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Expo Gear You Will Want to Explore: Savvy Creations for Outdoor Comfort

Amid massive builds with habitat boxes, larger-than-life bumpers, rooftop tents, and overlanding gear at this year’s Overland Expo Mountain West in Loveland, Colorado, the displays of homegrown and sustainable-minded companies punctuated the landscape. These are the companies and products that always garner my attention for their creative ability to meet industry demands and emerging markets. These are original ideas matched with hard work. They’re products that have minimal impact on the environment and maximum impact on the ease of life. Here are a few of my favorites.

Just Ride 5


I first found Just Ride 5 last year at the Loveland Overland Expo and fell in love with this women’s line of moto clothing after I won one of their shirts at the moto dinner. I wound up buying two more shirts before the Expo ended. Besides a fresh new look for female riders, the company offers substance with offerings that are performance-driven “just like the powerful engines of the bikes women who don them like to ride.”

The shirt I won, JR5’s Gold Rush base layer, is both form fitting and offers comfort and a generous stretch. Thumb holes (what’s a long-sleeved shirt without thumb holes?) accent the cuffs and keep the sleeves in place. I’ve worn this shirt countless times as a base layer during cooler fall weather, and I was excited to see JR5’s new line of fall and winter clothing at this year’s Expo.

The company start-up

Jenn Guerriero and Chris Briggs have worked together to expand this women’s-only line created for the feminine yet adventurous tomboy in all of us. The team paid attention to the details sought by female consumers: breathable fabrics that are soft to the touch, sturdy zippers, and designs and fabric weights that are perfect before, during, and after the ride.

The pair’s latest inventory includes the MFA (Made for Adventure) lavender quarter-zip base shirt. This is a piece to drool over. It offers a diagonal stripe from the right shoulder across the body that provides a slimming effect. The design has JR5’s signature quarter-zip high collar for wind protection, a zipper garage to prevent chafing, extended sleeves for added comfort, and a thicker, more durable fabric for cold-weather riding. These lightweight designs are created from 77/23 polyester/spandex tricot, are moisture-wicking, and stretch to fit the curves (because you know we’re not all shaped alike).

Supporting women riders

Even better, JR5 is a supporter of women on motorcycles. “The rise in the numbers of women motorcyclists reflects a broadening demographic to the industry,” the JR5 site says. “Move over obstacles, oppression, and glass ceiling, and hold on tight. We’re breaking through all of it. We demand more choices in what’s been offered in a male-dominated world. We’ve arrived.” Check out their full line, everything from tanks to sleeved riding shirts to beanies and neck gaiters.

$85 | justride5.com



I was impressed by LifeSaver’s Jerrycans when I saw them up close, but after reading reviews on the company’s website here, I knew this was a quality product. While this innovation is new to me, it has apparently been admired by Overland International Founder Scott Brady. You can read his review of LifeSaver here.

The investment

When making an investment, clean water shouldn’t be skimped on. This portable water purifier is capable of filtering 5,200 gallons of water, removing 99.99 percent of viruses, bacteria, cysts, and parasites instantly. These cans were designed with overlanders in mind, holding up to 18.5 liters of water, making them ideal for camping, expeditions, and larger groups who wish to travel off-grid. Simply fill with water from lakes, rivers, or questionable taps and convert your water into clean, safe, and tasty fluid.

Get rid of the heavy metals

LifeSaver’s Jerrycans (a slang name given by Germans whose original idea was stolen by Allies, copied, and reverse-engineered during World War II) comes with replaceable activated carbon discs for chemical and heavy metal reduction (chlorine, lead, nickel, and cadmium), removing bad tastes and odors. Still, the carbon filter isn’t necessary to create safe-to-consume water. The container also reduces the turbidity of glacial, cloudy, and muddy waters. Fits into a standard Jerrycan rack. Keeps contaminated water safe for drinking for days, weeks, or months.

$286 – $499 | iconlifesaver.com

Hest Sleep Systems

I stumbled upon Hest sleep systems when I needed a break from venturing around the Expo grounds. Owner Aaron Ambuske invited me to take a load off on one of his sleep products. The first thing I noticed was the luxurious feel of the material covering the foamy sleepers. I melted into the 30-inch sleep system and didn’t want to get up.

A good night’s sleep

The Hest line of products embodies my long-standing position that if we spend a third of our lives sleeping, the investment should be worthy of the best comfort on the market. This statement rings truer outdoors, where sleep is sometimes elusive. Hest makes rest easy with a goal of taking sleep home comforts to the great outdoors. “What if we could take a sleeping pad that was so comfortable that your groggy morning brain forgot you were even in a tent?” While I wasn’t able to sleep on the product, I could see how easily this might happen.

More than just a mattress

These essential sleep kits are available with blow-up pads, pillows, and mattresses that tuck neatly into an easy-carry ensemble. Fit them into your ground or rooftop tent or the back of your truck. After all, sleep affects everything we do—from decision-making to quick maneuvering when seconds count—and everyone knows ground sleep may or may not bring the rest we need for the energy adventuring can expend.

Pairing comfort with durability

Hest products are created from dense nylon twill that provides “the suppleness that stretches but with yarns that offer great durability.” The result is a delicate balance of durability meets comfort in the great outdoors. The polymers also offer higher abrasion resistance and easy compression. While you’re visiting the company website, be sure to check out products for Fido because he needs a good night’s sleep, too.

$299-$499 | hest.com

The Geyser System

This Montrose, Colorado, company with a focus on sustainability provided hot showers for Expo guests in stalls on tent campgrounds and what needed relief it brought. The Geyser System, billed as a “game changer for overlanding,” is equipped with a built-in heating element powered by a 12V DC power supply and uses a minimal supply of water (1 gallon), so the environmental impact is lessened with each shower. Add a gallon of water to the Geyser, plug in the shower, and find something else to do for the 15 minutes it’ll take to have your shower at the optimum temperature of 95 degrees.

Not just a shower

Use it for dishes and gear, too. The setup is so time-saving that you won’t have to worry about packing extra water for cleaning again. The hands-free pump has a 15-minute run time, interchangeable scrubs, an LED display, a 5-foot flexible polyurethane hose line, and anti-scalding safety features. Weighing 14.6 pounds at full capacity, it’s capable of heating water to 108 degrees.

Geyser isn’t short on positive reviews or accolades for its focus on sustainability, using 10 times less water than a conventional shower. The shower comes with a green scrub that offers both a coarse and soft side with a long-lasting natural antimicrobial solution and reusable pouch.

$324 | geysersystems.com

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Marianne Todd has been a professional photojournalist and writer since 1987. Her career began in newspapers and rapidly spread into national news magazines. Her work has been featured on the pages of Time, Life, National Geographic, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal, where she was nominated for Photographer of the Year International. Todd became a publisher in 2009, creating titles reflecting the music, arts, and tourism industries of the South (she still sports the accent), and her work as the official photographer for Governor Haley Barbour led her to photograph everything from Hurricane Katrina to presidential visits. Since moving to New Mexico four years ago, she has left hard news coverage to travel on her trusty BMW F 750 GS, journeying the roads of America and beyond.