AWOL Gear Roundup #6

Suzuki Jimny with mini Bronco Kit

From car camping to overlanding, there are a lot of fun vehicles and mods this week, plus some that’ll race at almost 200mph without a driver! Lots of EDC and wearables, too, from a carbon fiber smartwatch to artsy collars, plus goods to keep you fit, comfy and clean out in the field. Here’s the best new stuff this week:

  • Suzuki “Bronco” mod
  • Arksen UNIMOG
  • Autonomous F1 racing
  • Nissan Hyper Adventure concept
  • Escapod Nomad camper
  • Flux Primo e-moto
  • BMW CE 02
  • Blackdot digital tattoos
  • Film to Digital Camera Adapter
  • Garmin Marq carbon fiber smartwatches
  • Leatherman ARC
  • Smith x Oyuki
  • Timex x James Brand
  • Ombraz Frost sunglasses
  • Keen WK400 shoes
  • Sierra Designs Nitro Quilt
  • Scrubba travel clothes washer
  • Chuck Bucket

Turn a Suzuki Jimny into a Mini Bronco

ill garage ford bronco grill and light and bumper kit for suzuki Jimny 4x4 SUV
Click any image to enlarge. Stock Jimny shown bottom right.

Based in Osaka, Japan, custom shop Garage Ill has a kit to transform the humble yet capable Suzuki Jimny into a spot-on resemblance of a Ford Bronco, just smaller, and only from the front. The kit is called the “Bron55” for the way “Bronco” is pronounced in Japanese, like; “Bron-go-go”.

The custom kit comes in two parts, the “grill and headlight set” and a “bumper”, choose either or both. The Grill and Headlight offers halogen ($1065) or LED ($1231) lights. We’d take this over the Bronco Sport any day. (via CarBuzz)

Yacht builder Arksen adds land-crushing MOG overland vehicle

arksen mog luxury overland vehicle built on mercedes U1700 unimog truck

Luxury yacht builder Arksen has long offered upgraded Land Rovers. Now, they’re adding completely rebuilt Mercedes U1700 Unimogs called Project Everest. They feature 6-person cabs refinished with marine-grade vegan leather, air-ride captain’s chairs, and a complete audio-visual system.

It keeps offroad cred with 46.8″ tires, front/rear/center diff locks, and 51º approach/35º departure angles. The living area sleeps 4-5 and has a full kitchen & bath, 74-gallon freshwater tank w/ optional desalination system, 400Ah battery bank, and 880W rooftop solar. It has a 137-gallon tank, which they (rather optimistically) say is good for ~1,550 miles. Pricing upon request.

Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League building driverless F1 cars

abu dahbi autonomous racing league super formula driverless car racing with VR spectating

OK, so not quite able to hit an F1 car’s 350+ km/h, but the planned 300km/h (~187mph) speed limit for the A2RL “Super Formula” cars is still impressive considering they will have no driver. Designed to drive and race fully autonomously starting April 28, 2024, the series’ goal is to create a proving ground for autonomous vehicle technology and push it to the limit.

If you’re just looking for entertainment, get your VR headset ready…they plan on streaming POV from the cars while they race! If you’ve ever had interest in STEM fields, AI, sensor technology, and fast cars, many of the initial 10 teams are from universities, so….

Nissan Hyper Adventure concept offroad SUV

nissan hyper adventure SUV concept vehicle

Built on their V2E (Vehicle to Everything) platform, the Nissan Hyper Adventure concept vehicle has an oversized battery pack that can power all your toys, or your home during an outage. All-wheel drive and wheels with (presumably extending?) crampons let you drive in deep snow.

Inside, the dash is a full width screen where it meets the windshield, allowing it to digitally extend your view. The rear sit flips over so you can sit in it facing out the back of the car, with extending steps creating a bench.

Escapod TOPO2 Nomad camper trailer

Escapod TOPO2 Nomad offroad camper trailer

The original TOPO2 trailer was the brand’s first camper trailer with a one-piece composite structure. The new Escapod TOPO2 Nomad simplifies the features for a just-the-essentials build that gives it more storage capacity and a lighter 1,650lb weight. But it keeps the off-road capable 23″ ground clearance and 5″ suspension travel, queen-size bed, and the 2.5’x5′ stargazer roof window.

It’s fully insulated and ditches the plumbing, making winter adventures easier. The galley keeps its functionality, but with portable water jugs and a slimmer stovetop providing more cabinet space. Interior and front “trunk” storage space are also increased. From $33,900.

Flux Primo prototype e-moto

flux primo prototype enduro e-moto electric dirt bike has swappable batteries

The Flux Primo e-dirt bike punches out 85hp from its 7kWh battery pack, which is designed to run ultra cool and swap out in under a minute. It’s “highly efficient, high RPM” motor can shoot you into the hole shot, or you can use the app to tune its output to suit your needs and lock it down remotely should someone steal it.

