To lift or not to lift

Hello, first post on this forum and am lucky enough to be taking delivery of my camper later this month. I know this question has been asked plenty but I have seemingly hit a wall and don’t know what direction to go in anymore. I have a 2022 Tacoma TRD OR with skids and sliders. I am not wheeling this hard by any means and don’t have any plans to have any permanent weight in the bed aside from the camper. I am not too interested in a lift. Truck drives fine and has been able to tackle everything I’ve thrown at it but I am concerned over the sagging in the rear once loaded. Most shops I have talked with and this forum have mentioned air bags on cradles with very mixed responses. Definitely not interested in a AAL since its seems like a temporary fix. When fully loaded with our two bikes I’m estimating we sit at 400-500
I did talk with a shop near me and they recommend the dobinsons 2 inch kit with no UCAs and rxt leafs in the back. Not going for 33s would go with 32s down this route. Is this really the best solution for the weight in the rear or will the airbags be enough? Open to any feed back. I am of the buy once cry once mindset just looking from some real world feedback here!

I use airbags to compensate for weight. They have worked well for me. I would say if you don’t need a lift to do what you like doing then don’t get a lift. Some airbags that you can adjust to compensate for weight when loaded up or unloaded would totally do the job. And you wouldn’t loose more fuel economy from the extra lift.


Air bags only? How does it drive compared to stock? Any concern over popping a bag while out adventuring?

My 19 TRD OR sagged with my V1. Its a little bit heavier, but I was bouncing off the bumpstops occasionally even unloaded. Dakar medium leafs have worked well for me both unloaded and loaded. It drives well and I don’t hit my stops except for the big bumps. I do have some full-time gear in my truck. Like 100 lbs in addition to the camper.


I have a lift as well but I get into stupid places where the extra clearance is needed, airbags work for dealing with extra load. Had them before I got my GFC as I tend to have some heavy loads. Anyhow no concerns of popping, ride is about the same as without them as I adjust them for the load… nothing but the GFC and I run 10psi. Big loads of , towing my 500gal water tank to my property up to 60psi. Still have lots of articulation off-road (posted a picture of droop and stuff somewhere on here before).

Tough call, i stayed stock for a long time -5 years and put thousands of dirt miles most hard and i would hit the rear bumps far too often even with little weight in the rear 50-100lbs. I can’t imagine how bad it would be with the GFC on stock with the way i drive.

If keeping stockish height is the goal but carry more weight a single AAL is the simple option tbh.

If wanting to keep lift minimal while running 400-500 lbs RXT stage 1 would prob end up settling around +1 inch to 1.5 inches over stock. I started at stage 1. Was 3 inches new with no weight settled to about 2.25 2.5 after about 1k and a few hundred dirt miles in there. I’ll be moving to stage 2 before my GFC install to take the additional weight and maintain current rake

The downside to the rxt is you’ll need to increase the front to potentially avoid increased rake… But a simple Bilstein 5100 install can provide that extra 1-2 inches to match the rear. If not doing a ton of wheeling esp high speed stuff seems that like a solid yet relatively inexpensive option.

Sounds like you’re in my situation and I HIGHLY recommend not lifting. The problem with going to a shop for advice is they will naturally give you a solution that costs money. Mine has RCI sliders and I have a setup that stays in the bed with some gear like a compressor. No idea what my total weight is but with my heavy pig of a 2004 yamaha on the back it sags maybe half an inch? Maybe just sits perfectly level? Either way I’m always confused why people want to make their taco ride like a 3500 when they don’t have a constant overload. I could see a new leaf pack being a good option but it rides awesome as a daily drive and minor wheeling. All my friends who tinker with their trucks unnecessarily have grimlins and I always say the same thing, stop messing with it and drive it like the Toyota gods intended. Leave it stock and drive the absolute wheels off it. Unless your goal is to wheel obviously, then open pandoras box and let the garage beers flow!


I did OME 2.5" coils in the front, Bilsteins all around, and Icon RXT leafs set at stage 3 (for camper and gear weight), and it sits perfect. I run stock size tires also…


when doing truck builds/ overlanding builds it is very important to look into 10 steps in the future and just not what is “needed” right now.
My philosophy is “more is better” because it leaves rooms for future upgrades/ addition, versus getting what’s “needed” right now and then when you add more stuff in the future you’ll have to do it all over again or try to figure it out again. It’s like guns, better to have and never need to use it, versus not having it and then sh*t bricks when you actually need it. As a builder/ installer/ outfitter, that’s what I tell customers; you want to spend the money once and be done with it, vs spend less now and spend it again in the future doing the same thing.

