Rogue Overland

Be. Live. Explore.

SHIFTPOD Mini Review

Advance Shelter Systems ShiftPod Mini Review (MSRP $799.00)

https://store.advancedsheltersystemsinc.com/shiftpod/shelter/shiftpod-mini

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Have you ever slept in a space ship? Until the most recent Rogue Overland Winter Expedition Trip I wasn’t able to say that either. Now after four nights in Arizona I get to say that I have, or at least what I would imagine it to have been like.

My first impression of the ShiftPod Mini was that it looked like a space ship, since it looked nothing like a conventional tent and must not be from this world. I wasn’t too far off as the tent is made from some advance materials designed to insulate against the elements as well as reflect UV and light making it even easier to sleep in darkness no matter what time of day. 

I received the Shift Pod, and the only preparations I did before my first trip was set it up in the garage and install the removable floor that easily zips in. Setup was very simple and having the floor removable will make it easy to add larger objects that might not fit through the opening as well as clean up after any muddy or dusty trips.

Once you get to where ever you are planning on camping, the deployment time is quick. There are instructions in the bag, along with a few goodies like ear plugs and some eye masks, additionally you will find the tent stakes and extra material used for patching any holes in case you encounter a jealous bear that forgets to be courteous and does not use the door when trying to get inside to sleep with you. There is also a rain fly, and small carry back pack for the items. All you have to do for setup is remove it from the bag that has backpack style carry straps, zipper and a buckle clasp then generally place it in the location that you are looking to camp and start pulling out the sides. There are loops in the middle of each side panel that are also used to stake down in windy conditions. In the case of the mini there are 4 sides, while the full size one has 6. Once those are pulled out, you go inside and push the roof up. With that, your set up is complete. Add stakes to hold down the sides, place the fly if conditions require and set any guy wires as needed. With how easy it is, this really has been my favorite tent to set up. 

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After you are all set up and get inside there is surprisingly more headroom and space then the outside leads to believe. I was quite shocked how roomy it felt despite it only being approximately six foot by six foot. The nice thing with the walls that bow outward is that it makes it even more roomy. There are two personal item bags that clip onto the interior poles to store any phones, tablets, books or keys. There is also a loop at the peak of the roof so that you can hang a small lantern. There are also four port holes that when unzipped create more then enough airflow and ventilation. There are also two additional vents built in on opposite sides that are intended to aid with ventilation that differ from the port holes. The vents have an additional layer of mesh with a Velcro boarder that is intended to hold a small filter, to keep dust down from the inside. Very creative solution while continuing to provide ventilation. Additionally, there is a small three inch opening with a cinch closing that is there to allow for any cable to pass through if needed. Lastly, there is a nice safety feature that helps in getting out of the tent, the door is labeled boldly with “EXIT”. This brought about many funny conversations but as the inside of the tent can look the same, and it is nice that the door had a label in the event of needing to egress rather quickly. The door also have nicely labeled screen and door tags to make it even easier when closing up. 

Our first night in the tent, we were amazed with how much warmer it was on the inside then when we were out by the fire. The insulated walls had proven worth it at first glance. The rigidity of the tent would also be tested that night as there was a slight breeze that eventually turned into a howling wind. We were near a structure that only seemed to intensify the wind. All around us, I could hear the fabric of other tents whipping in the wind while we remained untouched. I do not think the tent even moved once from the wind. With the tent being insulated and it being in the thirties that night we quickly learned that the vents at the top may need some help to vent some of the excess moisture that builds up from exhaling which can create condensation on the inside. For the rest of the trip we opened the port holes up as we went to bed which helped to nearly eliminate any additional moisture. Then in the morning we would close the vent and it warmed up nicely to get up and get dressed and on with the morning. 

Tear down and packing away for the next leg of the trip was just as simple as the setup. Once everything was removed form the inside, I would open the vents to help it pack down and not trap air inside. Then from the inside I pulled the roof down before exiting, and walked around pushing all the sides in. Once the stakes were removed I would grab one corner and bring it upright and gather the rest fo the corners. I then took a included strap and buckled it to hold it together, the second included strap went around the widest part of the bundle to help smush it down for easy storage. It then went into the bag and was zipped shut. Yes it was larger then a backpacking tent, but there was no rolling and pole wrangling for it to fit in the tiny bag. It even closed down to fit in the bag with little to no effort. I would imagine if the removable floor was off the tent, it would fold more compact and the floor would still fit in the bag, as this is how it was shipped to me. 

