Expedition Portal http://expeditionportal.com Mon, 05 Oct 2015 07:09:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Why 4x4s Are Better In Australiahttp://expeditionportal.com/why-4x4s-are-better-in-australia/ http://expeditionportal.com/why-4x4s-are-better-in-australia/#comments Mon, 05 Oct 2015 07:09:12 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=30859 Australia is filled with poisonous shit that’s constantly trying to kill you. But it’s also filled with the world’s best four-wheel drive vehicles. Yeah, basically everything the little off-road enthusiast inside of you has ever wanted is here. And I just moved here in order to drive it.

We’ll start from smallest to largest.

Suzuki Jimny


You could compare the Suzuki Jimny to a mini-horse. It’s a proper four-wheel drive with all the correct bits in the right places, just smaller. It’s also adorable, just like mini-horses. Packing 1.3-liters of fuel-injected gasoline fury, the Jimny might not be as slow as you’d think a solid axle, body-on-frame 4X4 would be, but it’s not exactly fast. With its 84 horsepower, it has no problem cruising at around 65mph, but I wouldn’t exactly ask it to do much more.

While it’s one of the cheapest Japanese-made four-wheel drives on the market, it doesn’t feel cheap. In fact, it’s actually fairly well made. At this price point, you wouldn’t expect aniline leather, but the (abundant) plastic feels solid — like it’s built to last a lifetime of teenage abuse.

Did I mention it gets 33mpg?


Would it sell in America? 

It’s probably about as safe as a tin can, and about as powerful as a Chevy Spark, but it’s cheap and has a proper low range gear box with solid axles at both ends. At the current conversion rate, the Suzuki Jimny would start around $15,990, and I think there are plenty of ‘Zook’ diehards that’d pay the price. At least it would make their lineup less boring, but then again, Suzuki would actually have to sell vehicles to have a lineup.

You can read my full review in Unsealed 4X4. 

Land Rover Defender 90



Because pedestrians can’t be responsible for their own safety and European politicians don’t have the balls to tell people to look both ways before crossing the street, Land Rover is killing off the Defender this year. Which really sucks for everyone that didn’t have the chance to drive the latest — and possibly greatest — Defender ever.

The newest Defender is fitted with a Getrag 6-speed manual gearbox from the Mustang GT, and an incredibly torquey 2.2-liter turbo-diesel engine from the Ford Transit (albeit slightly reworked). It’s a sign that Land Rover is finally starting to realise they need to stop involving themselves in anything complicated which is designed to contain oil, though it’s too little too late.


It has air conditioning which works, a slightly revamped seating position that doesn’t require you to permanently have your arm out the window to fit in the car, and the same LR3-inspired dashboard which has been around for a few years. Off-road it’s nimble thanks to its short wheelbase, and controllable courtesy of its modern traction control. It’s also the sexiest box to ever be put on four wheels.

Would it sell in America?

Land Rover need not look further than the cackles of Jeep Wranglers flying out the door at exorbitant prices to realise they shit the bed. (The Defender is Land Rover’s most basic model, and it’s not uncommon for a Wrangler Unlimited to rival the pricing of base LR4 models.) Land Rover stopped selling the Defender because it was too expensive to fit airbags and safety restraints, and the U.S. D.O.T required them after 1997.

Here’s the rest of my thoughts about the Defender.

Izuzu MU-X



You probably don’t know what the MU-X is, and you probably won’t care because it’s not exactly one of those four-wheel drives made from unobtainium and hen’s teeth. But it’s probably the only proper diesel four-wheel drive that ever has a chance of coming to America, so listen up.

The MU-X is a 7-seat SUV based on the D-MAX pick-up, which shares a lot in common with the Holden Colorado, which is essentially the Chevy Colorado that America just got. It has a flexy coil-sprung, solid axle rear end a coilover front-end, and an available rear differential lock, factory bull bar and snorkel. Its 3.0-liter Isuzu diesel will comfortably return 25-28mpg on the highway, and at least for Australia, it’s relatively affordable; priced at around $40,000 (at current rates) for a range-topping model with leather, navigation, dual-zone climate control, and a drop down 10-inch DVD screen for the kiddos.


Would it sell in America?

Provided the stereotypical mid-sized SUV buyer in America grew some balls and decided to stop buying car-based SUVs, I think it’d sell like hotcakes. It’s a great size, it returns great fuel economy, and it will actually go off-road. There’s no reason the Chevy version shouldn’t be sold here.

I compare it to the venerable Toyota Land Cruiser 70-Series in my full review.

Nissan Patrol



For those of you who don’t know what the Nissan Patrol is, you could think of it as a vehicle similarly-sized and equipped to the Land Cruiser, without the Toyota Tax. It has one of the strongest drivelines ever fitted to a four-wheel drive wagon, and it’s quite sharp looking too, some would say more aggressive and better-looking than the Land Cruiser.

It’s equipped with solid front and rear coil sprung axles and has an optional factory rear diff lock. They even offer it in a pick-up form with a single cab, and if you so require it, leaf springs for better towing and weight carrying ability. So you’re probably thinking that it sounds like quite a nice vehicle, maybe something you’d like to own. But I haven’t told you about its 3.0-liter engine yet, which is about as good at being a diesel engine as a cat. It’s terrible.

Would it sell in America? 

I think it would sell about as well in America as gun control would at an NRA convention. The interior on most models is that awkward type of chenille fabric only found in ‘80s Chrysler K-cars, hardly what American buyers would expect for the roughly $50,000 (converted) price tag. Oh, and the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel puts out a paltry 160hp and 280 ft/lbs which is…barely sufficient to move the 5500lb beast. On the plus side, it gets 24mpg.

Toyota Land Cruiser 70-Series



So many people want the 70-Series Land Cruiser in America that they’ve actually started a Facebook page which has almost 7,000 likes. It’s the direct descendant of the iconic 40-Series Land Cruiser, and an icon in its own right, having been in production since 1984. The latest versions are available with a powerful, yet economical turbo-diesel V8, and a coil-sprung front end for ride comfort.

This is a car that you buy for utility (air conditioning is optional) and is as far as you can get from the bloated 200-Series Land Cruiser that Toyota offers for sale in America. It has vinyl floors, crank windows and a factory-fitted snorkel. There’s also the option for front and rear electronic differential locks and twin factory diesel tanks. You’ve probably seen them in war torn countries on both sides of the fence, serving as the vehicle of choice for the United Nations, and rebels alike (who enjoy the ability to mount anti-aircraft weapons in the back).


Would it sell in America? 

Well, if there’s one thing for sure, it’s that the current Land Cruiser offered for sale in America certainly doesn’t sell. But that’s because it’s uninspiring, bulbous, and a bit bland. The 70-series could be perfect for the guy that doesn’t quite need a 3/4 ton pickup, but still wants the diesel grunt, reliability, and off-road prowess.

Dear Toyota, please stop spending millions and millions on vehicles like the FJ Cruiser in an attempt to show us you have a soul, and just give us the damn Land Cruiser you already make.


