Battle of the Boxes: AluBox vs Zarges

The average Overland style trip requires considerable planning and organization due to the tyrannies of time and distance involved. Too much or too little gear and provisions can negatively impact the success of any trip, and your load plan will be tested by rough terrain, inclement weather, and critters. And with our limited time off from work being so valuable, what’s the absolute best way to stay organized, avoid loss, and prevent the trip of a lifetime from being derailed?

We believe that hard cases provide a superior level of organization and accountability. Weather resistant and capable of being stacked and tied down, they ensure peace of mind when exposure to the elements is a risk factor and are a top choice for storage of gear and provisions inside or outside of any vehicle. Useful for long term storage with easy portability to and from camp or job site makes all-metal cases like the AluBox line an easy choice .

Recently we had the chance to put our trail tested and trusted Danish made AluBoxes up against their German rivals from Zarges.

Our subjects for this review are the AluBox 42 L and 60 L, and the Zarges K-470 series 40568 and 40678 boxes. These cases are nearly identical, yet inherently unique. Here’s what we learned researching them online and using them in the field when comparing both brands side by side in our “Battle of the Boxes”.

Yes, there’s a story somewhere about something between the Danish box and the German box companies but we won’t bore anyone with rumors or hearsay about industry politics. They’re both incredible products with some subtle features that differentiate them, so read on to learn more.

In this corner…

AluBox is a small, family-owned company based in Denmark and marketed in the U.S. by Equipt Expedition Outfitters. AluBox specializes in aluminum boxes, cases, and containers, and offers a wide-range of standard box sizes to customers around the world for use in defense, industrial, emergency services, transportation, and recreational use. AluBoxes are made of 1 mm thick 5754 (AlMg3) aluminum alloy. This aluminum is a mid-strength material, non-hardening alloy that offers excellent corrosion resistance against seawater and industrial polluted atmospheres. It is widely used in the food and chemical industries, vehicle construction, ship building, architecture, and interior design with 17 total sizes available that range from a modest 20 L to a massive 415 L option.

AluBox 42L kitchen

And in this corner…

Zarges was established by Walther Zarges in Stuttgart, Germany in 1933. Distributed in the United States by Charlotte, North Carolina based Zarges USA, their Tech Center offers in-stock cases, customization and rapid, custom cushion fabrication. The ZARGES K470 universal case is their classic design, constructed of 1.5 mm thick 5005 aluminum alloy which has a high corrosion resistance. These sturdy cases have been tested to withstand temperatures from -238 to 302 degrees Fahrenheit, with 25 sizes available and capacities ranging from small 13 L boxes to 829 L behemoths.

Zarges boasts three K470s that are listed as “bear resistant”; #40810, #40568, and #40678. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) certification means that certain National Parks, including Yellowstone National Park, will allow campers to bring their food supplies into the park when stored in approved K470 cases.


The AluBox 60 L and the Zarges K-470 #40678 are both advertised as weighing in at 5kg/11 lbs on their websites. Despite the differences in advertised material wall thickness (1mm vs 1.5mm), in my opinion the heft and construction appears identical with each box weighing in at 11 lbs.

NOTE: Both AluBox and Zarges have received Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) certification, but tested or not we still wouldn’t leave any of these boxes all alone in bear country while we’re away from camp. We do recommend that you store your camp food in your (insert brand loyalty here) box and hang the entire box from a tree or a bear pole. Please remember to follow the proper guidelines at all campgrounds and campsites in bear country as they may differ from by region and state. Here’s more info about camping in bear country.

Zarges K-470 series 40568 outfitted as a camp kitchen


AluBox versus Zarges

Zarges corners versus AluBox corners. The differences are subtle. The four AluBox rivet heads are exposed, Zarges are counter-sunk. Some say the Zarges corners stack better. Both are robust, both stack well, and the two brands can be intermixed for storage and stacking if you happen to own both.

Zarges on left, AluBox on the right.
Zarges corner, latch and handle details

Handles. Virtually identical. Both super strong with the same number of attachment rivets in the same locations. Both use springs to stay in the down position. Zarges handle is slightly longer.

Locking Latches. Virtually identical in form and function. Style points to Zarges for their branding.

