At the Pacific Northwest version of Overland Expo, Expedition Portal’s 4WD Editor Graeme Bell walked us through some of the more interesting and useful gear available in the vast exhibitor area at the Deschutes County Expo Center. Overland Expo Mountain West in Loveland, Colorado, offered an even more expansive selection of vendors hawking everything from sunscreen to nearly seven-figure adventure vehicles. As Graeme mentioned, sorting through the myriad categories of gear, not to mention individual brands and items, can be a challenge. Not all the gear featured below will float everyone’s boat, depending on how and where you travel, but they certainly caught our eye.
Speaking of floating, the GoBoat offers a compelling way for watersports enthusiasts to carry a watercraft on their overland adventures without taking up valuable roof rack space, overloading your GVWR, or forcing you to pull a trailer. Built from the rugged PVA and PVC materials that many standup paddle boards are made of, the inflatable GoBoat collapses into a compact package when stored, comes equipped with a quiet, battery-powered 5mph trolling motor (batteries not included), and is claimed to be sturdy enough to stand on in calm seas. It looks like an ideal fly-fishing platform to me, and at only a little over $1000, seems like a highly versatile watercraft for when you want to get out of the truck and play pirate for a while.
Sea to Summit Hydraulic Pro Dry Pack
Every pirate needs to keep his or her treasures safely secured and dry, and there may be no better vessel on the market for that purpose than the Sea to Summit Hydraulic Pro dry pack. Available in 50, 75, or 100-liter sizes, the Hydraulic Pro doubles as a duffel or a backpack with its padded shoulder straps. It forgoes the traditional roll-top closure of most dry bags, instead featuring a burly but smooth-gliding waterproof zipper that makes for a wide opening to easily stash or access your doubloons and eye patches. Amazingly, the Hydraulic Pro is both airtight and fully submersible, and Sea to Summit’s exclusive Hydraulic 1000 fabric seems nearly indestructible. We’re looking forward to testing this bag on the back of an adventure bike soon.
Denali Electronics Motorcycle Auxilliary Lighting and Accessories
Last year legacy lighting manufacturer VisionX acquired Denali Electronics, a forward-thinking builder of lightweight and powerful auxiliary lights for motorcycles, both old and new. What sets Denali apart is its comprehensive approach to its lighting systems that include advanced control modules that integrate seamlessly into the electrical systems of modern bikes. New motorcycles have wiring that rivals automobiles in their complexity, so adding spot or fog lights to these bikes can be challenging in ways doing the same for older bikes just aren’t. But fear not, Denali still makes high-tech lighting for the devotees of carburetors and kick-starters as well.
Kincer Chassis TracTive Suspension Systems
Drivers of older 4x4s, such as myself, often have to cope with outdated suspension design and technology. My 1992 Land Rover Defender, for example, features coil-sprung live axles front and rear, and… that’s about it. Of course, it’s my choice to pilot such an ancient truck, but that doesn’t mean I have to suffer with lousy shock absorbers. Kincer Chassis—builders of modern chassis replacements for first-generation Ford Broncos—is now stocking a line-up of TracTive suspension systems for classic four-wheel drives, including my OG Defender.
TracTive, as the name suggests, has been building track-focused race suspension for over a decade, and their shocks, springs, and controllers can be found on everything from Pikes Peak-winning Porsches to BMW adventure bikes. The new TracTive suspension systems offered by Kincer in North America include fitment for not only the first-generation Defender but also 1979-2018 Mercedes G-Wagons and 80-Series Toyota Land Cruisers, as well as modern rides like the new Ford Bronco and JL Jeep Wranglers. Shocks are available in a 20-way manually adjustable (for both rebound and compression) version, and, interestingly, a version with fully automatic, actively controlled damping powered by a multi-axis g-sensor and controlled from an intuitive touch screen inside the vehicle. Reacting in as little as 6 milliseconds, the proprietary dynamic DDA valve bodies continually adjust the dampers’ stiffness and compliance to match any terrain, on the road or off. Can such advanced technology truly revolutionize the ride of a rickety old 4×4 like my own? We look forward to finding out.