By the way, here’s my 70-Series. We’ve named it Snoopy and we’ve built it up for some serious outback travel.

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Field Tested: Spyderco Squarehead Folder Titaniumhttp://expeditionportal.com/field-tested-spyderco-squarehead-folder-titanium/ http://expeditionportal.com/field-tested-spyderco-squarehead-folder-titanium/#comments Fri, 02 Oct 2015 07:26:28 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=30741 In an industry rife with similarities and subtle nuances between products, it is refreshing to see the occasional departure from the norm. That said, different isn’t always a good thing, although it sure works for Spyderco’s Squarehead Folder.

At only 2-inches long when closed with a small 1.3-inch blade, the uniquely shaped square blade is made from high quality CMP S30V powder metallurgy stainless steel. Powdered metal is not to be confused with other powdered products like say, Tang. Powdered metal is a high-zoot process whereby all of the individual elements of a particular metal alloy are mixed in powdered form, then heated to evenly melt those elements together. It creates a metal alloy with even distribution of the various components. In the case of the Squarehead, that results in a blade with exceptional edge-holding qualities. That single-sided edge, when folded, is protected by a small raised guard within the inner edge of the handle.

The handle of the Squarehead is machined from titanium, that metal we have all come to associate with all things exotic. The most interesting feature of the knife is the locking mechanism which is machined from the same piece of metal as the handle itself. The small tongue of titanium at the center of the handle acts as the spring and the lock.





Easily opened thanks to the iconic Spyderco hole in the blade, it feels remarkably comfortable in hand. The dimensions of the Squarehead make it surprisingly easy to use unlike many small knives which are just shrunken iterations of bigger models. The main pivot of the knife is curiously solid and doesn’t yield any noticeable flex.

As one of those knife users prone to balk at the size and heft of many knives, I’ve come to really appreciate the Squarehead and find it fits perfectly in the coin pocket of my jeans. For a knife with this level of forward thinking, and made of titanium and powdered metal, the $130 asking price seems more than reasonable.

Innovation is a wonderful thing when executed properly, and Spyderco nailed it with the unique and useful Squarehead Folder.






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What Happens When You Press the SOS Button?http://expeditionportal.com/what-happens-when-you-press-the-sos-button/ http://expeditionportal.com/what-happens-when-you-press-the-sos-button/#comments Thu, 01 Oct 2015 07:20:01 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=31320 A few years ago I wrote an article for Overland Journal reviewing the best personal locator beacons and satellite-based emergency communicators on the market. Not all too much has changed since then with regard to the products and services available, but I continue to get questions about which system I recommend, why, and what my experiences with these units have brought to bear in the years since that first editorial. I get questions about battery life, coverage areas, features, but I almost never get asked the one question everyone should:


When you push the help button, exactly who receives that call?


For most of the people using satellite based devices, they are either using a SPOT or Delorme inReach. Both have a dedicated help button that issues a Mayday to a first response center at GEOS Alliance. So, who and what is GEOS, and how do they factor into the response process?


GEOS Worldwide, LTD is an independent emergency response organization headquartered outside of Houston, Texas. Their high-tech underground facility is the central component in their International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC). That facet of their operation is somewhat self explanatory. When GEOS receives a distress call, their IERCC department swings into action to coordinate an immediate and appropriate response. Sounds simple enough, but what does that actually mean?

A subcontractor of SPOT and Delorme, GEOS is tasked with receiving inbound distress calls, determining their location, then initiating the dispatch of emergency resources known to service that location. To achieve this end, GEOS maintains a database of local first-responder assets in over 130 countries and maintains an on-call translator service to facilitate communications in more than 200 languages. GEOS also maintains a large network of offices around the globe in Perth, Marrakech, Paris, London, New York, San Jose, and Los Angeles.


Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 11.20.40 AM



You pressed the SOS button. Now what happens?

If you have a SPOT device and you press the SOS button, you unfortunately have to place all of your trust in it and hope help will arrive. As a one-way communicator, once you press the help button, there is no way for GEOS to contact you on scene. However, the process by which help is summoned is rather straight forward.

After the SOS message is received by GEOS, the location of the signal is then referenced with the emergency first responder assets closest to that location. Not knowing the nature of the emergency has some limitations. In most cases, the first assets dispatched will be law enforcement and/or medical response teams. These responders are operating without specifics until they arrive on scene. They may not even have the means to access your location and may in turn have to contact Search and Rescue if available.

Simultaneously, as the first response teams are being dispatched, the agents within GEOS and the IERCC team contact the phone numbers listed on the individual SPOT owner’s account. This  includes the registered user’s number and the emergency contact associated with that account. This is an attempt by GEOS to gather critical information, but comes with obvious limitations. The emergency contact, if reachable, seldom knows anything about the emergency. The registered user is often out of communication range, otherwise they wouldn’t be relying only on the SPOT device for emergency communications.


It’s within this constrained one-way communication system that delays happen and multiple dispatch calls need to be made. This is not to say the system is flawed. It is however––slow. Plus, the party on scene waiting for help has no way to confirm that help is coming.


Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 11.28.42 AM



For users of inReach devices, which again push a signal straight to GEOS, the two-way communications of the device add an unmatched level of expediency and specificity to help aid the response effort.

When the help button on an inReach is pressed and the distress call received by GEOS, a two-way line of communication is opened. GEOS can request details pertinent to the type of emergency, condition of victims, and location specifics like how accessible is the scene to standard first responder vehicles. The victims on scene can then be informed of how long it will take for a rescue to reach them, or what they might need to do to better their chances of rescue. The victims on scene can even be given critical life saving medical instructions over the inReach device.


The procedure for dispatching help directed at an inbound SOS call are relatively unchanged throughout the entire GEOS global network. It’s important to understand that GEOS can only alert the authorities proximal to the distress signal. It does not facilitate the response or effectiveness of those resources. Although unlikely, there are places in the globe where rescue assets are simply not available.

With the button pushed, and now better understanding who might be arriving and how they learned of your predicament, the only variable is whether or not you have SPOT’s one-way communication or inReach’s indespensible, and possibly life-saving two-way comms.


In my opinion, one backed up by my personal choice to protect myself with the best safety net possible, I use the inReach system and trust it wherever I am in the world.




TIPS for your best chance of survival

  • Always maintain accurate account information associated with your device and service.
  • Understand how your primary emergency contact factors into a successful rescue and provide them with as much information as possible about your trip, its members and any other critical details.
  • Before you venture into an area, research the first response assets allocated to that area. Know who will come if needed and how long it will take them to reach you.
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Featured Motorcycle: BMW HP2 Endurohttp://expeditionportal.com/featured-motorcycle-bmw-hp2-enduro/ http://expeditionportal.com/featured-motorcycle-bmw-hp2-enduro/#comments Wed, 30 Sep 2015 07:35:10 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=31563 The BMW HP line of motorcycles is a special group of highly engineered machines produced in low numbers. They are rare, exclusive and attract owners as unique as the bikes themselves.