It has a virtual clutch, which seems like an interesting way to let you feather the power, plus regenerative braking and reverse mode. The lightweight aluminum frame is sprung by a KYB fork and Ohlins TTX shock. A €50 deposit gets you early bird €12,000 pricing and, potentially, a choice between enduro, motocross, or supermoto versions.

BMW CE 02 urban e-motorcycle

2024 bmw ce 02 electric motored urban motorcycle

If you’re more interested in urban hot laps than roosting dirt, the BMW CE 02 electric motorcycle is now in production, starting at $7,599. Sized to fit almost any rider, with a light 290lb weight and agile handling perfect for tight city streets.

With 15hp max output, 55 mile range, 59mph top speed, and 3.0 seconds to 30mph, it’s more than a scooter, so you need an “M” on your license to drive it. Two modes -Surf & Flow- adapt the output to your surroundings, keeping things tame in traffic. A faster Flash mode and premium Highline package w/ quick charger are optional.

Blackdot Tattoo machines create pixel perfect skin art

examples of blackdot digital tattoos with crisp black lines and fine art

Texas startup Blackdot Tattoo is digitizing the tattoo process with machines that will convert artwork into permanent hair-sized dots on your skin. This allows artists to create digital art, either unique or convert the classics (or album covers, etc.) into a file that Blackdot’s machine will tattoo on your skin with absolute precision.

This creates a new economy for popular tattoo artists (or anyone, really) to upload files that you can purchase and “print” on yourself. For now, it’s limited to arms and legs in black ink only, but they have plans. And, yes, it’s expensive. (video here)

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin McLaren wireless speaker

mclaren edition of the bowers & wilkins zeppelin hifi wireless speaker

Featuring Galvanic Gray and Papaya Orange finish inspired by McLaren’s early race cars, this limited edition Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin speaker runs $899. Inside are Double Dome 1″ tweeters, 3.5″ FST midrange drive units and a 6″ subwoofer with 24-bit high-resolution stereo sound.

Pair it with B&W’s app and you can stream directly from Deezer, Last.FM, Pandora, Qobuz and TIDAL via Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth aptX Adaptive, and Spotify Connect.

I’m Back Film will turn your film SLR into a digital camera

Im Back Film to Digital camera adapter that turns film SLR cameras into DSLR cameras

Can’t let go of your old film SLR camera? Now you can insert a 21-megapixel, micro-4/3 Sony CMOS sensor and turn it into a DSLR. The I’m Back Film sensor puts a 17.3×13.0mm (21.77mm diagonal) sensor with impressive 12-bit D/A signal conversion for speedy 27fps shooting!

The sensor is held next to a fake film roll that aligns it inside the camera body, then you slide it left or right to center it behind the lens. A ribbon cable attaches it to a storage device that mounts to the bottom of your camera, and a lens adapter corrects its vision to work with standard lenses. It’s on Kickstarter and they’ve 10x’d their goal, delivery est. July 2024.

Garmin adds ECG app to more watches; carbon fiber Marq smartwatch for ballers

garmin ecg app on smartwatches for heart monitoring, and Marq premium sports smartwatch with carbon fiber case and bezel

If you have a Garmin Fenix 7 Pro, epix Pro, or venu 3 smartwatch, it’ll now work with their FDA-cleared ECG app to monitor heart rhythm and warn you if it detects signs of atrial fibrillation (app shown on left).

The new Garmin Marq premium GPS smartwatches (right) get a 46mm case machined from solid carbon fiber, AMOLED touchscreen plus bezel buttons, and advanced training modes that show animated exercises to guide you. Battery life is 16 days as a smartwatch, or up to 42 hours in GPS mode, where it can provide full color maps and navigation.

HRV tracking shows recovery status, and event-specific coaching helps you prepare for your next event, then will pace you and show real-time stamina status while you run. Very cool, but it’s *chokes a little* $2,900.

Leatherman ARC Multi-Tool is their best ever

leatherman arc multi-tool

The new Leatherman ARC has 20 tools with a CPM MagnaCut knife blade, which a chromium-free steel that is exceptionally, hard, tough, and corrosion resistant. Meaning, it’ll hold its blade and won’t easily chip or rust.

The rest of the tools and handle are 420HC/440C stainless steels and hinge on their FREE design for easy one-handed use. Blade is 2.76″ long, tool is 4.25″ long closed and 8.6oz (243.8g). Available soon at REI.

Smith launches Method snow helmet w/ Oyuki artist collab

Smith x Oyuki artist collab method ski snowboard helmet with squad goggles

Featuring yokai art by Mike Shankster, the Smith x Oyuki collection celebrates the big, deep, fluffy Hokkaido snow in Japan. It’s featured on the new Method helmet and Squad Mag goggles, both with “Asian fit” options that work with rounder heads and flatter noses (traditional fits for both, too).

The Method helmet has a sleek, minimal design with small vents strategically placed to work with the goggles so they don’t fog up. Inside is a mix of foam, Koroyd & MIPS to handle impacts.

