GEAR GURU: ISSUE 003
Gear Guru takes a hands-on look at the latest and greatest four-wheel drive products this side of the moon. This issue we’re looking at some indestructible cases from Pelican, an LED lightbar from Rigid Industries, an awesome dash cam, and more!
Pelican Cases have been trusted for decades by travellers, 4X4 enthusiasts and military units the world over. Nothing is indestructible, but a Pelican Case surely comes close. I have personally put them through abuse on four continents, subjected them to tens of thousands of off-road miles, substituted them for camp furniture, and had them accidentally fall off moving vehicles at over 120km/h. I have never, ever had a Pelican fail, nor have dozens of my friends that intensively use them as well. The lifetime guarantee they offer is a nice gesture, but I’ve never known anyone who has required to take advantage of it.
Central to Pelican’s indestructible nature is their ultra-tough polypropylene construction which integrates double throw latches attached to the main case with rust-proof stainless steel pins; which, from my experience, will only open if you’re doing so yourself. The cases are certified to a waterproof rating of IP67, which means they’ll be OK submerged in one meter of water for 30 minutes. Most of them also include stainless steel padlock protectors for added security.
Cases sized appropriately to 4X4 gear storage on a roof rack weigh in around 9kg and offer good volumetric efficiency. While I’m usually a proponent of lightweight gear, I’m happy to sacrifice some weight for the peace of mind that my gear will be safe – even if I forget to tie it down to my roof rack again.
Pelican Cases are available in dozens of sizes, with or without customised foam. To find a dealer visit pelican.com
Roadtest: Vico Vation Marcus 4.
Dashcam like a Russian, with Marcus.
Meet my new friend, Marcus. He’s a nice bloke, always looking out for me. I’m joking; I didn’t make any new friends today. But I did get a new goodie to roadtest in the 4X4, which is just as good. Isn’t it?
It’s called the Marcus 4, a dashcam made by Vico Vation. In the name of providing a good, honest roadtest to our valued Unsealed 4X4 readers, I succumbed to a bit of time on the blacktop, with Marcus sitting up next to my rear-view mirror in the Defender 130.
What’s good about this thing is mainly the size: you don’t want something the size of a shoebox up on your windscreen all of the time, the Marcus 4 is closer to a box of tic tacs, or a big zippo lighter. It packs punch though, shooting full-HD @30fps through a 160°, F2.0 lens; sucking in plenty of data of everything that the driver sees. It can also operate in HDR mode, allowing it to cope with the wide range of light that it is likely to encounter.
Our testing has proved that the resolution and image quality is plenty good enough. You can fit up to 128 gigabytes of storage via micro-USB, and the lens aspect is perfect for the job at hand. It does a better job when sitting high on the windscreen, so think about where you can run the cabling when installing it.
Verdict: Good size and good value, keeping one (recording) eye
on the road for you.
For more information, go to
Brisbane Outdoor Gear Backpack
Finding quality outdoor gear and apparel is hard these days—and finding kit that’s made in Australia is more difficult. Brisbane Outdoor Gear isn’t the biggest company, but they do make some of the best products I’ve seen in quite a few years of outdoor product testing. Founder Dave Bell has been on a mission since the company’s inception to combine innovative, durable materials with attractive styling, ergonomics, and features.
They also happen makes one of my favorite backpacks—the Spare Camel—named for the huge amount of gear it can carry…over 30 litres! There’s a few interesting features you won’t find in most other packs, including 1000D Cordura construction and a full zipper front which allows you to fold back the entire front panel of the backpack—giving you easy access to your gear. The straps are made from the same material your seat belts are made of—and they’re padded and countered to properly fit your chest for a comfortable fit no matter how much weight is in the pack. Webbing on the front of the pack allows you to attach accessories or strap more gear to the outside of the bag. Another bonus is the reflective strip, perfect for when you’re trying to find your bag at night or if you’re biking down a dark road.
They’re available in a HUGE variety of colors, including a custom program that’ll allow you to choose your own backpack to be made right in Brisbane. Even though I’m new to my Spare Camel, I have friends who swear by these and have been using them for quite some time in seriously harsh conditions without skipping a beat.
Priced from $198
RIGID SR2 20” Light Bar
Rigid Industries is the premier LED light in the United States. It makes sense, because they’re assembled there, tested there, and abused there by rock crawlers, desert racers, and weekend warriors alike. When it came time to outfit my Jeep Wrangler JK with auxiliary lighting, Rigid Industries was the logical choice for my American-made vehicle. They offer dozens of sizes, and I chose a 20” model from their SR2 range, which offered me a spot and flood pattern in one low-profile package.
The aluminum housing is built with an integrated heat sink to ensure optimal running temperature (LEDs like to run cool) and is assembled with stainless fittings to protect against corrosion. After a dozen or so beach outings, a few thousand kilometres of technical trails, and plenty of daily driver duty, the SR2 has held up as I would expect a premium product to do. Without getting into the nitty-gritty details, I have found light output to be similar to two midrange halogen auxiliary lights mounted on your bumper, but the SR2 offers a much smaller profile that doesn’t block airflow to your engine. I found the light pattern to be very usable with plenty of distribution to the sides, with a respectable distance in the centre of the pattern.
If you’re looking for a high-performance, low-profile LED light bar, it would be hard to fault the Rigid Industries SR2. I experienced no issues with the product during my testing period, despite it living a relatively challenging life. In addition, Rigid also offers several shades of light filters to fine tune the performance of the light bar for your exact conditions. I opted for an amber filter to provide some additional visual contrast in the foggy conditions that appear where I live.
Available in Australia
MAXTRAX are the modern take on age-old metal bridging ladders, except rather than being made from heavy, sharp, tyre-eating metal, they’re made from tough-as-nails engineering-grade reinforced nylon. They’re quickly becoming the de-facto sand and mud recovery device for those who know what they’re doing, and for good reason.
In my experience, they’re the safest 4X4 recovery option on the market, and my go-to to get unstuck nine times out of 10. There are no sharp corners to cut yourself on in the middle of a hectic recovery, and there are no cables, ropes or straps to snap and break. With some common sense and a set of MAXTRAX, there are few places you won’t be able to drive to. Throw them under the tyres when you get stuck, drive out slowly, and off you go – it’s really that easy. There’s even a built-in shovel for helping you dig your vehicle out when you’re really bogged.
Excessive wheel spin is the only kryptonite of these recovery boards, as the heat and friction causes the teeth to melt – not break off. However, “No Wheel Spin” is clearly stated on both the packaging and the recovery device itself. Just like a winch, if you don’t know how to properly use your recovery gear, you shouldn’t be using it. In three years of correct usage, I’ve never melted anything, so it would be hard to fault them on misuse.
I take them everywhere I go.
Priced from $299.