The guys over at Expedition Overland truly get it. They've put together some great videos of their backcountry adventures. Check out a preview here:
Their videos show that you don't have to spend a fortune on vehicle mods to be able to access the backcountry, but it definitely helps. It's funny to watch their near-stock Toyotas struggling at times on trails that are easy for a stock Jeep Wrangler - never mind a well-equipped Rubicon like I'm in the process of building! At least they have high end recovery gear and survival know-how for when they bite off more than they can chew.
I'm of the belief that a great deal of safety comes from using equipment that's designed to perform well beyond the level to which it's actually taken. The little 8-inch rear axle and fragile IFS with only a 7.5-inch front gearset in the Tacoma is the same as what's in the FJ Cruiser and 4Runner, and are the primary reason why I bought a Jeep instead of a Toyota. Sure, the Toyota running gear can handle up to a 33" tire reliably, but the big solid axles and deep gearing in the Rubicon are designed with durability in mind for up to 37" tires.