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Overland Summit: Testing Offroad and Tenting Gear on the Path

Press, media, journalist — these are all labels which were utilized to our employees through the years, however none of them really feel proper. We’re not a part of some faceless company empire, and we do not sit at cubicles in a stuffy big-city workplace hammering away at our keyboards. We prefer to follow what we preach. Which means getting exterior and experiencing the world, studying new expertise, testing gear, and sharing the teachings we have realized. So, after we get invited to media occasions, we’re normally apprehensive. Far too lots of them encompass little greater than a continental breakfast and a Powerpoint presentation. However this was not the case on the Tread Company Overland Summit, an invitation-only media occasion designed round sensible hands-on experiences with tenting, off-roading, and overland gear.

We spent three days on the occasion within the mountains exterior Massive Bear, California, together with a handful of different writers and content material creators. Whereas we have been there, we received to take a look at some new merchandise, study from subject-matter consultants, drive difficult trails in overland rigs, and luxuriate in tasty meals, chilly beers, and good firm across the campfire every night time. Learn on for a recap of what we noticed and realized on the Overland Summit.

Day One: Setting Up Camp

We arrived on the campsite in Holcomb Valley, just a few miles north of Massive Bear Lake within the San Bernardino Mountains, within the early afternoon. Though I got here ready to sleep in my 4Runner, a rep from Lance Campers supplied me a lot cushier lodging in one of many firm’s new Enduro overland trailers.

Marketed as a “luxurious RV expertise” in a light-weight overland trailer, it comes geared up with a kitchen space with sink and fridge/freezer, toilet with stand-up bathe, and U-shaped dinette that converts right into a spacious 80×72-inch mattress. It even has air-con, a furnace, rooftop photo voltaic panels, and an onboard water heater for warm showers.

Some attendees stayed in rooftop tents, such because the Tuff Stuff Overland Alpine tent proven above. In contrast to most rooftop tents, its Z-folding design could be opened in both path to defend from wind and rain, or could be totally expanded to create a tall rectangular sleeping space. Tuff Stuff additionally introduced some Halo campsite lights, which function detachable/rechargeable gentle pods and an built-in Bluetooth speaker.

Different attendees camped in futuristic-looking ShiftPods. These moveable constructions (we would not even name them tents) are constructed from composite “tremendous materials” that mirror warmth within the daytime, insulate towards the chilly at night time, and may face up to winds of over 100mph.

As soon as we have been all settled, we cracked open some frosty Montucky Chilly Snacks beers from close by Canyon Coolers. The closest water supply was a nasty-looking trough, however a Guzzle H2O moveable purification system processed it into clear and crystal clear ingesting water.

At dinnertime, the crew from Hitchfire tossed some tri-tip onto certainly one of their moveable hitch-mounted grills, and served it up on their Final Cook dinner Station. The latter setup features a sink for hand-washing and cleansing dishes.

After a while across the campfire, our final exercise of the night time was a path run with Inflexible Industries. We rode shotgun of their long-travel-equipped Tundra and noticed the dramatic distinction low-mounted amber lights could make in dusty situations. Excessive-mounted white lights are nice for clear situations, however on a dusty or foggy street, they will seem blinding. Amber lights reduce by way of the haze and produce extra distinction for higher visibility.

Day Two: Off-Roading & Rock Crawling

Waking up after a restful night time within the Enduro camper, I made some espresso and warmed up by the hearth till our deliberate departure time for the principle occasion of the journey — a 7-hour path run by way of the mountains. The route was deliberate by the staff from Trailchasers Podcast, who additionally led the convoy and made positive nobody received left behind. Printed maps have been handed out to all attendees, and we used GMRS radios to remain in contact with different automobiles.

Above: Sure, Optima parked its 7,800-pound Rivian on prime of certainly one of its yellow prime batteries. And sure, the battery nonetheless labored afterwards.

Though I’d swap automobiles a number of instances all through the Overland Summit, I spent most of my time in the very last thing you may anticipate to see on a distant mountain street greater than an hour from the closest city: an electrical car. Optima Batteries introduced out a pair of modified Rivian R1T and R1S electrical vans constructed by DCE, an electric-vehicle-specific division of the outstanding tuning firm Weistec Engineering.

Optima and DCE additionally labored collectively to create a really cool Energy Station Trailer with 50 kilowatt-hours of battery energy and a 1-kilowatt folding photo voltaic array. Simply as gas-powered automobiles can carry spare gasoline, this moveable energy station eliminates worries about preserving an electrical truck charged removed from the city grid.

Above: The Optima/DCE Rivian R1T and R1S did surprisingly properly on the path. The driving force can choose a number of modes on the contact display, which regulate journey top, stiffness, stability management, regenerative braking, and extra.

Anybody with off-road driving expertise is aware of the significance of airing down your tires — it gives extra grip, improves journey consolation, and reduces the danger of a puncture or blowout. Morrflate founder Tyler calls it “the primary method you’ll be able to enhance off-road efficiency,” and that is why he developed his firm’s tire deflation and inflation kits.

