Whats the Right Suspension for Me

Hello! I’m looking for some insight specific to my build. I am #693 DeBock, and expecting my camper very soon. I’m posting here because I feel like theres a lot of great minds here with similar ideas. Tacomaworld has been pretty flooded in my research and since we all have the same camper and most of us have tacomas maybe a few of us are in a similar boat. I do not have a thorough understanding of suspension components so please bear with me.

About my truck: 2019 Tacoma TRD OR - DCSB MT. It has skid plates and sliders and soon the GFC. Ive already had too much bed sag on the last trip around the US (September-December). For that trip I was fully loaded and had decked drawers. The drawers are gone now to save weight but they do weigh almost as much as the GFC. I may upgrade front (likely aluminum) and back bumpers (steel) eventually but don’t feel like I need to. I am on stock tires and the pro 16" wheels. At the same time as suspension I will also be putting on on 285/75/16 A/T or Mud Terrain’s.

About me: I like to keep things simple, especially with the truck. I’m always on the move and “living” in the truck for extended periods of time (commonly weeks to months). I usually just sleep in the dirt so the ease of use with the GFC will change my life and for me be quite luxurious in comparison. I spend about half of the year in South America already (mostly Chile). The other half up here where I base in California. The idea with buying the truck was to have a reliable and safe vehicle that I can take anywhere. But Alaska to Patagonia and eventually back to California is the dream. I realize how big of a commitment it will be when I do take it south of the US (which is likely two years out at minimum). I worry that it’s flashy, especially in some countries but it wont be shiny forever and I am a pretty confident and safe traveler. I want to be as self sufficient as possible anywhere I am, so I’m keeping that in mind for anything done to the truck. Any work moving away from stock should be reliable and simple. My work is photography which adds a lot of additional gear to the truck and I’m also constantly loaded with surfing and climbing gear plus the kitchen, food and water tanks. I will usually just have one passenger when fully loaded. I like to get off the beaten path and want to maintain a capable vehicle but will not be intentionally seeking out rocks or tough trails. I don’t want to get stuck or push the vehicles limits unnecessarily and prefer just get out there and explore.

What suspension should I go with and why? I have been looking at Icon and I like how kits are made with parts that are all designed together and work well with each other. It is very expensive but I don’t mind spending more to get it right if thats whats best. It does seem like overkill and everyone who I speak with about Icon suggest the upper stages. I certainly don’t know what stage to go with or if I need all that and the adjustability of the upper stages. Just want to get it right for the weight of the camper and get a better ride. I’m open to other companies and really just looking for what is tried and true. I want to get it on and get out and enjoy it. I know a lot of us are never content and will mess with it endlessly, including myself, but Id like to get it right for my intended use and call it good which Is why I went so in depth about my personal use. Thanks in advance!


I’ve been very happy with the Old Man Emu product - 30k miles on the package on my 2017 Tacoma - Montana winters and Washington Coast surfing summers. Rides and handles well on and off road with GFC/ARB Summit bumper/winch and lots of gear at a fraction of the cost of an ICON package…

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Yea especially since any money not spent here is just going to get me out enjoying it more often. A lot of people seem happy with Old Man Emu. What exactly do you have from them?

Basically I have the OME BP-51 package but without external reservoir shocks (because those shocks require expensive and time consuming overhauls), heavy duty rear springs (for the GFC) and Total Chaos upper control arms (necessary for alignment to work properly). On the road right now and don’t have it in front of me, but I can pass along the specific model of OME shock when I get home tomorrow if needed. Pretty happy with the setup and didn’t break the bank…

Hi. 706 here. I too will be getting my camper soon. I plan to weigh my truck with my camper to see where I am dry weight. I plan to contact Deaver springs to see what they can offer me in addition to rear springs. I’m thinking about Bilstein 6112 F / 5160 R combo in addition to the Deaver stage I or II expedition rear springs. I personally want to stay right around stock height. Still have oem tires, but those will be swapped to Cooper S/T Maxx tires after the GFC pickup road trip. We sound similar in approach. I have cali-raised sliders, but I’m on the fence regarding skids. Just toyota crap “skid plate” currently. I want a capable rig, but I won’t be searching for things to bash my rig on…

Just thought I’d share my thoughts.

Good Luck.

Did you read through this topic already?

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After a lot more reading and talking to headstrong I have narrowed things down quite a bit. I think I’ll be going with an Icon stage 3 kit and Deaver 402’s.

I am just undecided on the Deaver 402 expedition stage ii’s vs iii’s. Can anyone offer their thoughts? I estimate at minimum a 400lb constant load in the bed with the camper. A lot less if I ever roll with the camper off which will be rare and short lived. 600-700 with my regular load and 700-800 when fully loaded (gasoline, water, food, excess equipment) on extended trips or with another person and their gear. I will have a full size spare in or under the bed too. Keep in mind these weights are only what I plan to have in the bed and do not include myself, passengers, skids, sliders or anything in the cab. I also think it will be a long time before a back or front bumper. Im feeling right in the middle between the ii’s and iii’s so some real world experience and tips from other camper owners is much appreciated. It seems from the other post linked above that a couple people here were happy to have the iii’s. The drive from California to Montana to pick up the camper would be leaving me 275lbs shy without the GFC but I don’t want that to reflect this decision and want to get what will be right for my load with the camper.

i have stage III and love them. i have a rear bumper / swingout - sliders etc.

this is a similar set up to yours from @Kwood posted an hour before your post

Suspension upgrades?

