Yes, I'm on the way there right now, spent last night in Denver. MORryde is using my Jeep in their booth at Expo, also they'll have Joel's Retrofit Offroad Jeep in their booth. Rain is forecast for the first day of the show, ugh.
Perry Mack, editor of 4WDrive Magazine (Canada) posted this photo in his SEMA recap. This was taken while he was doing a video of the Trail Kitchen at the show. I don't think he's posted the video yet, I'll post the link when I see it.
I did a quick video which summarizes everything you need to know about day 1 of Overland East:
Joel Bane of Retrofit Offroad was sharing the MORryde space, here's a view of my Jeep and his; both have Trail Kitchens in them. Joel's kitchen is the base kitchen outfitted with a cooler, mine has all the production and soon-to-come options and a fridge.
Joel, who at one point in his career owned a landscaping business, put his skills to good use today, in this photo he's using the boots MORryde bought us at Walmart this morning to make a drainage channel through the mud. It worked very well!
Also in the show with us were several people from Overland Outfitters, which is the startup I've written about - they're doing the leather and high-style canvas bags for storage in the Jeep. They didn't bring footwear that was up to the task of walking through the thick mud, so I had to give one of them a lift from the Jeep to a place with less mud. The other person in the photo of the two Jeeps above is also with Overland Outfitters.
The last day of Overland East the weather was a little nicer, but the day did start out with frost on the ground and vehicles...
And once the frost melted, the "attack mud" was vicious. Took this photo about mid-day, take a look at the guy in the blue jacket in front of the woman in orange - you can't see his left foot because its planted in mud about 6" deep.
Had a very packed Jeep on the way back, I picked up an extra passenger for the trip so there were three of us, all of whom had luggage for over two weeks, plus the full Trail Kitchen, roof-top tent and lots of other things acquired along the way. The thin cardboard box on top of the tent held on with orange straps is a brand-new JK tailgate I found on Craigslist along the way for $100. I've got several tailgate projects coming up so having an extra one for the workshop will make the projects easier than running out to the Jeep to test-fit everything.
And in this photo I've loaded the Overland Rack bag with about 40 pounds of luggage. The bag worked out great and Overland Outfitters plans to do a production version of it in several sizes.
Mail waiting at home included several products sent to me to test and review, more about them tomorrow.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by during the event to say hi, meeting you and talking with you is always the best part of an event like this.
Waiting for me when I got home, a company sent me these to test and review... a set of LED lights that haven't been released yet and a synthetic winch rope. The company asked me to test the lights before they release them to verify the fit of the wiring harness and the operation of the various light functions.
The lights have five function, offering bright white, yellow (fog), strobed white, strobed yellow and strobed alternating white and yellow. They also come with a wiring harness that includes a relay, fuse and switch/control unit, the harness looks to be pretty much plug-and-play. And they come with mounts for Jeep windshield hinges that look like they'll work on JKs as well as TJs and earlier models. As soon as I get a chance I'll do a test install of the lights on the JK and I'll post photos and probably a video; for now here's a video showing them connected to my benchtop power supply:
I've ordered a smooth aluminum fairlead to swap for my roller one so when that arrives I'll swap the synthetic rope onto my winch and give it a test. I'll do photos and videos of that when I do it.
And here's the tailgate I picked up yesterday. It's never been installed but it's been in the guy's garage for a couple of years so there are a few minor dings, but nothing that can't be easily fixed. I've got two projects it'll help with - I need to sew several prototypes of the tailgate storage design I've done for the Overland Outfitters startup, and I've got a new hardware design for "plugging in" various cargo carriers/racks on the outside of the tailgate, including jerry cans, Rotopax, bicycles, etc.
I wouldn't ever want to go back to the factory tailgate/liftgate combo. I've had a barn door on my LJ for about 8 years now and for several years now on the JKU, and it really improves access to the cargo area of the Jeep. Especially in foul weather like the first day of the OE event .
I'm about to mold a barn door for a friend with an Ursa Minor, I think it'll be a big improvement to his rig as well.
I spent the day with Ritu, she's the lead product person at the startup I've written about. She was at SEMA and Overland East as well and I think she was in a photo or two I posted from those events. We spent part of the day testing the fit of some of their prototype cargo bags, here are a few:
One style I like a lot is their canvas bag design with leather accents. The next two photos show the front and back of a canvas/leather "backpack" bag.
It's called a "backpack" for several reasons. First, it's designed to attach to the back of the seat (this photo shows an all-leather version):
The other reason it's called a backpack bag is that it can be worn as a backpack (or as a shoulder bag):
Another design they're working on they're calling a "saddlebag", it goes above the rear inner fenders in space that's usually hard to use for cargo. Here's a canvas/leather version in the Jeep:
They're easily removable; a leather strip is attached to the tub using the hardtop mounting bolts (or those same holes if there's no hardtop installed), and the bag is attached to that strip with a zipper. Unzipping the bag leaves the strip in place in the Jeep:
Here's a saddlebag in distressed black leather:
I also tested a saddlebag in my LJ. Because of the shape of the LJ inner fender, the bag mounts a bit further forward than in the JKU - the rear seat is out of my LJ right now but the bag is at the side of the seat, which might be a good place, easily accessible by passengers in hte back seat. Also it's in a good location because it fits perfectly in front of the ammo can tray I've also got mounted above the fender:
We also worked on the design of the tailgate bag system, I'll be sewing a prototype for them over the next few days. We've worked out a method for mounting on the tailgate that requires no drilling. Other tailgate bag systems, like the Smittybilt Gear product, require drilling the tailgate.
Overall I'm very impressed with the quality and style of the prototype bags and I'm not alone - feedback at SEMA and Overland East was very positive.