I own a 2006 HP2 Enduro. When I ride, I often have other riders come up and ask me what kind of BMW it is. When I meet other owners of the HP2, I can sense the passion and excitement that they have about it. Often times they even own more than one. Why do these people seem to have such an obsession with the HP2?

The easiest way I can describe it is that these motorcycles have soul and personality that others don’t. It’s loud, it growls and the bikes are very light & easy to move around.

We had the chance to speak with BMW Motorrad Product Manager, Sepp Mächler, to get the backstory on the development, design and even the future of the HP program.

Below is our interview with Sepp, in its entirety. We included all of it in hopes that his answers would shed light on questions other enthusiasts may have about the program.


RIDE & WANDER: Where did the inspiration for the overall HP2 program come from?

Sepp Mächler: “HP” stands for “High Performance”. This does not only mean high engine output, but also the highest performance of the motorcycle as a whole. HP stands for exclusive products developed for customers who want a motorcycle which is built in exclusive numbers and with high-quality components.

HP models often also exclusively feature technical innovations (e.g. DOHC boxer engine with HP2 Sport, DDC with HP4 etc.), sometimes years before they are available in large series production. The 2 stands for two, the 4 stands for four cylinders.

But “HP” stands for a lot more than “only” highly exclusive motorcycles. It also stands for a broad range of HP Performance parts and HP Race parts to further enhance the performance of and to personalize our standard models. These accessories include high-quality lightweight and tuning components made of carbon-fibre, exclusive CNC-milled running gear components, forged wheels, Race Powerkit etc. Depending on the components chosen and the overall combination of features, the customer is able to further reduce the overall weight of the motorcycle for even better handling. Beautiful in their design and appearance, BMW Motorrad High Performance Parts and the most sophisticated materials also ensure customisation to the highest standard, making each motorcycle a genuine eye-catcher.

It also stands for the BMW Motorrad HP Race Support: A BMW Motorrad expert team that professionally supports customer sport teams around the world on a very flexible basis – from technical advice via HP Race parts to full racing support.

The idea of an HP motorcycle had already been haunting enthusiasts for 20 years by the time the first HP model was brought on the way. BMW Motorrad still keeps a few prototypes, some of which were partly of private nature. But only with the (back then) new flat twin generation did BMW Motorrad have the technical basis for manufacturing a truly convincing bike on a production basis. All earlier ideas and attempts had to make too many compromises and were never fully convincing. But then the time had come for such a motorcycle by BMW Motorrad.

The first motorcycle of the HP family was the HP2 Enduro (back then only called HP2, 2005-2007).

The HP2 (Enduro) was developed by a small but highly dedicated team of specialists, engineers and mechanics fully committed to the Boxer and also dedicated in their private lives to off-road motorsport, working beyond the usual processes of series development under the simple and straightforward motto that “only an enthusiastic professional can offer another enthusiastic professional what he really wants”. To highlight the sporting enduro qualities of the new HP2 (Enduro), BMW Motorrad supported and managed private racing teams which entered the HP2 (Enduro) in various off-road events around the world. This more or less also counts for all other HP models that followed. Behind every HP motorcycle stands a team of highly professional and passionate experts who are determined to take “their” bike – within its respective segment – to the max.

With the HP2 (Enduro) a dream of many Boxer fans came true: BMW Motorrad presented a truly uncompromising, sporting and exceptionally light enduro (>28kg than R 1200 GS MY 2005) – a Boxer built for the off-road enthusiast and the most demanding tracks in the world. Purist, but nevertheless stylish and perfectly equipped with the finest, carefully considered features, the BMW HP2 (Enduro) had everything it takes for unrestricted riding pleasure off the beaten track and was perfect as the “basic” machine for amateur enduro motorsport. More than any other motorcycle, the HP2 (Enduro) capitalised in full on rough terrain on the benefits of the Boxer concept with its low centre of gravity. But at the same time the HP2 (Enduro), with its almost playful handling, low weight, and high-performance power unit, offered supreme riding pleasure also on the road. So considering the many options it offers the rider, the HP2 (Enduro) was by that time the most powerful and by far the best off-road Boxer of all times.


RW: When did the program officially begin?

SM: The first motorcycle of the HP family was the HP2 Enduro (back then only called HP2, 2005-2007). The development of the motorcycle took three years.


RW: What were the initial goals? What did you hope to accomplish with these bikes?

SM: BMW Motorrad – being a premium brand – wanted to top its model line-up with some very exclusive, “high-end premium” models. We also wanted to show the customers, that although we are proud that our best selling models like the R 1200 GS for example cover a broad variety of riding challenges, we are also able to develop motorcycles with a very sharp profile and clear focus on the intended use – making no compromises.

With the HP program, BMW Motorrad offers motorcycles designed and built without compromises for the highest standards of performance, quality, and exclusivity. The High Performance accessories line follows the same principle, enabling the really demanding rider of a BMW motorcycle to enjoy an utmost standard of function with even greater sporting orientation, individual design and optical tuning. With all components being perfectly matched to one another, together with the wide range of fine and well-conceived details, riding pleasure of the highest calibre is guaranteed.

BMW High Performance motorcycles are truly outstanding: exclusive and authentic, they will always remain relatively rare. To show its exclusivity, each motorcycle of the HP4 for example is issued with its own HP4 serial number which is engraved indelibly in the upper fork bridge.


RW: What was the development process like? How much autonomy did the program have from the rest of the BMW’s production line?

SM: The first model – the HP2 Enduro – was developed by a small but highly dedicated team of specialists, engineers and mechanics fully committed to the Boxer and also dedicated in their private lives to off-road motorsport, working beyond the usual processes of series development under the simple and straightforward motto that “only an enthusiastic professional can offer another enthusiastic professional what he really wants”.

This also counts for all other HP models that followed. Each HP model is being developed by a highly motivated team, which provides special knowledge of the very niche the model aims at. The development team of the HP2 Enduro for example featured people with good knowledge of and passion for Enduro racing. The HP2 Sport project team consisted of on-road racing enthusiasts and real racers. Each project asks for its own composition of know-how and enthusiasm. All professional knowledge then get´s linked in the project.

These specialized, rather small teams do indeed have a certain freedom and don´t always work within the regular development processes.

Of course all regular BMW Motorrad testing and safeguarding regulations apply.


RW: Were the Enduro, Megamoto, and Sport conceived all at the same time? Or separately? Was it the same team that worked on all three?

SM: The HP2 Enduro was the first bike to bring the HP idea to life. And customers loved it! So other teams sat down and thought about other possible variants – but all dedicated to the principle of “High Performance”.

RW: What were some of the greatest challenges that the program faced?

SM: Because with HP models some development happens offside the regular processes and also because of the extraordinarily high standards each HP product has it´s thrilling fascinating story of it´s own. Special projects like the HP motorcycles demand a certain flexibility regarding development processes – this sometimes becomes a challenge within a larger company. Also the idea of such specialized bikes demands a lot of imagination capabilities on the management side – here solid reasonable argumentation is essential.

