverter
- Velox Driver & Passenger Rear Window Gullwings (Install & Review)
- ROAM Adventure Co 95L Rugged Mount Case x2
- Southern Style Offroad Roof Rack
- ARB Touring Pull-Out Awning w/ Deluxe Awning Room (Review)
- SwitchPros SP9100 Switch System (Install & Review)
- MyMedic MyFAK First Aid Kit (Review)
- IntoXventure Diesel Heater
- SandyCats Rooftop Tent
- MSR 8-Person Ground Tent
- Exped MegaMat Duo 10 Sleeping Pad
- SandyCats TrailWash System (Review)
- Camplux Tankless Water Heater
- ARB ZERO 73 qt. Fridge/Freezer
- ClearView EasySlide Fridge Slide
- Smittybilt X20 Comp 10k lb. Winch
- Maxtrax MKII Recovery Boards (Review)
- Hi-Lift Jack
- SandyCats Kinetic Recovery Rope
- SandyCats Soft Shackle
- Tree Savers
- Dominion Offroad Recovery Shovel
- Agawa Folding Saw
- Goose Gear Side by Side Drawer System
- Garmin inReach Satellite Communicator
- ScanGuage III OBD2 Code Reader
- Apple iPad (used for navigation)
- Icom IC-2730a Dual Band UHF/VHF Radio (Install & Review)
- Alpine Halo 9 iLX Head Unit (Install & Review)
- Focal 6-piece Speaker System
- Alpine PSU-300FRN Subwoofer
- Anytime Backup Camera
- Custom wrap by Pureblind Wraps
- Custom-built air system for rear airbags
- ARB Twin Air Compressor (Install & Review)
- Rago Fabrications Air Compressor Mount
- WeBoost Drive Reach Overland Cell Booster (Install & Review)
- Starlink Satellite Wifi Kit
- Custom Leather Seats
- Custom Door Upholstery
- Mercedes Headliner
- Heated & Air Conditioned Front Seats
- Ceramic Tint
- Long Range America 24-gallon Auxiliary Gas Tank
Tell Us About Yourself. Why A 4Runner?
I was raised in Brooklyn and somehow found off-roading on the East Coast back in 2007. I moved to Southern California for off-roading. Eventually, I started returning to my roots and went back to rock climbing and mountaineering. Once we had our first child 5 years ago, we decided to get a Toyota and try overlanding. It was a perfect option for an outdoor lifestyle with small children.
By trade, I am a private investigator. However, I was in the off-road game before the “overland tax” and the product fluff was real. I started a YouTube channel (@SandyCats) talking about real expectations from products and overlanding in general. That grew into a few products that allowed me to reduce the overland tax and create more functional products for users.
I also volunteer for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Mountain Search and Rescue Team. I continue mountaineering in my free time but tend to spend more time overlanding with my kids nowadays. So far, I’ve spent six total weeks overlanding with my (now) three- and five-year-olds as well as my beautiful wife. We usually roll on two 4Runners.
How Do You Use Your 4Runner?
I use my 4Runner for everything; from difficult off-road trails such as the Rubicon to long overlanding trails such as the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route (BDR). The rig is made to go anywhere and serve as a home away from home, allowing my family of four to live comfortably out of it for weeks at a time. Instead of getting an 80 series Land Cruiser for difficult trails and a Tundra for overlanding with a family, I overcame all the challenges by building out a single 4Runner to the extreme.
Tell Us About Your Build Process.
My initial build was all parts recommended on forums and YouTube: all bolt-on stuff. Within 10,000 miles, I broke the steering rack twice, blew my rear diff, and went through rear shocks every 1,000 miles. I quickly learned not to listen to forums. I also learned that these rigs cannot handle heavy weight if you truly use them off-road. Therefore, I took two years to rebuild the vehicle from scratch to handle extremely heavy weight. Now, I believe the vehicle is bulletproof.
I chose most of the parts by either going with the strongest parts available, trial and error (that was costly), or designing and fabricating them myself. My theory is that my rig can carry all the heavy loads and my wife’s 4Runner will be super light; she can just carry the clothes and bedding. As a result, I do not need to beef up her rig too much.
In the end, I built a vehicle that drives exceptionally on the highway, has Toyota reliability, can carry extremely heavy loads, proved its overland capabilities by completing the Idaho BDR recently, and will prove its rock crawling capabilities by completing the Rubicon trail this weekend (hopefully).
Author’s Note: just a few days after this interview, Oleg and his 4Runner completed the Rubicon trail, one of the most difficult and iconic off-roading trails in the world. Several of the photos in this article were taken on the Rubicon.
Do You Regret Any Mods?
At this point, I do not, but I’ve gone through a lot to end up at this point. I chose the 2019 Toyota 4Runner TRD Off Road option because it had everything I thought I needed to do easy trails. I was wrong… I tore everything out that the option included (KDSS removed, suspension removed, rear locker removed, fake leather removed).
What’s Your Favorite Mod?
Difficult question… I’ll give you a few favorite mods:
- Airbags: I installed airbags in my coils with a controller for each bag. On the Rubicon trail, I was using these all the time! The ability to fully stuff a tire when needed, make off-camber positions feel back on-camber, and climb waterfalls by lifting my rear and clearing my diff pumpkin was amazing.
- Long Range America Tank: I now have about 50 gallons capacity. I stop less at gas stations, I never get range anxiety on the trails, and I can fill up before driving into CA and use that gas for a while… the tank already paid for itself!
- Camplux Hot Water Heater (paired with) Sandy Cats TrailWash System: We always have instant hot water on board. By instant, I mean I get out of the driver’s seat and just press a button on the bumper and it’s actually instant. Zero setup time. You don’t know what you’re missing until you have it! It makes it so my wife and kids can now go on two-week trips and it feels more like home than camping.
- Air-Conditioned Seats: Need I say more?
- OutGear Solutions Rear Bumper: With my setup on the bumper, our kitchen game has really changed. We went from a 5-minute kitchen setup/takedown to just 30 seconds.
- Front/Rear ARB Air Lockers: I never trusted factory lockers to work when I needed them. With the ARB lockers, my crawling game is so much better thanks to the confidence they bring.
What’s Next For Your 4Runner?
In January, I’ll be installing a TacoBox with a triple shifter. We try to do 6+ weeks of overlanding as a family every year and at least 4 out-of-state crawling trips.
Our biggest adventure we are planning will be 4 months in Alaska in 2026. Then, we’ll ship the rigs to Iceland the following year. We planned these trips so that our kids will be old enough to appreciate the adventures more at the time.
Wow, not only is this 4Runner capable of taking on anything Oleg throws at it, but he can rest easy knowing that it will come back in one piece. For those of you who are new to the off-roading scene, you don’t see very many 4Runners taking on the Rubicon Trail. It takes a well-built rig paired with a talented driver to conquer the Rubicon in any vehicle, much less a 4Runner with independently-sprung front tires.
Oleg has also created several of his own off-road/overland products including soft shackles, kinetic recovery ropes, and a shower/faucet system, which you can find on his website. If you want to learn more about any of these products, or follow Oleg’s build from stockin’ to rockin’, head on over to his YouTube channel (@SandyCats) and Insta page (@SandyCats_).
Join us next week as we head South to talk to someone with a very unique use case for their 4Runner!