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Gear of the Year – 4WD Equipment 2011 – Overland Awards


The overland market is growing at a rapid pace, which is providing for innovation and a wide range of new products. As a result, the team at Expedition Portal has started an industry award, Gear of the Year for multiple categories (each featured in a different article) and based upon their price point, with a winner for over $100 and a winner for under $100. The team narrowed the selections to five nominees and then ultimately a winner. We have listed the winners, runner-up and other nominees below. With the 4wd category including so many potential winners, we will include additional categories for 2012. These awards and nominations also take into consideration the intended audience, which is long-distance, vehicle-supported adventure travel, not recreational fourwheeling.

Warn 9.5xp-s Winch


4WD Equipment:

Overall Winner ($100+)
New for 2011, Warn has introduced synthetic line options and contactor controllers for their premium winches. Most important is the contactor controller, as the solenoid versions proved unreliable in serious use. The contactor is an Albright-style that is both sealed and equipped with massive copper connections. The 9.5xp is also fast (really fast), besting the legendary 8274-50 in line speed at 8,000lbs of load. The 8274 pulls at 6.1 feet per minute, while the 9.5xp pulls at 8.8 feet per minute and with 25 amps less current draw. This is now our favorite winch, and is being specified for our next expedition. Another advantage is weight, as the 9.5xp weighs 23lbs. less than the 8274. A self-recovery winch is an important accessory to any expedition vehicle that ventures off the beaten path – this new Warn will be ready to work when you need it. Warn 9.5xp (link)


4WD Equipment:

Runner-up, over $100 category
ARB Outback Drawer System
Addressing both secure storage and lashing requirements, the new for 2011 (in North America) Outback Drawer System from ARB is a high-quality option for storing tools, recovery equipment and camping gear in the back of your SUV. On a long trip, organization is critical to frustration-free travel, and the ARB drawer system provides high-strength roller bearing slides and a large locking access handle (which can be operated with thick gloves). The carpet lined top helps cushion loads and adds a clean, factory appearance. We have experienced some issues with the front plastic trim, mostly related to shipping damage. This is one notable ding in an otherwise exceptional product. ARB Outback Drawer (link)

Over $100 category:

Other Nominees

Baja Designs Fuego HID

Awesome light, designed and assembled in the U.S.A. Understated, integrated ballast and all metal construction: Fuego HID (link)

AEV Rear Bumper System

AEV has the most comprehensive and tightly integrated bumper system on the market. Too bad it is only for the Jeep JK. AEV Rear Bumper System (link)

Yeasu FT-2900R 2M Transceiver Radio

75watts of power and rugged construction, this the best single band HAM radio for mobile applications – period. Yeasu 2M Radio (link)


Category: Under $100 4wd Equipment


ARB EZ-Tire Deflator


4WD Equipment:

Winner, Less than $100 (less than $40 actually!)
Not new for 2011, but since this is the first year of the equipment awards, we will make an exception. We have a half-dozen of these in all of our vehicles and use the deflator on every trip. Fast and accurate, the unit has never failed (we have experienced issues with all of the other ‘set’ deflators). The gauge ranges from 4 to 60 psi and is constructed from brass and stainless steel. You can deflate a 33” tire from street to trail pressure in 10-15 seconds per tire – done. ARB EZ Deflator (link)



4WD Equipment:

Runner-up, less than $100 category
Expedition One Fuel Cell (Note: only for export)
The first significant design update in portable fuel cans since the ‘Jerry’ was created in the 1930s. The Expedition One Geri (link)
A similar product (and USA available) is the RotoPax


Under $100:

Other Nominees

Expeditionware Transport Loops

These little lashing loops are simple, strong and easy to install. They are also only $9 each. Expeditionware Transport Loop (link)


Front Runner 20L Water Can with Spout

This is the only water tanks we use now. They fit in most 20L fuel can holders. Front Runner 20L Water Can (link)


Off Road Trail Tools Tool Roll

Awesome accessory made from nylon with fastex buckles. We use them in all of our vehicles. Tool Roll (link)

Note: edit to include all nominees. nominations from the Expedition Portal and Overland Journal staff.

Don’t agree with our conclusions? Want to know more about our evaluation team? Find out here: Testing and Evaluation Team Experience (link)


Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and include three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar travels include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. He lives in Prescott, Arizona IG: @scott.a.brady Twitter: @scott_brady