RW: When did BMW officially end the HP2 program? What were the reasons? And is there any chance they will revive it in the future?

SM: BMW Motorrad did not officially end the HP program. It´s true – right now we have no HP model on offer. But never say never…!

RW: Hypothetically, if they were to make a fourth HP2 model, what style bike would you like it to be?

SM: We have many cool ideas for new HP models. And considering the nature of the development of the HP bikes, one could easily imagine that one or the other bike is already being built, after working hours, in a workshop somewhere in Munich…


Foreword and photos by Nick Johnson (www.rideandwander.com)

Interview questions by Michael van Vliet (http://michaelvanvliet.com/)

Special thank you to Ben Lamprecht, Roy Oliemuller and Sepp Mächler​
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Field Tested: Therm-a-Rest Treo Chairhttp://expeditionportal.com/field-tested-therm-a-rest-treo-chair/ http://expeditionportal.com/field-tested-therm-a-rest-treo-chair/#comments Tue, 29 Sep 2015 07:33:37 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=31890 I’m fairly confident in assuming that many of you, like me, have evolved well beyond the days of sitting on rocks and fallen logs. As camp chairs get smaller, lighter, and more comfortable, a relaxing repose around camp is easier than ever. The Treo Chair from Therm-a-Rest is my favorite backcountry throne and for a number of reasons.

At just over 2-pounds, I concede the Treo isn’t featherlight. It has some heft to it making it perhaps too heavy for some pursuits like bike or backpacking, but for motorcycle or vehicle travel, it’s actually quite light. When packed within its three-sided hard shell cocoon, it is only 4.5-inches in diameter by 10.5-inches in length. In other words, pretty tiny for what it is. Once assembled, a procedure that I can complete in under two minutes, the Treo is surprisingly big and truly comfortable..





Unlike similar chairs that transform into a low-slung bucket for your butt, the Treo has a high perch. I attribute much of its comfort to that extra height and the wide, 20-inch seat with near vertical sides. Other similar chairs have a funky funnel shape that just feels odd after a few minutes squeezed within their confines. The back of the Treo is again, wide, flat, and comfortable.

Many have asked how supportive the three legs are. On firm ground, they’re as supportive as any four-legged sitter, but on soft ground you will want to keep your wits about you. With a maximum weight capacity of 250-pounds, the Treo is an impressive piece of furniture considering how simple it is.






From what I can gather, the materials and design are so well paired, I have a hard time envisioning any part of the chair failing. It is extremely well made, with nice refined touches like small grab-tabs at the corners of the nylon seat to help with assembly. That nylon seat is constructed with white Dyneema ripstop. Dyneema is a fiber similar to Kevlar and extremely durable.

The one thing I love about the Treo above all is the lack of a stuff-sack. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hunted around a campsite looking for the bag for my other chairs. The Treo’s aluminum stays and nylon seat pack within the three heavy duty ABS plastic base legs. A stout rubber strap, held captive to one leg, holds the entire package in one tight bundle. In its closed form, it seems positively indestructible.


Sold for $100 and made in the USA, I think it is a great value as well. Good chairs are hard to find, and this category of compact furniture is becoming a competitive market, but I see the Treo quickly earning a loyal following. You can count me amongst the converts.





The images above were shot with Sony’s new RX100IV point and shoot. Click the banner below for more information.

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 12.56.44 AM


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Goose Gearhttp://expeditionportal.com/goose-gear/ http://expeditionportal.com/goose-gear/#comments Mon, 28 Sep 2015 09:28:55 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=31720 Sometimes you reach a point where it is necessary to upgrade some of your overlanding gear. We feel we have reached that time with our current storage system in the back of our Lexus. Lexy is our trusty steed, a Lexus GX 470 that we love and have kitted out as an overlanding rig. We felt that our storage system could be (greatly) improved upon. So, we contacted Brian Fulton and Matt Hebel of Goose Gear in Westminster, CA to custom build us a drawer system with a fridge slide to be accessed from the rear door.
goose gear finished install in Lexy-1

Some of the factors we discussed with Goose Gear was that we wanted to be able to store most of our valuables and gear securely out of sight within, between and beside lockable drawer unit. Our current drawers did not open all the way up, requiring us to unload the front of the drawer to access the contents in the back of the drawer. This needed to be remedied. So, the drawers had to open all the way up to allow easy access to all of the contents. We needed to have space that would fit our current 82 quart ARB fridge that would enable it to slide out for easy access and still have useable storage above it. Being able to securely strap larger things to the top was important to us as well. In the event of a fender bender or just a rough trail, no one wants to be clobbered with gear that takes flight. Last but, certainly not least, we let them know, we have a deep loathing for squeaks and rattles. As you may know all too well, squeaks and rattles are the banes of anyone that drives on long, bumpy, rocky, rutted, washboard roads and trails.
The obligatory “before” image
Adventure Driven Lexus GX470 pre drawer install-1
Removing the carpet in preparation of the installation. 

Lexy empty-1

With all of these necessary things discussed, Brian and Matt confidently let us know, all of our wishes could be accommodated. Out of the many color choices, we chose gray and red. We sent him some measurements and set a time to drive to the Goose Gear headquarters to have Lexy retrofitted with her new Euro style storage system. The day before we left home, we unloaded all of the camping gear that lives in the back of Lexy into reusable shopping bags and removed the current storage system.

Kande holding goose gear part-1
We had decided to camp for a few days at the coast while we were waiting for the Goose Gear to be installed. So, the bags of our gear got put back into Lexy, we loaded the fridge and excitedly took off to CA the next morning. Each day we would drive to the Goose Gear shop, unload the camping gear, let them do their work, at the end of the day reload the gear and drive to the coast to camp. We stayed at Crystal Cove campground. It was a comical situation for the next few days, as we tried to locate all of the various types of gear that we thought we had placed in the bags in an organized manner. Things quickly became even more disorganized with all of the loading and unloading. The second morning, it took what seemed like forever to find the coffee and the tools necessary to accomplish brewing and enjoying a simple cup of it. This was the moment when we really began to look forward to getting the Goose Gear storage system installed and things solidly organized again.


Matt  installing goose gear drawer in Lexy-1

We had the rare opportunity to get a tour of the Goose Gear workshop. We got to see a glimpse of how Brian and Matt, with experience and care, measure, program and set to work the CNC machine and handcraft various components of the Goose Gear storage system. Then we got out of their way to allow the masters to complete the masterpiece that is now securely in its new Lexus home. Truly, what they do there, is create high-quality, functional works of art. We are grateful how they listened to us about the things that we required in the design of the storage units. Not only do we appreciate the outstanding quality and workmanship of this drawer system, but we also love the clean Euro appearance.

