CVT Summit Series Awning Spotlight

While we are waiting for our next trip before really using our new CVT Summit Series awning I would like to share a quick glimpse of what’s to come….

Like always the CVT summit series awning comes with all the hardware and tools to install it onto your vehicle.. On the Overland F150 we opted some new prototype awning brackets made by Leither Design.  Full review to come……


And here she is fully extended…..


Monache Meadows Trip Report

My Friday morning started out how most of my trips start – a little nervous and excited at the same time.  It doesn’t matter if it’s somewhere new or somewhere I have visited many times.  After going through my gear for the 100th time I started to throw everything into the truck.  Always wondering if I’m forgetting something.   I tend to over pack but have been getting a lot better at slimming things down.  It doesn’t help that the Overland F150 can handle pretty much anything I put in the bed so weight is never really an issue.

On this particular trip my oldest daughter, Jasmine chose to come with me.  I’m not sure if she really wanted to spend a weekend with her super cool dad or she just wanted a day off of school haha.  At about 0700 I had all the gear loaded in the truck so I went into the house to go wake her up.  To my surprise she was already up and ready to go.  starbucks imageAt around 0900 we headed up to one of our local Starbucks to energize our morning but to also meet up with my buddy Kevin (red Jeep) who would be caravanning with us up to Monache Meadows.  Once everyone had their drinks in hand we sync’d up our CB radios and headed out.

Fortunately for us there wasn’t a whole lot of traffic and we started making pretty good time.  Red Rock canyonThe Monache Meadows trial head is approx. 3.5-4 hours away from us here in Ventura County.  One of the things I love the most about going on trips is the drive to our destination.  The drive to Monache is a beautiful one.  One of my favorites is passing through Red Rock which you can camp at if you so desire.

2 hours into the drive you will reach one of the last gas stations located in Pearsonville just before heading up.  You will want to fill up and grab any snacks. shell station Fair warning: during the summer days it gets very hot.  When we stopped it was a blistering 115 degrees.  We stopped to wait for Kevin’s friend Jake and his son that would be joining us to Monache Meadows.  It is always fun to see the type of overland vehicles you find at a gas station in the middle of nowhere… We saw a few with RTT and one jeep with an Ursa Minor top that was heading to the bishop/ mammoth area.  After Jake arrived we fueled up and headed up the mountain.

The road headed up to Monache Meadows from Hwy 395 is very steep for a good 35 minutes.  After the initial steep ascend it flattens out to some beautiful valleys with cabins and trees….wp-1473347312848.jpgFrom the looks of the clouds and the wet road it had probably just rained which allowed us to drop down our windows and enjoy the cool 75 degree air.  By the time we reached the Black Bear Ranger station it was a nice 65 degrees… We always stop by the ranger station before we head inland to not only get our Fire pass (which you need for propane stoves) but to also introduce ourselves and let them know where we are headed.  wp-1473347339722.jpgWith no cell reception it is always good for the local rangers to know who is where in case of an emergency.

After about another 25 min drive up the mountain you will reach the turnoff that leads you to the Monache Meadows entrance.  The trail is fairly easy with only a few sections actually requiring 4wd.  We were lucky to get there right after the rain storm that rolled through which kept the dust down and allowed us to have our windows open.  Now if you own a fullsize rig like myself the trails can get pretty tight not to mention some of the low hanging branches from the trees.  wp-1473347258868.jpgluckily I did not add any new stripping on the side of my rig but did end up rubbing some branches with my RTT.  After the initial “offroad” section going down you will reach a small bridge that will take you to some open valleys.  Slow down and enjoy the views…wp-1473347234289.jpg

The trail will take about 1.5 hours before you reach the Monache Meadows camp grounds.  Once you reach the camp grounds continue down and go across the Kern River.  We were lucky enough to get the campsite all the way at the end, a mere 15ft away from the Kern river.  After all 3 vehicles were situated in their parking spots for the weekend we started to set up camp.  With the help of my daughter I was able to set up our CVT MT Rainer Summit Series tent in a flash. wp-1473347279658.jpg This was going to be her first time in the new tent.  Nothing left to do but to grab a beer and relax but before I did I made sure to send my wife a text letting her know we were ok with our new Delorme In Reach (review on this to follow).  The rest of the evening was uneventful so after some dinner and some chatting around our lantern campfire we headed up to bed.

Not sure what it is about camping but it I generally never sleep in.  I was up at 0600 just in time to see the sun starting to peek through the horizon.  As I laced up my boots the cool crisp air reminded me to grab my flannel.  After I made my coffee I strolled around down to the river with my chair and just sat and listened to the running water, birds chirping and the wind through the trees. wp-1473347289499.jpg It is very hard to put into words what this actually sounds and feels like but its breathtaking.  A short while later everyone started to get up and get breakfast ready.  Well everyone but my daughter that probably could have slept until noon.