Every driver attached all 4 wheels to a Morrflate system and aired right down to roughly 15psi earlier than beginning the path run. By connecting to all 4 tires without delay, the system mechanically equalizes stress, eliminating one of many greatest complications of airing up and down.

As we began the drive, I used to be apprehensive about how Optima and DCE’s nearly-8,000-pound all-electric Rivian truck would fare on a rutted and rock-strewn off-road path, however its capabilities impressed me. The air suspension made it the smoothest-riding car in our total convoy, and the electrical motors’ instantaneous torque and all-wheel-drive system allowed it to climb over some substantial obstacles. It even has a user-configurable Rock Crawl mode — not one thing I anticipated to see in an electrical pickup truck. A day on the path barely put a dent in its vary indicator, and the Energy Station Trailer meant it might be recharged again at camp.

At lunchtime, we stopped in a clearing and circled the wagons for a wilderness first help demo from native firefighter Steve Barron. He mentioned vital classes equivalent to assess and stabilize accidents when there is not any hospital close by, and prep an injured particular person for medevac by car or Life Flight. Snakebites, a doubtlessly life-threatening damage in off-the-grid settings, have been additionally mentioned at size. As we have mentioned in our earlier articles about that subject, you need to by no means try to suck out venom or apply a tourniquet above the chew — the sufferer wants to stay calm and get to a hospital for antivenom as quickly as potential.

Milestar Tires introduced a number of automobiles to exhibit the capabilities of its Patagonia A/T Professional and Patagonia M/T-02 tires. It is one factor to listen to about how a lot traction and power a set of off-road tires has, and one other factor solely to really feel it because the tires bounce over basketball-sized rocks. The tires proved themselves on technical sections such because the White Mountain Peak path, which lots of the automobiles in our convoy needed to bypass on account of its steep ascent over massive boulders. Their reasonably priced pricing additionally makes them an interesting possibility for budget-minded overlanders.

Above: The ascent to the highest of White Mountain was a steep and rocky one. Viewers on the backside cheered as every car made it previous the impediment.

After an extended day of driving, we returned to camp within the late afternoon. Stuart Palley, a conservationist and wildfire photographer, hosted a Q&A about wildfire prevention and avoidance — an vital ability for anybody who spends time in distant areas which are inclined to those disasters. He additionally taught us about LCES, which stands for Look out (e.g. situational consciousness), Communications, Escape routes, and Security zones. Protecting these 4 ideas in thoughts when you’re navigating by way of wildfire nation will enhance your chance of creating it to security if a fireplace begins shifting in your path.

Lastly, Melanie Hellwig-White, the CEO of Hellwig Suspension, talked in regards to the worth of swaybars for stabilizing overland automobiles. When you’ve received a loaded-down, top-heavy car equivalent to a Sprinter van or a lifted truck with a rooftop tent, the manufacturing facility sway bars most likely aren’t ample anymore. This mismatch can result in an uncomfortable — and even harmful — quantity of lean whereas driving on twisty mountain roads or over uneven trails. A stiffer Hellwig swaybar can preserve all 4 tires planted after they must be, whereas remaining compliant sufficient to permit suspension flex on the path.

Above: Attendees drove the Hellwig Ranger to really feel the distinction swaybars could make over uneven terrain.

Day Three: Off-Highway Restoration Clinic

After breakfast on the ultimate morning of the Overland Summit, we gathered round for a DIY car restoration clinic taught by Trails 411. Veteran off-roaders Don Alexander and Invoice Stephens confirmed us what to do (and what not to do) if we get caught on the path, in addition to key objects for an off-road restoration package. I am going to go into extra element about these classes in a separate article, however for now, I am going to depart you with three straightforward steps that can remedy most conditions on the path:

  1. Strive backing up. It is the simple resolution, and more often than not, it really works!
  2. If that fails, take a deep breath, look at the car, and consider why you bought caught. This may typically lead you to a common sense resolution. For instance, in case you’re high-centered, you may most likely be capable of see whether or not it is simpler to go ahead or backward.
  3. If each of the earlier measures fail, get some assist from a buddy — it is at all times a good suggestion to have one close by whereas off-roading. Hook up a tow strap to a safe tow level (NOT a ball hitch) on each automobiles and have your buddy provide you with a small nudge within the applicable path. In keeping with Stephens, one strap, a pair of sentimental shackles, and a second car is sufficient gear to get you out of 90% of those conditions.

Closing Ideas

Above: This solid-axle-swapped 4Runner belongs to Tyler, the founding father of Morrflate. We admire that he isn’t simply one other business-savvy man promoting offroad gear — he is a real off-road fanatic who checks his personal merchandise and appears for tactics to enhance them.

The Overland Summit was an amazing alternative for hands-on experiences with all kinds of drugs and candid discussions with off-roading, overlanding, and wilderness survival consultants. Moderately than simply listening to about new merchandise and their options, we received to attempt them within the setting they have been designed for, and that is a invaluable factor. We hope to do extra long-term testing on just a few of the objects from the Summit sooner or later, and there is loads of further classes we will share from this occasion, so keep tuned.

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