Carista Adapter and Application Review

Carista exists in a space that is flooded by options. You can get on Amazon and look for an OBD2 reader and easily find one under $20. Pair it with certain applications and you have a way to diagnose what’s wrong with your vehicle at home.

Where the Carista adapter stands out though, is in its ability to let you customize your vehicle. Having upgraded from a 2004 Suburban to a 2016 4Runner recently, this was something new to me. In the past with my Suburban, I simply used an OBD2 adapter to tell me what was wrong with it. Now, however, I can use Carista to change certain options on my 4Runner.

Want the windows to all roll down when you unlock the car? Done. Don’t need the eco fuel economy bar on the dash? Done. The options are plentiful and most of them I have no idea what they do. Some are obvious and some are not. And some are listed that don’t even apply to my particular model.

Installation of the adapter is simple, just plug it into the OBD2 port on your vehicle. Download the required application for either Android or IOS and pair the adapter with the app. Once that’s done you can get some basic diagnostic and customization features. Pairing the adapter and the app takes a few minutes each time you start the application.

To unlock all of the features does require a yearly subscription of $40. This is on top of the $30 for the adapter itself. You can forgo the $40 subscription part, however, and use the adapter with a good number of other programs that list out vehicle information and diagnostics. I recommend the Torque app, while not the prettiest looking, it does offer a huge amount of information.

The application itself is simple to use and the learning curve is low. The interface is clean and easy to navigate with only three options being available. The tricky part is understanding what each customization option does and that will take some testing. The options for customization only differ from a timed option or a simple on/off option. 

The only other problem I’ve had is using the Carista adapter with the Torque app for live readouts. The adapter works fine with Torque. The problem is re-connecting it with Carista. The adapter won’t play nicely with both applications at the same time. So you will end up having to re-establish the connection with one or the other depending on which application you’re using at the time.

In all honesty, this isn’t something for everyone. If you have an older model vehicle, check the Carista website to see if your vehicle is even compatible. As an example, my Suburban was only able to use basic diagnostics features, basic service features, and no customization options. Whereas our 4Runner has the ability to use all of the options. It’s a great, inexpensive tool to have if you have a year model that works with it.

Recycled Firefighter 42L Battlaion Duffle Bag Review

I’ve been carrying the Recycled Firefighter 24 Hour Pack for over a year now as my daily EDC. I also planned on getting the 42L Battalion Duffle and was finally able to recently. Before even getting to use it on a trip, it has far exceeded my expectations.

The bag itself is 11 inches tall, 11 inches wide, and 21 inches long. The zipper goes entirely from end to end, something that is not usually found in most duffle bags. It’s a convenient feature that lets you essentially open the bag completely.

Each side has pockets for various things. One side has a full-length pocket that will fit a 15-inch laptop. The other side is divided into three separate pockets: two smaller outside pockets and one larger inside pocket. The inside is a plastic material that is easy to clean out if you decide to throw muddy or dirty items in it.

I’ve had two chances to give this bag a go. The first was a weekend trip to Mio recently. I stuffed the bag full of more than I would need for the weekend, and there was still plenty of room left for more. The second time was during a meetup weekend, and I filled it with just enough clothes for the weekend. I also managed to get a bunch of extra things that would typically go in my EDC bag to fit in.

This bag will easily work for a weekend and week-long trips, and I would definitely recommend picking one up if you need a good bag. A full seven days might be pushing the capacity of what it can hold, especially if you have to pack a lot of bulky clothing, but it will work. If you’re not in the market for a large duffle, Recycled Firefighter has plenty of other options to look into. Hit the link to check them out.

Recycled Firefighter 24 Hour Everyday Pack Review

A little less than a year ago, I swapped my 5.11 Messenger bag for something less tactical looking and more normal looking. What I ultimately went with was a Recycled Firefighter 24 Hour Everyday Carry pack.

If you aren’t familiar with Recycled Firefighter, they make packs, wallets, and other soft goods out of old water hoses from fire stations. Hence the name, Recycle Firefighter. Jake Starr, the owner of Recycled Firefighter, was himself a firefighter before switching over to making soft goods. His story is an interesting one, and the honesty provided on failures is good to hear from a business.

The craftsmanship is there, no doubt about it. The 24 Hour EDC pack is probably one of the best bags I think I have owned. It’s not a cheaply made product, and it’s priced right for what it is. With that said, some may think it’s going to be too simplistic. More on that later.

The front of the bag has a full-length zipper that opens to three pockets on the interior. The two small upper pockets work well to hold a phone or a work badge. The lower pocket takes up the bottom half of the front and would work nicely for a small notebook. 

The backside of the front flap contains two mesh pockets that work well for just about anything. I frequently keep my notebook or tablet in the bottom pocket and EDC items I don’t want in my pockets in the top pocket.

The rest of the inside is just wide open usable space. I ended up buying some Molle pouches to carry items that were not going to fit in the mesh pockets or needed to be kept safer than just rolling around.

Like the front flap, the back of the pack has a full length padded area for a laptop or tablet. I have a smaller sized laptop for work that fits perfectly, but it would accommodate something up to 15 inches.

The overall construction of the bag is fantastic. The materials used are of high quality, and it shows. The shoulder straps and carry strap don’t feel like they are straining to hold any weight once you put stuff in the bag. The zippers are huge and in no way, feel cheap. 

The simplistic nature is really what I like, though. I don’t feel like I have to fill every compartment with stuff to carry, which reduces the weight overall. The only real negative here is the open space in the main compartment.