Lexy Goose gear-1
After the Goose Gear storage system had been installed, we placed and organized the pile of what appeared to be junk within the drawers. There was so much room to spare, we kept wandering around looking for what we were sure we had forgotten. Only when we were comfortably certain that we had not forgotten anything, did we say our goodbyes and how grateful we were to have our custom Goose Gear storage system. We are excited to get the chance to use it in a few days when we go to Cruiser Fest near Salt Lake City and on to some Idaho adventures after that. Thanks go out to Brian and Matt for the phenomenal job they did at custom building our new and improved storage system!




table saw-1 matt goose gear adventure driven-1   making the laminet-1    goose gear spray glue-1  drawer install goose gear-1 C&C machine goose gear-1 brush c&C machine-1 brian c&C machine-1  Adventure Driven goose gear drawer-1 Adventure Driven goose gear drawer fitment bearings goose gear adventure driven-1 Adventure Driven goose gear drawer bearings goose gear adventure driven-1 Adventure Driven drawer guide install goose gear-1
Matt and Brian installing goose gear in Lexy-1

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North America’s Aging Fleet of Overlandershttp://expeditionportal.com/north-americas-aging-fleet-of-overlanders/ http://expeditionportal.com/north-americas-aging-fleet-of-overlanders/#comments Mon, 28 Sep 2015 07:48:44 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=31031 One of the water cooler conversations oft had at the Overland International office has to do with the golden age of overland vehicles, an epoch generally awarded to the mid to late 1990s. Scott Brady has an actual year he favors as the zenith of the North American overland truck, which as I recall is circa 1997.

This has many overlanders lamenting the current offerings and reflecting on the halcyon days when the market included the iconic machines that defined an entire segment. Those vehicles are now quite long in the tooth, and as many of them roll off the trail and into the scrap heap, I felt a little retrospective was in order. What is the current state of affairs with regard to the overland truck, new and old alike? After a quick review of various models from their final year of production, there is no doubt much has changed over the last few years.

1998 Land Rover Discovery 1

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This is the vehicle that launched a thousand adventures. When emblazoned with Camel Trophy colors and logos, it was the stuff of legends compelling many a couch potato to hit the trail. Today there are still many specimens on the road, plodding along better than the brand reputation would suggest possible. For the buyer, they are available for a song, often under $2,000. For the owner, they are a potential nightmare, and prone to soak up thousands of dollars in repairs and maintenance. With most examples pushing close to 200,000 miles, the sunset of the Disco 1 is very much upon us. Low mileage examples are rare, but when found can be snatched up for $6500 or less.


2004 Land Rover Discovery 2


Arguably the best version of the Discovery 2, the last year of production finally broke free from the scads of mechanical woes that plagued its predecessors. This is not to say the D2 was, or is, a beacon of reliability. It is still rife with issues that demand an attentive and loving owner; something few Discos have. Current prices for a Discovery 2 with 100,000 miles on the clock put values at well below $10,000, even under $8,000. A few lunatics are asking as much as $20,000 for vehicles with less than 50,000 miles, but those poor trucks are probably just arriving at new head gasket mileage. While a few Discos in this iteration have pushed well beyond 200,000 miles, the cost to get them there is not insignificant. With features still in demand by the modern overlander, they are prized vehicles, but keeping them in working order is compounded as the years and miles stack up. That said, the Discovery 2 will continue to be a commonly seen truck on the trail.  (Pictured above is a 2003 model) 


The current replacement: The Land Rover LR4 is a very nice vehicle, one we are quick to award validation as a true overland platform. However, it is still expensive, sometimes finicky, and nowhere near the utilitarian platform that was the original Discovery. That said, it is a fitting heir to the Disco throne.




1997 Toyota Land Cruiser 80 Series


Every bit as storied as the Land Rover, the Land Cruiser is a formidable truck. The 1997 model year was the last for the 80 series, a truck still very much loved by the overland audience. With the average 80 having logged well over 150,000 miles, if not 250,000 miles, these are vehicles that see a lot of usage. Fortunately, they have long legs and examples of 80s traveling beyond 300,000 miles are not uncommon. With average prices in the neighborhood of $10,000 to even $15,000, they hold their value well, but often require some modest repair work to get to those big miles. We’ve seen low mileage 80s with heavy mods soar into the $25,000 range, and at that price are probably a reasonable value if well cared for.



2007 Toyota Land Cruiser 100 Series


Although still not cheap at an average value of $25,000, the 100 Series might be one of the better used values as they are high mileage trucks. Again, considering the price of a brand new Cruiser, a 100 Series truck is an excellent option and retains much of the overland allure of its forefathers.


The current replacement: When launched, the 80 and 100 Series trucks were instant competitors to the new crop of luxury SUVs and they came with price tags to match. That is still the case with the newest Land Cruisers now fetching prices equal to the most opulent European luxury cars. You could feasibly buy several nice 1997 Cruisers for the price of a new one. The latest model, the 200 series as pictured below, will easily command $85,000 once a few options are added. That puts it well out of reach of most overlanders. In 2014, Toyota reportedly sold only 3,100 Land Cruisers, just edging out Ferrari sales. That explains why you don’t see many on the trail.



2005 Isuzu Trooper


This is a bit of an odd ball, and might seem out of place within such an esteemed entourage, but these trucks were popular for a long time and more capable than many dared to admit. The final year of the Trooper fell in 2005, and since then prices have plummeted. That could have to do with their spotty reliability and tendency to require big repairs shortly after hitting the 100,000 mile mark. Easily acquired for under $5000, they are still attractive options if they can be found in good nick. It seems that most of the common woes are engine related and aftermarket accessory support is admittedly limited, but for a value based overland vehicle, they still have some relevancy in today’s market.


The current replacement: There is none for obvious reasons; Isuzu is no more in North America.


1997 Land Rover Defender 90

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Despite its universal acclaim, the D90 was only offered in the US for a few short years. 1997 was the last, and due to that short run, prices for Defenders have gone bonkers. A low mileage 1997 D90 Wagon can command $75,000 to even $100,000. Most of the trucks with milage appropriate for their age still fetch north of $60,000 with regularity. This has all but removed them from regular duty as an overland truck and turned them into garage queens incubating higher values. Anyone with a low mileage D90 would be wise to not damage it, or even use it lightly given their current ability to gain value by thousands of dollars every year. So, we can consider the aging Defender 90 no longer a viable overland truck for North America. They are now unicorns to be waxed with pixie tears and driven only on sundays. (Image credit: Land Rover UK)


The current offering: There is none. Not this year.


Mercedes-Benz G-Glass


If we isolate 1997 as the year when overland trucks were at their greatest, it would be safe to say the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen had yet to ascend to uber-luxury status. In that year, the G-Wagen was more closely related to its military brethren, although still quite luxurious given its origins. Current offerings routinely tip $150,00 for the more up-market G63 models. These are not often used by overlanders, but rather the most elite one-percenters to connect the country club to a gated estate. Finding trucks from the late 1990s is not easy, although with good love and care, they can live on for the proverbial––forever. Even for G-Wagens moving into decade number two, expect to shell out $20,000 to $30,000. A G-Wagen does present considerations for the modern overlander with long road trip ambitions. A G-Wagen has a thirsty burn that doesn’t favor the future of gas prices. While less of a concern 18 years ago, that one factor alone has given many overlanders pause.


