This year saw more overland, offroad, and camper van vehicles than any Sea Otter before it. While most were show vehicles for brand’s equipment, there were plenty showcasing vans and RVs that you could drive home yourself.
1UP rack’s customized Porsche Cayenne was one of my favorites as I’ve been dreaming of building up a light-duty rally car lately, but hadn’t considering going full SUV on it.
While a 20-year-old Cayenne can be found for under $20k, there’s probably $20-30k worth of work done on this one. This build was done by Berg Performance, which offers full custom builds and has some previously built Cayennes for sale, too.
Work includes a 2″ suspension lift with reprogrammed air suspension so you can bring it down for highway driving, a custom front brush guard and skid plate, BRAID wheels, Baja Designs lights, and roof and hitch rack with 1UP trays and bike carriers.
Falken Tires had a lightly customized Toyota Highlander TRD to show off their Wildpeak A/T Trail tires.
Toyo Tires went a bit bigger to show off their Open Country R/T Trail tires, which can be had with appropriate load ratings for heavier vehicles like these. (Falken offers H/D tires, too, btw)
Thule was showing off a custom Subaru Outback built by CA Tuned, which makes bumpers and other accessories for a variety of vehicles.
Their new Subaru Wilderness Brush Bar is available for pre-order, with or without a front hidden winch mount…Baja Designs lights sold separately.
Naturally, they were showing off their rooftop tents and bike racks, too. We’ll have a separate roundup of all of the new bike racks with more details on those.
Transit Offroad, which is owned and fabricated by Brent Foes (of Foes Bicycles), started off with a modified lower control arm and spacer kit that gave a Ford Transit a 2″ lift. Now, he has a much wider variety of accessories and vastly improved lift kit on offer.
Starting at the front, his billet aluminum bumper light mounts give you a corner mounting spot for offroad lights on 2015-19 Transits.
The tubular full front bumper is lightweight, but wraps around and provides a perch and mounting plate for offroad lights. There’s no winch mount, though, but they do offer a smaller, less expensive version that makes a great light bar mount.
Their skid plate protects the intercooler, oil pan, transmission housing, and all water and oil lines. It’s made of 3/16″ thick 5052 aluminum and comes in two pieces for easier shipping. They bolt together, and then it bolts directly to the vehicle with just six bolts (some drilling required).
The new 2″ Lift Kit comes with adjustable control arms, letting you correct wheel camber for a full alignment. The original was a modified stock control arm that corrected the camber when adding the 2″ spacer blocks above the strut, but this new model is a completely custom piece with a sliding plate that lets you (or your mechanic) adjust the camber.
The kit replaces the rear bushing with a heavy duty steel spherical bearing, and includes the anodized spacer blocks for front and rear. It’s available for RWD and the newer AWD models, allowing you to add the Bilstein B6 struts without having CV binding issues.
Out back, his heavy duty bumper integrates the tow hitch, which both raises it higher for better rear ground clearance and improved departure angle, and also starts it out a bit further back so your rack is more likely to clear a spare tire or other accessories.
The rear tire mount looks minimal but adds a full frame running up the outside edge of the door where you can mount a ladder or other things.
The real trick is the installation method and attachment points, though. It uses the stock door bolts and (somehow, I couldn’t quite follow along how) you can install it without having to remove all bolts at once, so it’s a one-person job that doesn’t require a friend to hold the door in place while you try to bolt it all back together. This should also help maintain door alignment so it all closes and seals properly, too.
Lastly, he’s working on a swivel-out table that would mount just inside the door. Brent also makes the grab handles that mount inside the side and rear doors, too.
Winnebago’s eRV is built on the electric Ford Transit and has its own separate power supply for internal accessories. Range is still fairly short, but it’s also still a concept vehicle that’s being tested out in the wild.
Space for bikes inside it is fairly limited, but it could easily handle a hitch rack to bring more along. Read my full story about the eRV concept for more tech details and photos.
Winnebago builds on all three van chassis – Ford Transit, Mercedes Sprinter, and Dodge Ram Promaster. The one above is fairly standard, not like their Revel adventure series van, but shown here just to show what’s out there.
And this is another once’ interior, which has more space under the bed for bikes and gear.
