We’re crazy about adventure travel and the overland gear that improves quality of life on the road. Over the past few years the overlanding equipment market has exploded with innovate new products and newly imported gear – from classic overlanding locations like Australia and Africa. And, our favorite part of this movement is that it’s incredibly entrepreneurial and many of these new companies are run from garages, kitchen tables, and tiny shops across the nation.
So we decided to assemble a repository of our favorite companies and overland vehicle equipment. We’re building out more comprehensive lists, but this page is for the ones we think make a difference. Both to the industry and to the way people adventure. But, before we get into our favorites we’d like to extend an opportunity to current and future movers and shakers.
Beyond this article, our gear guides, and general adventure travel content we want to provide a vehicle for other entrepreneurs to share their latest news. So, from this point forward we’re making our news section open to the adventure travel and outdoor entrepreneurs and expedition personalities. If you have a new product, publication, or other newsworthy info… get in touch on social media or comment below. We’d love to help spread the word and provide a bit of assistance.
Now to the gear, companies, publications and personalities that we regard as the best in the business.
Before you go any further, we’d like to point out that we’ve probably missed some great companies. Maybe one of them is your company. The organizations featured below are ones that have impressed us through their reputation, quality of product(s), innovative ideas, and in most cases first hand interactions. This list will evolve as we meet new people and see new products.
Overland Expo West
If you’ve never been to Arizona you should go. And, if you go… do so in the spring when thousands of adventurers descend on Northern Arizona for “Expo West.” The three day event is a must for anyone interested in vehicle based adventure travel. From motorcycles, to Land Cruiser enthusiasts, to people who can cruise around the globe in an Earthroamer… this show has it all.
And, this isn’t just a tradeshow for gear mongers and vehicle outfitters. It’s also a film festival, a comprehensive collection of seminars, and an opportunity for some training. But, perhaps it’s most important contribution to the adventure travel community is its increasing status as a Mecca for all things overland. Actually, maybe it’s more like a Burning Man for off road adventure travelers. Either way it’s the best option in the US to meet up with well over 10,000 like-minded travelers, share stories, and drool over some incredible adventure mobiles.
Overland Expo East
A few years ago you could get away with not mentioning Expo East when talking about its western counterpart. However, that’s no longer the case. Throngs of east coast adventurers make their way to North Carolina’s Biltmore Estate in the fall. While it’s not as large (by almost any measure) we have heard that attendance is growing at a faster rate on the east coast.
The setting is quite different. The Biltmore is the Vanderbilt Family’s estate, while Expo west takes place on a rather large fairground. But, make no mistake both venues are equally awesome when it comes to the caliber of people you’ll encounter (exhibitors, vendors, etc.).
Vehicle Recovery & Fuel Storage
Designed, engineered, and manufactured in Australia Maxtrax sets the standard for what companies in this industry should replicate. And, no… we don’t mean make a low dollar plastic knock off. We’re referring to a well engineered product that solves a legitimate problem. They’re even backed by a lifetime warranty. Before you go out and buy any recovery gear, a lift, or roof top tent – check out Maxtrax. We think they’re a very wise investment.
If you’re in the market for a kinetic recovery rope (we highly recommend adding one to your kit) be sure to check out Bubba Rope. They build their products in-house and never compromise on quality. With thier track record and distribution know how they could easily white label a cheap knock off. However, unlike some budget 4×4 brands, Bubba Rope is a subsidiary of a legitimate sling manufacturer. Certified Slings (Bubba Rope’s parent company) built a solid reputation building everything from heavy duty boat slings to rigging used to lift overpass sections into place.
Will a budget kinetic recovery rope “work.” Definitely. However, you’ve got to respect the fact that they’re providing jobs in their community while offering innovative products in a niche market.
Gear Storage & Organization
There are myriad storage options on the market, but few offer the benefits of an aluminum case. They’re lightweight, space efficient, and fully recyclable. And, to be honest nothing looks better on an expedition rig. The big downside is that they’re pretty pricy. So if you go the aluminum route make sure you get what you pay for. There are a few great options available but Zarges aluminum cases are some of the best. Which is not a surprise considering that they’ve been in business since the 1930’s. Zarges is an excellent example of a company that started small and now provides products to customers around the globe.
Available from Adventure-Ready.com | zargescases.com
Tents & Shelter
In recent years rooftop tents have moved from relative obscurity to something you pick up at REI. However, if you’re looking for what many consider to be the best you may want to first take a peek at Eezi-Awn. They’ve been around for more than three decades and are still built in South Africa. We know that not everyone has the cash to buy a true expedition quality tent, but everyone should check out Eezi-Awn before buying something else. The quality of thier product more or less the benchmark of craftsmanship in the roof top tent world.
In addition to roof top tents Eezi-awn also builds some excellent offroad awning options. Again, they aren’t cheap, but top of the line gear rarely comes with a small price tag attached.
For many rooftop tent shoppers the question of Autohome vs. James Baroud will pop up 9 times out of ten. While both are great products in their own right, we have to say that James Baroud’s US distributor sets the benchmark for excellent customer service.
Granted Autohome is no rookie when it comes to rooftop tents. This Italian manufacturer sold its first models back in 1958, and to this day they’re still built in Italy. However, our experiences with OK 4WD/AutohomeUSA are enough to point anyone we encounter toward the James Baroud option first. There’s a reason they’ve been in business since the 70’s… they’re a great group.
Beyond that, the Portuguese company builds a great tent. And they’ve done so for more than two decades. These tents are built to last and can handle some abuse. You will not be disappointed with a James Baroud rooftop tent.
We’re obviously pretty impressed by James Baroud, but if there’s another equally-great product that’s got some awesome people behind the brand it’s Alu-Cab. If you ever have the chance to stop by thier booth at an event do so. Beyond being good natured, innovative and knowledgeable Alu-Cab make a great product. The South African company builds some awesome rooftop tents, roof conversions, truck canopies, offroad awnings, and more recently… truck campers. If you’re looking for something tough (and obviously built from aluminum), Alu-Cab should be at the top of your list.
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When it comes to ultra tough off road trailers there are only a handful of options on par with Conqueror. These trailers are a mainstay in Australia and Africa, and recently hit the US market. Originally built for the military, these off road trailers are built to last in the harshest of environments.
There are a ton of cool features built into each of their models and in the grand scheme of things… they offer a lot of bang for your buck. If you ever have the chance to check one out in person you definitely should.