AWOL Gear Roundup #10

2024 westfalia dodge ram camper van returns to america

This week we have a big roundup of new and upcoming vehicles and conversions, including Westfalia’s long-awaited return to camper vans in North America! Plus two very affordable trailer options, one for gear, the other for sleeping in, and an expensive one, too. There’s also a ton of new adventure and organizational gear from Suunto, Keen, Tsuga, and more! Here’s the best new stuff this week:

  • Westfalia Promaster camper van
  • Ushi ultralight gear trailer
  • Hiker Trailers affordable camper
  • Bruder carbon fiber campers
  • Jeep Recon EV
  • Suunto Sonic & Race colors
  • Keen Targhee IV boots
  • Forloh AllClima Softshell gloves
  • Tsuga collapsible totes
  • Ursus knives
  • Alpacka Valkyrie V3
  • Best portable toilets

Westfalia camper vans return to North America w/ RAM Promasters

While they’re still built on the VW version of a Sprinter abroad, Westfalia camper vans are returning to the US on the RAM Promaster platform. They’ll have the signature pop-top (as an $11k option), plus convertible sleeping arrangements for up to four more friends & family inside, which is impressive for this vehicle’s smaller footprint.

Standard features include a kitchenette w/ fridge, wet bath w/ cassette toilet, and storage under the bed in the back. Base price is $168,649, or ~$183k with the pop top and key upgrades.

Ushi Outdoors lightweight gear (or kitchen) trailer

If you’re looking for a bit more space without extra beds, the Ushi Outdoors ultralight trailer is purpose-built for hauling stuff, and that’s it. Outfit it as a backcountry kitchen to more easily feed a crew. Or as gear garage or supply cabinet to free up space in your vehicle.

The Ushi is small and light enough to tow almost anywhere, and narrow enough to follow through the trails. It’s a wood frame wrapped in laser cut aluminum, then fitted with accessory rails, a roof basket, and a lockable propane cylinder box on the front. MSRP from $9,690. (video here)

Hiker Trailers Mid Range XL camper trailer

Also for about $10k, you can get the much larger Hiker Trailer, which will sleep a couple folks inside, and it can support a rooftop tent, too. The platform comes in 8-, 9- and 10-foot long versions, with a Highway version for roadtripping.

Or, upgrade the suspension and wheels to the Mid-Range model (235/75R15 tires, approx. 29”) or Mid-Range XL (235/85R16 tires, approx. 32”) to make it more capable. There’s even an Extreme Offroad model (285/70R17 tires, approx. 33”).

The rear hatch can be customized as a galley, and options include all the accessories you’d want for offroad, off-grid use (solar, gas, A/C, heat, roof rack, etc.). The inside is bare, add your own mattress, futon, whatever.

Bruder adds carbon fiber shell option for off-road camper trailers

At the other end of the price spectrum, Australian builder Bruder X now offers a carbon fiber upgrade for the EXP 4, 6, 7 & 8 off-road camper trailers, saving weight and improving overall strength & stiffness. It reportedly shaves ~110lb off the EXP4, other models are still in development.

It’ll come at $13k-$48k premium on top of their already tall $85k – $212k starting prices, but they come with auto-leveling offroad suspension, well-appointed cabins, and a lot more.

Jeep Recon & Wagoneer S are full electric, out this fall

The age of full-electric offroad and overland vehicles might be upon us. The upcoming Jeep Recon Moab and Wagoneer S, both planned for late 2024 release, are 100% electric. They’re built on Stellantis’ modular, long-distance EV chassis, which could give them several hundred miles of range, more than enough for most 1-2 day adventures. Check out the full story here.

Gear, Gadgets & Tech

Suunto Sonic bone conduction headphones & new Race watch colors

The new Suunto Sonic bone conduction headphones are a simplified version of their first model, the Wing. These do without the LED lights and head-motion controls, but still deliver noise-cancelling calls and a long 10-hour battery life, gaining 90 minutes of use w/ just 10 minutes charging. MSRP $149, in black or yellow. (available on Amazon)

The Suunto Race GPS watch now has new colors for the stainless steel (midnight blue & birch) and titanium (amethyst) models. It keeps the 26-days battery life, up to 40 hours w/ GPS & HR tracking, free offline maps, HRV & training metrics, and 95+ sport modes. MSRP $449-$559 (available on Amazon)

Keen Targhee IV hiking boots

The latest KEEN Targhee hiking boots get improved cushioning with a fully fused lower that eliminates glue, helping them last longer than ever (which is very long, I have some that are 10 years old!). The Rugged outsole is 2x more durable than rubber, so the tread lasts longer, and the air-injected Luftcell midsole stays cushiony longer, too.

