Field Tested: Xpel

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Overland Journal,Spring 2018.

We all know the familiar sound, the screech that comes from branches against paint, the all too common pinstriping that happens in the desert. Adventure also includes urban obstacles like shopping carts, stone chips, and door scrapes. The investment in a new overland vehicle or motorcycle is significant, so protecting that asset in practical ways is worth the expense, including proper skid plates, bumpers, and even paint films.

Xpel is a heavy-duty film that serves as insurance against most scratches and chips and boasts a 10-year guarantee. For our project Tacoma, we elected to use two of the Xpel systems, the Ultimate and the Stealth. They both serve in essentially the same way but provide two different finishes. The Ultimate is their signature product, a wrap that is comprised of a clear coat, polyurethane, acrylic (adhesive), and a polyester release liner layer. The clear coat matches the quality of most high-end automotive finishes, free from orange peel and other flaws. The 6-mil thick polyurethane layer handles impact absorption and isolates scrapes from the vehicle’s paint. Most swirls and light scratches heal with the warmth of the sun, while heavier scratches can be reduced by warm water or the careful use of a hair dryer. The Stealth works the same, but provides a matte finish, which we applied to the hood and grill. The product is expensive, so we only fitted it to high-impact areas. Pricing subject to vehicle application and desired coverage area.


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