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!

5.11 MOAB 10 Review

I was given the opportunity to demo the Rush MOAB 10 from 5.11 Tactical a while back.  If you have never heard of 5.11 Tactical they are a manufacturer which creates superior products that enhance the safety, accuracy, speed and performance of law enforcement, military and firefighting professionals.

The MOAB 10 is a small Sling style pack that can be used for both right and left handed users via the hidden straps on the back of the pack.  Being a sling pack it allows you to access the admin and main compartment by grabbing and swinging over the pack to the front.

Overview of the outside of the pack:

The MOAB 10 pack is covered with MOLLE webbing on the front of the pack along with both sides and the shoulder pad.  You also have a Velcro name plate on top along with a 3×3 inch Velcro moral plate in the middle (where I have attached a flag patch).  Directly behind the admin pocket you will find the hidden pistol compartment.  If you do not have a CCW permit to conceal carry a firearm it’s a great place to store a writing pad or a small tablet. This hidden compartment is 6” wide by 11” deep.

1

Like mentioned above on both sides of the MOAB 10 you will find even more webbing which allow you to add even more accessories.   As you can tell from the pictures, I added a H2O carrier to one side of the MOAB 10 and my Fenix flash light holster to the other. Now if there is one thing that I feel this pack is missing is a water bottle section on the sides like the Rush Delivery messenger bag has.  This would eliminate the need to purchase a separate H2O carrier.  Towards the top of both sides you will also find compression straps that allow you to snug down all your belongings so they are not moving around while on the go.  On the top of the bag you will find a hefty grab handle.  This may not seem like a big deal but on some of my previous packs the grab handles have just been thin straps that feel very flimsy when loaded.  Right behind the strap you will find the felt lined sunglasses compartment.  I don’t generally put my sunglasses away so I found it to be a great place to put my Leatherman multi tool in.

On the back you will find a hydration pocket (1.5ltr) with a pass through port towards the top that allows you to route the hose up and over to the shoulder strap.  The back of the pack is also very well padded with integrated ventilation channels & non slip pads.  One of the great features of this pack is that it is ambidextrous, which means it will work for both right and left handed people.  But if you are like me, eventually I get tired of having a sling pack on one of my shoulders when it’s loaded.  What I have found useful is when I do get tired I switch it over to the left handed strap and continue to use it on my other shoulder.

2

Now lets talk about the strap.  I have several packs that in concept are very nice.  But when it comes down to it they are not comfortable to wear.  The shoulder strap on the MOAB 10 is very nicely padded which is great for all day carry not to mention its covered in MOLLE webbing.  Another great feature is that it has a small coms pocket with pass through whole for a mic/ earbuds.  Now I don’t carry a coms but I do like to listen to music.  I found this very nice to put either my IPod or Blackberry.  Like I have been mentioning, this pack works for both right and left handed users.  Towards the bottom of the pack you will find a hidden sleeve where the left handed strap is tucked away.  Simply pull it out, unclip the right handed section, clip in the left handed strap and put away the right handed section into the hidden sleeve.  The last section on the outside of the pack is the bottom retention straps.  This is a great place to put a rolled up jacket or sweater.

 

Pockets:

Moving onto the first pocket which is the Admin pocket, this pocket can be opened from both left and right side via 2 zippers for both right and left handed users.  Once in you will find a variety of pockets.  You will find 2 large pockets that are used for M16 magazines on the front compartment.  I don’t generally carry around my AR15 so there is no need for me to carry around my magazines so I keep a few odd pieces in there like my glasses case, eye drops ect.  The main pockets have room for pens, business cards and other knick knacks.  You also have a zipper section where I keep loose change and other things I don’t want moving around in the pocket.  On both sides you will also find key fob holders.

3

Just like the admin pocket the main compartment can be opened from both left and right side via the 2 zippers.  Once opened you will find a nice open sleeve compartment where you can slide in your laptop where it can be snug down with a compression bungee cord.  On the other side of the main compartment you will find a zippered compartment that runs the whole length of the pack that can be opened on either side to make it easily accessible for both left and right handed users.  One nice feature I liked is in front of the zipper pocket is 2 mesh compartments that open via 4 Velcro tabs.  One side allowed me to put my paracord in it and in the other I have my trauma pack.