Hinges. Both brands feature sturdy piano hinges.

Zarges piano hinge

Zarges Dividers and Accessories. They have a good selection of internal accessories for organization.

Weather Seals. Zarges places the seal in the lid, eliminating any risk of damaging the seal during heavy use. This seal may be hard to replace if damaged though because it’s a foam material that’s applied with adhesive. That said, AluBox uses a rubber seal on the box which is inserted into a channel and easily replaced if needed. I’ve yet to have an issue with that.

Zarges K-470 series 40678 with aluminum divider. Note foam seal in lid.

Trekpak. I used this for organizing the interior of my AluBox kitchen box. They were bought out by Pelican awhile back, this stuff works GREAT if you can find it in stock, and if you can stomach the ridiculous price. You’ll have to cobble it together piece by piece to fit your project but once assembled it is a stellar option that looks good too.

Trekpak insert

Let’s get some pros and cons for BOTH brands settled.


  • Drop dead gorgeous. Your family and friends will be jealous. Guaranteed.
  • Completely weather proof. No water (or dust) intrusion is happening.
  • Timmy the Trash Panda will need to seek his entertainment elsewhere. 100% critter and bug proof.
  • Latches on both brands can accept small locks to keep honest people honest.
  • Very light weight given their size and capacity.
  • Durable. Will not warp or crack in the sun.
  • Cases can withstand EXTREME temperatures.
  • Will not rust.
  • Will not shatter upon impact if dropped like some plastic cases.
  • Stackable.
  • Square shapes with vertical walls enable maximum use of available square inches.
  • AluBox rubber seals appear to be easily replaceable if damaged.
  • BOTH brands have received the coveted Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) certification which means that certain National Parks, including Yellowstone National Park, will allow campers to bring their food supplies into the park when stored in IGBC approved cases.


  • Sticker shock! The AluBox 42 L and 60 L (MSRP $290 and $295), and the Zarges K-470 series 40568 and 40678 boxes (MSRP $293 and $299) are a serious investment.
  • They may scratch easily in the field. Patina happens so embrace it.
  • Dents are possible. It hasn’t happened to me, but it’s a concern.
  • Metal gets hot. If you stack these boxes outside in the sun, wear some gloves.
  • Top plates (see Goose Gear) are an option hard requirement for overland use, and an added cost to consider if you want to use one as a step stool or table. Available for AluBox.
  • Top plates (see above) not available for Zarges at the time of this article. I do hear that Goose Gear may produce some soon.
  • Zarges foam seals on lid are well protected, but appear to be affixed with adhesive and may be hard to replace if damaged.
  • If you leave food in one of these and forget about it, you’ll enjoy an excellent science experiment and green cloud when you discover your mistake.
  • Ursus Maritimus can likely open all of these cases. Because Polar bears do what whatever they want.
Weather change while you were sleeping? No problems!
Sand and seawater resistant!


So, which one is better? Like Jeep versus Toyota, which one is better really depends on who you ask. Each brand has it’s finer points and legions of fan boys who will argue them online. I will say that I am extremely impressed by the quality and customer service associated with both companies and can recommend both brands here with supreme confidence. Yes, they are expensive options as far a storage is concerned, but I always say buy once, cry once because you really do get what you pay for.

These timeless designs will be the last box you will ever need to buy.

Sadly, there are knock off boxes out there from companies like Swiss Link – so just say no to cheap Chinesium copies and buy the real deal from a reputable company like Equipt Expedition Outfitters or Zarges USA. They’re both pinnacle products that will be around a generation from now when your descendants find them in the attic or garage while marveling at your camping gear from a bygone era.

FULL DISCLOSURE: The AluBox products, Goose Gear top plates, and Trekpak featured here were purchased privately by the author for his personal use. The Zarges products featured here were provided at no cost to the author by Zarges for the purpose of this gear review.

10 Years Gone: Overland Expo, Then and Now

Enjoy the ride as we look back at TEN YEARS of Overland Expo! Lodestone Events has entered the game, and 2019 is shaping up to be even bigger than previous years so please stop by and say hi at the American Adventurist booth at site PS1. We’ll have a cold beer ready for you courtesy of Wanderlust Brewing in Flagstaff, bring your cup!

