Brrr! Our Ford F-250 and Jeep Gladiator Take on Winter Overlanding (No Pavement Needed, Ep. 6)

We venture into the snow to find out if winter overlanding is worth it. Or not.

A freak Labor Day week snowstorm blanketed the mountains near TFLtruck HQ with more than a foot of heavy wet snow. The whiteout, got us to thinking: How do overlanding rigs handle the cold; deal with slick mud, ice, and snow on the trail; and is winter overlanding even worth the effort? To find out in this episode of our overlanding series, “No Pavement Needed,” Tommy took the wheel of our modified 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon while André fired up our Super Tremor, a 2020 Ford F-250 FX4 with a Carli Suspension lift.

They headed into the high-country to the Colorado ghost town of Caribu, Colorado. In dry, summer weather, the road is a moderately-easy (or is it moderately-difficult) route according to our map partners at onX Offroad. But what about in the middle of a winter dump of snow?

2020 Jeep Gladiator snow
18 inches of snow, melting fast equals big splashes and challenging lines. (image: TFL)

Jeep Gladiator – Smaller Is Better

Thanks to heavy, wet snow weighing down leafed-out trees, the trail into Caribu was much tighter than normal. But not for the Jeep. It had zero problems picking its way through the snow-packed landscape. Even better, the top-of-the-line Rubicon’s creature comforts made life a lot more comfortable. To wit: heated seats, heated steering wheel, and a smaller cabin to heat up.

Winter overlanding in F-250
The overlanding set-up you want for winter. Or Alaska. (image: TFL)

Ford F-250 – Bigger Is Best

Okay, so the Ford doesn’t have a heated steering wheel and can’t go where the Jeep goes without snapping off tree branches with the Four Wheel Camper Hawk slide-in camper on the back. What it can do is offer a heated, escape from the 28-degree F weather and wet. That’s due to the propane heater in the FWC camper, a godsend on a freezing day (or night). No way Tommy’s going to want to spend the night in his Roofnest pop-up tent on the Gladiator. One issue though on the FWC camper: Too much snow on top of the camper’s roof made it too heavy for André to push up the top to standing height. Lesson learned on that one.

So, Yay! or No Way! to Winter Overlanding?

Between the giant F-250 and the relatively nimble Gladiator, we’d go with a combo. The hard-sided, insulated FWC is the way to go when temps go south, thanks to its onboard gas-heat. Put it on the Gladiator for better accessibility and maneuverability on snow-packed trails, and you’d have a winner for your winter overlanding adventures.

Exhibit A for why you should consider a winch on your 4×4. (image: TFL)

Check out more highlights from Tommy and André’s winter wonderland adventure, including max-articulation on the F-250 leading to trail damage and the discovery of an abandoned Jeep Wrangler JK high-centered on a ledge with its front end submerged in snowmelt-filled ditch (above). You’ll also see where André hid this episode’s T-shirt and Ridge Wallet stash which was found by Josh, Evan, and Michael later that week in much sunnier weather (below)