Now, you said you’re gonna have about 400-500lb in the back. My recommendation would be just lift it and call it a day. Skip the dobinson kit. As an installer I frigging hate that brand because it’s just poor design (who the heck runs the resi hose over the top of shock towers and require using a self-tapping screw to hold the hose to the frame? that’s right, dobs)

That said, for the best bang for your bucks, go Ironman 4x4 Foam Cell Pro Stage 2 kit.

Front: 2.5" (if you don’t wanna go 3 "0) medium duty (since you don’t have bumper and winch)
Leaf springs: Medium Duty (0-440lb) - that is if you only have the GFC in the back and run empty or less than fully loaded most of the time. If you run with two bikes all the time and all the gears then go for heavy duty, but HD springs do have a recommended constant 600lb load though (meaning, you’re running with 2 bikes and your full overland setup. If running medium duty then sure, you’ll get a slight sag in the rear with full weight, but at least when you’re NOT running full weight you’ll have a comfortable ride.

Ironman is doing 25% off sale right now with code SNOW2023. Be sure to choose the pre-built option so you don’t have to figure out the pre-load position.

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Or you can easily achieve the same results with a bilstein 5100 lift with UCA and a leaf pack for like 1750


I even paid less than that for my OME coils, bilstein shocks, icon leafs

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ride quality is different. valving is different. amount of shock fluid inside is different.
bilstein 5100 is basic. dude wants to get it done right not done cheaply.

if the question is to do it cheaply then bilstein will be the bare minimum.

Oooh that looks nice. I was contemplating keeping the stock tires to save some money since they’re still pretty new. Was concerned about the truck looking like it was on its tippy toes but that’s not bad at all!

I’m also pretty mechanically competent, have done engine swaps before and general maintenance on my smaller cars but for some reason the thought of doing the suspension on my truck is seeming mentally daunting. Any of you here done your own installs/ can speak to it being business as usual?

i do these installs all the time at the shop.
It’s really not that hard if you have the lifts and tools to do it. Definitely don’t recommend doing it on the ground. Watch a few videos to know where the pressures are held will be very helpful so you won’t have any surprises!

Usually the instruction manuals will offer good tips and tricks and step by step guidance on completing it, or youtube videos help too!

I find doing lifts a lot more easier than engine swaps lol

I think I do have all the tools. Would just be doing it on the floor. Interesting take on the iron man lift. Have seen their ads but don’t know anyone who has ever used them. Initial googling doesn’t show any major red flags aside from skeptics. Definitely in the pricier side compared to the OME/Dobinsons

we just did 2 on tacos last week and 1 the week before.
we did plenty in the past and i’ve yet to seen any come back with leaks or problems unlike Icons (another “popular” choice)

In comparison, my Bilstein 5100s in my previous rig blew after half a year of trails and washboards. These are more comfortable on trails with washboards/ deserty terrains than 5100s for sure per my butt.

Personally, after my 5100s blew I went King on my previous rig, and now with my Ram 1500 I have Fox 2.5. FCP is going to be closest you’ll get to legit race shocks in terms of performance without paying King/ Fox money. (Fox is similarly priced but you only get the front coilovers and rear shocks, whereas with Ironman you get everything you’ll need)

As for tools, you just need 21, 19, 17, 14, 12, and 10mm sockets and ratcheting wrench. You’ll want to remove the skid plate and remove the sway bar to do the front and add the sway bar drop spacer. You’ll want a ball joint separating tool to get stock UCA off (or you can just hammer the sh*t out of it). The UCA long bolt will be a PITA to remove, so you will want to have a long pry bar to pry the body open to push that long bolt forward.
If you go the pre-built route you will not need spring compressor.
You will need grease (lots of grease) and at least a pair of helping hands.

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Definitely do it yourself. Suspension is easy to do and being in the ground isn’t a big deal if you aren’t doing it all the time.

I have done multiple Tacomas, Jeeps and my RAM. I actually just did a full fox dsc setup on my neighbors Tacoma (he kept it stock height but wanted high quality suspension) and it took about 4 hours at a very casual pace. If you don’t lift it you don’t need to do upper control arms either which makes it a bit easier. Plus you get to know your truck and be proud you did it yourself. Go for it!

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After reading through this thread, I will clarify. I’m at stock height with stock size tires with my dakar medium leafs and bilstein 5100s up front. It rides great both on and off road, IMHO. I’ve been to baja and on many rough roads, no problems. I don’t send it…
For sure, do what you think you’ll need. No need to be ready to run washboards at 60 unless you’re sure that you will do that. I’d say don’t overdo it, you’ll likely never need it.

99.9% of people never need a gun either…



The guy is asking about lifts, and said “I’m not too interested in a lift”

Then you proceed to try and sell him on a $3500 lift system lol

Bilsteins are great shocks and would suit his needs probably perfectly. I get what you’re saying, that the Ironman kit is legit, I’m sure it is but you’re also not listening to what he’s asking for.