With everyone’s belly’s full from breakfast we decided to go on a small hike down the river to see how many more campers there where.  To our surprise other than 2 more campers at the other end of the camp sites we had the place to ourselves.  We hung around our camp the rest of the morning all the way through lunch.  After Jasmines nap we went on a longer hike up the mountain to do some slight bouldering.  I’m not one for heights but the views were amazing.

Unlike Friday, the temperature was a nice 75 degrees with mostly sunny skies.  The few clouds we did have made for great pictures.  We were out for a good hour and half before we decided to go back to camp.

It was my turn to cook dinner so I busted out the Tembo Tusk Skottle to grill up some Carne Asada tacos. Skottle My kitchen setup has changed a lot throughout the many years we have been camping.  I have found the Skottle to be one of the best overall cooking/ storage setups around.  After everyone was fed the grown ups indulged in some adult beverages while hanging around our lantern fire.  Being that this was going to be our last night we stayed up longer than we normally do but in the end we prob were still in bed before midnight.

Our last morning…..

Its always sad to wake up on the last day.  I was up pretty early as usual going through my normal routine.  After everyone was up and fed we started packing up.  We broke camp in record time and was ready to head back to civilization by 0900.  The ride back to the main road was very dusty unlike the day we came in.   For the most part it was pretty easy with only a couple of spots that required 4wd because of some loose dirt/rock on a steep incline.  Once we arrived to the main entrance we parked all three vehicles for our traditional Picture.wp-1473347239466.jpg

In the end it was 3 days, 2 nights and a total of 560 miles round trip.  Fun times was had by all who attended.  For me…. Camping trips are always about making memories with my kids than the actual trip.  The highlight of the weekend for me was hiking with my oldest daughter Jasmine.  Spending alone time uninterrupted by electronics or the day to day grind will always live in my heart……Jasmine and I at Monache Meadows


Once again……Monache Meadows never disappoints.


Arkpak Portable Power Review

There comes a time in your overland adventures where you find that you need some kind of portable power to run things like fridges.  Like most things, there are many ways to achieve this.  One easy way is by just buying an inverter and use your vehicle battery.  Now this is definitely the easiest and cheapest way but when you start running things like a ARB Fridge you will soon find out that 1 battery alone wont be enough.  We can go on and on about what is the ideal setup which could include a dual battery setup with solar (prob the best way to go and most expensive) but for me I knew I wanted something a little different.  Enter the Arkpak!

The Arkpak is a portable power solution that has 2 12v plugs, 1 USB plug and 1 household outlet.  They come in 2 different versions that house either a 150w inverter or a 300w.  The Arkpak battery is charged via the included 110 outlet (what I recommend) or via a 12v car outlet.  One of the best features about the Arkpak is that it is portable and not hard mounted on the vehicle.  Because of the height of my truck I wanted to be able to pull the fridge out of the vehicle and onto the floor so that my kids have an easier access to it which made the Arkpak Ideal.

We bought our Arkpak a little over 2 years ago.  It was the day before we were leaving for our trip to Desert Rendezvous 2014 to be exact.  I had heard great things about the product and was excited to test it out over the weekend in the desert.  Unfortunately since we got it the evening before our trip I didn’t have a whole lot of choices of where to go get a battery for it.  The only thing open was an autozone where I picked up a marine deep cycle battery and immediately installed it when I got home and plugged it in to make sure it had a full charge.

Our first trip out using it was not a great one but it was not the Arkpaks fault.  I plugged in our 50l fridge and it was doing great all day Friday and into Saturday.  But on Saturday evening I plugged in about 50ft of string lights to the Arkpak and it caused it to drain the battery very fast.  By Sunday morning I was getting a low battery warning light. Lesson learned.

The following trips went a lot smoother.  After using it the last 2 years I can say that it will keep my ARB fridge running for 4 days straight on a full charge on a crappy autozone battery.  If you’re looking for portable power solution that is not hard mounted to your vehicle than the Arkpak is def something you want to consider.

For full specs please follow the link. Feel free to post up any questions in the comments.

The Arkpak can be ordered here: Arkpak!

Decked Truck Bed Storage System


A little over 2 years ago I decided that I wanted to put some drawers in the bed of my truck to store my gear.  I knew I wanted something watertight and I also wanted to still be able to load the back of the truck if need be.  After doing a lot of research on what was available and what I wanted I came to the realization that I only had a couple of options.   I could go with something like weather guards bed drawers or I could go with this brand new product from a company called Decked.

Since you are ready this post about Decked drawers obviously I choose Decked, but before I made the purchase I made sure to talk to them on what I wanted and what I expected.  decked-drawer-system-flat-deck-surfaceI was re assured that the Decked drawers would fit my needs.  The Decked drawers are completely watertight, can withstand a 2000 pound payload and is exclusively made in the USA.