The James Brand retro Timex Ironman watch & Redstone knife

james brand x timex retro ironman watch and folding knife with 80s colors

Timex partnered with The James Brand for this retro 80’s hued Ironman watch, which pairs with their Redstone folding knife, both $99 each. The watch has a double-lug strap made of up cycled ocean plastic, and the blade has their sliding lock, a 2.5″ Sandvik stainless steel blade, and lightweight bent wire clip. A matching wallet is $29.

Limited Edition Ombraz Classics Frosts armless sunglasses

ombraz the frost limited edition white and silver sunglasses with straps for arms

These icy white limited edition versions of Ombraz Classic armless sunglasses get polarized silver Zeiss lenses and a frosted translucent white frame, with vented glare shades on the sides. Like all of their glasses, they use an adjustable strap rather than arms (it works really well, we have some and love them), making it really easy to dangle them around your neck when not needed. Only 1,000 pairs of the The Frosts will be made, on sale October 23rd.

Keen WK400 walking shoes add waterproof & leather options

keen WK400 waterproof and leather sport fitness walking shoes that look good at school and the office

The new Keen WK400 use a full rocker outsole, curved from tip to tail, and now come in a more “office casual” acceptable, sustainably-sourced and LWG-certified nubuck leather upper for $170 (available at REI for $159).

There’s also a new GoreTex membrane-equipped waterproof version for $175 (available at Moosejaw). Both have nylon stability shanks under the foot and high-rebound foam to propel you forward, because speed walking. Grippy, well-treaded outsole makes them great for all conditions.

Sierra Designs Nitro Sleeping Bag Quilt

sierra designs nitro down quilt blanket with mummy sleeping bag foot

Part down blanket, part sleeping bag, the Sierra Designs Nitro has a mummy bag foot that keeps it from sliding off your feet, but an open top so you can roll around. Hand pockets help side and stomach sleepers keep it covering you, and a hood with face hole lets back sleepers stay covered in the cold. Available in 20º and 35º versions, both with PFC-free DriDown insulation.

Scrubba portable clothes washing machine

scrubba wash bag portable clothes washer for travel

With tiny nubs inside, the Scrubba wash bag does more than just stuff your clothes into water with laundry detergent. Fill it half way, then squish and smash it to agitate the contents, scrubbing your clothes kinda like an old washboard. Empty it and it packs down to almost nothing, perfect for washing your clothes while traveling. Available on Amazon.

Chuck Bucket hitch-mounted ski & snowboard “rack”

chuck bucket hitch mounted upright basket for holding skis, snowboards, trees, lumber and more

The Chuck Bucket is a hitch-mounted basket with quick-opening corral above it that makes it super easy to transport tall things, like skis and snowboards. Or landscape trees, Christmas trees, lumber, golf clubs, etc. It tilts back 36º for hatch access and runs $499. They just added the Chuck Rack, a 4-6 bike upright bike rack that uses the same hitch base and holds almost any bike handlebar, but we’d skip hanging heavy e-bikes from it.

Small Bites

Big Deals

Wandering Thoughts

I love my Vandoit Transit, but I don’t love the sub-11mpg it gets. But the idea of a full electric custom Sprinter, Transit or ProMaster with enough range for worry-free road trips and off-road exploration seems far off. Or, it did, until recently.

Over the past couple weeks, some interesting concepts have popped up. There’s the Maxwell x Rossmonster “Vanacea” that converts a RAM ProMaster into a EV with 7,800Wh of solar-supported battery power, which both drives the vehicle and powers the conveniences, saving space versus having a separate battery bank just for the fun stuff. They claim 150-mile range with plans to offer a 250-mile capable power source next year.

Grounded RVs is already there, building off the BrightDrop Zevo EV cargo truck platform. It has a 250+ mile claimed range with a queen bed, kitchenette, seating area, and dry-flush toilet with outdoor shower. The interior is simple, but modular, so you can mix and match what you need inside.

Winnebago is testing an e-RV built on the Ford Transit Electric van, but its range is very low. Other full-electric vehicles, like the Ford F150 Lightning could be better, but once you add 1,500lbs of overland gear and proper offroad tires, its range will fall off a cliff, too (at least until the next-gen trucks come online).

None of these e-camper vans are actually for sale yet, but they’re a sign of things to come. Improved battery tech (like Toyota’s upcoming Solid State batteries that could offer almost 1,000 miles of range!) will make it possible to give 8,500lb camper vans enough range to head off grid, too. And that’s exciting!

I figure I can get a few more years out of mine before I should sell it. Because eventually, who’s going to want it?

adventurous way of life logo illustrates travel and van life ideas

Adventurous Way of Life covers the best new gear, gadgets, and tech for those who dig the outdoors, health, fitness, camping, cooking, overlanding, vanlife, and the adventurous active lifestyle. Subscribe here to get our periodic newsletter recaps by email.

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