Season 2 and the Utah Traverse

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Season 2 and the Utah Traverse

As overlanders we have a lot of different goals and quite honesty that is why the term is used so broadly.  Rock crawling, trail riding, camping with the family, or just to get as far away from everyone as possible, they are all reasons to drop the Overlanding term.

Utah Traverse Sunset

As some of you guys know around a year ago we ventured into the realm of YouTube to follow the proverbial white rabbit of “making it as an overlander”  While what has transpired in the past year can be scene as mild success for some hacks that have no idea what to do with a camera. The main objective was always to grow as overlanders, off road navigators and as people.  

Through trials an tribulations, through mud and snow we have accomplished that goal, some winching required.  We have build overland rigs to travel the world and as a great man/woman once said you truly know your truck is ready when you take off the last thing you don't need, we have come to a point where we know what we want to do.  

Well what is that Ruston your yammering with no point. Okay okay, the point is we have found what we like to do and what we are good at.  Finding remote routes that take you to amazing places close to home that you can accomplish without a huge budget and 4 weeks of paid vacation from your job. Which brings me to the main point.  

As some may know we have been working really hard to bring you guys something different.  Finding that ohh so sweet combination of familiar and easy to get to with spectacular destinations, views and camp spots that can be achieved on a budget and on a time crunch.

Which leads us to Season 2 of our “Weekend Warrior" YouTube series.  We are going to spend 4 days over Labor Day weekend navigating the 600+ miles of the Utah Traverse route.  This amazing section of earth will take us from Colorado to St. George Utah, hitting places such as Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Grand Staircase, and Zion to name a few.  We will be producing a 4 part Youtube series and releasing them along with each videos GPS tracks as they come out starting this October.  

This will hopefully inspire you to get out and explore the vast expanses of wilderness this world has to offer!  

Hopefully season 2 will show you that everything and anything you dream of is possible.  

We will also let you in on a little secret about season 3, yes we already have it planned, yes it is going to be very different but what I can say is that we will be giving our home state of Alabama an overland route and experience that it has never before scene!

Stay Tuned!

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#backtobasics

#BacktoBasics

As many have experienced there has been a massive explosion in the overland and off road based adventure market in the past few years.  More and more often the narrative goes as follows; Buy expensive overland vehicle, 4runners and Tacoma's being some of the more popular, precede to purchase every after market part available and in the legendary words of John Hammond from the 1993 classic Jurrasic Park “spare no expense”

I think at one point or another we have all gone down the rabbit hole, jump on “insert vehicle or community forum here” and drool over the amazing rig builds and let strangers tell you how to spend your money.  

Now all of this being said there is nothing wrong with doing that, to each their own and as long as its not taking food off the table for your family, more power to you! 

But Ruston, what is the point of telling me this?  

Well the point was to establish a precedent.  This has become the norm for so many people, and seems to be the standard for “Instafame” in todays society.  The crazier the build the more people drool.  Slap a random “overland or expedition” in your insta handle and you have hit the big time.

Okay, but Ruston I still don't get why you are still writing.

I set all of this background up to be able to challenge it.  One thing that seems to be so common is once the truck is built and the name is hashed out there is an inherent lack of adventure.  Now if your goal was to simply have a cool truck then awesome!  But if you were lulled into the idea that you “need this truck super built” in order to have an adventure then I think you are missing the point.  

Adventure travel is about the experiences, places and people you meet and visit along the way, the scenic vistas, that ohh so eclectic delight you found in the mountain pub or back country kitchen.

I will admit, I am guilty of all of the above.  I started an Overland account and business, I bought a brand new, way to expensive, overland vehicle, I began to modify this vehicle into something that no longer resembled the cheeky mug that I fell in love with.  I have had 4 different roof top tents, 3 different roof racks, 3 different front bumpers, 4 sets of tires, 2 sets of rims, wheel spacers, no wheel spacers, I am on my 4th suspension set up since purchasing the truck, and a cold air intake that only lasted a month.  Do you want me to let you in on a secret?  None of it made the adventure more exciting, none of it made the places I wanted to visit and more or less than what they have and always will be.  

Through the years I have learned so much through the vehicle of overloading, most of them have been about myself.  I recently have been swimming against the river of overland society, leaving the roof for the ground, putting back the sway bars I had removed, removing a front bumper built for rock ramming and an amazing thing happened, I can still go all the places I have wanted, things stopped breaking on the truck, I saved so much money on gas, and found myself worrying less about what people thought of my truck and valuing the experience and adventure that much more!  I am calling it our journey #backtobasics. 

So I challenge you, do you need that long travel, all that armor, a king sized roof top tent, 700 miles of fuel range?  Or do you need more fresh air, adventure, silence, and road trips with those that you care most about? What is your answer?

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TreadWright: The Best Tire we have ever used!

We recently starting using TreadWright Guard Dog Mud terrain tire on our flagship 2015 Toyota 4runner.


TreadWright is a true blue American company based out of Houston Texas.  They use a process called re-casting tires where they take old casings from used tires, and apply freshly recycled rubber and press it into the molds they use for making their specific tire.

