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Off Road Camping Equipment Buyers Guide - A Buyer's Guide Aimed At Making The Most Of Your Excursions - Off-Road Alternatives

Off Roading Vacation Items

Yes, it's that time of year again - summer. With this season of fun in the sun going on, a good majority of you will be trekking across some of our national parks and campgrounds, experiencing the great outdoors. While doing so, we felt it would be beneficial for you to see some of the coolest alternatives that are available to make your adventures that much more enjoyable. Keep in mind that these products run the gamut in price and size, but hopefully there will be something for everyone to use. Have fun and remember to be safe while on the roads less traveled.

Ogio 9800 Extreme Power PackWhat It Does: Whether it's a weekend away or a full-fledged expedition that you're on, the one thing you'll be guaranteed is that having enough room for your gear won't be an issue.

Why It's Hot: Between the large main U-shaped opening and multiple compartments, including one just for tools, this 9,800ci gear bag will take anything you can throw at it. Best of all, the camouflage pattern is perfect for those backcountry journeys. Don't forget where you placed it, or it could be gone forever.

Who To Contact: Ogio International, (801) 619-4100, www.ogio.com

Blender Blaster Gas-Powered XL BlenderWhat It Does: Imagine your household blender on steroids. That's right - now you've got the picture. Built around a 25cc Poulan two-stroke motor with a convenient choke, on/off switch, and pull starter all attached to a set of handlebars, this blender gives new meaning to the phrase "whipping up a cocktail."

Why It's Hot: Aside from the fact that you'd be the only one on your block with one, this blender can handle anything you put its six-cup pitcher. The polished-aluminum tread-plate base with a nonslip rubber platform makes making margaritas as smooth as its cousin, the electric version. To monitor the fuel level, the entire gas tank is clear.

Who To Contact: R&G Manufacturing, (414) 352-1988, www.blenderblaster.com

Ezetil E-45 Portable RefrigeratorWhat It Does: This super-cool extra-large-capacity portable refrigerator unit provides 45 liters of maintenance-free cooling capacity by using only 48 watts of power and 5-cm-thick foam insulation. Best of all, the unit may be positioned in an upright configuration and contains special rubber seals that reduce condensation inside the unit.

Why It's Hot: Gone are the days of camping or off-roading and having to settle for lukewarm drinks. With the ability to cool 2-liter bottles or 12-ounce cans, rest assured you'll never go thirsty again. A 12-volt plug is included.

Who To Contact: IPV USA, (800) 328-9903, www.ipvusa.com

TracRac Bike-Mounting SystemWhat It Does: For those who own the popular TracRac vehicle rack system, you can now carry your bike with ease.

Why It's Hot: Given the option of two mounting methods (base rail or overhead crossmembers), the ultimate in versatility and cargo capacity can be maintained.

Who To Contact: TracRac, (800) 501-1587, www.tracrac.com

Hummer Folding Mountain BikeWhat It Does: Image having the ability to carry a Hummer with you wherever you went. With the introduction of the Hummer mountain bike, now you can.

Why It's Hot: This tough, rugged, go-anywhere mountain bike is equipped with 24-speed Shimano Deore LX components, EZ Fire Plus shifters, and as much as 2-1/2 inches of wheeltravel for ultimate on- and off-road riding comfort. When you're done riding, the unit is foldable and may be stored easily inside the rear cargo area of a Hummer H2.

Who To Contact: Burston Marketing, (574) 262-4005, www.montagueusa.com

Jayco Baja Camping TrailerWhat It Does: When you just need to get away, make sure one of these is hitched up behind you. This is the ultimate go-anywhere camping trailer that can sleep a party of six comfortably, yet still have all the comforts of home, including seating, a table, a kitchenette area with fresh-water capabilities (17 gallons), and an outdoor covered shower.

Why It's Hot: Aside from the functionality of the unit, the overall appearance is a 10. Designed with the off-road enthusiast in mind, the Baja comes standard with diamond-plate rocker guards, a leaf spring suspension, and off-road rims and tires.

Who To Contact: Jayco, (574) 825-5861, www.jayco.com

E-Z Up Eclipse II Instant CanopyWhat It Does: Within a matter of seconds, the Eclipse II canopy unfolds and snaps into place, providing the perfect shade canopy from the hot sun and other environmental disturbances.

Why It's Hot: The top fabric stays attached to the frame and is treated to resist fire, rot, mildew, water, and ultraviolet rays. A series of electrically bonded powdercoated trusses ensures rust protection, long-lasting use, and a smoother, cleanable finish. The stronger, lighter frame is constructed of special high-strength steel for longevity and ease of transportation.

Who To Contact: International E-Z Up, (800) 457-4233, www.ezupinternational.com

Tentrax All-Terrain Camping TrailerWhat It Does: This specially designed camping trailer has been engineered for the 4x4 enthusiast who wants to go to the ends of the earth and have somewhere to lay his head at the end of the day. The Off Road A/T-edition trailer is custom-built from the ground up and can accommodate two people comfortably. With as much as 19 inches of ground clearance and a custom hitch to handle the severe articulation angles, this trailer is right at home behind any serious 4x4. A variety of rack systems are available, making the Tentrax a true packhorse.

