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WHAT SHOULD I BUY? Alaska Truck Connundrum

I am going round and round with myself, and frankly have for years, about what exactly would be the idea truck for my situation.

I have four kids. A few are old enough to drive themselves but ideally I would like to be able to transport the whole family if I needed to. We live in interior Alaska where temps regularly get to -20 in winter, can dip as low as -50 plus, and then hover in the high 80’s for the summer.

We live down a road that would make a mudbogger jealous, but would make anyone else stop drop-jawed and turn around. Really - it is so bad we generally walk ot for about one month in the spring (our melt is rapid and known here as breakup).

We also haul our drinking water. This is common here - in our case we have a 300 gallon tank that sits in the back of the truck. We also haul garbage, assorted stuff, and the occasional moose.

We don’t have a trailer but are open to having one.

Tell me car talking experts - what is the perfect vehicle for me? If it helps, I am thinking late-ish model, but not new.

Let me add - I have recently considered a diesel F350 6.0, and a F-250 Gas engine. Both are 2008. 60K miles on the 350, 90 on the 250.

If It were me I would probably go with a 3 row seating suburban and a trailer.


Any full sized crew cab pickup with the longest box you can find. You are going to need a one ton. Yes I know 300 gal of water is more than One ton but one ton pickups these days are rated at more than that. You for sure need part time 4 wheel drive and maybe locking differentials and mud tires. What brand of truck does the closest dealer carry?

A diesel would be tempting but I would not want to try starting one at -50.

4 kids a mom and a dad is going to be difficult in an extended crew cab I think. Suburban should have about 6,000 lbs towing capacity at the min. ie 3 tons. Should have 4 wheel drive and there is an option to hook up electric brakes for a trailer I believe.

Agree with @oldtimer_11 but would add a normally aspirated engine, no turbo chargers as they can be difficult in cold weather. A small V8 should be sufficient unless you have a steep incline. 4 wheel drive, not AWD and the oversized mudder tires needed to.

A duelly rear would be really nice too but the mudders might not fit.

I’m voting for a 4WD Suburban plus trailer. Can’t fit all those folks in a pickup unless you find one with a bench front seat, but that’d be really crowded.

I d check out vehicles that had proven themselves to be reliable in your conditions.

see what other folks around your parts had had success with and consider those models.

3/4 ton crew cab with bench seats. Seats 6 so all will be “chummy” while riding. The bed for the water tank and no dually’s. The dually axle limits your tire selection and they are really wide.

I like the Suburban suggestion - a 3/4 ton model - but not the trailer. Towing off-road can be a real bear but the Subby doesn’t have enough room in the rear for a tank with the 3rd row of seats.

So a gas crew-cab 3/4 ton truck is my choice, Ford, Chevy or Ram, doesn’t matter so much but pick the one with the best service and parts availability in your area.

But OP needs to haul stuff (300 gal water, garbage, moose) that has no business inside a vehicle. Also, towing a trailer up an unimproved, muddy logging road sounds no es Bueno to me. I think a 1-ton crew cab is the way to go…probably not a lot of parallel parking to do in “interior Alaska.”

Cheap as I am, I’d pick up a DRW 1-ton at gov’t vehicle surplus.

For reference, 300 gal water weighs about 2500 lb, not including the container. Thats 1 1/4 ton.

I’m coming around on the problem with a trailer. @april_lynn_monroe - how often do you make trips that would need a trailer? More important, what do others in your situation drive?

A 4x4 crew cab would probably be better than a Suburban, if it’ll meet your kid moving needs (assuming you can find one with a bench seat up front).

FWIW, the “ton” designations on pickups are a holdover of MILSPEC from the '40s. Progress marches on, and most pickups are expected to haul far in excess of those designations. (Heck, my 1994 F150 has a GVWR and can legally haul a legal ton, provided you ditch the spare, tool box, and keep the tanks under 1/2 full.)

Supposedly, the “F 150/250/350” are supposed to indicate haul weight, in tens of pounds: an F350 ought to haul 3,500#. That’s bunk, too, but a lot closer to the truth that the “1/2, 3/4, 1 ton” ratings.