Our Favorite #Vanlife Gear from Overland Expo West
Tools to keep your beer cold and your gear organized
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Over the past couple years, we’ve seen the overlanding crowd develop lots of innovative gear, from rooftop tents to pimped-out drawer systems, to make life on the road easier. At this year’s Overland Expo, a huge weekend gathering in Flagstaff, Arizona, where the community congregates to show off their rigs and discuss the finer points of #vanlife, we scoured the selection to find our favorite items. Here are six that stood out.
TemboTusk Adventure Skottle Grill (Above; $275)
Last year, we introduced you to the TemboTusk Skottle; a flattened-out, wok-like grill that sits on three legs, is heated by a Coleman bottle and burner ($33), and is great for cooking eggs, veggies, and meat. This year, TemboTusk launched the Adventure Skottle, a smaller, shorter version that weighs just 2.7 pounds, comes apart and packs down to the size of a textbook, and is perfect for kayak or rafting trips. Even better: The MSR DragonFly ($140) stove hooks onto the bottom to become a heat source. Or you can buy inexpensive adapters and use other stoves, such as the MSR Whisperlite International ($100), Jetboil MightyMo ($50), and MSR SuperFly ($57).
Expedition Essentials Exo Table Lite with Dual-Burner Cook Partner Stove ($750)
This is essentially a mini car-camping kitchen in a box. It folds up to about two feet long and three inches deep when packed together, and it can be thrown into the back of your truck or attached via a quick-release mount ($85) to your tailgate or swing-out bumper. Unpacked, it’s a powerful two-burner stove, plus a storage shelf and cutting board. It’s true that a simple camp table and two-burner stove will cost you significantly less, but the idea here is that everything fits together, packs away small, is easy to carry around, and is contained in a bombproof 5052 aluminum housing that can rattle around in the back of your truck for thousands of miles and never break. Essentially, it’s the last camp kitchen you’ll ever need.
Blue Ridge Overland Gear Tool Bag ($125)
I carry a full 200-piece tool kit in my truck in case something goes wrong. Or, instead of an awkward, space-hogging plastic box, I can bring along the more portable, customizable tool bag from Blue Ridge. The outer is made from 500-denier Cordura fabric, so it can take the abuse of tools, plus it comes with six different removable and zippered Cordura pouches that allow me to organize wrenches, sockets, and other odds and ends.
Kanan Weatherproof Solar Power Bank ($40)
The housing on this tough-as-nails solar charger is IPX6 waterproof and keeps dust out, making it perfectly suited to dirty, bumpy overland life. Big drops are no problem, thanks to a veritable armored suit of rubber padding. Two USB ports charge an iPhone or GoPro at least a couple times; the Kanan also comes with a multipronged charging cable that features a Lightning port for your iPhone, as well as a USB-Mini and USB-C port. On the back, four LEDs serve as a flashlight in a pinch. Like all other solar power banks, the Kanan takes hours to charge (how many depends on how clearly it can capture the sun), so I’ll be leaving mine on the dashboard of my truck to keep it juiced. When I take it out on the trail, it will clip to my bag via an included carabiner to gather light, and then live in the sun at camp to keep everything topped off.
Dometic CFX-75DZW Dual Zone Fridge/Freezer ($1,100)
I can already see people’s eyes rolling when they see the $1,100 price tag on this drink and food hauler. I feel you. But here’s why I’m still writing about it: This new model has two separate storage units, allowing you to run one a little warmer as a fridge and the other colder for freezer duty. With 70 liters of capacity and the ability to run indefinitely off a 100-watt solar panel, the Dual Zone lets you and a group of your best friends go way the hell into the backcountry for a week or more with plenty of food and without having to worry about ice. Trust me, ice cream tastes really good after a long and hot climb, run, or ride.
Esee PR4 Knife ($105)
Esee is a knife brand associated with Randall’s Adventure & Training wilderness survival school in Gallant, Alabama. Its knives are often developed by the instructors to be useful for tasks like rope rescue and first aid. The PR4 was designed by lead instructor Patrick Rollins (thus the PR in the name) and is meant to be an affordable general-purpose knife for everything from building a shelter to dressing a kill. It comes with a four-inch 1095 carbon-steel blade, 4.5-inch handle, and a leather pouch.