Solo Stoves Pi Prime Pizza Oven
950 degrees. That’s how hot the Solo Stoves Pi Prime propane-fired pizza oven gets. As all true pizza-heads know, searing temperatures are the key to baking up the perfect pie. That intense heat not only instantly renders an airy and crisp crust (the true star of any homemade pizza), but it also melts the cheese perfectly and keeps sogginess at bay. The Pi Prime weighs just 3o pounds and has a relatively compact 20.5-inch diameter (it’s just shy of 15 inches high), so it’s relatively portable. It’s also a surprising multi-tasker—Solo demonstrated how it can cook other treats as well, such as bacon and warm spinach artichoke dip. What a luxury it would be to chow down on Neapolitan pizzas at your next remote campsite.
Kelty Redwing Backpack
This pick was a nostalgic choice for me—many years ago, a Kelty Redwing was my first backpacking pack, and it took me on many adventures as a much younger and smaller explorer. I was surprised to see it again at the Kelty booth at Overland Expo, looking essentially the same as it did thirty-plus years ago. But good design never goes out of fashion, and the Redwing is affordable and extremely versatile, not only as a backpacking pack for bantam bodies but also as a comfortable day pack for shorter outings. Available in a range of colors and for both men and women in sizes from 30 liters to 50, Kelty also offers a (considerably more expensive) made-in-the-USA version—a unique option.
FunTreks Off-Road Guides and Maps
I do love geeking out over my GPS mapping software and apps—the advanced technology and engaging user interfaces make planning and following new routes into the unknown exciting and informative. But there is still no substitute for paper maps, not only as a backup but also as your primary guide for adventure. FunTreks has a wide range of thoroughly researched and expertly designed guides and maps for popular and not-so-well-known off-piste trails. Printed on spiral-bound, weather-resistant, and durable materials with fonts and color keys that are easy to read at a glance, FunTrek guides make navigating fun in a way that’s been fun since humans have been using maps. Of course, FunTreks also has a comprehensive online companion to its printed materials should you need to scratch that technological itch.
Born Outdoor and Seek Outside Camping Gear
At Overland Journal and Expedition Portal, we’re big fans of bedrolls. In fact, Overland Journal’s Publisher Scott Brady has equipped his Ineos Grenadier for his multi-month Africa expedition with one, and the Born Outdoor Badger Bed has been a favorite stalwart of the gear room at Expedition Portal’s headquarters in Arizona for over a year now. These compact, all-in-one sleep systems are hard to beat for convenience, comfort, and durability. At Expo, it was interesting to see Born partnered with Colorado company Seek Outside, to complement their bedrolls with Seek’s ultralight shelters and wood stoves. The Seek Cimmaron is a floorless and classically pyramid-shaped tent that sleeps up to four and weighs less than three pounds. It features 94 square feet of living space and includes an integrated stove jack for Seek’s extremely cool (and surprisingly affordable) titanium wood stoves.
Opus Campers OP4
Off-road-focused camper trailers continue to be a hot commodity in the overland world. In fact, every time I swung by the Opus Campers booth at Overland Expo to get a look at their sleek OP4 model, there was a constant stream of people swarming all over it—I could barely squeeze in for an unobstructed outside photo or even a single interior shot. What makes the OP4 singular in its design approach in this crowded camper field is its inflatable structure. The built-in air pump erects the tent structure in just two minutes, and the OP4 sleeps up to six (when a couple of children are thrown in the mix). With high clearance and big articulation from its axle-less suspension, this low-profile camper is ready for serious trails and comes with a comprehensively equipped outdoor kitchen and plenty of off-grid options and upgrades to make the Opus a true adventure headquarters.
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