The Best of SEMA Overland 2019

SEMA was quite the surprise this year, with overlanding taking center stage in the South Hall, and the Overland Experience presentations often having standing room only. And it wasn’t just about roof tents, there were also some genuinely interesting and innovative products on display, and more than a few thoughtful and functional project vehicles. Here are some of our favorites from SEMA Overland 2019.

Overland Vehicle Projects

Most attendees walked right by this Ranger without taking a second look, but it is the first Ranger Raptor in the US (the body panels anyways). It had a full long-travel kit from 

If I had to choose one vehicle to drive home from SEMA, it would probably be this 130 Defender from Defenders NW. There are only a few minor things I would want different, but even as it sits—all the feels.
It was also nice to start seeing Ford Transit AWD projects, like this one from Sportsmobile West. I like how the rack protects the raising roof.

The Bison is the new darling of the overland market, and for good reason. A proper payload, high-performance suspension, front and rear lockers, factory steel bumpers, and rock sliders. AEV takes it to the next level with a winch tray and ComeUp winch, beadlock wheels, snorkel, and wider flares.

This Nikola NZT 4WD was (very) interesting, sporting 775 pound-feet of torque and nearly 600 horsepower. Traction comes from four, fully sealed (IP67+) independent electric motors, and the suspension provides 18 inches of travel and supports 35-inch tires. It has a bigger payload than a Wrangler JL.

Toss some lightweight backpacking gear into the back (properly lashed, of course) and test the limits of that 150-mile range—4.0 second, 0-60 (grin).

The Dometic booth has always featured interesting project vehicles, and the Fotornr Ram was a great choice. This particular project has excellent attention to detail and high-quality components from AEV, Baja Designs, and Go Fast Campers. Check out Fotornr on Instagram

RSI Smartcap had a clean Ford Ranger on display with their tray system and cap. The modified Rangers are looking good (big wheels excluded).

New Legend always brings a few clean and modestly modified vehicles to SEMA, and this two-door Cherokee is no different. I love the old school vibe with a modern drivetrain. Kenda also slapped a set of their new (aggressive) all terrains on a set of aluminum wheels that looked like steelies.

Of note was their offering of both a 33- and 35-inch tire that is only 10.5 inches wide. Tall skinnies anyone?

I have liked the Mule Expedition Outfitters RAM with a tray-mounted Four Wheel Camper since it was a concept vehicle. The tan accents and liberal use of AEV kit make it a thoughtful and competent traveler.  mule-expedition-outfitters

It was a bit of a surprise to me, but the modified Rangers really looked good, and this ARB unit was no exception. It had the full catalog available, including a rear bumper, drawer system, and snorkel.

One of the few motorcycles at the show worth riding was the KTM 790 Rally in the ADV Moto booth. Yes, please.

EarthRoamer had their all-new LTi camper on display at the show, complete with a composite body and all-new interior treatments and electronics. The Kelderman suspension allows the fitment of 41-inch Continental tires on Hutchinson beadlock wheels. While it is easy to dismiss these vehicles as luxury land yachts, we have driven one all the way down to Panama.

EarthCruiser had their newest model (EXP) on display at SEMA, complete with a brand-new gasoline V8 drivetrain and Dynatrac axles. Front and Rear air lockers and 37-inch tires help ensure traction in technical terrain. These Fusos are exceptionally capable in testing. 

Overland Products:

Why not start with something super techy? These Full Spectrum Power lithium batteries are some of the best we have seen, with custom chemical compositions to suit the load, and multiple (and robust) threaded posts. It has a multi-stage built-in low voltage disconnect too. One thousand cold-cranking amps from a battery the size of a six-pack? Perfect.

Alex Feber from our team was also onsite producing a series of SEMA highlight videos, including this one on American Expedition Vehicles.

James Baroud had a unique new product on display, a crawl-through access “tube” that allows ingress and egress of the tent under full-weather protection. Add sides to the awning and it becomes a condo on wheels. When not in use, a small cover rolls over the hole—clever.

I really liked this cold-plate ice maker from Dometic. It is available on their newest line of CFX fridges. Gin and tonic anyone?

One of the more innovative tents at the show was the new iKamper Skycamp Mini, which easily fits over a 5-foot truck bed or over the cab of a compact truck. It sets up in a minute and the smaller size also provides a lighter weight at 125 pounds, under most SUV roof load limits.     
Scheel-Mann has become the new preferred aftermarket seat for travelers, both because of the quality construction, but also because of the custom fabrics and comfort options.  I have included them in this lineup because of the universally glowing review of the seats from several people I know, including Matt Scott of MaxTrax USA.

So, these wheels might be the ultimate sleeper from the show. They are made in the USA by American Expedition Vehicles with the proper off-set and load rating for overland travel. There are several subtle style cues that look perfect, like the flat face with dimpled holes and the valve stem detente. For those who have always wanted steelies for their Jeep, Toyota, or Nissan, these are darn near perfect.   
These Victory 4×4 Blitz slider steps might be the cleanest and most integrated solution yet, complete with side lighting (for trail visibility), and a wide-enough profile to use as a step. They tuck up tight against the body and feature a triangulated profile that improves overall strength and clearance.

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