The new uppers have their waterproof membrane plus a PFAS-free DWR on the outside. All KEEN products are free of forever chemicals, too, and this new design means you won’t need to replace them for a long time, which is very eco-friendly. Available in several colors in men’s & women’s, standard & wide. MSRP $165. ($15 OFF w/ this link)

Forloh AllClima Softshell winter gloves w/ NASA tech

The new 100% American-made Forloh AllClima Softshell gloves pack layers of PrimaLoft Gold insulation and NASA-proven Deep Space Trizar fully seam-sealed and waterproof breathable membrane inside their quiet Airadigm softshell material.

The domestically-sourced goat leather palm has touchscreen-compatible thumb & pointer finger material. An AbraSynthetic Suede thumb panel works as a goggle, glass, or nose wipe. A zippered back pocket holds a heat pack or cards, key, etc. MSRP $229.

Tsuga Throw ‘n’ Go collapsible storage totes

Based in Boone, NC, Tsuga’s Throw ‘n’ Go collapsible storage totes hold their shape for easy gear organization, then fold completely flat when not in use. Three sizes let you pack it all, or shrink what you’re using as food and other items are consumed.

The walls and bottom use dual-density foam to both pad them and maintain their shape, so they flop over. Prices from $80 to $110, or get all three for $275. They also do custom cut-and-sew and design consulting if you’ve got an idea for something.

Ursus Fabrications custom knives

My buddy Matt from Alchemy Bicycles has been designing custom carbon fiber bikes for years. Since the pandemic, he started Ursus Fabrications to craft knives, tables, and commercial spaces, too. They’re gorgeous, and they’re made to last a lifetime.

The stainless steel blades are hand shaped, heat treated, tempered, and ground, with handmade handles from walnut, tamarind, and other exotic woods. Prices from $210.

Alpacka Valkyrie V3 is their toughest inflatable kayak yet

Weighing just 13.7lbs, the portable, packable, inflatable Alpacka Valkyrie V3 whitewater raft is more capable than ever. The new lower-profile design is more responsive, with a more rigid floor and generous bow and stern rockers.

Available in Medium and Large sizes, both retail for $2,350. Add the Cargo Fly to use the main tubes as storage, and add a skirt to keep you (slightly) dryer. (video here)

These are the Best Portable Camp Toilets

cover image for best portable vanlife and camp toilets buyers guide

Looking for a lightweight, portable toilet to add to your trailer, van, or overland rig? We’ve tested every category of travel toilet, from bucket to open-air, composting to cartridge, and these are the best. Check out the reviews and see how they all work in our buyer’s guide.

Show Time

Here’s a deep dive into the new 2024 Toyota Tacoma’s suspension, including flex tests with and without the sway bar connected. Now I want one even more.

Field Notes

Wandering Thoughts

I was digging (scrolling?) through photos and found the album from my family trip to Banff several years ago, which remains one of my favorite family trips.

Some of our good friends went there last summer and had the same impression we did – How can we move there!?!

If you’ve never considered visiting Banff National Park in Canada, I highly recommend it.

We only scratched the surface in our few days there, but we definitely packed it in. From mountain biking to hiking, horseback riding, and eating, there are a lot of things to do packed into a small radius from downtown. They even have Via Ferrata climbing!

My favorite memory from that trip were seeing my then-still-young kids pick up on how happy everyone was there. And I picked up on how happy we were there, too.

People are just really friendly there, from guides to merchants to campground staff, and that makes the whole place magical. I need to go back, bottle that, and spread it everywhere we travel.

I think that’s one of the key benefits and opportunities with travel. We get to see experience amazing people and places, and we have the opportunity to learn from them and bring the best of it with us everywhere we go. Hopefully, our travels help make everyone and everywhere we visit just a little bit better, too.

Here’s our travel story from Banff, if you’re headed there this summer, I hope it’ll give you a good launch pad for creating your own adventure!

Cheers,

PS – If you have the time, I highly recommend starting at Glacier National Park in Montana, then driving up to Banff. Split off to take backroads through Spray Valley National Park, or loop around from the west through Kootenay on Hwy 93, the scenery is far more interesting. If you can swing epic time off, keep heading north to Jasper National Park, too!

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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About Tyler 75 Articles
I'm a serial traveller and road trip lover who's crisscrossed the US so many times I've lost count. I've owned cars, SUVs, wagons, vans and a 37' class A toy hauler RV, and I've customized them all! I love the open road and getting off the beaten path to find new adventures, mainly traveling with Kristi and the kids to explore the world on our own two feet (and, usually, two to four wheels)!

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