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Overlanding Gear Report: Smaller is Better

Overlanding Gear Report: Smaller is Better


All The Small Things...

By Will Marshal
Photos Barry J Holmes

It is really easy to get lost in the dazzling shininess of new overlanding gear. And with all the options out there, it’s important to remember all you ever *really* need can fit inside of a Rubbermaid Action Packer in the back of your vehicle. We are all about making sure that you have the tools and knowledge needed to get out and explore, and most times less is more – so let’s take a look at some of the best small gear available now or on the horizon.

Maxtrax Mini

Why We Love It: Designed for medium-to-small format overland vehicles.

Maxtrax dominates the traction board game and they are expanding their lineup with a new compact design. Measuring in at a pint-size 25” and maintaining their stacking ability, the Mini is the perfect solution for smaller Subaru style overland vehicles. You can throw these in the back of your vehicle if space is tight, or even underneath a seat for that “D’OH!” moment you did not plan on. Constructed of the same bomb-proof thermo-nylon formula that their full-size brothers are, they will stand up to the test of time. Available soon. Keep an eye on the Maxtrax website for launch dates.

Maxtrax Mini
Maxtrax Mini Close Up

Sea to Summit Alpha Series

Why We Love It: Hits the venn diagram bullseye for cost/size/badass design.

Sea to Summit makes some of the finest outdoor gear on the market, and has a longstanding tradition of not compromising on quality by taking shortcuts. The Alpha cookware series is the culmination of decades of research and learning put into application.

Sea2Summit Alpha Series

Pots are equipped with a strainer lid to make draining pain free, and there is a patent pending pivoting handle that locks pot and lid in place for secure transport. Touch points are constructed of a high temperature silicone as a burn barrier, and small details like the ability to rest a lid securely on the side of the pot are indicators to how much thought was put behind the design. Each set is ultra compact using a Russian nesting doll method making the kit a space efficiency dream.  

With a 2 person set priced at $89.95 and a full 4 person kit at $119.95, you can’t go wrong. Be on the lookout for the Sigma Series stainless steel version coming in 2019.

Sea to Summit Nesting

Sea To Summit Ultra-sil Daypack

Why We Love It: Backpack that fits in your glove compartment for when you want to explore on foot (and actually fits back into its pouch).

Have you ever been someplace and cursed yourself up and down for not bringing a backpack with you? Sea to Summit has got your back (so to speak) with the  Ultra-sil daypack. Weighing in at a measly 2.5oz, this backpack fits into its own little pouch and can be secured to your keys, pocket, belt, dog, child – anything you can dream of. It is just darn tiny, and when you pull it out, it can carry quite a bit of stuff for you (20L worth, to be exact), with ease. Thinking about the holidays already? Talk about a stocking stuffer.

Get yours here for $32.95

Ultra-sil Daypack
Ultrasil Daypack


Why We Love It: Unique storage and organization for mission critical items. Stash, grab and GO.

If on your tenth birthday you were given an Army surplus strike-anywhere match tube, what would you do with it? This is how VSSL was born. VSSL Founder Todd Weimer was enamored with the construction of this little tube as a kid. As he followed his love of the outdoors and the Canadian bush, Todd would take the idea of that match tube and transform pieces of PVC pipe by stuffing them with survival goods. These PVC prototypes ultimately became the foundation of what VSSL makes today.

Each VSSL tube is milled from aluminum tube stock, and contains a multitude of different gear, from survival goods to things that just make camping a little more “at home”. Each tube measures in at nine inches long, and two inches in diameter, and weighs in at just under a pound. Featuring models ranging from First aid, Flasks, Survival, Zombie and an upcoming miniature camp stove – there is a plethora of different options. Our personal favorite is the survival model, which contains supplies like an emergency candle, first aid, razor blade, wire saw, fishing gear, purification tablets and a lot more.

VSSL Survival
VSSL Compass

The most important thing contained in the survival VSSL is the list of priorities for a survival situation. Priorities are often the first thing to be forgotten about in a high-stress situation,and this cheat sheet will be the biggest tool for getting yourself on track and safe.

How ridiculously awesome is VSSL? Look at it this way – SUUNTO is one of the largest manufacturers of compasses and wayfinding gear in the world, and has partnered with VSSL to integrate one of their premium compasses into the lid of a VSSL tube. This is the first time in 80 years that SUUNTO has cross branded with another company.

Grab their First Aid Kit here or check out www.vsslgear.com for the full line up.

What’s your favorite small gear? Let us know in the comments below, and head over to the Overland Bound forums to do your own research and join the conversation. Outfit & Explore!

Additional contributions by Corrie Murguia

Will Marshal Will is a fish out of water, coming from the Hardcore off-road and rock crawling world. He developed a knack for writing and a hunger for adventure. Having written for Expedition Portal, Tread Magazine and Overland Bound, Will is our resident Wanderlust expert. He is also the owner/creator of Forge Overland and has an expert eye on all things outdoors.