SEMA 2019

The SEMA Show.  For a week in November, the automotive industry as a whole congregates in Las Vegas to completely fill the Las Vegas Convention Center to show off absolutely anything that relates to the automotive industry.  From aftermarket parts, to tools, to chemicals, to safety, to raw materials, to OEMS, you won’t find a more comprehensive selection of auto-related stuff to check out.

The Overland Industry is continuing to expand it’s footprint at SEMA, and this year was the first year to feature the “Overland Experience.” In this area, Overland industry professionals gave presentations, and there were a number of rigs on hand for show attendees to check out.  Throughout the rest of the show, there were more and more Overland style builds in booths, and more brands that serve the Overland market were on hand to show off their wares.

From companies just getting off the ground with new products fueled by passion to well known companies coming out with more and more SKUs to serve even more needs, there was plenty of awesome to check out – and of course it wouldn’t be SEMA without the… well… interesting products.  You’ll know ’em when you see them.


Antishanty has figured out how to take the best parts of so many different types of trailers and fuse them into one awesome trailer that is poised to stand head and shoulders above the other overland trailers that simply carry a roof tent, or are a glorified teardrop, or that weigh more than your tow vehicle.

Check out these Antishanty features:  Timbren independent suspension, aluminum construction (no wood), light weight, insulated, a toy hauler style rear door, a pop top, plenty of sleeping space, and a heater and a cook stove.  If you need a trailer to haul your gear, be your base camp, and do just about everything else a trailer can do – you need to check out Antishanty.


Warn had a pile of new stuff on display.  For the Jeep JT and JL, Warn has new bumpers, sliders, and door kits.  They’ve expanded their line of semi-hidden bumpers with fitments for the Subaru Crosstrek and many other platforms.  Their lines of winch accessories and bags are also becoming more robust as well, notably with soft shackles and new winchlines that feature a reflective braid.

Icon Vehicle Dynamics and Icon Alloys

Icon was on hand to show off what they’ve been up to, and I’m happy to report that they’re making some cool new improvements to their existing products as well as continuing to develop new, award winning products.

For their 2.5 inch series shocks, Icon is switching to an aluminum shock body which will provide better heat dissipation performance as well as better resistance to the elements.  Features like gold CDCV knobs and finned reservoirs will also be spec’d on certain fitments.  Icon’s 2.5-inch JL system won an award at the show this year, and the new Vector 6 wheel by Icon Alloys looks great!


Dometic has a new generation of electric fridges that feature innovative new features, and they’ve updated their CFX app to help you better understand how your 12v fridge is using power.  With the app you can now plot power consumption versus temperature through a bluetooth connection to your cooler (the old version used wifi) and Dometic has also made the process of adding a dedicated circuit to your vehicle much easier with an everything you need kit.

The new CFX Gen 3 coolers have a new design, beefier cast aluminum handles, and control interfaces that are much easier to use than the older versions.  The new CFX 55 even has an ice maker to help take your wilderness mixology to the next level.


Milwaukee Tools was new to SEMA this year, and I have to say it was awesome to finally get to see every red tool all in one place.  Milwaukee is getting into hand tools, and I have to give them a nod for adding a meaningful feature to their new line of sockets – square tops which prevent the socket from rolling away from you when you set them on the ground.  Ever watch a 10mm socket roll into oblivion? No more with Milwaukie tools. They had a really cool booth with lots of cut-a-way tools, and of note were the M12 & M18 Red Lithium batteries where you could see the genuine Samsung cells inside.

American Expedition Vehicles

AEV always brings something cool when they’re going to a show, and this year was no exception.  On display was their new recovery gear, as well as several platforms with all kinds of new goodies.  The RAM Prospector XL gets a completely new bumper, which is sporting a brush guard and AEV’s own 7″ lights.  Out back AEV is spec’ing a 41″ spare tire carrier, 5th gen bed rack, and a new rear bumper.

The Jeep JL Wrangler and JT Gladiator are also getting the full AEV treatment with a few bits on display, and a whole bunch of other products in the pipeline.  AEV has also been working on the Chevy Bison platform, and the new version will be able to clear 35s.


Yakima continues to come up with more cool products for carrying your toys and tools on your vehicle, and their new bike racks, fishing rod carriers, tool holders, and platform racks look great.  Of note are their tool holders which won’t stretch out like other products, and their platform racks which are a welcome place to mount all of the existing Yakima gear you may have or just about anything else.

Factor 55

Factor 55 is known for making some of the best recovery gear out there that’s engineered, built, and tested to destruction in the USA using only American made materials.  They had a pile of new kit on display at the show, like their Rope Retention Pulley (RRP) which adds a brilliant feature to the recovery ring in the from flexible fingers that will keep your rope from dropping out of your ring should you slack your recovery system out.  They’re also starting to package all of their top shelf recovery gear into complete recovery kits.