The current offering: Not to say it isn’t supremely nice, but the current G-Wagen has evolved beyond of the realm of the normal overlander. A G63 on portals will out-price many new homes. That’s why you don’t see new Wagens rolling up next to you at the KOA.


2001 Jeep Cherokee


Despite entering the market loathed by Jeep loyalists, something that happened yet again last year with the release of the latest Cherokee, this was a very successful truck for Jeep. It was in fact one of the most successful trucks for the brand. Now pushing 15 years old, the average 2001 Cherokee can be had for as little as $6,000, and that for a truck with less than average mileage. Although not particularly known for being high mileage vehicles, many have exceeded 200,000 miles with minimal coaxing. With so many built and sold, the Cherokee will be a common sight on trails everywhere for years to come. Because of their modest original purchase price, and given their slot in the market, parts and accessories are abundant.


The current replacement: The car that exploded heads everywhere, the new Cherokee has little in common with the original, save for the target market. It is safe to say, the Cherokee that embodies the common impression of the name, is gone. Despite being more capable off-road than many realize, the new Cherokee is simply too great of a departure from its namesake to be appealing as a traditional overland rig. A superb daily driver, a great multi-use vehicle, and a harbinger of what is to come, it is still a nice…car.



1997 Jeep Wrangler

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It would be a stretch to say the 1997 Jeep Wrangler was fitting company for the premium overland rigs of the day. Competent off road, as any Jeep is, it lacked the storage capacity required by most overlanders. This is one of those rare occurrences whereby a platform has evolved exponentially to meet the needs of our particular demographic. The humble Wrangler has now become something superlative, even lauded as the American alternative to the Defender 110. Now, who would have seen that coming in 1997? (Image credit: Chrysler)


The current replacement: It is tough to beat the current JK for off-road performance––right off the showroom floor. Given a few basic modifications, it is a near perfect vehicle for the needs of most overlanders. It holds its value exceptionally well, doesn’t have the maintenance woes of other brands, and easily has the most aftermarket support of any vehicle to date. This is one vehicle that has improved with each successive iteration. Arriving 20 years after 1997, the next rendition of the Wrangler, available with a diesel engine, could be the best yet.





There are other vehicles we could add to this list. The current Toyota 4Runner is not only a great truck, the model from 1997 is still heavily used by overlanders. The Range Rover Classic which exited production in 1996 is a thing of beauty and can be made into a sound overland option, but will require gratuitous maintenance and repair to keep rolling. The current Range Rover suffers much the same fate as the G-Wagen and Land Cruiser, which is to say purchase prices are extreme. Other options have largely gone unchanged. The Tacoma from any year still ticks the boxes as a great overland machine, and the latest model as tested by Scott Brady recently, is the best ever. The XTerra, not even available in 1997, can be picked up on the cheap and delivers better performance than anything Nissan had to offer in 1997. The Pathfinder, once a reasonably good SUV, has been neutered and is now little more than a bloated station wagon.


Although it often seems as if our overlanding options are shrinking, and in some ways they are, the situation is not dire. We are seeing our wagon options becoming more restricted, but as the automotive landscape changes, so too do our individual needs. An increasing number of travelers are readjusting their criteria to include Sprinters, full-size pickups and even Subarus.


Are we better off than we were in 1997? I think a case could be made to say we are if we remove the wagon stipulation. It also seems clear that the clock is ticking and the trucks from the golden era will not last forever. Get them while you can.




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VOTD: The Toll Road (Preview)http://expeditionportal.com/votd-the-toll-road-preview/ http://expeditionportal.com/votd-the-toll-road-preview/#comments Thu, 24 Sep 2015 21:42:15 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=31692 Our fellow Expedition Portal member Shane Denherder was a part of this production. You won’t want to miss this. Make it big. Make it loud.


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Legacy Power Wagonhttp://expeditionportal.com/legacy-power-wagon/ http://expeditionportal.com/legacy-power-wagon/#comments Thu, 24 Sep 2015 07:28:18 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=31158 What’s 1.3 seconds faster from 0-60mph than Magnum PI’s Ferrari 308 GTS-i, gets better fuel economy than a Jeep Cherokee XJ on 31” tires, and turns heads wherever it goes? Well, if the cover photo hasn’t ruined the surprise, then you may be shocked to learn that it’s a classic Dodge Power Wagon.


Yes, that rusty old truck that sits in a barn just down the road from your house, the one that you have considered stopping to ask if it’s for sale –with the right direction (and enough cash to purchase a brand new 458 Ferrari Italia) it could be transformed into the unique fire-breathing monster you see above.


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Okay, so before you run to the bank and remortgage the house, lets go over what you get for a quarter of a million dollars. Since these rigs are built to perform rather than attend car shows (although, they would do very well) the build schedule reads very much like every truck enthusiast’s wish list. Starting underneath, a Dynatrac ProRock 80 rear solid axle and a Dana 60 (optional Dynatrac ProRock 60/80) front spins four, 40” Toyo Open Country M/T tires. Handling the switch from 2 to 4 wheel drive is an Advanced Adapters Atlas transfer case, which comes standard, although other transfer cases can be substituted if so desired. Since this truck is all about character, Legacy didn’t waste their time reinventing the proverbial wheel. Both front and rear axles remain leaf sprung, but have been upgraded with military wrap ends to keep things sturdy, reliable, and supple enough for the backwoods or pot hole laden city streets. These trucks can be delivered with a myriad of options; most interesting is the list of engines available.


To satisfy the exploding desire for diesel engines, Legacy offers the tried and true Cummins 3.9l 4BT with an output of 480 lb/ft of torque. This is the same engine that can be found in many FedEx and UPS trucks. Legacy has stringent standards for reliability and, as such, only offers component options that meet their strict criteria for durability and serviceability. For instance, the 640 hp, GM LSA engine, found in the Cadillac CTS-V, has a true plug and play arrangement that makes them not only simple to install, but also fully serviceable by any GM dealer. Simplicity is the key to reliability and reduces the time necessary to track down a problem in the field. This is but one example of Legacy’s commitment to producing a user-friendly experience without the cobbled together effect found in many custom builds.


Of course, the Cummins and LSA are polar extremes and may not appeal to everyone. The more tame racing drivers may opt for the Chevrolet LS3 V8 which produces only 430 hp. Sadly enough, the body panels are too narrow to encase the massive cylinder heads of the Dodge HEMI. Just like the rest of the build, Legacy has great pride in keeping the factory sheet metal looking as close to original as possible, adapting the HEMI power plant just doesn’t fit this philosophy.


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Each truck is hand build by 10 highly skilled craftsman in a 10,000 sq/ft shop in Idaho. Once a truck is found, and approved via photographs sent to the customer, the rusting hulk is carried to the shop where it will undergo a massive transformation. Every inch of the truck is scrutinized before a plan is rolled out to determine which parts to keep and which to toss into the bin. Once the truck is prepped for the build, the customer’s spec sheet guides the skilled artisans toward the finished product. Taking over 600 man-hours to complete, you can rest assured that every detail is carefully addressed. Currently, there is a one-year waiting list to get a Power Wagon of your Own. All you need is a 25% down payment and Legacy will get started molding the truck of your dreams.