4

 

Bottom Line:

The 5.11 MOAB 10 is a very well built versatile sling backpack.  I have used this pack for over 2 years now and im very impressed with the overall design and workmanship. The MOAB 10 feels very much at home in harsh conditions like hiking or camping as well as taking it to my kids soccer game or on the go.  At under 100 dollars its a great buy as well.

Our GPS Hardware Review

When I think of Overlanding I essentially think of being “off the grid” with generally very little to no cell phone reception.  I have tried several different ways to accomplish being able to have our digital maps handy for our trips.

I first started off with an android tablet with built in GPS mounted to a custom bracket I made that mounted to my dash.  At first this seemed to work pretty well but the further I got out to the middle of nowhere the spottier the internal GPS got.  After doing some research i came
to the conclusion that I needed an external Bluetooth GPS.  I settled on the Dual XGPS 150A.  The Dual GPS works on not only Android devises but also on Apple products.  Once I did the initial install my spotty GPS was non existent.

My next issue was with my custom mount… now it worked great with very IMG_9935_zpsf87079f3little vibration but with how high it was mounted I would get a lot of glare and was nearly impossible to see during the day so I bit the bullet and order a whole setup from Ram Mount.  The install was super simple with the main bracket being mounted under my passenger seat via the 2 front bolts.  Once it was all together I added a X 8ebde3c765ad5b2f88e0425fe5afbda8grip on the side of the tablet mount for my phone… This setup worked very well but it did have 2 downsides…. Because of how the arms were positioned it would shake a lot on dirt roads making it difficult to read.  The next issue is the amount of space it took up.  When i was using it I did not have access to my cup holder on my center console and if I pushed it all the way forward to access the cup holders I then didn’t have access to most of the buttons on my dash.  After running this setup for about a year I knew I had to make a change…

Enter Mob Armor……

I learned about this small company that specialized in phone/ gps bundles that were mounted via magnet through a friend.  After emailing them I realized that their corporate warehouse was only a few miles away from my house so I made an appointment to stop by.  I was very impressed with all the products and when I found out it was all made in the USA I was sold.  We came up with a plan and started outfitting my rig with all Mob Armor products…

Mob X tablet mount:

For my tablet setup I went with the Mob X mount.  Generally this is mounted to your windshield with the provided plate with suction cups but i knew I wanted mine mounted on my dash.  We cut out a simple metal 20160224_065150plate and mounted it to my dash.  During this same time I upgraded to an Ipad Air 2 with a otter box case.  The Ipad with the case fits Perfectly between the adjustable arms.  I know some of you are wondering if the
magnet holds the weight of the iPad during off road use.  The answer is yes!  The magnet is so strong that if you try and take it directly off without sliding it off the plate it will start pulling my dash off.

Phone Mount:

For my phone setup I initially went with their mob mount switch which is great for off road use but I have made the switch to their new MobNetic IMG_1761__27655.1460617316.1280.1280system.  They make 2 different versions.  The MobNetic and MobNetic Pro.   The main difference is the MobNetic is hard mounted to the vehicle and the Pro version can be taken off.   I went with the Pro option so that i IMG_20160611_085724could move it from vehicle to vehicle.   The Mobnetic uses rare earth magnets that are guaranteed not to mess up your phone.  Both come with a very thin metal disk that you mount to either the back of your phone or like in my case the inside of my phone case.

GPS Reciever:

Mob Armor makes a enclosure for the Dual GPS receiver but not the version I had so I upgraded to the GPS Sky Pro.  The only difference is the Skypro allows you to connect up to 5 Bluetooth devices vs the 1 with my 20160223_174408original Dual Receiver.  I used some VHT tape to hard mount the enclosure to the top of my Dash.  12340bc1f4e5a8f08bb3f00c548c1fad

Now with all these devices es how do you keep everything charged?  Enter the Mob Armor USB Hub…. it has 4 USB ports with 2 of them being 2.4amp.  I routed 3 wires behind my dash for a seamless look.  One wire to my Ipad, another to where my phone mounts and the last to power the Dual SkyPro Receiver.

Overall out of all my setups I have used I like the Mob Armor setup the best. Not only are the products made in the USA but they are local to me and I like to support local businesses

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.

Accessories:

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