Gear You Deserve: Roof Racks and Accessories

A roof rack or safari rack or cargo rack or whatever you choose to call it can be a useful addition to your rig. While it’s not entirely recommended to overload the roof with a bunch of stuff, roof racks still can serve a purpose. There are plenty of companies that make roof racks and accessories to go with them. From basic tool mounts up to being able to carry more elaborate things like a table.

If you’re in the market for a rack system and accessories, keep in mind that most companies sell their accessories to fit their systems. Most accessory pieces are not going to be compatible with other systems, and some are specific to certain types of racks. Below will highlight some companies and accessories to consider without diving into detail on a particular brand.

Gear You Deserve is a rundown of gear you might be interested in relating to a specific topic. The series highlights gear that runs from small to large, cheap to expensive, basic to advanced, and leaves it up to you to decide what a good fit for you is.

Cargo Bars

Most roof racks are made to mount on standard cargo bars on the roof. These bars are the load-bearing pieces you want to have on your roof. Companies like Yakima and Thule are the more prominent name brands that started strictly selling cargo bars and accessories. Both have since branched into offering cargo racks. Yakima especially with their upcoming LockNLoad series being released later this year.

The Rack/Basket

Not all racks are designed and created equally. While the basic shape and function are the same, you have to decide what you want. Do you spend the money on something high-end or go with a cheaper version? Do you want sides or no sides? If you want sides, how high do you want them? The questions go on and on.

Gear Mounts

One benefit to having a rack on the roof is that you can move items from inside your rig to outside. Things like shovels, axes, and hi-lift jacks can be mounted on the sides of a rack. Other items like water or fuel cans can be mounted on top of the rack. Most rack manufacturers will have a minimum of some mounts for specific gear like axes, shovels, and jacks. Some companies offer more specific options for certain types of gear like a fuel canister for a grill or stove.

Storage Options

Some of the companies mentioned offering their storage solutions. Front Runner and Leitner Designs both offer their storage solutions for their respective systems. Front Runner has their Wolf Pack storage cubes and rack mounts that work seamlessly with their racks. Leitner Designs has a unique solution in the form of their Gear Pods, which mount to their Active Cargo System. While these are great options, you can always go with something like a Pelican case filled with gear mounted to the rack.

Adventure Gear Mounts

Companies like Yakima and Thule got their start supplying adventurers with cargo bars and mounts for bikes and kayaks. Most of the companies that make their rack systems offer mounts for varying types of adventure gear. Front Runner is probably at the forefront again with the number of accessories they offer. From bike and kayak racks to precision rifle mounts that allow you to shoot off your roof. If you take part in anything else outside of overlanding it’s worth looking into.

Truck Bed Mounts

If you have a truck, it is possible to mount a rack on the roof of the cab. Mounting over the bed requires the use of a bed rack system. These offer a way to mount cargo bars and a rack up and over the bed. The downside here is you lose the ability to put anything tall in the bed without removing the bed rack. Bed racks tend to come in different sizes and utility. Some are low to the bed to keep gear below the roofline and others stick out above the roof. Companies like Leitner Designs, Front Runner Outfitters, and our friends at New Holland Overland offer varying takes on bed racks.

DIY Fishing Rod Storage for $30

One cool thing about overland camping is the many other activities that can be done in conjunction with it — hiking, swimming, fishing, kayaking. The list is endless. And while there isn’t anything much better than camping next to a stream or lake, there isn’t anything much worse than watching fish swim back and forth and not having your fishing pole with you.

When packing for an overland trip, bringing a rod and reel, isn’t as high on the list of importance as other things. Poles are long, fragile, and hard to store easily, especially if they aren’t two piece rods. When pre-packing for an upcoming trip, I was trying to figure out how to fit a couple of rods into my Jeep Unlimited, without breaking them or having them be in the way. My favorite rods don’t break down, so I had to opt for my back up rods, which are two pieces and easier to transport. I decided to try and make a rod holder than instead of being inside the vehicle, was outside. To have a way they would be safe, and I could have them at easy reach without lots of unpacking.

I decided to start with some 3″ PVC pipe. I bought a solid end cap for one end and a threaded/screw type cap for the other end. I also picked up some PVC cement. I was only able to buy the pipe long enough in a 10′ stick, so there is enough left over to make a couple of these depending on how long you want to make yours. Total cost was about $30.

I measured my longest rod (broken down to two pieces) to get an idea of how long I wanted it to go. I can also store marshmallow cookers and my fire poker in it as well, so keep in mind for extra space, if you would like to use it for other things. It also doesn’t have to go on a roof rack. It could easily be adapted to a trailer, or even inside your rig!

I had some aluminum clamps I got off eBay for fairly cheap, sitting around, which worked perfectly for this. Drill a couple of holes in the PVC to bolt them to it. I used some 3/8″ bolts with washers. IMPORTANT!!! Remember to bolt these on before cementing the ends (like I did) which makes it very hard to tighten them up.

I scuffed the outer surface, then coated the entire thing in spray on bed liner. We will see how well it holds before having to recoat it.


JKU Rear Power Install

When I bought my 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, I cheaped out and bought a “sport” instead of a more lavish model. I planned on customizing it anyways, but one thing I wish I had, was a rear power source.

