Gear Roundup at Overland Expo West

I love overland vehicles and I love overland gear! While there were some amazing vehicles at the recent Overland Expo West, it is the search for excellent equipment which, in the words of James May, gives me the fizz. Great gear is essential to an overland journey, and well-designed gear should be good to look at, easy to use, and enhance your travels overall while offering good value and high quality. The following products stood out from the crowd.

Overland Outfitters

Laudator temporis acti, praise of a time past. Overland Outfitters gear is perfect for those who prefer canvas and leather to Gore-tex and ripstop. If I were equipping a classic Land Rover or Land Cruiser in the USA, I would not think twice. The company produces gear specific to many common vehicles such as the Jeep Gladiator and Wrangler, Ford Bronco, and even the Hummer. All products are handmade by artisans in India. The Backpack zips to the headrest of your Jeep and offers a portable storage solution for everyday gear.

$199 | (not to be confused with a Canadian company of the same name)

Hitchfire Ultimate Grill Station

There are overlanders who live on soup, pasta, and salads while traveling, and there are those who would rather eat their boots than a European diet. The Hitchfire grill was undoubtedly inspired by the sailing world’s overboard grills, and it makes perfect sense to this carnivore that you would want your grill ready to go, anytime, with a minimum of fuss. While not for everyone, the gas-fired Grill Station appeals to the foodie, fisherman, and (amateur) chef who loves nothing more than a good sizzle and hearty feed. The swing-away, hitch-mounted grill opens up a slew of culinary opportunities—from leisurely slow roasts, baked breads, and casseroles to quick and tasty steak, tacos, brats, and burgers.

A Dometic full kitchen unit with 2-burner stovetop and sink is available as an alternative to the Grill Station.

$899 |

Kokopelli Inflatable Packrafts

It used to be that a paddler had to choose between rooftop storage or a kayak; you could not logically carry both. Inflatable technology has made significant gains in the last few decades, and inflatable products no longer represent a compromise. The lightweight, sturdy, and packable Kokopelli packrafts are designed and built for freshwater exploration—from pumping whitewater to calm alpine lakes. As claimed by Kokopelli, these sturdy packrafts pack as small as a roll of paper towels or a 32-ounce Nalgene water bottle, making them easy to store and transport over long distances, whether as cargo or on your back as you head out from a base camp in search of an adventure.

From $899 |

Forrest Tool Max Tool Kit

One tool to rule them all? A wood-handled Gränsfors Bruks ax is a thing of beauty—a precision-hand-forged tool to be loved and cherished. The Max Tool Kit is made to be used with intent. An unbreakable, construction-industry standard 34-inch composite polyglass handle supports the 3.5-pound ax head, which itself serves as a mount for a variety of tools. Namely, a shovel, hoe, pick, broad pick, mattock blade (for digging, prying, and chopping), and a combination McLeod blade, popular with firefighters. Without the benefit of a long-term test, we are going to go out on a limb and suggest that, based on first impressions, this toolset will be a true outdoorsman’s best friend, offering the versatility to perform a number of tasks capably. The Made in America Max Tool Kit in Green gives us the fizz.

$279 |

Guzzle H20

My jaw dropped. This little package is a one-stop water-filtration solution for the serious long-distance overland traveler. The Guzzle H2O features a submersible pre-filter at the end of a hose, which feeds directly into the unit where a secondary particulate filter and ultraviolet filter process neutralize fresh (not saline) water. Water is then pumped to a bottle or tank via a second longer hose (pumps prefer to push, not pull). The self-contained filtration unit pumps, filters, and purifies water at the push of a button, and will process roughly .75 gallons per minute, and will pump, filter, and purify 35 gallons on a single charge of the incorporated lithium battery. For added peace of mind. a measured amount of chlorine bleach will further sterilize and stabilize the water for storage. Sold!

$1,195 |

Tailgate Tire Table

A sturdy table is valuable and practical. Too often, a camp table is designed to be compact and light but, in the process, loses stability and structural strength. The tire table uses a vehicle’s tire as a base—what could be more stable? We like to use a table not only for obvious purposes but also as a tool bench, and therefore, as a tool itself. The grated surface of this tire table prevents the buildup of dirt and adds functionality as a washing surface for dishes, laundry, car parts, and other gear. It’s one of those products you know can be found supporting a cold drink, a toolbox, a plate of snacks, and a can of mosquito repellent in the middle of Africa.

$140 |

Step 22 Gear

You know a product is ahead of the curve when reputable vehicle builders proudly refer to the brand when listing the modifications to their vehicles. Some builders even design their storage solutions around the Step 22 range. Need we say more? Step 22 products are popular since versatility and quality are key design elements. Products can be adapted by the user to meet their exact needs, and most products are designed to fit popular and common hard-side storage solutions. From duffel bags to tech storage, carryalls, recovery gear storage, toiletry bags, and everything in between, the company offers a comprehensive range for every adventure. A stand-out is the Stingray Flat Box, a perfect all-rounder.

$90 |

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Graeme Bell is an author and explorer who has dedicated his life to traveling the planet by land, seeking adventure and unique experiences. Together with his wife and two children, Graeme has spent the last decade living permanently on the road in a self-built Land Rover based camper. They have explored 27 African countries (including West Africa), circumnavigated South America, and driven from Argentina to Alaska, which was followed by an exploration of Europe and Western Asia before returning to explore the Americas. Graeme is the Senior Editor 4WD for Expedition Portal, a member of the Explorers Club, the author of six books, and an Overland Journal contributor since 2015. You can follow Graeme's adventures across the globe on Instagram at graeme.r.bell