In 2009 at the Yavapai Fairgrounds in Prescott, Arizona, an ambitious group of like minded travelers gathered for something new. Something called Overland Expo.

Before 2009, roof top tents, 4WD vans, off-road campers, Glamping, Overlanding, all of it was virtually unknown in North America. Yes, some of the gear was around, and car camping was hardly a new thing, but Yakima didn’t sell awnings yet, and Walmart wasn’t dabbling in 12 volt fridge/freezers. It was more of a “you need to know a guy” to get a roof top tent or 12 volt fridge back then.

Overland style gear and builds were quite rare in the mid to late 2000’s, and gathering them all in one place was unheard of. Even more exotic were the tales some of these people told, with many miles traveled by 4WD in Africa, Australia and other distant lands.

Legend says that around 900 people attended that first event along with a handful of pioneering companies: Equipt, Adventure Trailers (AT Overland), Land Rover, Baja Designs, ARB, Viking Offroad, Four Wheel Campers, Ursa Minor, KC Hilites, Autohome USA, Sportsmobile, Overland Journal, Aluminess, and Global Expedition Vehicles. These are the Plank Owners of Overlanding in America as we know it.

Organized and led by Jonathan and Roseann Hanson, that first Overland Expo was the catalyst for the Overland mania that is now mainstream. Today, this event draws top automakers, hundreds of outstanding companies, and tens of thousands of eager enthusiasts.  Few dared to imagine back then that it would have grown to be the largest event of it’s kind in the Western Hemisphere, fueling a global, multi-million dollar Overland Industry.

Mark Twain said ““Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” I think if Mark Twain were here today he would be proud of the community that grew up around Overland Expo.

Photo by Chris Collard.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I still remember their second Overland Expo in 2010 at the Amado Territory Ranch in Arizona like it was yesterday. The entire Overland thing was still in it’s infancy and it was there that I met Jerry from Tembo Tusk, before anyone ever heard of a skottle. It was in Amado that I contracted the Snow Peak virus, a mishap that cost me more than a few dollars in “must have” glamping equipment over the next decade.

I shared midnight tequila with the late Al Walter and company in Amado, remembering favorite Baja trips while Al regaled us with his vast knowledge of obscure places and desert history. It was at Overland Expo that I got to hang out with people like Chris Marzonie, the Baja Taco himself. I had a beer with Scott Brady from Expedition Portal, and partied with the likes of Mario Donovan from Adventure Trailers and Paul May from Equipt before they were Overland Rock Stars.

All the coolest people were there, and it was there that I realized I wasn’t that weird, and I found many others just like me, eager to follow the paths less traveled while exploring the most remote places in the world.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1557774108123-abc7103f-1d6e-3″ include=”9042,9036,9034″][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]Overland Expo was also my first look at many, many exotic 4WD’s and top-shelf vehicle builds. As a career military guy, “vehicle dependent expeditions” were nothing new to me but this new Overland thing was very, very different. I learned that I could eat well in the field, have hot coffee and cold beer, and above all I didn’t have to sleep on the ground unless I chose to. It was even possible to have a hot shower in camp.

So many things that I loved were blending together in one place: travel, 4WD’s, camping, cooking, training, gear, motorcycles, and the stories these activities produced. The Expo was blurring all the lines and I was all in.[/vc_column_text][vc_masonry_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1557774108130-aa9ac40c-8be1-1″ include=”9098,9097,9095,9062,9094,9096,9054,9056,9092,9068,9067,9065,9066,9064,9063,9061,9046,9041,9045″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]More than just a trade show, the Hanson’s brought in concepts like education, hands-on training, environmental responsibility, community service, and film festivals making the event greater than the sum of it’s parts. Above all, I was fascinated by the quality of people that I met at the Expo, and I left that event personally inspired to become better educated and better traveled. This all came at a time in my life when I was suffering from some combat related survivor’s guilt as well as recovering from my own deployment injuries and really needed “something” to focus my own surplus energy on.

Attending that Overland Expo in Amado inspired me to found American Adventurist, and I started organizing my own Desert and Mountain Rendezvous events that same year.

Thank you Jonathan and Roseann for inspiring us.