Pros:

  • Overly easy setup and tear down

  • Even though I was not able to stand up, the head room was impressive for a tent with this foot print

  • Stands up to the wind well

  • Does well in warm or cold weather

Cons:

  • More on the expensive side. However, I feel worth the cost.

  • On the small side for more than two adults and a kid or two.

  • Can condensate on the inside during cold weather if the vents are not opened

After sleeping in this for four nights I am certainly looking forward to getting out and using it more. I have always been in search of a tent that I felt met my needs. I think this one has certainly met them all so far. If I was King for a day and could get word  back to the head of ShiftPod I would make a slightly larger version. Sure they have the full size one that is six sided and approximately one hundred square feet but I feel as though a five sided in-between version with one more side then the mini with four sides would work out well. It would give a little more head room and more then enough room for two adults, a few kids and all the gear needed. This would make it easier for the longer trips where you are based out of one spot longer and spread out once base camp is setup.

Overall I would highly recommend this for anyone that is looking for not only a tent for camping but a simple, easy to deploy and tear down, insulated, sturdy shelter that will keep them out of the elements for all of their adventures to come. 

If you need something bigger then check out our first impression of the SHIFTPOD 2:


See you on the trails!

-Shaun of Rogue Overland


Troika Outdoors Three Point Hammock

There is nothing better than sleeping under the stars and a hammock is a great way to do it; unfortunately, two point hammocks leave your back tight from being in the banana shape.  Troika Outdoors has produced the solution with their three point hammock.  The design allows the hammock to stay relatively flat, making for a more comfortable sleeping position.  

These hammocks are built to last with the construction including a nylon 70D base, heavy duty webbing borders, and polyester/nylon fusion threading.  At the time of this article, 13 color options are available.  You can provide your own support straps or you can choose from ratchet straps or cam buckle straps.  

 

In our time using the hammock we especially enjoy the ability to attach gear to the rings at each corner.  The three point Hammock also comes with a mesh carrying bag which works well.  As far as dislikes go, we don’t really have any.  That being said these are heavier than a backpacking hammock, consider lighter options if you are summiting Mt. Whitney.  

Troika Outdoors is manufacturing their three point hammocks in the United States and they are planting a tree for each one sold!  It’s hard to find companies with this type of character these days.  

This is a great piece of gear to add to your load out to be used as a sleeping solution or just a great way to lounge around camp.  You can purchase your Troika Outdoors three point hammock here: 

https://www.troikaoutdoors.com?afmc=25RO2017

-The Rogue Overland Crew

A new way to "Rock-N-Roll" through those unexpected vehicle recoveries !

It is not a reassuring feeling when your rig is leaning sideways and while you sit in the driver seat waiting to be winch you hear things like “Who has a shackle” or “where is your tree hugger strap”.  Bubba Rope has come up with a solution to decrease the confusion and wasted time in a recovery situation, that solution is their Rock-N-Roll Recovery Kit.  The Rock-N-Roll Recovery Kit comes with a Bubba kinetic energy recovery strap, two Gator-Jaw synthetic shackles, a 10-foot tree hugger protector strap, a winch line damper/tool pouch, a pair of 1’ x 6’ Bubba Roper camo ratchet tie-downs, and a life “Rock” guard.  The genius of this kit is that it comes in a mesh bag which stores inside your rig rolled up tight until you hit the trail, at which time it is quickly mounted to the spare tire carrier via a bungee cord.  As usual with Bubba Rope, this product is made in the USA! 

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We have had the opportunity to test this product on simple overlanding runs of the Mojave Road up to aggressive rock crawling trails in Nevada’s mining country.  What we like most is the easy accessibility of the recovery gear you need when you need it.  Although the provided retention bungee never failed, we choose to give a little extra security by using one of the provided ratchet tie-downs to keep the bag from flopping around on harder trails. 

Proper recovery gear is an often-overlooked part of a rigs build.   Considering the addition of this product to your rig will both keep you safe and shorten the time you spend in those uneasy moments of recovery need out on the trail. 

 

See you on the trail!

 

-The Rogue Overland Crew 

Watch the Video review here :

JackCovers.Com : More Than Just a Jack Cover !

