TESTED: Offgrid Trek 215w Solar Blanket Bug Out Kit

I’ve been going back and forth trying to decide between adding a dual battery setup to the Jeep, or finding a better solar option for “unlimited power” when stationary.  Like most of you, I need peace of mind running the fridge in camp and easy access to power for charging USB devices. At Overland Expo East 2019 I ran across a veteran owned Canadian company that makes serious expeditionary grade kits that are ready for hard use in all weather, right out of the box.

Off Grid Trek makes solar blankets that feature durable panels with SunPower Gen 3 Maxeon EFTE coated solar cells. Imported from Japan, the EFTE coating (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene, a thermoplastic copolymer) adds physical toughness to the cells which adds to their lifespan, and also enables better transparency than the normal PET coating used on many panels which increases output in the same light conditions, resulting in a whopping 23.8% efficiency. Many companies are using cells that only get about 15% efficiency under the same conditions so these panels are actually quite stellar in their performance.

Clearly, solar panel efficiency, power output, and durability has improved considerably over the years, and I’m simply amazed to be able to get 200+ watts from a 13-pound solar blanket that when unfolded measures 68 x 36 inches, and only 12.6 inches square when folded up. This is much smaller than our older 120 watt Power Film solar blanket. I was also pleased to see the use of Anderson connectors and heavy duty, 5-millimeter wiring used throughout the kit. This heavy duty wiring reduces voltage drop under peak charging conditions, and increases the lifespan of the harness overall.

The main wiring harness measures 16 feet long, so use on a roof rack, roof top tent, or even hanging it in an adjacent tree is no problem. The harness is also what I call “GI proof”, meaning the Anderson connectors only connect one way so if you can follow the simple instructions on the solar controller, and if you can tell the difference between positive and negative at your battery, wiring it up takes all of 2 minutes with a frosty beverage in one hand. So easy an Overlander can do it.

For me, all this information validates the fact that this Canadian company is making panels that work even in Canadian conditions – without direct sunlight and even on cloudy, rainy, overcast days. Most panels today stop working in these low light conditions, and it’s been my experience that when inclement weather hits I really need the capability to keep my batteries full. The heavy duty materials used in this solar blanket also impact it’s capability and durability in severe weather – I have zero concerns leaving this out in extreme conditions like I’ve seen in places like Death Valley or the upper peninsula of Michigan which is an important consideration for me when choosing equipment that I have to depend on.

The next two photos were taken at 4pm in November (sunset at 4:51 pm) with cloud cover and the sun dipping beneath the trees to the west… 

And there’s something we don’t always see, almost 1 amp still going to the battery right to the very end of sunlight in marginal lighting (fridge off in this picture so no power draw). Not bad at all.

Beyond the solar blanket itself, power needs to be controlled before connecting to your battery, and the 20 amp common positive Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) solar controller is a critical part here in any solar kit, optimizing the voltage matching and current between the panels and your battery.  The unit provided by Offgrid Trek features a backlit, day and night readable LCD display, and both the solar blanket and solar charge controller have two high speed (2.2A!) USB charging ports each so you can charge up to four devices at a time right at the source. This well thought out feature works as advertised and saves your vehicle battery for starting the engine while negating the need for a portable battery pack if you choose to just use the kit for all your charging needs in camp like we do.

Our main power draw concern is our Engel MT-45 fridge, it needs 1-2 amps total in camp, so I’m confident that even under low light conditions this solar blanket is up to the task. Using this in our driveway for the first time, we saw this solar blanket produce 11 amps under the full Florida sun at noon, more than twice as much as our Renogy 120 watt panel makes under ideal conditions. These numbers mean this kit makes more than enough power for any SnoMaster, National Luna, Dometic or ARB fridge on the market while still topping off your battery too.

This kit requires no hard mounting of any kind so it can be moved between vehicles with ease, and it packs down small enough to be easily portable in the included, made in USA bag from Overland Gear Guy.

Some improvements I’d like to see would be a traditional, automotive style replaceable 30 amp fuse at the battery connection as well as a more versatile mounting system. The included carabiners are high quality but don’t lend themselves well to use on or near vehicle paint or the variety of cargo racks or trees etc that the solar blanket needs to be affixed to securely. After a few set ups and tear downs of the panel we ended up setting the carabiners aside and started using some reusable Nite Ize rubber twist ties we had laying around – problem solved. 

The bottom line:

I think it’s pretty plug and play as is, and most importantly this kit just works. It provides more than enough power even under marginal conditions to keep our fridge going for days on end. And while it may not be the least expensive option, it actually does perform as advertised in a variety of lighting conditions and weather that may render those lesser panels ineffective. It also delivers value added when the power goes out at home during a hurricane, fire or earthquake. That peace of mind alone makes this an easy one to recommend to our members. Check out Off Grid Trek for more info on this and other power solutions.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Off Grid Trek provided this kit to the author at no cost for the purpose of this review on American Adventurist.




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!