This would be great if I were going to use this for a weekend trip bag, but it’s my everyday carry bag. Recycled Firefighter and Grey Man Tactical both offer inserts. The Recycled Firefighter is a rigid velcro panel, whereas the Grey Man Tactical version is a Molle cut rigid panel.

Honestly, I love this bag and cannot see myself going back to something else. I highly recommend it for everyday usage, whether for work or just to carry stuff around. In fact, I love it so much that I just recently placed an order for a new duffle that will be my go-to pack for weekend trips.

If you need a wallet, pack, belt, or any of the other accessories they make, I highly recommend supporting Recycled Firefighter.

Pedal Commander Overview

We ended up with a 2016 SR5 4Runner to replace our Chevy Suburban this past September. Not only as my daily driver but also as our primary adventure rig. One thing I read about and was noticeable right away was the delay in the pedal. It wasn’t terrible, but there was some room for improvement. This was the reason for purchasing a Pedal Commander.

The whole Pedal Commander unit and harness.

My usage of the Pedal Commander was done with the vehicle being driven entirely on the pavement. I have not had a chance to see how the Pedal Commander is going to change off-road driving. I do a lot of city driving and use the cruise control every chance I get to try and save fuel.  It’s not a huge delay, but it is noticeable. Is it a deal-breaker on driving a 4Runner? No. Will it cause some problems when you start adding heavy stuff? Probably.

If you don’t know what Pedal Commander is, it’s a small controller box that plugs into the pedal and the pedal wiring harness. Once plugged in, you can adjust the response on the pedal by selecting four different options; Eco, City, Sport, and Sport+. You can also change the sensitivity up or down for each selection as well.

Pedal Commander plugs into the pedal, and the pedal harness plugs into the Pedal Commander.

Each mode makes the throttle response markedly different. I was pleasantly surprised using the city mode to find how much it changed the response on the vehicle. On average, it didn’t change my MPG much from the stock pedal. I was still getting 16-17 MPG in and around the city.

The control box makes switching between settings easy.

I tried the Eco mode for about a week. Pedal Commander claims that it can help save you fuel; however, I would disagree with that. Driving in this mode cuts the response by 50%, which is a noticeable change in the pedal response. I found myself pushing the pedal down more in response to the vehicle not moving as quickly as it would in stock or city mode.

You have to be generous with not having a heavy foot to see any savings. My mileage was almost worse because of this. Honestly, I found that driving in the city with this setting was a terrible idea. If you live in a smaller town or city, then this might work for you. In major metropolitan areas, where people are always in a hurry, this setting is not a good idea.

I briefly tried sport mode for a couple of days. It was considerably different than city mode and is not something I would continue to use. And as far as sport plus, haven’t even given it a thought. Pedal Commander’s instructions on that one state that it should be used at the track. I’m not planning on taking my 4Runner to M1 Concourse anytime soon.

The controller I bought can also be app-controlled from my phone or tablet. The box itself is super easy to use, but the app makes it even easier. Especially if you mount the Pedal Commander somewhere, it becomes non-accessible. I installed the control box where I could get at, but found I was using the app just as much.

If you find your Toyota, or whatever vehicle you drive, has poor pedal control, then the Pedal Commander might be right for you. It’s not a cheap option at roughly $300, but it makes a difference in response time.

Harding Expedition Company Profile

Harding Expedition Company (HEXCO) is a jack of all trades company in the overland space. Their business is a bunch of puzzle pieces that come together to form a single unique entity.

HEXCO is run by two adventure-seeking people who wanted to build a network of like-minded people across the country. The intent with HEXCO was to combine loves of travel, engineering, and aviation into a viable business.

Elijah Aikens, one of the founders, states, “We didn’t want to be just another overland brand. From the beginning, I’ve tried to make our business structure different so we can focus on building a community and better relationships with our customers and affiliates.”

The difference between HEXCO and other businesses is what they offer in their affiliate program. For a flat rate for the year (or a monthly fee), affiliates can take advantage of several options HEXCO offers in the form of a discount for online items, media services, and more things on the horizon.

The products they offer are familiar to anyone into overlanding and adventure travel. Products from recognizable companies like Baja Designs Lights, Tembo Tusk, Black Rhino, GOAT Truck Armor, and many more can be purchased from their online store.

New for 2020 is its media services package. For an additional $30, you can take advantage of the artists they have on staff. Services include photo editing, logo and branding design, Lightroom presets, and photography contracts (local to them and abroad). 

Another arm of HEXCO is Wander Wear You Are (WanderWYA) apparel, which houses soft goods with designs for and by the community. It might be the smaller piece of the larger puzzle but no less critical. 

WanderWYA is where paying for media services can pay off. HEXCO offers branding and logo services with the media package, which can turn into people getting designs for their own needs and apparel.

The last piece is probably the most exciting. We’ve talked with plenty of people who feel the cost of adventure can be too high. Hope Quests is a non-profit that helps adventurers fund what they love doing while also providing money to charity. 

The thing that makes it unique is it is merely not a funding tool. Applicant teams apply to HopeQuests with a charity in mind and compete against each other to raise funds. Fifty percent of the raised funds go to the charity, 40 percent goes to the winning team, and 10 percent goes into a victors pool. The team that wins the funding competition receives the victor’s pool as a bonus. 

Hope Quests is an exciting take on helping people fund their travels outside of the usual routes like GoFundMe. All-in-all, we here at Michigan Overland 100% support HEXCO and like the direction they are going in. They are a small business worth investing in, and at such a low cost to join, it’s almost a sin not to. Check them out at the link below and make sure to jump on board their affiliate program to take advantage of what they have to offer.

Follow HEXCO on Instagram @hardingexco,, and @hopequests.


One Time Discount Code: iliketoread10