Most of us have been there at least once, boy is it frustrating!  The faded and cracked neoprene cover has allowed the inner workings of the Hi-Lift jack to get jammed up with crud, resulting in a malfunctioning jack.  The JackCovers.com Hi-Lift cover solves the problem through its high quality construction and it’s made in America!    The shell is constructed of UV stable premium marine grade vinyl, while the inner liner is made of neoprene.  The construction is rounded out with a heavy duty #10 zipper.  These can be purchased in a variety of colors as well as two sizes, 11 inches and 15 inches.

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Here at Rogue Overland we have tested this product in dusty wind, snow, rain, blazing desert heat, and freezing mountain temperatures.  We have experienced no cracks, no rips, no zipper malfunctions, and no fading.  This cover has protected our Hi-Lift jacks without fail; when we need to use our Hi-Lift jacks they function properly!  We can say whole heartedly that this product is necessary if you have a Hi-Lift jack.  

 

Purchase Jack Covers at jackcovers.com

 

-The Rogue Overland Crew

 

Heading for the hills, a tale of one epic rendezvous

As it says on the American Adventurist website, "Every trip changes us. Big or small, you never come back from a trip quite the same as you were before you left."  So is the case with our recent trip to the SoCal Mountain Rendezvous.  

Our first night at the mountain rendezvous was to be spent with the crew from Overlanding USA, who we had known well through electronic interaction but had never met in person.  At 9pm introductions were made at a Big Bear gas station and we headed down a nearby trail in pusuit of our campsite for the night.  Although a dark moonless night the trail was bright as day with the glowing of each rigs LED auxiliary lights.  Within what seemed like minutes we were setting up camp surrounded by darkness and unaware of the vast views in store for us at sunrise.  

We awoke on a hilltop with 360 degrees of forest views and a vantage point of Big Bear Lake that few have experienced.  After breakfast we packed up the rigs and headed back down the trail to the American Adventurist SoCal Mountain Rendezvous located at Camp Tahquitz.   

Upon arrival, spotted was the all-familiar Southern California Club Xterra banner and we were invited with open arms to camp in their area.  Throughout the evening stories of adventure were shared and I can tell you whole heartedly that the SCCX crew are a top notch bunch; we at Rogue Overland hope to share many more campfires with them.  

Dave and his crew from American Adventurist run a highly oiled machine when it comes to the event. We attended two well-conducted classes on field first aid and trail recovery, and caught the tail end of the disaster preparedness class put on by Chris Wharton from Basecamp Expeditions, who has a wealth of knowledge in this field and is quite a character.

Of course when in Rome… or Big Bear as it may be this case, we had to hit the trail and put the rigs though a little test. We were led by Woody from the SCCX with a couple new friends to run the Pontiac Sluice trail. The trail followed a rocky narrow path, which both challenged us and led to more incredible views of the San Bernardino National Forest.

Once back in camp we sampled culinary magic created through the dutch oven potluck dinner, while chatting with new friends Ryan and LeeWhay about their awesome Unimog and its adventures.  It’s incredible what a small like-minded community gathers at these events. During dinner conversations we had revealed that this past May, Ryan and LeeWhay were running the White Rim Trail in Utah right in front of us and now we are enjoying a meal together in a totally different location having never met each other before.

The event raffle was a great contribution to the weekend and says volumes about the organization running this event. We were excited to be able to give back and offer some Rogue Overland gear up for others to enjoy. We were even lucky enough to walk away with a couple items for ourselves. As the sun set the camp filled with sounds of conversations and the aroma of campfire, which made for a pleasant night under the stars.    

In the morning we woke to the sound of a bear enjoying a few tubs of potato salad, once he had fulfilled his appetite and curiosity he moved on without incident.  We packed up camp and said our goodbyes before hitting the road.  We decided to take the long way home and do some scouting for a Southern California trip that we have in the works, but that is a story for another day!  Put one of the American Adventurist rendezvous on your calendar; they put on a great laid-back event.  From us at Rogue Overland.... Be. Live. Explore. 

 

-Nick of Rogue Overland 

24 Hours In The Enchanted Forest

What do beer, santa claus, and mountain bikes have in common?…. ZIA Rides 24Hours In The Enchanted Forest mountain bike race that’s what!  I’ve wanted to do this race for 3 years and for 2016 it came to fruition.  Our team made the 7.5 hour drive to Gallup New Mexico in a truck loaded with four bikes, gear, food, and of course my Cascadia Vehicle Tent.  At 7000 feet above sea level the McGaffey campground is central to some awesome flowing single track along with leg punishing climbs.  Upon arrival we set up camp and did a pre ride of the 13.5 mile course.  Mile marker 0-4 was had great flow, 5-8 a grueling sustained climb, 9-12 a scary fast downhill, and the last 1.5 miles a slight climb.  After the pre ride we caught some Z’s in preparation for the following days race.

The next day with breakfast in our stomachs and the pre race meeting behind us, our teams first rider positioned himself at the starting line.  The sound of a siren signaled the start of a 24 hour adventure. As our first rider proceeded on his first of many turns riding I couldn’t help but think how diverse the mountain bike community is.  Mountain biking is a combination of competitive riders, weekend adventurers, and party animals.  Take for example the “beer hand up” guys positioned on the side of the racecourse.  With two pop up tents, two large trash cans full of ice cold beer, a cooler full of kids juice boxes, and endless enthusiasm they offer refreshment to any age rider spinning by.  Now consider the leaders of the first loop coming into the exchange zone; their faces with expressions of pain and finishing the loop in just 50 minutes. When our first rider comes into camp it is clear that he encountered the weekend adventurer while on the course.  He describes a rider with a full white beard wearing red suit, although leaner than the iconic childhood figure it is clear that he did indeed pass santa claus on the dusty trail.

As the hours go by turns are taken riding, eating, and sleeping in our Cascadia vehicle Tent.  It would be a severe under estimation to say that only a dozen people gave compliments on the tent, but regardless we slept well. As the event rolled by and approached the end, I could not help but think how amazing it is to share adventure with great friends!  Get your next adventure on your calendar!…. Be. Live. Explore.  

-Nick of Rogue Overland

Summer in Vegas : Escaping the Scorch

It's 4:15pm I'm sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on the I-15 leaving work from the Las Vegas strip. I've just spent a day in 112 degree heat dealing with intoxicated patrons which come to Vegas to partake in any type of debauchery that they can possibly render up in the short time they will spend here. Somehow despite all of the above I find myself sporting a smile that resembles that of a child that just opened his Red Ryder BB gun on Christmas, knowing that in an hour I will have left all of this behind and escaped to the mountains that I am staring at in the distance....

I arrive at home, find my wife Jenni loading up the Rogue rigs and we meet up with Nick and Vicki. As we drive up the mountain the temperatures begin to drop, the scent of pine and firewood takes over the cabin of the vehicle and you begin to feel the daily stresses of life slip away. As overlanders being on the road exploring new places together is obviously what would we prefer to be doing all the time, but work and life can sometimes hinder that. Having this escape at our disposal after a day of work is amazing and helps us deal with the downtime in between our trips. The Spring Mountains know more commonly as Mt. Charleston to Las Vegans is the area that we so often visit. There are multiple well known hiking trails to choose from however the Trail Canyon hike up along the North Loop is one of my personal favorites. You find yourself on a steep ascent for the first 2 miles which will then level out and take you on the portion of the North Loop trail leading to Raintree, the famed 3000 year old tree.  Along this portion of the trail it levels out and gives you breathtaking views of the spring mountains as well as the Charleston summit coming in at a boasting 11,914 feet. After a day at work watching the sunset from the trail amidst the tall overhead pines in near perfect weather is something that is hard to describe with words.  Once you reach Raintree you can relax and enjoy a pack dinner with friends, or continue slightly further up to Mummy Springs where a year round mountain spring runs. You can hike back down the route you came almost completely under the guidance of the moon and begin to see the night skies fill with stars not being drown out the city lights...this is bliss.

I hope that if you do live in the Las Vegas area and have never been up to this area you will make and effort to get up and experience it. If you are visiting the Vegas area please feel free to contact us and we would be excited to show you our backyard. The goal if this blog was not to only show you a way to escape the Vegas heat, but to also remind you that no matter what curve ball's your day to day life throw at you make an effort to get out and explore this beautiful world we live in and experience the bliss that follows.  Be. Live. Explore. -Rogue Overland

-Andrew

The Journey Begins

What started out as a campfire, a few craft beers, three great friends and an idea has become what is now known as Rogue Overland. Please join us as we take our passion for the outdoors, adventure and overland travel and share it with the world. For us this is more than a weekend hobby...it is a way we live our life...it is a dream...it is a different way to go through the daily steps and this is what we represent. Be. Live. Explore. #GoRogue I hope you will stay tuned and become part of our Rogue Family. 

-Andrew  

© rogue overland 2018