Why It's Hot: The trailer can be personalized to match your vehicle's paint and wheels and has numerous options available for your intended off-road applications. For extreme applications, a lift kit can be installed with larger tires.

Who To Contact: Tentrax, (541) 484-9885, www.tentrax.com

E-Z Up Instant TableWhat It Does: Within a matter of seconds, you can have camp set up, thanks to the E-Z Up instant table. Designed and constructed to support hundreds of pounds, this small table is lightweight and portable.

Why It's Hot: The table can be easily set up in 60 seconds, requires no tools, and may be adjusted from 31 to 41-1/2 inches. It can also be checked as airline luggage.

Who To Contact: International E-Z Up, (800) 457-4233, www.ezupinternational.com

'05 Kawasaki KX 250F Dirt BikeWhat It Does: The Kawasaki KX250F competition motorcycle returns for 2005 with several engine and chassis updates, making this championship-winning motocross bike the envy of the competition and one of the best on the market.

Why It's Hot: Although the refinements are endless, one item that stands out is the liquid-cooled 249cc four-stroke engine, which has improved low- and mid-range response courtesy of a modified intake port, a straightened exhaust port, and revised ignition timing for improved top-end and over-rev performance. Helping to maintain an optimal performance operating temperature, the radiators are 40mm longer for improved cooling efficiency, and the throttle cable was revised for smoother operation to enhance rider control of the broad four-stroke powerband. The KX250F's quick-shifting five-speed transmission has also been improved with stronger Third and Fourth input gears, and the clutch friction plates now have fewer friction elements to provide the rider with a more direct feel. The stainless-steel clutch cable and cable liner are changed for smoother operation, and a new clutch adjuster is added to the lever perch, making rider adjustments on the track quick and easy. The chassis and suspension have also been revamped for the strongest and most efficient ride possible.

Who To Contact: Kawasaki Motors, (949) 770-0400, www.kmc-usa.com

'05 Kawasaki 1200 STX-R Jet SkiWhat It Does: With its racing-inspired hull and numerous championship titles in International Jet Sports Boating Association racing, this runabout model provides the power, performance, and exhilaration that can only come from a cutting-edge Kawasaki design.

Why It's Hot: Beginning with the STX-R's stable hull design, it provides a smooth ride and more precise cornering in the most intense racing conditions. The hull includes high-performance racing-type sponsons and a racing-style pump cover to provide "grip" for more aggressive turning and quicker planing. Plus, the hull is made of hand-laid fiberglass, is gel-coated for a deep, lustrous, scratch-resistant finish, and features the molded-in Kawasaki Splash Deflector to help minimize spray on the rider. Power for the STX-R is adapted from the engine design of the championship-winning Ultra 150 watercraft. The 1,176cc, three-cylinder two-stroke engine has an intake manifold angled back 45 degrees to create a downdraft effect for the trio of high-flow 40mm constant-velocity carburetors. A variable-speed oil pump reduces oil consumption and exhaust smoke, thereby increasing both power and efficiency. The carburetors are linked to the digital Direct Current Capacitor Discharge Ignition system by the Kawasaki Throttle Responsive Ignition Control (K-TRIC) throttle-position sensor. The K-TRIC uses independent ignition timing maps for each cylinder, based on engine speed and throttle opening, to provide quick throttle response and acceleration.

Who To Contact: Kawasaki Motors, (949) 770-0400, www.kmc-usa.com

'05 Kawasaki Mule 3010 Trans4x4What It Does: Based on the popular Mule 3000 series, the new Mule 3010 Trans4x4's spacious four-passenger cab easily accommodates four adults. With a couple of quick adjustments, though, the operator can fold down the rear bench seat and extend the cargo bed farther forward to increase payload capacity. When the operator wants to transform it back to a four-passenger vehicle, the same quick adjustments are made in reverse order.

Why It's Hot: Combined with a heavy-duty DeDion/leaf-spring rear suspension system, the Mule 3010 Trans4x4 has a cargo capacity of 400 pounds in four-passenger guise and 800 pounds with the cargo bed extended forward. Plus, with an optional towing hitch, the new Trans can tow as much as 1,200 pounds. Kawasaki's legendary liquid-cooled industrial V-twin engine has a proven record for hard-working reliability and is matched to the company's highly refined continuously variable transmission for the ultimate in traction and control.

Who To Contact: Kawasaki Motors, (949) 770-0400, www.kmc-usa.com

Rhino RTV-2FS Rock CrawlerWhat It Does: The Rhino RTV-2FS is a dedicated rockcrawler built to tackle anything in its path. Fabricated from 1-1/2-inch steel tubing, this machine addresses safety first and power second. Between the 14 inches of wheeltravel, 35-inch rockcrawling tires, and a 104-inch wheelbase, this machine will carve through any trail. If one isn't there, it will make its own.