Leitner Designs

I spied the new Leitner Design FORGED ACS rack on a couple of rigs at the show.  The new forged version of the ACS takes the years of learning from the original ACS and harnesses that into a lighter and stronger system.  Check out this custom unit on a Jeep Gladiator with a Traeger grill.


sPOD had a new baby Bantam on display at the show, which is designed to fit into modern builds which have less and less space for extra stuff under the hood.  This Source LT has all of the great sPOD features you would expect, but in a six circuit system.  HD and switch panels will be available for control, and everything they offer is made right here in the USA.


Hi Lift had a signature edition Jack and number of new vehicle mounts on display at the show, like this floor mount for the Jeep Gladiator.


On display in the RAM Mounts booth were new magnet bases, new phone holders and the tough wedge, which allows you to place a RAM ball anywhere you can wedge this product and inflate it using the attached pump to inflate the wedge, securing it in place.

Red Arc

Red Arc had a new Brake Controller and Battery Management system on display.  Their brake controller is notable for taking the “knee-knocker” and installing that elsewhere in the vehicle, so you’re only having to deal with a small knob that allows you to adjust things like gain and mode.

James Baroud

Portuguese tent-makers James Baroud had their new tunnel system on display, which allows you to connect your tent to a specially made awning, providing a covered place to enter and exit your tent when the weather isn’t playing nice.


Scheel-Mann makes some ridiculously comfortable and supportive seats, which were a big hit with folks who were in search of a place to get off of their feet for a second.  After test driving one myself, I have to say that I would love to have them in my rigs.

MSA 4×4

MSA 4×4 had their new tow mirrors on display at SEMA.  These mirror arms telescope, and the actual mirror pivots at the end of the arm, providing several modes of adjustment to get your mirrors set to work with your trailer. I really wish they had brought their custom 6×6 200 Series that was on the banner at the back of the booth to show off the mirror (and the rest of the vehicle) too.


The Ford booth always has cool stuff on display, like this well built Ranger and the stunning Bronco.  Ford also came up with a pretty nutty E-Mustang, but I couldn’t get a good shot through the crowd of people gawking at it.

Lincoln Electric

What’s awesome about SEMA is that tool manufactures come to the show too, so not only can you find cool parts for your rigs, but you can find cool tools to work on your rigs with.  These new multiprocess welders from Lincoln use large displays to help make it easy for folks to learn to weld.  Select what you want to weld, and the machine helps you select the right gun, gas, wire and rollers to let you use the right process for the job.

Baja Designs

Baja Designs always has cool stuff on display, and this year they were showing off their new LP4, and the new S1 series lights, which are essentially a quarter of their proven XL 80.  They also packed one of their super-cool laser chips in an S1.  We’ll have a test on Baja Designs’ laser lighting soon.

Go Fast Campers

Parked in the Mobil 1 booth was the GFC Tacoma, sporting a sharp looking camper with a red colorway.  But the really cool stuff was hidden in back, where GFC had their new modular flight deck platform and a really slick twist and lock style tie down.  GFC makes some killer gear, and I can’t wait to see more on these new protos.


Let us indulge our inner kid here for a second.  Traxxas is making some seriously cool RC cars these days.  Check out this 6×6 G wagon, complete with LED lighting and portal hubs.  This scale crawler has fully functioning tracks… which is a great segue into what I saw next…

PPE / Howe and Howe

Hopefully, this thing needs no introduction, but just in case – meet the RipSaw E3 . Everyone wants one of these!


ARB is a major player in the Overland scene, and they are going BIG with the Ranger, this blue truck was decked out with the full compliment of ARB goodies.  They’re also working on making complete build kits for select FCA platforms like Jeeps.  Simply pick your use, from crawler, overland, or off-road, and ARB has a parts kits tailored to that use.

Of note on the Ranger bumper in the second photo, ARB is now a Tier 1 supplier to Ford, so that bumper meets all of Ford’s requirements for crash and cooling, etc.

The Overland Experience

Overlanding has officially gone mainstream, and the last few photos here are from the Overland Experience area.  There were some cool rigs here like the 73-series Cruiser and the crossovers.  Check out that tent-only version of the AT Overland Habitat on the VW Atlas.

The Other Stuff at SEMA

When I said that the SEMA show caters to the entire automotive industry, I wasn’t kidding.  There’s stuff at SEMA that’s well… I’ll let you decide what to call it, but I thought it was a fancy axle truss…

I know for a fact that I missed cool stuff.  That’s the problem with only having a day to do SEMA – there’s just too much awesome to see, even if you’re on the move for the entire duration of the show day.  Next year, I’ll make sure to take more time so that we can share more cool stuff with you.  Thanks for reading!

2019 Mountain Rendezvous

Nestled in the heart of the San Bernardino National Forest is Camp Tahquitz, home of the American Adventurist Mountain Rendezvous.  Here in a small hollow surrounded by towering pines, our community gathers each September for a long weekend of camping, community, and enjoying spending time outside in the mountains.  Starting on Thursday, members are free to arrive when they want and be as active or relaxed over the next few days as they feel like.  That’s the beauty of our community events – we’ve got stuff on the schedule, but what you participate in is up to you.  Thursday afternoon saw a rain shower that cooled us off and left the forest damp, which would set the stage for a weekend of near perfect weather.  By the time the stars were out on Thursday night, folks were busy enjoying each other’s company at various campsites, and you could tell from the animated conversations that all were having a good time.

