Ask any experienced overlander which top ten modifications they feel are most essential and the inclusion of a refrigerator will make the list every time. The desire to have a fridge onboard is seemingly intertwined with overlanding, but the ideal size of the fridge is an area of some debate. Because many of us travel with smaller vehicles, or have constraints on cargo space, smaller fridges are a necessary but often overlooked option. For this installment of our Head to Head series we evaluate two of the more popular compact fridges on the market, the Engel MR040 and the ARB 37QT.
It’s no overreach to say the Jeep Cherokee is one of the most significant vehicles of the last fifty years. Not just because it has such a storied legacy, which it truly does, but because it was initially offered as the more sporty alternative to the Jeep Wagoneer. In that, it has been credited as the first automobile labeled specifically as a sport utility vehicle. At least that’s how it was described in the 1974 Jeep brochure. Much like the Wagoneer, the Cherokee (SJ) was a beast of a thing at over 4,500 pounds. That may not seem heavy, but keep in mind, this was a vehicle with just two doors, no airbags, austere accommodations, and not much for appointments. This was a spartan rig made of hulking chunks of good old American steel. With the recent launch of the new Cherokee KL, we take a look back to see how the new iteration stacks up against the original. What was it then, and what is it now?
Here at Overland International, we love to test gear and without question the best way to do so is to simply put it to use. Sometimes we test gear and don’t even know we’re doing so. Take for example our recent impromptu test of a lithium motorcycle battery. While sorting through drawers and doing a little mid-winter cleaning, our own Brian McVickers stumbled across an EarthX lithium battery lurking in an office cabinet. A testament to how busy life can be, he simply forgot about it and there it sat for over half a year. After a quick turn of the wrenches under the belly of his KTM 950 Adventure, the battery was in place and with a press of a button, his bike fired to life, snarling and barking like those bikes are prone to do.
Earlier this year the Expedition Portal team set out to test the best camp cooking tools on the market. The test included a variety of products from cast iron Dutch ovens to pressure cookers and folding grills. One of our favorite items, and one we seem to use on almost every outing, are Snow Peak’s new Orokana Grilling Sticks. Made from 6AL/4V titanium with black bamboo handles, they are exquisitely crafted to the standard we expect of Snow Peak. At only 4.76 ounces per stick, they’re extremely light and collapse to a small stowed size of just 21inches. When fully extended they have a long reach at over 31 inches keeping the user at a comfortable distance from the flames. The fork length is just under 4 inches providing ample room for foods of all kinds and can support a surprising amount of weight. In our tests, the titanium construction resisted unwanted flex and the handle remained cool to the touch. The Orokana Grilling Sticks are sold in a set of two and come packaged in their own soy linen pouch. Covered under a lifetime warranty they are sure to provide years of use. $168 per pair.
In an age of 3D printing and automated production, it’s easy to forget the halcyon days of manufacturing when quality goods came to life only through the dedicated efforts of master craftsmen. Helle knives is one of the last remaining holdouts determined to not let the legacy of tradecraft slip through their skilled hands. Founded by brothers Steiner and Sigmund Helle in 1932, their knives are still produced in a small facility in Holmedal, Norway, much as they have been for more than seven decades.
Travelers are if anything, a tightly knit community eager to share in their collective adventures. Whether told around the glow of a campfire, or detailed in a travel blog, the art of recounting experiences from the road is as old as travel itself. A decade ago Expedition Portal was created as a venue for such stories and to honor that 10 year anniversary, we’re pleased to announce the Expedition Portal Travel Story Contest presented by Pak-Meister.
Starting in April, we will hold a travel story contest each month with the winners awarded prizes from our fellow travelers at Pak-Meister. The story can be told in any format you feel best conveys the spirit of your journey. It could be a pictorial, video, or a traditional story with images and words crafted to tell the tale. We will post these stories on the home page of Expedition Portal as well as on our Expedition Portal Facebook page. The story to garner the most likes and views will be declared the winner.
Photos: Caleb Knight and Jeremy Knight. Story editing: Nik Schulz
This is an multi-part post written by Jeremy Knight about his 2013 adventure on the Rubicon as a first-timer.
Rookies on the Rubicon, Part 7
The sound of rain shook me awake. It was just after 1am and I was immediately hit with panic. Cadillac Hill in the wet! A feeling of dread hit me in the pit of my stomach. For two-and-a-half days I had been beating this gnawing fear into submission and now rain was falling on the polished-rocks of Cadillac Hill. All of my vehicular, and driving-skill, inadequacies popped back into my mind.
We had stayed up rather late, enjoying Erik's birthday and explaining things like "Juice" and "Barter Town" to young Caleb, who didn’t understand the Mad Max movie plots at all—he thinks that post-Apocalyptic means zombies. So when we retired for the night, we left the camp in a bit of disarray. I knew that my camera was out, and maybe some other things, so I scrambled down the ladder from the roof-top tent to grab things that I shouldn’t have left out in the rain.
This is a great video for those wishing to better understand the mechanical advantage of air lockers.
As the American SUV landscape continues to shift, many platforms once extolled for their off-road prowess can now be found taking up residence in the rather pedestrian crossover segment. The Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of few holdouts, desperately clinging to dirty roots and the promise of authentic backcountry fun. To best compliment its capabilities, ARB now offers a bumper solution for the 2011-2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee.