Covering a 4×4 rig in a MultiCam camouflage motif is not for everyone, especially for those in ultra-urban environments. But for guys like Brooklyn-based Ernesto Rodriguez, camouflage patterns are pretty much mandatory in every area of daily life, especially when it comes to his adventure-ready Toyota Tacoma.
Ernesto’s career for the past decade-plus has revolved around MultiCam, the preferred camouflage designer, and manufacturer for various branches of the American military and law enforcement. As the Marketing Director for MultiCam, Ernesto has combined his goal of attracting attention to the brand with his passion for outdoor exploration.
But as you shall soon discover, there is far more to the MultiCam Toyota Tacoma story than a bunch of overlanding equipment and a snazzy camo wrap. Multitools aren’t made; they are engineered from the ground up with functional intent in mind, and this pickup truck is a prime example of this fact.
Archery, Bikes, And Baja Racing
Retaining a passion for sports that envelopes the great outdoors has influenced Ernesto’s automotive building decisions. A car guy since his youth, Ernesto has always made the most of every vehicle he has owned, especially when it comes to camping.
What began with weekend autocross action in a highly modified Subaru WRX, quickly evolved into full-on track days, and before Ernesto knew it, he was a support driver at the Baja 1000. After four years of helping out MultiCam-sponsored racers, Ernesto realized that a 4×4 build was what he truly needed in his life.
That amazing [Baja 1000] experience made me truly appreciate the desert and fueled my passion for off-road vehicles even further. As an avid mountain biker, archer, snowboarder, and dirt bike rider, I need my vehicles to take me to new places in order to seek out adventure.
From The Ground Up
Humble beginnings often nurture the strongest roots. For Ernesto, there is not a day that goes by where he doesn’t think about what his parents had to go through to provide him with the best life and education possible. Their hard work is what got him to where he is today. While they may not have had a lot of money when he was growing up, family vacations into the forest or down to the beach provided a wealth of wonder.
It is all of these wonderful experiences and memories that he retained from his childhood that provide Ernesto with the inspiration he needed for his MultiCam Toyota Tacoma build. He wanted a truck that could serve as a “go anywhere, do anything vehicle” with enough overlanding infrastructure to support life off-grid for days on end.
There is a reason why Ernesto is so anxious to get out in the wild too. When you live in a city as large as New York, time spent well away from the bustle of urban living is like a breath of fresh air… literally. The guy also genuinely enjoys driving his Tacoma, which in Brooklyn is both completely unnecessary and a royal pain in the patella to operate.
Since Ernesto doesn’t have the luxury of stowing all of his gear in a garage, his Tacoma serves as his camping cargo container, ready to roll at a moment’s notice for a weekend of outdoor fun. This is all thanks to the AT Overland Habitat truck topper, which keeps all of his gear secure, and tucks a four-person tent within its folds.
Multicam Tacoma Walk-A-Round Video
Even though Ernesto would have loved to have done the work himself, he does not possess the time or shop space to build a truck. This is due to his being a busy Marketing Director based in Brooklyn, New York. Since turning wrenches on a busy Brooklyn street is rarely advisable, Ernesto shipped his rig off to Tactical Application Vehicles (TAV) in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Transformation complete, the MultiCam Toyota Tacoma TRD pickup returned a few months later, and its owner could not have been more thrilled with the results. He now has a rig that can take him up a slippery ascent into the mountains for a weekend of camping and mountain biking, and then down a high-speed trail on his way home without discomfort or issue.
In this day and age it is a huge comfort knowing I can get in the truck and escape the big city life to feel safer in the wilderness.
Truck Mods Matter
Naming one modification that you like above all others on an overlanding build can be a challenge, as they all serve a purpose. Most of the time working in unity with one another. The extended-range fuel tank sure does make trips to the middle of nowhere and back a cinch. But that locking flip-out tent provides a level of practicality and security that only theb AT Overland Habitat can provide.
After applying a little pressure, Ernesto tells us that his favorite thing about the MultiCam Tacoma is how it rides. The combination of the custom TAV Spec Alcan Leaf Springs, King Shocks remote-reservoir coilovers, Archive Garage Hammer Hangers and cross tube, HD U-Bolt flip kit, shock relocation towers, Total Chaos Toyota Tacoma control arms, and numerous other mods have transformed this Toyota into a rock and mud demi-god.
A massive portion of this praise is intended for the truck’s builder, Tactical Applications Vehicles. All of those years of experience refining off-road racing technology and adapting it to the Tacoma platform are what turned this rig into a champ. Ernesto refers to TAV’s craftsmanship and attention to detail as “the heart and soul of this build.” There is no ignoring the appeal and practicality of those 17″ Method Race Wheels wrapped in knobby Yokohama Geolander M/T rubber, housed (mostly) beneath McNeil Racing 3-inch fenders.
An onboard ARB compressor allows airing up and down on the fly, as well as adding additional pressure to the roof-mounted water tank.
MultiCam: Weekend Wilderness Adventures And More
Ernesto’s vehicle is covered with the proprietary MultiCam pattern which allows it to serve as a branded vehicle for company activities. Doors, mirrors, tailgate, bed… everything is wrapped in MultiCam. For those of you with ties to the military, this particular camo pattern should be instantly recognizable. The United States Special Operations Forces has relied upon for the better part of the past 15 years.
This allows Ernesto’s Tacoma to serve as a flagship for MultiCam’s collaborative work with its vinyl partner, Image Craft. The truck is also a rolling product display for another brand that Ernesto oversees, Crye Precision. Crye is the premier designer and manufacturer of protective gear and apparel for military and law enforcement. From a promotional standpoint, this translates to Ernesto’s Tacoma attending a ton of industry-related trade shows.