But the Adventure Wagon is more purpose built for offroad adventures. Modular framing lets you add various accessories and reposition, remove, or add things as needed.
Two jump seats can come in or out, and plenty of bikes can fit under the removable bed.
Outside Van offers custom and pre-built camper vans with all the things you’d want, with two pre-built options expanding their capacity and speeding up delivery from just 100 custom vans per year to, well, we’ll see…but they have five locations in the US now.
MOLLE boards and door ladders with mounting points let you hang more gear, like a road bike rack that holds two per ladder from their handlebars.
In addition to rooftop tents and bike racks, Yakima has a range of overland and truck accessories. Hidden in the back is a pressurized RoadShower tube that holds 4 gallons and fits any standard roof rack.
The new Major Shady mounts like a typical awning but opens out to provide 270º coverage, offering much broader protection from the sun as it changes angles and position in the sky.
Their EXO camp kitchen container fits your utensils, flatware, bowls, etc., and mounts to their EXO system hitch racks. Available legs and side tables provide more room for cooking and wash stations.
Hitchfire was showing off a prototype cook-and-sink combo that slots into their grill tray. It’s the beginning of a more modular system of accessories that fit into their existing swing-away hitch mount.
The original grill kit is shown on left, and on the right is the rear access panel for the sink kit that would let you hook up a fresh water source and a drain pipe so you could use the sink like normal.
Separately, they’re also working on a flip-flop design for the swing-away hitch mount so you won’t have to commit to left or right at time of purchase.
Vanlifers have known Dometic for their electric coolers, which are awesome, but they’ve recently added a complete line of camping equipment and accessories. The chairs and bamboo-top tables are both sturdy and comfy, and the range of (non-electric) coolers look solid, too.
They even have water jugs with separate powered pumps, making it easy to wash off or fill a bottle. The pumps can mount directly to their jugs, or you can slip the hose in and use them with any container. They have a magnetic base, so you can stick them to any metal surface, and an included metal puck can be mounted to whatever wood or plastic table you may have so you can stick it anywhere.
New battery packs make it easy to power the faucets and other gear, and charge phones, remotely.
Skinny Guy Campers make self-contained truck bed camping toppers with some very unique features. This one puts a well-equipped living quarters on top with a recessed base adding room for a seating area with a cooler, etc., but still leaves the bed of the truck empty for hiding other gear.
Flip the tent open and the sleeping area is in the back, with multiple struts to support it even when loaded with people, and the front has room for bags, coolers, etc.
MOLLE boards on the rear and other sections let you attach other stuff, but the really neat aspect is the flip out solar panel. It flips down from the roof top tent’s top when it’s opened up so it still gets sun, and then flips back on top when you close the tent up so it’s able to get sun while you’re driving, too. Very clever.
Luno still makes their inflatable sleeping pads for car camping, with shapes that fit in wagons and SUVs for single and double occupancy. They also make that inflatable cab bed shown in one of the Winnebagos earlier in this post.
They’re working on smaller inflatable supports that go behind the front row, used to keep the head of the beds from drooping down in that gap. But they say some folks like to store their gear there, so they’ll have partial sizes to fill in any gaps your bags don’t take up.
Go Fast Campers makes truck bed platform campers that put a very slim pop-up tent atop a frame that you can customize. The Rooftop Tent is also available on its own for SUVs and vans.
The platform comes in both an open-air and closed topper design, with or without the tent attached. It’s all metal construction, with the topper getting gullwing panels so you can lock your goodies inside but still easily access them.
The Chase Frame has more mounting points and keeps things open for a more rugged overland look.
Tin Cup Whiskey had this jeep on display, which worked as a nice magnet to pull folks to their booth for afternoon samples.
And Ford was showing off their new Bronco and Bronco Sport, with this bright red Raptor edition sitting out front. Buying a Bronco (at least the full sized ones, not sure about the Sport) gets you a weekend in Moab to learn how to drive it offroad. Of the two friends I know that have done it, it’s supposedly an amazing experience…but I have yet to talk either of them into taking their own Broncos off road yet.
They also had this beautifully restored ’66 Ford Bronco on display, which Ron also really liked and put into his roundup of awesome things he saw at Sea Otter.