Thus far, over 60 trucks have been resurrected and are enjoying life with their new owners. Though the price may be steep for someone who only looks at purchasing brand new vehicles from a dealership, anyone who has been a part of a ground up restoration project will appreciate the value found in Legacy’s finished product. Now, how do I get my hands on the keys….

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Price Range: $160,000 – $300,000 USD


Chassis: Boxed and welded factory C-channel

Body: Factory sheet metal (where possible). Single, extended, or crew cab

Most Popular Engine Options: 

GM 6.2L E-Rod LSA – 640 hp

Cummins 3.9 4BT – 480 lb/ft torque

GM LS3 (2yr/50k mile warranty) – 430 hp


GM 4L85E four-speed automatic 

Cummins equipped with 5sp manual

Trasfer Case: Advance Adapters Atlas 

Towing Capacity:

8,000 lbs –GM petrol drive train

12,000 lbs –Cummins diesel drive train

Curb Weight: 6,400 lbs (varies with options)
Length: 17 feet 
Width: 80 inches 

Height: 6 feet 11 inches 
Wheelbase: 130 inches

Top Speed: 100 mph 
Fording Depth: 44 inches 
Approach Angle: 60 degrees 
Departure Angle: 45 degrees 

Front Axle: Dynatrac ProRock 60 
Rear Axle: Dynatrac ProRock 80 
Differentials: Optional ARB F/R; limited slip

Tires: 40-inch Toyo Open Country M/T tires
Driveshafts: Tom Woods F/R



Leaf springs with military wrap F/R

Bilstein 5100 shocks 

Steering: PSC steering box 
Brakes: GM hydroboost; dual-piston calipers; Wilwood proportioning valve


Heat Exchangers: Ron Davis radiator, transmission cooler, oil cooler, and charge-air cooler (GM LSA equipped only) 



GEN IV Vintage Air A/C

Customer specific seat(s)

Classic Instruments gauges

Flaming River steering column 

Optional electric windows, locks, and seats are also available


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Gear Scout: Klecker Klax Lumberjackhttp://expeditionportal.com/gear-scout-klecker-klax-lumberjack/ http://expeditionportal.com/gear-scout-klecker-klax-lumberjack/#comments Wed, 23 Sep 2015 07:19:17 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=31575 Just when I think innovation is dead, something like the Klax Lumberjack crosses my desk. Part hatchet, part multi-tool, it is one of those items I didn’t know I needed until I saw it in person. Designed by engineer and inventor Glenn Klecker, the Klax is available in four individual models. The most basic is the Klax Feller, a stripped down axehead designed to be lashed to any handle, even a branch, with para-cord. The Klax Woodsman is a simplified axehead with Klecker’s unique clamping mechanism which affixes the head to a handle. The most complex versions are the Lumberjack and Ti Lumberjack.

The Lumberjack model is constructed of machined stainless steel and features an axe edge, knife blade, hammer head, gut hook, five hex wrench indents, bottle opener, lanyard hole, ruler, and even a carabiner clip for easy transport. The axe edge even doubles as a curved ulu knife, a popular cooking tool.





It would be easy to dismiss the lumberjack as a kitschy novelty designed to appeal to the gear geek easily swooned by shiny objects. And, perhaps that is precisely what it is. But having put it to use, I have to admit it does work. As a small hatchet, it swings with surprising balance and cuts as well as any hatchet should. The clamping mechanism holds fast to the optional handle better than I expected and felt secure and solid.

As is true for any such multi-tool, it is very likely the hex wrench insets will not be useful in some tight spaces, but you can never know until the occasion arises to implement them. The quality is superb and there is no denying a lot of attention was given to its thoughtful design and fabrication. It has the finish detail of a premium product, and at $160, it carries a premium price. I would also predict that given the high quality of the Klax Lumberjack, you will have it in your kit for decades to come. It is well made.




Whether you use the Klax Lumberjack to fell a tree, skin game animals, fix a carburetor, or simply open a bottle of beer, one thing is guaranteed––It will always start a conversation. www.kleckerknives.com








The images above were shot with Sony’s new RX100IV point and shoot. Click the banner below for more information.

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Trail Tested: Rukka Airman Jacket and Pantshttp://expeditionportal.com/trail-tested-rukka-airman-jacket-and-pants/ http://expeditionportal.com/trail-tested-rukka-airman-jacket-and-pants/#comments Tue, 22 Sep 2015 07:24:29 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=31064 I have a number of weaknesses, my ability to endure high temperatures only one of them. I can’t explain it, but I’m worse than a snowman a hot summer day. On a recent trip through the Mojave desert with the mercury tipping 110ºF, I thought I was going to burst into flames or dissolve in a puddle of sweat. My heat induced agony lead me on a search of the best summer riding suit and after several failed experiments, have finally found my salvation, the Rukka Airman suit.

One of the problems with motorcycle suits in general, even mesh suits, is that they often only include specific areas of ventilation. Those suits with narrow slits for vents are the worst offenders and I don’t care how big they are, none of those vents cool an entire body. Even my previous summer suit with its large mesh panels only seemed to ventilate portions of my jacket and pants.


Constructed entirely of AFT two-layer Cordura, the fabric employs a specific knit that uses AirPower Technology to create a highly breathable shell. That outer fabric is also 2-7 times more durable than polyester, cotton, or even standard nylon. The result is a jacket that not only offers optimal protection, the entire suit has impressive air pass-through. It is also supple and not stiff making it feel less bulky and in turn––less hot.


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(Below) The removable stash pocket is waterproof and secured to the jacket with a lanyard. It’s a nice touch and a feature I use on every ride. The inner security pocket is deep and easily accessed.


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It doesn’t have the appearance of a highly breathable fabric, but it moves air as well as open mesh.



Inside the Airman suit are the features we would expect of a premium product. The shoulders, elbows and knees are protected with Rukka’s own D30 Air Limb protectors certified to CE Norm 1621-1 standards. Those protectors are soft, pliable, and with their large vent holes, are very comfortable. The inside of the jacket and pants are lined with a soft wicking material to help manage moisture, and like many European jackets, there is the option of using a central strap to pass through the rider’s legs to keep the jacket pulled low and in place.

As is common with suits of this nature, waterproofing is provided by removable liners for both the top and bottom. That GoreTex liner is paired to an Outlast layer which is a technology created by NASA. Outlast is a phase-change material designed to store and release heat for optimal comfort. It effectively regulates the micro-climate within the jacket amplifying the performance of the GoreTex layer. Unlike many liners I have used in the past, the Airman’s two liners are easy to install or remove and don’t bunch or bind when in place. The jacket liner also has inner security pockets and elastic cuffs to seal out weather and wind. Given the highly breathable nature of the outer shell, I often use the liner to defend against early morning temps that often precede a hot day in the desert.