A few days after I made the purchase the large box on a pallet arrived at my house.  I was able to convince a couple of friends of mine to come over and help me assemble it.  After going over the instructions and laying out the parts we got to work.  The drawers are assembled in two half’s. decked-truck-bed-storage-support-and-drawers Once both half’s are assembled they are moved into the truck and bolted together.  The neat thing about these drawers is that you use the factory tow hook locations to tie it down so there is no need to drill into your bed.  Total install took us about an hour.


At this point in my trucks build I still had a camper shell and was using the Decked drawers as a sleeping platform.  After a night in the high wp-1467816944156.jpgsierras in the low 40’s I decided to add a 1/2″ heavy floor mat (like used in gyms) for insulation and a 3″ foam mattress for comfort.  This setup was used for about a year until I decided to upgrade to a RTT and get rid of the camper shell.  With the camper shell gone it was time to see how watertight the system was going to be.

After running the system for over 2 years I do have some complaints.  My first gripe is that the drawers do not fully extend open.  I would say they wp-1467816918713.jpgonly open about 75% which makes the last foot very hard to get too.  The second gripe is that the dividers that you get do not work very well off road.  In my experience they would wiggle out of place and if you had loose items in the different sections it would become one big jumbled mess (though I have heard this has been fixed in the newer generations).  Until very recently my drawers were not very organized and I had considered getting rid of them.

This all changed when I saw Decked post about some new Drawer boxes they were developing and would soon be offering. img_20160405_173152.jpg  I waited it out and I am very happy that I did.  The new Decked D boxes are amazing.  The construction and finish is second to none.  I was lucky enough to have partner up with Decked on reviewing their new Decked D boxes and after organizing all my gear in the 4 boxes I can now say that I once again love my Decked drawers.  The gear stays put and it is now completely organized. wp-1467816907208.jpg My only issue is that all 4 of the boxes look the same so I need to find a way to neatly Mark them so i know what is in what.


If you own a Full size Truck and need a way to store all your gear then the Decked system is a must especially when its paired with their D boxes.  You can find more specific details about them here: Decked Drawers


Leitner Design Active Cargo System

Bernhard Leitner began designing and honing his skill at an early age while tinkering at his father’s famed motorcycle company, ATK.  By the time he was 15, he had built his first motorcycle.  These skills proved very useful to guild him to a head engineering job with active sports protection in 2001 and later on start Leitner Design in 2007.  In 2014, Bernhard shifted the company’s focus from being a design firm to manufacturing its own line of truck accessories.  His love for adventure and the outdoors drove the development of the company’s first product the “Active Cargo System”.

Active Cargo System

Side view HDR

The ACS system is made out of military grade aluminum which is fully TIG-welded and weighs only 70lbs, which is powder coated in a dual-stage finish that will handle anything you can throw at it.  Once assembled, the ACS can handle up to 250lbs off-road weight capacity all the way up to 1k static weight capacity.  The ACS is designed, engineered and manufactured in the USA.

We met up with Bernhard Leitner on an early Saturday morning in beautiful Mission Viejo, California.  After some catching up, we headed to the back of his warehouse to start assembling the necessary parts we would need for the Overland F150 build.  After carefully laying it all out on the floor we got to work.  During the install, I couldn’t help but notice the attention to every detail Bernhard had designed into the ACS.  The welds were perfect.  The powder coat was flawless.  Every piece meticulously engineered to fit together. Bernhard thought of every imaginable detail all the way down to the carefully laid out instructions.  Once we had both sides assembled, we took them to the truck.  While I held up one side of the ACS, Bernhard added the 3 clamps that would attach it to the bed rail.  The Active Cargo System is mounted via 6 bed clamps and (depending on vehicle) 2 rear and 2 front upright braces.  The upright braces not only allow the rear load bar to be able to slide all the way forward, allowing you full access to the bed, but it also directs the load back into the Structural “D” pillar and takes it off the bed rails.

back left of truck

Once both sides were installed and tightened down we moved onto the load bars.  One of the best features of the Leitner Design Active Cargo System is the fact that you can slide the rear bar all the way forward.  For years I have been stuck with the fact that I would have to unbolt my whole bed rack system if I wanted to use the bed of my truck; which did get me out of every truck owner’s worst nightmare…  Helping people move!  But alas… that excuse is no more.


side view of pod and maxtrax

Leitner Design offers a great array of accessories for the ACS.  We chose 2 gear pods (which are manufactures from Roto-molded high- density polyethylene),  Maxtrax and 2 Rotopax brackets.   Other accessories include: High-lift mounts, light bracket, flag pole kit, load stops and Roof top tent brackets.  All brackets are made of the same high strength Military grade aluminum.

up view of pod and rotopax

The Leitner Design Active Cargo System is the best cargo system we have used to date.  With the super light weight, ultra durable finish and the ability to interchange accessories to meet customer needs make the ACS a great choice for every truck.

You can find more info about the Leitner Design Active Cargo System HERE