Many attendees are still showing up late into Friday, and so the day has a more relaxed schedule.  Kids are issued lists for the scavenger hunt, and they set off in search of all kinds of items.  This year’s shopping list had some items on it that couldn’t be found in camp, and the staff was impressed with the resourcefulness of the kids who put the work in to go find everything on the list.  After closing registration for the day, the staff got together with the crew from Tembo Tusk to cook up burgers and hotdogs for the evening’s BBQ Social.  A serious thank you goes out to Tembo Tusk for hosting this BBQ and feeding all these hungry Adventurists!

Saturday is when things really get going at Mountain Rendezvous – from trail runs to classes, and the world-class cooking competition, there’s something going on for everyone.  Michelle from Leitner Designs, offered to lead a trail run up gold mountain, and a number of rigs lined up to get in on the action.  By mid-morning, our first class of the day was kicking off with Drew at Falken Tire putting on a very informative class on tire tech.  He did an outstanding job talking about the intricacies of tire design and how they affect performance, which impacts the age-old question of “what’s the best tire for me?” The class concluded with a very important, yet most often overlooked exercise on how to use your vehicle’s weight to determine the correct tire pressure you should be running.  Overall, he did a great job turning complex tire-geekery into fun information that benefited everyone.  Thanks Drew, and Falken Tire for your support!

Our next class was on Improvised Medicine taught by Dr. Jo Feldman and her research fellow Tiffany.  This class was an awesome experience that taught attendees how to work with the things you have on hand to improvise all sorts of splints and other interventions to stabilize and manage injuries in a wilderness setting.  The course was very hands-on as Dr. Jo and Tiffany would instruct on how to treat a given issue, and then they would have the class work with the gear provided to manage injuries.  It was awesome to see kids working on their parents and vice-versa, and highlights a great point in that if you get hurt, does your family know how to help you out?  Dr. Jo and Tiffany did a great job teaching, and we really appreciate them coming out to share their knowledge with us!

With the courses concluded for the day, folks headed back to their respective camps to work on their entries for a Rendezvous tradition – the Camp Cooking Competition.  Members who attend our Rendezvous events know how to make some very good food in camp, and I’m continually impressed by the creativeness and quality of what folks can do in the forest.  Our cooking competitors could shame any Iron Chef TV show, both in quality and originality.  This year they created all kinds of dishes from scratch right in camp, from Reuben sandwiches, to chili verde.  By the time everything was lined up for judging, our entrants had covered several picnic tables with their awesome cooking.  This allowed everyone to pile their plates high and sample everything prior to casting their votes for their favorite dishes.  LT Wright Knives sponsored the cooking competition at this year’s Mountain Rendezvous, providing awesome prizes to the top three dishes by community vote.  With the competition concluded, folks gather around our giant fire ring to enjoy a campfire, good company, and another great evening in the billion-star hotel.

Sunday is the last day of the event, and the big order of the day is to give away a literal mountain of gear provided by the awesome sponsors and partners that support American Adventurist and our Rendezvous events.  American Adventurist as a community is very fortunate to have the support of so many awesome companies – and we’re really thankful for that support over the last nine years.  Attendees get a raffle ticket at check in, and an extra ticket for participating in events like the Camp Cooking Competition, so the odds are very good for actually winning something.  With the raffle concluded, folks pack up their campsites and depart for home or other adventures.

Like all American Adventurist events, Mountain Rendezvous gives back to the community, and this year we raised over $2K for the Scouts at Camp Tahquitz. Our events are a great use of a weekend – whether you want to take advantage of everything that’s offered from trail runs to classes, or just kick back and enjoy a relaxing weekend with good people, you can make your Rendezvous weekend anything you want it to be and that’s what’s awesome.  By showing up, you’re supporting the local community, and you’ll have the opportunity to take some awesome classes, eat some excellent food, and enjoy good people around a campfire and have a real chance at winning some great gear from some of the best companies in the overland industry.  Keep an eye on the forums for information on our events for 2020.  Rumor has it that we’ll be moving our Desert Rendezvous to a new, remote location, and we’re excited to share more information about that in the coming months!

A BIG thank you to all of the people and companies who make Mountain Rendezvous possible.  To Tembo Tusk, our BBQ social sponsor.  To Drew from Falken and Dr. Jo and Tiffany, our instructors for our classes.  To LT Wright Knives for sponsoring the cooking competition.  To Leitner Designs for leading a trail run, and to all of the awesome companies that supported our event. And of course, many thanks to Camp Tahquitz and the Long Beach Council for letting use their outstanding location again.  Special thanks to Greg Richardson for all of the awesome event photos!

Please support the following companies that support you and TREAD LIGHTLY! out there – see you on the trail!



Warbonnet Outdoors

Tembo Tusk









Promethus Design Works

Princeton Tec

Outland Living

Off The Grid

MoJoe Outfitters


LT Wright

Leitner Designs

JRs Knives

Goose Gear

Fun Treks

Front Runner


Factor 55



Deadman Off-Road

Colby Valve