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The liner is nicely made and zips in with ease. The elastic cuffs seal out the weather and are comfortable on the wrists. The wicking inner layer of the liner is essential for all day comfort in wet conditions. (Below) The collar has a soft interface and the magnetic closure makes snaps seem obsolete.


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The zippered pleats at the lower hips of the jacket allow for a fine-tuned fit particularly when the front and back pockets are fully loaded. (Below) The zippered cuffs are a favorite feature and help with the installation of the liner. 

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The exterior features of the Airman jacket are minimal, which is something I find all too rare. I tend to eschew jackets with too much busy work. Sometimes less is more and the elegantly simple layout of the Airman’s pockets and adjustments is refreshing. The two front cargo pockets are not too big, and the left side pocket even features a waterproof removable stash pouch secured with a nylon webbing lanyard. The back pocket is large enough for big items, but not so big to be cumbersome.

On either side of each hip, the jacket has two zippers to allow for expansion so the jacket doesn’t bunch or ride up. With a long tail, the jacket offers excellent coverage without feeling bulky, and the side webbing adjustments keep the jacket trimmed and close to the body.


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The two small pockets located near the ribcage are nearly invisible and designed to fit into the clean aesthetic of the jacket, although I have noticed the nylon liners within those two pockets block some of the air pass-through. Other refinements include magnetic closures at the collar, and over the storm flaps on the pockets. The snaps at the biceps and forearms allow for ample adjustment to accommodate under layers and the velcro cuffs are flanked by 6-inch long zippers for a quick on/off.


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The pants feature many of the attributes of the upper including highly articulated and reinforced joints. At first glance the horizontal zippers of the front pockets seemed strange, but after several days traveling in the suit, are pure genius. If inadvertently left unzipped, as I’m prone to do, the pocket opening remains high enough to secure the pocket’s contents. Standard pockets want to unload everything within as soon as you sit down, which we all do.


The lower aspect of the pants, an area I find frequently ill-designed, are perfect. Many pants incorporate too many layers or zippers. The Airman pants have a single zipper for easy on/off and one velcro cuff for optimal adjustment to keep the pants properly positioned low on the leg. The knee armor is located perfectly and comfortable. The suspenders are a nice addition for those of us with a bean-pole build, and overall the fit is lean and not overly baggy.


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Pulling the Airman jacket and pants out of the box for the first time, I could not have been more impressed with the quality of materials and construction. The aesthetic is also eye catching in its simplicity. I’m a little tired of the space suit appearance, and the Airman is a sharp looking suit. After riding in this combination for well over two thousand miles, I can now confirm it is without question, the most comfortable suit I have worn to date. This after completing a year long review of nine different suits for Overland Journal.

Most importantly, the Airman suit does what it is designed to do, keep the rider as cool as possible. Air pass-through is unparalleled and moves air throughout the entire suit. With my confidence in the Airman combination I even dared another ride through the Mojave. With temps pushing 105ºF I was––very comfortable. I now don’t fear the sun.  MSRP: Jacket $899, Pants $629





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Nit Picks

As we have all learned, no suit, and indeed no product, is ever perfect. The Airman only has a couple foibles, neither of them deal breakers and are barely worth mentioning. First are the zippers and their small size. Dust is the arch enemy of zippers and can clog the Airman’s zippers. I’ve been able to avoid any issues with good maintenance and cleaning of the zippers and sliders.

The other niggle, and this is more of a compromise than a negative, is the soft hand of the fabric. While it breaths beautifully, it does flap and buffet more than stiffer fabrics. It presents a catch 22 situation. While soft and pliable is nice, if your bike doesn’t offer optimal wind protection, and you can’t dial in the fit just right, the buffeting might become tiresome after a long day.





  • Extremely well made with premium materials top to bottom
  • Clean aesthetic and no more features than necessary
  • Rukka’s D30 armor is as comfortable as amor gets
  • Offered in a wide range of sizes (particularly the pants) for optimal fit
  • One of the more comfortable suits I have tested to date
  • Clever and useful pocket designs
  • Well designed liners top and bottom


  • Some may experience fabric buffeting at speed
  • Did not come with back armor which it should for $900. It needs it.
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Interbike 2015: Adventure Cycling Continues to Expand its Segmenthttp://expeditionportal.com/interbike-2015-adventure-cycling-continues-to-expand-its-segment/ http://expeditionportal.com/interbike-2015-adventure-cycling-continues-to-expand-its-segment/#comments Fri, 18 Sep 2015 15:45:35 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=31540 Interbike, the annual convergence of cycling enthusiast from around the world, just wrapped up the 2015 show this week. Although many people including myself feel this show is dying a slow death as a trade show, it is still a place for manufacturers to showcase their latest offerings. For this year, the biggest advancements fell within the world of plus-size tires, particularly in the new 27.5-inch wheel diameter. The other interesting element to the show was the unbelievable number of electric-assist bikes on display. As it relates to our crowd, the adventure set, there were several new products worth keeping on the radar.




The Surly Pugsly was the fatbike that launched the big-tire revolution and after many years of needing a healthy update, finally got it this year with the Wednesday. With a new fork and rear dropouts, this bike will undoubtedly be quickly adopted by many as their preferred adventure steed.



POC has been my favored lid for a couple of seasons and their newest helmets have shed weight, added more vents, and still offer unparalleled protection.





2016 is the year for 27.5+ bikes. Offered in full suspension and hardtail variations, this mid-fat platform will dominate the next couple of years. The science has proven with a reasonable amount of data that 27.5 wheels with a 2.8 tire provide the magic balance of swift rolling efficiency with the most optimal tire contact patch.



Imitation is the nicest form of flattery and this Bombtrack bike is about as much of a Salsa Fargo clone as it gets without putting the words, Salsa Fargo on the top tube.



What can I say, this is still one of my favorite bikes of all time. The Salsa Bucksaw is amazing.



Long time accessory maker, Blackburn, has not just dipped a toe in the adventure cycling market, they’ve made it a central component to their 2016 lineup. With bar, frame and seat bags priced at almost half of the boutique brands, they’ve made bikepacking bags affordable and feature rich.



Lazer’s new Revolution helmet is aimed at the enduro mountain bike segment, but it has excellent potential as a bikepacking lid with a large visor, great ventilation, and full head protection.



The Long Haul Trucker is a touring favorite for many. Outfitted with Frost River waxed canvas bags, it looks retro but capable of any adventure.



Giant Bicycle is entering the adventure bike segment with both feet. Their Tough Road 29er is designed to shoulder a full compliment of bags in either bikepacking or traditional touring format. They’re even offering their own seat, frame and bar bags at prices that will be sure to introduce new riders to touring. With a $1300 price point for the bike pictured above, the value is tough to beat.



All City had this beautiful touring rig on display. Classic and elegant, it looks ready to cross a continent.



A fresh name on the scene, Heller is a new addition to the QBP brand family that includes All City, Foundry, Salsa and Surly. Although currently the only model in the Heller line, this all carbon fatbike clocks in at only $2300. This will be a popular machine when it hits dealers this fall.




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