Gear Bag: February

Kovea Cupid Heater

For those willing to brave the cold, winter camping can be a rewarding experience. It allows you to escape the fair-weather folk for a serene and secluded experience, giving you the chance to see nature in a whole new light. Just because you’re camping in the cold doesn’t mean YOU have to be cold though. A quality sleeping bag, pad, and clothing will go a long way in keeping you warm, but if you’re looking for that extra comfort, we highly recommend checking out the Kovea Cupid.

The Cupid is a small butane heater that utilizes a ceramic-based heating plate to generate warmth. It features an adjustable handle and support arm which can alter the angle at which it sits within your tent or vehicle. Just make sure you have proper ventilation! It weighs only 3 pounds and is light enough to be an easy addition to any camp kit.

After using the Cupid for a few months, Overland Journal’s Managing Editor Sarah Ramm fell in love with it. She noted that each time she went to ignite the small burner, it fired up on the first try. The support legs pop out for adjusting the direction of the heat, but they cannot be closed with the fuel can still in the heater. This prevents you from storing it in the case while the butane is still active.

Below left: A sight hole allows you to line up the canister with the coupler.

Below right: An easy ignition knob lights the heater and adjusts to low or high settings.

Speaking of the case, Sarah remarked that it felt flimsy and was rather frustrating to use, the only notable issue with the product. When lit in their tent, the Cupid produced a ton of heat, turning the evenings and mornings from a shivering ice-fest into a time to stretch and crawl into or out of your sleeping bag easily. She also noted that the adjustable high and low settings didn’t seem to make a big difference in temperature, but they did make a difference in fuel consumption, so try running it on low only.

At $99 the Cupid isn’t the cheapest or the most expensive heater on the market, but based on its performance, it is one of our favorites. As the name aptly suggests, you’re almost certain to fall in love with it.

For more information, check it out on Nomadica Outfitters, their US distributor here.

Wit’s End Air Coupler and Bracket

I first stumbled upon Wit’s End back in 2016. I had spotted one of their products on a Land Cruiser at Overland Expo, and after seeing the craftsmanship decided to log onto their site to see what they were about. The instant I saw the search result on Google I knew I was in trouble. The URL read absolute-wits-end.com and greeted me warmly with Wits’ End, Solutions for Problems You Didn’t Know You Had. This was definitely my kind of site.

You know how most companies make a product and then throw some cheap hardware in as an afterthought? Well, that is where Wit’s End comes in. They are the barons of brackets, the wizards of wiring, the magnates of mounts, and the kaisers of couplers. They specialize in the detail work that is so often ignored, creating some of the most beautifully machined and finished components that I have ever seen. The downside? This work doesn’t come cheap, and I was left wondering if it would be worth it. To find out, I ordered up one of their air coupler and SB175 brackets. This combination bracket includes a slot for an SB175 hi-amperage power port as well as a space for a quick-connect air coupler. Since I had recently received an Extreme Outback Magnum compressor, this was the perfect way to plumb it through to my front bumper.

The quality is superb, the finish is absolutely stellar, and I appreciate the clean design. It never ceases to amaze me how in spite of the rest of the gear on my truck, people always manage to spot this little bracket bolted to the front bumper and ask where I got it. It may be a tad expensive, but it works exactly as I had hoped, and what more can you ask for?

To learn more about Wit’s End products, visit their site here.

 

Snow Peak Mini Flame

I’d say it’s a safe bet that many of us use isobutane fuel for something in our camping arsenal. Whether it powers your stove, a heater, or a fire starter, we eventually come to a point with these fuel canisters that they’re simply too empty to use reliably, yet they’re not empty enough to just throw away. If you’re looking for a method of draining off every last ounce of fuel, while producing some nice ambient light at the same time, you should check out Snow Peak’s Mini Flame.

As you’d expect from a Snow Peak product, it’s well made, really cool, and more than a little unnecessary, yet I purchased this product all the same and don’t regret it. It threads onto a fuel canister, and once turned on, slowly fills the glass chamber with gas. Yes, glass chamber. It comes with a small padded tube for protection. Using a lighter or match, you can ignite the flame and watch as it slowly burns off the last of your propane. A twist valve at the bottom operates with satisfying smoothness while adjusting the size of the flame for burn rate and amount of light given off.