[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1557774108155-db63c481-078e-1″ include=”9075,9076,9077″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_media_grid element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1557774108159-9512a648-87f3-10″ include=”9044,9057″][vc_media_grid element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1557774108162-9b88b2d2-e723-3″ include=”9040,9052″][vc_column_text]Fast forward a bit as Overland Expo grew. And grew. The American Adventurist crew attended every year in Mormon Lake and then at Fort Tuthill. When they added Overland Expo East at Taylor Ranch, we expanded too with our first Appalachian Rendezvous in North Carolina. We attended Overland Expo East at the Biltmore and then at the Reeb Ranch. We met thousands of amazing people and became involved in land stewardship and access issues.

I am unaware of any other events that have inspired such a fast growing, diverse, and dedicated following as Overland Expo.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1557774108165-918ed293-5e06-0″ include=”9091,9086,9090″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Looking back now on 10 years of events we have nothing but good memories – Underwater Expo, Snowverland Expo and Mudderland Expo included. For those of you who were there well… if you know, you know!

Challenging weather, the tyrannies of time and distance to travel to these events, in our experience it was all worth it to attend these grand family reunions. The one family reunion that you don’t have to dread going to each year. Where else in the world can you learn so much, see so much, and do so much in one weekend?[/vc_column_text][vc_masonry_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1557774108168-f602e6c7-a740-6″ include=”9058,6362,9069,7070,9060,9050,9051,9070,9049,9052,9059,9055,9043,9054,9085,6597,6578,6589,6566,6560,6562,6559,6543,6508,6492,6479,3790,3762,3767,1679,1676,1677,1650,1699,1688,1638,3855,3854,3840,3838,3848,3835,3825,3817″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]So what did we learn along the way at Overland Expo? Too much to list really, but here’s a few salient points that may be of help to anyone attending for their first time:

  1. The 7P’s aka Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Always be prepared for the wind, the wet, and the cold. Or blazing heat. Or monsoons and mud. There are no guarantees when it comes to weather, and there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear.
  2. Site Selection. Just in case weather happens, select a camp site that provides for good, rapid water runoff and wind-blocking protection if at all possible. Tent and vehicle placement to take advantage of prevailing wind conditions is critical to maintain a stable structure. Arrive early for best results.
  3. Meal Planning. Plan your meals carefully in advance to save time and preparation, you’re going to be on your feet a lot at an Expo and being prepared with easy meal plans pays off.
  4. Be prepared to have FUN. We’ve made so many great friends at Overland Expo, and every year brings a wild bazaar of the latest goods and services sprinkled with happy hours with friends old and new. Bucket list trips and new business partnerships take root here every year.
  5. Bring some walking around money. You don’t know it yet, but there’s something shiny there that you need that you’ve never seen before. Trust us when we say shiny squirrels abound.

[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1557774108218-de3af5f0-cee8-9″ include=”7347,7399,7343″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_masonry_media_grid element_width=”3″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1557774108223-77a3125c-8be6-8″ include=”7440,7439,7437,7433,7428,7429,7423,7418,7420,7397,7391,7372,7353,7349,7340,7335,7345,7997,7954,7580,7456,7333,7426,7443,7377″][vc_column_text]Today, the Hanson’s have handed over the keys, and Overland Expo West 2019 marks the first year with Lodestone Events at the helm. We’re confident that it’s in good hands, and we look forward to seeing what they do to take it to the next level. With well over 10,000 like-minded enthusiasts headed to Overland Expo West, it’s guaranteed to be a show for the record books. Again.

So stop by and have a beer with us at Overland Expo West 2019 courtesy of Wanderlust Brewing in Flagstaff. Grab some swag from us, trade some patches, grab a raffle ticket to win a set of Falken Wildpeak tires at 3pm on Saturday, we’d love to hear your story and how this community of interest impacts YOU.

See you out there!



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Event photos used with the express permission of Overland Expo and Exploring Overland.
Additional photo credits and thank you to: Chris Collard, Chad de Alva, Richard Soohoo, Chris Griggers, Bryon Dorr, Chazz Layne, David Croyle, Bosque Bill, Adventure Trio, Mike Petrucci and Gary Haynes.