Why It's Hot: A powerful 2.0L DOHC four-cylinder Honda engine delivers a respectable 146 hp and 135 lb-ft of torque to the Ford 9-inch rear end filled with a 3.50 locking rear differential. The front axle is also a Ford 9-inch filled with a 3.50 open differential and 31-spline axles.

Who To Contact: Rhino Off-Road Industries, (702) 558-4100, www.rhinooffroad.com

Wayfinder V7000 Digital CompassWhat It Does: The Wayfinder V7000 digital compass is not only a precise digital compass, it's also an altimeter, barometer, weather forecaster, and indoor/outdoor thermometer all in one. Operating on a long-life lithium battery or power adapter (both included) insures that it will always be ready when needed.

Why It's Hot: A crisp holographic display shows direction with a compass rose, eight cardinal points, and precise 1-degree numeric digits. It also shows elevations as high as 19,990 feet (6,000 meters). To conserve the battery, the V7000 automatically turns itself on and off as needed.

Who To Contact: PNI Corporation, (888) 422-6672, www.pnicorp.com

'05 Kawasaki Brute Force 750 4x4i QuadWhat It Does: New for 2005, the Kawasaki Brute Force 750 4x4i quad is the most powerful, highest performing model in its class. The Brute Force offers superior balance for the optimum level of rider comfort and provides numerous convenience features. Built with adventure enthusiasts and sportsmen in mind, it includes new bodywork, the largest engine in its class, and is the first Kawasaki 4x4 ATV to use a fully independent rear suspension system.

Why It's Hot: Powering the Brute Force 750 4x4i is Kawasaki's revolutionary 90-degree, four-stroke V-twin engine. With a bore and stroke of 85x66mm, it displaces 749 cc and features new plated aluminum cylinders, a reverse-facing air intake, new 34mm downdraft carburetors and straight intake tracts, and four valves per cylinder. Also featured is a high-efficiency radiator mounted high in the chassis, where it's best protected from mud and debris. In four-wheel-drive mode, the Brute Force uses a limited-slip front differential, which eases steering effort under most riding conditions. The rider can also engage the Variable Front Differential Control (VFDC) to deliver torque equally to the right and left front wheels for maximum traction. The front driveshafts of the Brute Force feature new Cardan joints that help absorb torque fluctuations to the driveshaft, and its lightweight design helps reduce vibration.

Who To Contact: Kawasaki Motors, (949) 770-0400, www.kmc-usa.com

Garmin eTrex Legend CWhat It Does: The eTrex Legend C is Garmin's exciting new pocket-size handheld, which brings color, automatic routing, and longer battery life, plus a 256-color sunlight-readable display, to the design, making it easy to distinguish map details and see where you're going. The automatic route generation, off-route recalculation, turn-by-turn directions with alert tones, and icon-driven menus for finding points of interest all help to navigate you safely to your destination.

Why It's Hot: Thanks to a longer battery life, there are more hours of outdoor enjoyment to be had. Also, the mini-USB port provides fast and convenient downloads of map data from Garmin's entire library of optional MapSource CDs using a PC interface. The 24 MB of internal memory provides plenty of storage for maps. The eTrex Legend C is WAAS-enabled and has had the primary controls oriented on the side of the unit, so the user can conveniently operate it with one hand. Also, an innovative rocker switch is located on the face of the unit, which enables the user to input data easily, scroll through menus, or pan the map page.

Who To Contact: Garmin International, (913) 397-8200, www.garmin.com.

Lowrance GlobalMap Baja GPS Mapping ModelsWhat It Does: This new line of GPS mapping models is offered in two versions. The GlobalMap Baja contains a 5-inch diagonal 480x480-pixel LCD screen for excellent, glare-free viewing through a high-contrast film-super-twist monochrome display, with 16-level gray-scale definition and advanced white LED backlighting. The GlobalMap Baja 480c features the new Lowrance 256-color TFT display that provides super-wide viewing angles and fluorescent cold-cathode backlighting.

Why It's Hot: Both models are capable of navigating motorists from nowhere to anywhere by delivering full 12-parallel-channel GPS+WAAS reception, provided from the ruggedized external LGC-2000 Baja receiver/antenna for super-fast satellite lock-ons and enhanced position accuracy to 3 meters. Each unit is memory-card compatible with Lowrance's FreedomMap software and MapCreate topographical software. Each unit has been ruggedized and made shock-resistant to handle the off-road abuses encountered on the roads less traveled.

Who To Contact: Lowrance Electronics, (918) 437-6881, www.lowrance.com.

The Freedom Grill Portable Gas GrillWhat It Does: The Freedom Grill provides you with all the conveniences of your home grill, anywhere you go. With 30,000 BTU stainless-steel dual burners, a 384-square-inch cooking area, and 304 stainless-steel construction, the term "tailgating" has new meaning.

Why It's Hot: Designed for any vehicle equipped with a 2-inch receiver-type hitch, the grill stand is fabricated from MIG-welded steel tubing construction and powdercoated for the ultimate in durability.

Who To Contact: Freedom Grill, (866) 964-7455, www.freedomgrill.com