SPARTACUS: A NATURAL LEADER

Drive!|August 2020

SPARTACUS: A NATURAL LEADER
American Adventure Lab Gladiator
BRYON DORR
Standing out in the sea of Gladiators at SEMA Show 2019 was Brit Mansell’s 2020 Jeep Gladiator, nicknamed Spartacus. As the owner of American Adventure Lab (AAL), Mansell used the Gladiator platform to show off the new product offerings from his company. Loaded with top-quality parts, this truck especially shows off AAL’s new truck bed platform rack with an integrated rooftop tent (RTT) system. Making its debut at the SEMA Show 2019 in the Overland Experience area, this Gladiator shows ingenuity and style—reasons why it stood out to us.

Building from Top Down

The whole idea for this build was to show off the latest products from AAL and be Mansell’s daily driver and overland adventure machine. The component that really set this Gladiator apart from the crowd—and there was a massive number of Gladiators at SEMA this year—was the ATLAS (Articulating Tent Level and Slide) system.

The ATLAS system is an integrated optional component in the AAL truck bed rack, which is part of AAL’s Modular Adaptable Storage System (MASS) product line. The ATLAS system holds an RTT mid rack when stowed. The real party trick, however, is that the tent deploys out of the back of the rack on an articulating leveling and slide system. The unique motion characteristics of the tent platform completely eliminate the need to level your vehicle when setting up camp. The tent can be leveled independently of the truck in about 2 minutes with one person. Sure, the system creates a nice level-low sleeping platform, but it also does so much more.

The ATLAS system, combined with the AAL truck bed rack, keeps the Overlanding Offroad Wasatch Basin tent out of the wind for better aerodynamics when driving, keeps the truck’s center of gravity low, opens up the top of the rack for bulky adventure gear—or even another RTT—and still offers up a full truck bed’s worth of cargo capacity. The AAL Gladiator is set up with two 1Up bike trays and a prototype AAL kayak cradle on top. On the MOLLE mount panels on the sides of the rack are Rotopax, MAXTRAX, a Hi-Lift, a Tyger Tactical Shovel and an AAL Hatchet, with room to spare.

“THE ATLAS SYSTEM, COMBINED WITH THE AAL TRUCK BED RACK, KEEPS THE OVERLANDING OFFROAD WASATCH BASIN TENT OUT OF THE WIND FOR BETTER AERODYNAMICS WHEN DRIVING, KEEPS THE TRUCK’S CENTER OF GRAVITY LOW, OPENS UP THE TOP OF THE RACK FOR BULKY ADVENTURE GEAR—OR EVEN ANOTHER RTT—AND STILL OFFERS UP A FULL TRUCK BED’S WORTH OF CARGO CAPACITY.”

Rolling Right

With the bed rack containing all the overland and outdoor adventure gear, it was time to make the Gladiator pickup capable of getting to those remote trailheads, kayak launches, and epic campsites. First up was suspension, wheels, and tires.

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August 2020