I just joined the site yesterday...for a brief profile of my 'set-up', look on 6/4/10......Of everything I'm utilizing, I think the front mounted scooter carrier was the most interesting...my goal was to be able to transport two (Vespa-like) scooters on my Tacoma without using the bed...I inquired about a dual carrier on the rear, but the tongue weight became an issue when I wanted to tow my small tent trailer behind the scooters...as a last resort I researched the front mounted 'hidden hitch'.
I purchased one over the net (designed specifically for my model/year)...and also bought a carrier...so the day came to try it out...I rolled my Yamaha 'Razz' up the ramp & secured w/ratcheted tie downs...the first problem arose when trying to enter an elevated driveway...the bottom of the carrier contacted the pavement...a subsequent purchase of a 8" drop hitch (used in the reverse position) solved this issue.
Now the story enters a different realm...one of 'mind over matter'...the carrier extends almost 3 feet in front of the bumper...the scooter is small enough that visibility over the top was clear...the main issue was one of sheer fright...the mental image of hitting a large pot-hole or a 2 X 4 in the road...having the whole unit break free of the vehicle...then driving over the scooter, losing control of my Tacoma, then crashing...this mental image was hard to 'shake off'.
But, so far, everything has been ok...there was some free-play where the carrier support tube fits into the receiver...but I purchased a simple device which aleviates this. I initially drove around my town on some surface streets...slowly increased my speed...then eventually tried the freeway.
I've had friends ask me..."Is that thing legal ?" ...actually, I was at a loss for words...I really didn't know...I contacted the CHP...the guy initially sounded negative and was implying 'no' to the legality of it...I said "Are you positive ?" ...he took my cell # & said he'd call me back...when he called back, his 'tune' had changed...he had researched the actual law and informed me of the criteria I'd have to meet for it to be considered legal...I passed on all accounts.
So, if I was to pose a question here, it would be: is the frame of my truck strong enough to handle such a load? My girlfriend has doubts...that's why I joined this forum in the first place...hopefully to reassure her. She also has doubts as regards to the 2.4 L engine having enough power to handle the load of all the extra weight (2 scooters, 2 kayaks, tent trailer, camping gear in bed).
As far as the engine size goes, I'm a little skeptical myself as well; keep in mind though, that all the aformentioned 'extra weight' items are all relatively the smallest and lightest examples of each in their respective categories. One thing I have considered is to possibly purchase a 6 cylinder Tacoma to replace my present 4 cylinder...I believe all of my accessories (collapsible truck shell, hidden hitch, etc.) will all fit on the 6 cylinder model, because in essence, the frame/body is the same as the 4 cylinder.
I've researched camping on BLM property...I prefer this over customary campsites...BLM campsites are more secluded...in many instances, harder to reach as well with a large RV or truck...I believe a smaller set-up like I'm designing will be able to reach more 'out of the way' options.
My Lees-ure-lite 'Excel' tentrailer has an additional 'add-a-room' which connects to one side; in this I have a flushable porta-potty, a hot water shower, a sink set 'flush' inside a plastic shelving unit, extra storage space. On the opposite side of the tentrailer is an awning which connects to the tent. I have a 100 qt. ice chest which lasts for 5 days. I have 3 jerry cans for water. I'm more/less self contained for up to 5 days at a time.