You will also find the MultiCam Tacoma at various charity fundraising efforts. The brand stresses how indebted we all are to the sacrifices military and law enforcement have made over the years. Collaborative partnerships with these units help support charities that take care of veterans and active-duty personnel. This truck helps serves as a platform for pulling the public into supporting these efforts all the more.
No Time Wasted
When we caught up with Ernesto and his Tacoma, it had only been back from the builder for several months. But despite this short timeframe, he tells us he has already logged fifteen full days of camping in it. A trip down to Virginia Beach for vacation being the longest stint. Naturally, stops for some drive-on-beach camping in Maryland and a dash through the Blue Ridge Mountains occurred as well.
Ernesto tells us his favorite place he has taken his Tacoma is a private campsite way up in the ultra remote Pennsylvania mountains. Navigating an “old tricky logging road,” to get there, Ernesto admits it was just as fun to drive as it was challenging. Once at the top, you are greeted by a quaint campsite within the heart of a small clearing that is filled with ferns, tall trees, and loads of wildlife.
Looking Into The Wild
All told, Ernesto has spent years toiling over every little detail that makes this build so capable. Burning man-hours and cash on modifying a chassis, only to change things around was never part of the mission. Building the ultimate multitool the first time around was the goal here, and dammit if they didn’t nail it.
Perhaps that’s why Ernesto’s wife competes with the MultiCam Tacoma in an all-women’s off-road navigation rally. Known as “The Rebelle Rally,” this eight-day, 900-mile race is an old-school map-and-compass affair, with the desert race serving as an ideal proving ground for Rodriguez’s Tacoma.
There is a multitude of other reasons why we find this 2019 Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road Double Cab so intriguing. It is so much more than a lifted Tacoma TRD with overlanding essentials. It also looks super slick with the MultiCam Pattern print sprawled across its hide. This machine is a meticulously calculated 4×4 pickup truck intended to be useful. It is also a valuable tool that makes for an outstanding promotional platform for the MultiCam brand and all of the companies that made it possible.
However, for Ernesto Rodriguez, the MultiCam Toyota Tacoma is much more purposeful than all of that.
It’s an escape pod. An ejector seat. The little red button waiting to launch you into another world. This vehicle allows him to step into the wild, away from towering fortresses of concrete and glass. Ernesto gets it. But more importantly, we think his wife and kid get it too.
Basic Vehicle Information
Model: Tacoma TRD Off-Road Double Cab 6’ bed
Length of Build: 8 months (bit of a delay due to COVID lockdown)
Built By: Tactical Application Vehicles
- 2019 Toyota V6 3.5L
- 6 speed Auto
- Nitro Gear 4.88 re-gear
- ARB front locker
- King 2.5” +2 Long Travel coilovers w/ remote reservoirs
- King 2.5” Remote Reservoir
Frame or Suspension Modifications:
- Custom TAV Spec Alcan Leaf Springs
- Hammer Hangers by Archive Garage
- Custom Cross Tube by Archive Garage
- HD U-Bolt Flip Kit by Archive Garage
- Shock Relocation Towers by Archive Garage
- Total Chaos Bed Stiffeners
- RCV Axles
- Total Chaos Upper/Lower Control Arms
- Welded spindle gussets
- Lower control arm tab gussets
- Method 704 Trail Series w/ Bead Grip Technology 17×7 4.645” (backspacing)
- Yokohama Geolandar M/T 35×12.5
- Empyre Off Road Tacoma Grill Insert w/ TSS Sensor
- KC Hilites/Gravity LED Pro 6 mounted to roof rack
- KC Hilites/20” Flex LED 100W Combo mounted to front bumper
- ComeUp Winch Gen2 12.5RS w/ Factor 55 Fairlead and Factor 55 Ultra Hook
- Long Range America/33gal extended range driver side fuel tank
- Goose Gear/AT Habitat Icebox & Plate System in bed
Protection or Armor
- CBI/Alum Front Bumper
- CBI/Dual Rear Swingout
- RCI rock sliders and skid plates
- McNeil Racing 3” Fenders w/ custom TAV liners
- Full MultiCam vinyl wrap by Image Craft
- Bodywork Done By: Tactical Application Vehicles/Image Craft Vinyl
- Navigation system: Gaia GPS on iPad Mini w/ Garmin InReach Mini
- Storage: Blue Ridge Overland Gear Tacoma Storage System in-door pockets and console
- Instrumentation modifications: Anytime Camera backup and front camera kit
- Communications: Midland GXT103 GMRS Handhelds
- Power sources: Off-Grid Engineering Dual Battery System
Other Features and Mods:
AT Overland Habitat Topper, Dometic CFX3 45L Fridge, Alubox Storage Boxes, RotoPax Water & Gas packs, AT Overland propane tank holder, Front Runner Slimline 2 Roof Rack, Pelican 1720 Case with Factor 55 Sawtooth Recovery Gear Kit, Maxtrax MKII recovery boards, ARB Twin Air Compressor, KC Hilites Under Hood Lite Kit, KC Hilites Rocklites, KC Hilites C2 Cyclone lights on the interior of Habitat, KC Hilites DOT Amber Fogs, Wilco Bed Rail Tire Carrier, SPOD BantamX w/ Touch Screen, Ravelco Anti-Theft Device, Expedition Essentials Track Mount, 1Up USA hitch mount bike rack, CBI drop-down tables, Mountain Hatch tailgate insert, Pro Eagle 3 off-road jack w/ Kratos mount.