Even at the highest setting, it is not a quick process though. This thing SIPS fuel, which is bad if you need to drain a canister quickly, but great if you want candlelight for a long period of time. According to Snow Peak’s website, the Mini Flame will run on their smallest available fuel can, 110 grams, for 15 hours or 35 hours on 250 grams. Lord only knows how long it would burn on the big cans.

As I mentioned earlier, this product is not necessary but is very useful for draining remaining fuel, and I love the ambient candlelight in the evenings at the table, or before going to bed in the house. So if you’re looking for a cool product that also helps the environment by enabling you to recycle or properly dispose of fuel cans, take a look at the Mini Flame.

For more information, visit their website here. 

Blue Ridge Overland Gear Trip Planning Bag

I have a hobby of collecting paper maps, books, and guides for the places I travel to. They’re often easier to search and more informative than any app or website I’ve used, but there is a slight problem: They tend to produce clutter, and I hate clutter. In fact, my entire Excursion’s interior was developed around keeping things organized and out of sight, so when my maps began to accumulate without a method to contain them, I knew I would slowly go insane. I picked up the phone, called Blue Ridge, and ordered up their Trip Planning bag.

This bag caught my eye because it wasn’t just big enough to hold a single atlas or Gazetteer, but multiples of them at once, plus a few smaller maps to boot. Oddly enough, their website only says it can hold two of these large maps, however, mine has held up to eight with room to spare, so I’m not sure if they confused their atlases with encyclopedias.

The shell of this pouch is made from a 500D nylon Cordura, making it durable enough to bounce around in your truck for years without tearing or wearing through. Mine has been stuffed behind my seat for over 40,000 miles so far and still looks like new, minus a little dust and dog hair, mind you. Padding protects the maps from wearing, and simple toggle and barrel lock closures keep everything secured without bulky buckles.

Of course, I’m not sure if a Blue Ridge product would be complete without Velcro panels for patches, and this bag features two: one 4-inch panel for ID tags, and one large panel across the bottom for all the hook and loop patches your heart desires. Like the rest of their gear, it is made right here in the USA, with black and coyote colors available.

To learn more, check it out on their website here.

Eezi Awn K9 Alu–Box Mount

Review and Photography by Bryon Bass

Equipt Expedition Outfitters imports the K9 roof rack system made by South African firm Eezi Awn. Typical accessories for this rack include spare tire holders, water tank brackets, and Jerry can mounts. One of the more unique items is a secure, bolt–on mounting tray for the increasingly popular Danish–made Alu–Box.

I use the lightweight, highly weather resistant Alu–Box storage cases for various purposes. The challenge, like other storage gear, always circles back to securing these boxes properly to survive the rigors of overland travel. Eezi Awn came up with a properly executed solution.

Although it’s not advertized as such, the powder coated steel K9 Alu–Box mount doesn’t necessarily need to be affixed to a K9 roof rack. Equipped with this knowledge, I was able to fasten a pair of Alu–Boxes full of camp and recovery gear to the Aluminess roof rack on our Ford E350. The mount will attach to any flat horizontal or vertical surface, or span multiple surfaces, as long as they are level with each other. Furthermore, the T–shaped slots in the base are generously spaced and provide ample X/Y axis range for each mounting bolt.

No rattles emanate from the robust mount, and after many thousands of highway miles and rutted dirt roads, the stainless locking levers have yet to budge. The K9 mount fits the popular 42–liter model, and other variants with a similar footprint. It’s definitely one of the more superior, refined methods to secure an Alu–Box.

$140.00 EQUIPT1.COM

The BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 is rated 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Chris didn’t receive a real taste of the outdoors until moving to Prescott, Arizona, in 2009. While working on his business degree, he learned to fly and spent his weekends exploring the Arizona desert and high country. It was there that he fell in love with backcountry travel and four-wheel drive vehicles, eventually leading him to Overland Journal and Expedition Portal. After several years of honing his skills in writing, photography, and off-road driving, Chris now works for the company full time as Expedition Portal's Managing Editor.