My name is Dylan Johnston, I’m a photographer and director who’s been living in Brooklyn, NY for nearly ten years but originally from Florida. Growing up in Florida I spent nearly every weekend driving up and down the coast, fishing and surfing and looking for unique areas to photograph.
Most of the time I am traveling for work and exploring new states or countries but several years ago I bought a 1998 Land Cruiser so I could road trip locally and explore NY State how I used to explore Florida. Between living in a the crowded and busy city and flying to nearly every job and working on set with dozens of people I love coming home to Brooklyn and planning small trips and pushing myself to explore new areas and continue that sense of curiosity.
Disconnecting from the city and finding a quiet place to fish or a beach break away from the major crowds or even a cabin upstate is best and doing this with some close friends or my wife is what makes me happiest, especially when I make photos just for myself.
Describe your vehicle:
It’s a bit of a beater 1998 Toyota Land Cruiser 100 Series with 2” suspension lift with rear airbags, ARB compressor rear locker in addition to the factory center diff lock. Accessory battery with 12v outlets inside, rear trail lights and a snorkel all sitting on Falken Wildpeak tires with rock crawler wheels with a potential wheel upgrade coming soon. Most recently I built a drawer system and sleeping platform so I can lock my camera equipment and stealth camp.
The snorkel and oversized tires makes me stand out in Brooklyn!
Describe your favourite feature of your vehicle:
This past December while I was snowed in from a blizzard in upstate New York I built out a drawer system and sleeping platform. I built the drawers a bit oversized in order to fit my most common camera cases, this way all of my most precious gear is additionally locked within the truck. Within the drawers are dividers and I took a very DIY approach and made these pretty cheap, also I made a pull-out table surface between the drawer tops and sleeping platform so I have plenty of space to prep any gear, or I pull it out and use it as a table.
Best adventure you've ever had with your vehicle?
As a plan to escape the cold in NY my wife and I drove from our apartment in Brooklyn to my parents house in Pine Island, Florida, around a 22hour drive in total but we split in to several days camping in Assateague National Seashore, North Carolina, then outside of Savannah. Once in Florida I met with another friend where we drove to the springs and embarked on a 5 night kayak trip down the river. The truck was parked those five days but circling back after a week on the water and loading up the kayaks home was a great experience. From there I made the drive back to Brooklyn on my own, stopping again in Assateague to camp along the beach, this is where I ran out of JetBoil fuel and used the first to boil some ramen.
While I’ve been fishing my whole life I’ve just recently started fly fishing. A friend of mine who’s also new to fly fishing recommended we go to his friends farm upstate and fish the river that cuts just behind his house, it’s about a two hour drive away. A week prior I had my brand new tires installed and was eager to take them on the first road trip.
Most epic stuck/breakdown/wrong turn?
After pulling off the highway early in the morning we start winding our way through small town roads when I look to my friend and say “does the truck feel a little wobbly?” Just the the truck DROPS and rolls hard, so I immediately cut the wheel into a small intersection where the truck then drops again and I see my rear wheel go rolling by me in to traffic.
Luckily nobody was hurt and the truck had almost no damage and a local drove by with a floor jack (my bottle jack didn’t work because the rear axle was on the ground) and we had the truck lifted up in a few minutes. Somehow my friend found one of the lug nuts down the road about 1/4 mile away and I pulled one off of each other wheel and we slowly inched our way to the farm. Didn’t end up fishing.
Any advice to someone thinking of getting into a custom adventure vehicle?
Patience. These are typically older vehicles so many parts are starting to fail so be ready to turn a wrench and spend more time and money getting your rig right before any major trips. I personally carry a set of basic tools in the trunk and try to fix things before they break down. Being able to leave the pavement and find your own adventures is a lot of fun but having the patience and some basic knowledge with tools is essential. Also you don’t always need to go for the flashy or most expensive option, often the most crucial pieces on my truck are for the suspension or engine where nobody will ever see them. Awnings and track pads look cool mounted on the roof rack but prioritize safety and efficiency first.