This is the exact same process as all other manufactures, only this way we get a tire that is made of 80% recycled material and a fraction of the cost.

We are currently running a 285/70r/17 tire on the 4runner.  In a short amount of time we have managed to put on some 10K miles, yes we drive a lot, but the truck is my daily driver.

After 10K miles with regular rotations every 5k miles we have noticed very little wear, especially for a mud terrain tire.  I am personally hoping to get 50k out of these tires, which would be amazing.

So we will break it down into on and off road performance

On road:

With over 85% of our miles being on road we were a little hesitant to put on such aggressive mud terrain tires thinking they would wear quickly.  So far we have been pleasantly surprised.  The Guard Dogs are loud, with a little higher pitch noise than other mud tires, but that is to be expected as aggressive as they are. Other than that they balance rather well and provide a very smooth ride for our daily commute to and from work.

Off-Road:

We have put these tires through a beating.  Mud, sand, slick rock and even lava rock in Utah at full psi!  So far they have been nothing but spectacular. Coming from the world of all terrain tires I can comfortably say that we will be using a mud tire from now on and a mud tire from TreadWright at that.  The grip is just immense, especially when aired down.  The ride is sublime even over the most rugged terrain, giving us the confidence to move quickly and safely down the trail.  They also look bad-ass to! Fitting the aesthetic bill as an aggressive mud tire.

For us though they check all of the boxes with the sustainability and the fact they are made in America!  As overlanders we owe it to the world to be as conscious in our endeavors as possible.  We are driving vehicles and burning fuel in the woods after all.

For me the ability to use a tire that is recycled is a no brainer and a huge bonus.  Tire waste it becoming a true problem domestically and internationally as tires fill our landfills.  Other companies could take a note from TreadWright and their promise of sustainability.  They are a company we will continue to due business with in the future and a company we stand behind for many reasons beyond the product itself.  I can only hope you will to! 

For more information please visit Treadwright.com

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Expanding the Horizon

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Expanding the Horizon

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Beyond getting out into new and exciting places, one of the most satisfying things an overlander can do is sharing their passion for the outdoors and nature with those they care about most.

As some readers and fans of Overlanding USA may know I recently got engaged to the love of my life and moved 2000 miles across this great country to alas Vegas. Both of these events have opened up so many doors for exploration of new places and with new people! The weekend of Jan 23-24 proved to be the culmination of this amazing journey.

The plans for the weekend were spontaneous, a trip to the mountains to catch the last of the melting snow and the first expedition of the year. I use the term expedition loosely as it was a weekend camping trip after all!

What wasn't spontaneous, however was the plan to take my future brother in law and his two friends along with us. We spend a majority of the Friday before scrounging up tents, sleeping pads and sleeping bags none of which were truly rated for the cold weather we were to encounter. Never the less we pressed on!

The plan was to leave at 2 pm on Saturday, hopefully arriving at camp with time to set up before dark. The destination was one I was familiar with in a sense. Mormon Well Rd is a stretch of 50 miles of dirt, rock and snow that cuts across the desert of North Las Vegas and over the Sheep Mountains that reach to some 10,000 feet.

Half way through the trail lies Desert Pass Campground, a collection of primitive campsites where we would stay for the night! The route takes about an hour to travel and is best described as a poorly graded gravel/dirt road with the final stretch into the campground being covered with up to 5 inches of snow. This however had turned into a slushy mud pit due to the continuous melt of the snow.

We arrived at camp with around an hour to spare. As we started to set up the weather decided to take a turn for the worse spitting down a frigid combination of snow, sleet and rain making set up for our new to camp life companions set up just a little more difficult.

The weather would change soon, however leading to the most beautiful display of stars I have seen in some time!

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Getting to sit around a fire eating soup and having a few snows chilled beers was exactly what everyone needed. It was one of the most satisfying feelings, to watch people enjoy themselves out in nature! As the night grew on we played card games, told stories and joked on one another before deciding to head off into that deep sleep one only gets from sleeping with Mother Nature!

That night it got down to around 20 degrees, we were very comfortable in our Geo Adventure Gear roof top tent snuggled down in our 0 degree sleeping bag high up off of the frozen ground. The same thing cannot be said for our friends, as they made sure to express the next morning!

When camping with friends I wholeheartedly believe you need to get them into nature as much as possible, this is what helps with the experience, but still close enough to be back home without much difficulty. This was very present on this trip. Everyone had a great time but our new to camp life friends were not as well prepared for the following morning.

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We rushed the pack up a little as most things were frozen solid. We packed everything back into our trusty Toyota 4Runner and them into their classes 01 tj wrangler and make it down the mountain post haste!

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The pace back reminded me more of Baja racing than Overlanding as we practically flew down the desert road. All in all it was a tremendous experience. As we got back home, we were able to share the story of the weekend with the small gathering at my future in-laws house as we watched the NFL conference championship games. Getting to hear everyone speak of the experience so fondly only made me want to turn around and go back! The wanderlust continues!

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