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Nice find on that link. @d.shaw I have been looking at your build a bit. Looks similar to mine except I’ll have 285 tires and wont be getting bumpers for a while (But when I do I plan the same thing aluminum front and steel swing out in the back). I think im leaning towards the Deaver iii’s like you, even though I’m probably a bit lighter than you and wont have the back swing out for a long time. My thought is it will be better to be on the lower end of the leaf spring weight during normal driving and be able to really load it up on trips. But would be driving empty at 300-400lbs with just the GFC and some accessories. Especially when the GFC isnt on (like it wont be for the whole drive out to montana), I think i’ll want to intentionally keep as much as I can in the bed. Or I could follow @Kwood and do the Deaver ii’s. I just think fully loaded I could be over 700lbs but its hard to estimate. The other thing is I was planning on just the regular extended coils in the front. I noticed you have the 700lb but with me being stock up front should I get the 700lb to grow into eventually or stick with the regular one. @Kwood what did you do up front?

@BlakeDeBock are you second gen or 3rd? the third is a bit heaiver than a second i guess. i ran 650 until installed the air compressor up front and i went to the 700’s my girlfriends 3rd gen has 700’s and is kinda stock ( no aftermarket bumpers - but has aluminium skid plates and some sliders) and rides lovely (on kings)

as @Kwood did it would seem the stage II would be perfect but i understand wanting to prep for the future, there are a few things on my truck that are the second go at things (originally i had a rear HC with no swingout - had dakar HD leaves) i have had no worries with the stage III when bare, but everyones perception and wants / needs are different

@BlakeDeBock, I have Bilstein 5100. Put in timbren off road bump stops as well.


Mines a 3rd gen. I guess the biggest difference would be I’d be getting Icons.

I’d say get the skids. Personally one of my best friend’s is pushing them hard on me. Theres a lot of important stuff to protect under there. I dont plan on hitting them so I will go light with aluminum. Ive already got steel sliders and now my timeline in order is looking like suspension, tires, then skids. Thinking I can go a long time enjoying myself and forget about bumpers.

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Hey man - I got the same thing. 2019 double cab short bed, decked drawers, camper top, and had a rooftop tent. I had the old man emu 2inch lift kit. It came with new front shocks and coils including a heavy duty rear leaf pack and suspension. It was the cheapest option I could wrap my mind around considering I do similar driving like you.

I also have 18 inch trd pro wheels with a 267/70/17 nitto Ridge grappler. No rubbing on any parts. stock tire size. Looks cool. It drives like it came off the lot and I’d do it again in a heartbearT. Good luck sir.

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Between the weight of decked drawers, some gear, and GFC XL my low cost solution to rear suspension was Bilstien shocks and an additional leaf. I dont think this addressed body roll with a higher center of gravity but it is a start.

This was my first time altering a trucks suspension… while it always looks “cool” I often wondered if it was necessary, mostly out of ignorance (and a bunch of side stories I’ll spare you). I don’t take delivery of my GFC for a couple months yet but this was the last mod prior to delivery that makes the truck truly ready to receive the extra weight of the camper.

My truck is my daily driver and is a 2015 Tacoma DCSB SR5 with 49,000miles. I didn’t initially want to alter the suspension to accommodate the GFC (cost being a big reason) but ultimately research and the want to “do it right”, started to make it clear that upgrades from stock would be needed. I was also approaching the mileage where replacing shocks was due anyway…

That said I walked into my local 4x4 shop (John’s 4x4 in Boulder, CO) and started to tell them what I intended to add to the truck and what my typical driving style is like (yes I agonized over doing the mod myself but in the end was glad I paid someone to do this particular job). I told them this wasn’t a “vanity” lift (not that there’s anything wrong with that), more that I wanted the truck to drive as close to “normal” with the GFC added to the truck.

What follows was added to my truck and so far I’m very happy with the changes and hopefully this helps anyone else on the fence about altering suspension prior to their camper install.

  • Bilstein adjustable height shocks all around

  • Toytec BOSS (aka Deaver) add a leaf pack

  • Timbren bump stops

  • Specialty Products upper control arms

The truck ended up being lifted roughly 3" in the rear and 2.5" in the front. When the GFC is installed it should settle out level at 2.5" front and rear.

Hope this helps, just my 2 cents and what made most “sense” for my budget.

Be well, travel safe.


Great info Following


Now I will say they are not low cost but I have the ICON 3.0 set on option #2 right now. I added the GFC in Montana last week and after a week I know now I need to go up to option #3 which is the third leaf spring. Definitely needed now. I also have a Decked in the bed so the added weight has called for the option #3. I also have a Domestic CFX75, and Pro Eagle Jack in the bed.


CRITICAL TIP FOR ALL SUSPENSION MODS ON SECOND GEN TACOMAS: For anyone putting any kind of lift on a second gen Tacoma (possibly third - I’m not too sure about the diff design), you absolutely have to replace the needle bearing on the driver side of you diff with a bushing replacement from East Coast Gear supply. I found out about this known issue too late and had to replace my diff to the tune of $4k. The needle bearing is really low tolerance and it will eventually fail from loading caused by the change in axle angle. The failure is more or less silent, but will eventually cause a humming from what I understand, at which point it is sending metal shards into the precision gears in your diff. In my case it was in the inner carrier bearing that failed. I went in with, what I thought was a little leak in the diff, only to find out the whole thing was junked. This bushing replacement is a must do if you are changing the angle of departure of the axle from the diff at all.


@Camper1088 I’m here in Boulder as well, do you mind divulging what your setup cost at Johns? Sounds like we’re of similar minds with what we’re liking to accomplish.

GFC 1170