My roof top tent has 12 volts, USB powered lights in it. We also like to charge our phones while we sleep. The tent comes with a power cord to plug into a cigarette lighter, which is a great feature, but being that I only have one dc outlet in the front, the cord hanging in the doorway is sort of in the way. Since I have a tailgate table, and most “in and out” while camping, is done in the rear, I decided a rear mounted dc adapter would be an excellent addition. Easy access to plug-in a power inverter, or charge a phone. It also gives much-needed power to rear seat occupants.

Instead of just a simple cigarette lighter outlet, I decided to go a step further, and add a couple of USB plugs, and a voltage meter as well. I also wired in a simple toggle switch so I could shut it all off easily.

I started by ordering a set of outlets off eBay. I was able to find one that included a cigarette lighter, 2 USB ports, and the voltmeter, as well as a faceplate for them. Once these arrived. I was able to get some measurements and order a “project box” off eBay as well.

I started by drilling holes in the box where everything would go. I then test fit the outlets, volunteer and switch to make sure everything fit. It was very tight, but it fit perfectly. The lock rings for the outlets just barely cleared the inside walls of the box.

I then disassembled the box so I could shoot a few coats of spray bed liner on it. After it was dry (2 days later because I forgot), I reassembled everything again and wired them all up. This was pretty simple. Ground from each one pulled together — power from switch to each port. I ran a coated two wire cable from under the hood, all the way to the back. This is a simple fused positive and ground.

Before I closed the box up, I ran two screws inside of it, to secure it to the rear plastic in the Jeep.

The total project cost was under $50, and it makes a great addition to the Jeep!



Gear You Deserve: Tools and Storage


Having the right tools for the job is a saying that can be heard across all walks of life. Adventuring outdoors in a four-wheel drive vehicle means having problems. In this Gear You Deserve we offer up some suggestions for where to start with tools and storage.

The Tools

One of the easiest ways to make sure you have what you need is to buy a premade mechanics tool set. This will likely give you more than you need. Some tools can even be left behind to save space and weight (if necessary). What could be made from it is a basic tool kit that fits to your vehicle and the known problems your rig may present to you.

Craftsman 311 and 413 Piece Tool Sets

Craftsman offers a number of different types of tool kits. Something similar to the 311 and 413 kits offer enough tools to get you going on the trail. Each comes with different ratchet sizes, more than enough sockets, and several different sized combo wrenches.

The Craftsman 413 piece mechanics toolkit is a good start.

Electrical Kit and Special Tools

In addition to the standard tools you will probably want to include an electrical kit. This kit should include everything you need to troubleshoot and repair electrical issues. Include a multi-meter, wire strippers/crimpers, extra fuses, wire in various gauges, and connectors.

Another area to research into is whether your vehicle needs any special tools. Especially if common issues require special tools. These should also be included as part of the overall kit.

Storage Options

While the options for tool kits are plentiful, storage options might not be so readily apparent outside. At the basic level a simple toolbox or tool bag can be used, with tools thrown in with no regard for any organization (gasp!). If you don’t need to carry a huge kit and get by with the basics then a simple tool roll will keep things neatly in place.

Blue Ridge Overland Gear Tool Bag

Blue Ridge Overland Gear offers a wide variety of bags and gear for the overlander. One of these options is their tool bag that comes as a set of six small pouches and one large carrying case to keep your tools nice and organized. The larger case comes with Molle webbing and velcro on the outside so a tool identifying patch can be put on the outside and the bag can be mounted.

blue ride tool case
Blue Ridge is known for their overlanding related bags and cases, tools are no different.

Pelican 1550 Hard Case

The Pelican 1550 hard case can be used for any number of applications and tools are no different. While inserts can be added to keep things manageable, the case by itself offers superior protection for your tools beyond what a normal toolbox can offer. Pelican offers the waterproof case in 6 different colors and 5 different configurations that include foam padding, padded dividers, TrekPak dividers, no foam, and a design your own application.

pelican hard case
Pelican makes hard cases meant to protect just about anything, including tools.

Atlas 46 Yorktown Tool Roll

The last storage option is a standard tool roll made by Atlas, a company that has been making products for law enforcement, the military, and more for the last 40 years. The Yorktown tool roll is a combination of zippered pouches on one side and tool slots on the other. The whole setup rolls up into a soft carrying case that can be easily stashed in your rig.

tool roll
The Atlas 46 Yorktown tool roll is a good alternative to a hard case.

This is a basic rundown of what you might consider when building a tool kit and deciding how to store it.

The Waterport Portable Shower

the waterport portable shower

Traveling with a significant other or kids might require some comforts from home being brought along, such as a portable shower. The Waterport aims to help in the shower dilemma by adding a pressurized cylinder shaped tank to any rig. Holding 3.3 gallons of water, the tank is pressurized to 50 PSI and offers a steady stream of water through the included nozzle for up to 30 days. The Waterport can be easily filled using a regular garden hose when back at home base or if one is available on the road.

the waterport portable shower
The Waterport Custom Mounted

It can be mounted multiple ways on any rig. A trailer hitch option, bed mount, and frame mount options come with hardware for mounting. Two other options come only with the Waterport and the spout either on the top or side so it can be mounted anywhere.