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Gear to help you approach your next off-road journey with absolute confidence.
Overlanding is the autophile’s way to plunge into the outdoors. Whether you’re keeping things frugal carrying all of your gear on a motorcycle or living large from a built-out SUV, your adventures can be made easier and safer with proper apparel and accessories. And there was plenty of that on display at the 2021 installment of Overland Expo West. From knives and flashlights to recovery gear and even pants, below you’ll find the best items that caught my eye. Just keep in mind that, as many of these items were just announced or released, stock may be scarce for the time being.
Organization is paramount when it comes to maintaining your sanity while wrenching on your pride and joy. And this tool roll from Step 22 aims to keep all of your kit together in a beautifully compact package. Despite the beauty of automotive mise en place, the roll is stitched together using robust 1,000-denier nylon featuring Step 22’s CRAWL (Coated Rugged All-Weather Layer) and multi-layer tread weave. Along with high-quality materials, the Pangolin also features a storage garage to keep your tools out of the dirt while you make repairs.
While Surefire is best known for crafting military-spec flashlights and suppressors, the former presents a fantastic crossover into the overlanding space. Sure, your phone might suffice in certain applications, but nothing can replace a mil-spec flashlight. The G2X Pro has two modes that can throw 15 lumens in the low setting and 600 at full blast. Under the skin, the Surefire torch features high-efficiency LED emitters as well as precision reflectors, which are both shrouded in a robust polymer casing. The press/click tail switch at the back is super intuitive, allowing for short bursts of light during a half-press or constant illumination after a full-press.
KC has been making high-quality off-road lighting systems since 1970, labeling itself as “off-road’s favorite accessory.” It’s no surprise, then, that KC knows how to make a great light. With too many installations to count at its display booth this year, these lights fitted to the side-view mirrors of this Ford Bronco caught my eye. Despite KC also selling its Pro6 Gravity series of floodlights, which come in an adjustable array of eight, spanning over 50 inches, everyone is still looking for a neat and tidy solution when it comes to mounting spotlights. The FE 4’s may be small, but they’re capable of throwing nearly 8,000 lumens—1,610 lux at 10 meters—all while resisting the elements with an IP68-rated shroud.
You’ve likely heard the phrase “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” During my time at Overland Expo, I couldn’t begin to tell you how many hard cases I came across. Big and small, long and short, every other product is a derivative of a Pelican case. After hearing horror stories of customers drilling into its standard cases—voiding the lifetime warranty—the design team created a bespoke model for overlanding applications. The latest BX is supremely easy to mount to the exterior of your vehicle without any sketchy drilling. If you opt for one, Pelican also sells a universal bed mount that allows easy access to gear that you’ll need day-to-day.
Planning an overland adventure can often be fraught with difficulty. That’s where OnX comes in as a super useful tool; its app is like having 5,000 paper maps in a much easier to manage package. Trail legends easily denote the purpose of a given trail with colored lines that are easy to understand. If you’re new to an area, OnX can also find the best trails around you within a 100-mile radius—with extremely detailed information including difficulty rating, mileage, photos, and vehicle restrictions. All of the maps are also downloadable for longer trips where you might lose cell phone service. If you opt in, you’ll be able to choose from the premium and elite plans. The former will guide you through motorized trails and public lands for $29.99 a year, while the latter will include added information for private lands starting at $99.99 per year.
Bernhard Leitner started Leitner Designs in 2014, building his first modular cargo system supported by the brand’s philosophy of “over engineered, over built, to carry your world.” Called the HydroPod, this water-storage vessel neatly integrates with the existing Leitner ecosystem. Once pressurized—using the high-efficiency hand pump—the 4.8-gallon plastic tank can dispense water through the included 20-foot hose and adjustable spray nozzle. While I’d wager that most would use the HydroPod as intended for a shower solution, running water is always invaluable when you’re off the grid.
Deadman Off-Road describes its latest recovery anchor as the most versatile that anyone can buy. A bold claim, but when you see the gear for yourself, you’ll believe it. To offer some perspective, winches are fantastic tools, but recovery anchors can unlock a new world of possibilities when it comes to getting your vehicle out of a jam. You can wrap the Deadman around trees or rocks and can even bury it in the sand to provide a secure anchor point. Built using class VII Polyester, the anchor can withstand up to 66,400 pounds of force before breaking. After you’re back on firmer ground, the Deadman V2 stows in the “body bag,” which is small enough to be stowed almost anywhere in your vehicle, like below the seat, under-bed storage, or even an emergency storage case.
While pants probably aren’t at the top of your list when it comes to pushing your vehicle to the limit off-piste, staying comfortable and dry during an adventure is important. OTG already has a dedicated adventure pant called the Trailblazer Pro—which I currently own—but the Trailblazer 5.0 keeps most of the same qualities that make the advanced pants so great. The included crotch gusset is a triangular patch of fabric sewn into where the leg inseam meets the front and back seams at the crotch, eliminating the pinch point you get with traditional pants. Despite the 5.0 being more discrete, they also boast nine pockets (compared to the eight that you get in the Pro pant), while maintaining a hidden leg pocket. Off the Grid packed all those features into a pant and stitched it together using a slightly stretchy fabric consisting of 98 percent cotton and 2 percent Lycra.
I’m a coffee fanatic, and so I’m not one to settle for lackluster java even when off the grid. Combining the functionality of a travel mug with the brewing capabilities of a kitchen-grade french press, the 24-ounce Ovrlndr allows you to have your bold cup of joe wherever you’re parked. Aside from it brewing your beans and keeping your coffee warm—thanks to double-wall insulation—Brutrek also implemented its Bru Stop technology, which seals the beans at the bottom from the brewed coffee at the top, stopping the brewing process. This prevents your coffee from going sour after sitting in the mug for a while.