Off-Road Expo 2019 has recently wrapped up its Pomona, California stop. With a late September schedule, this show provides a great opportunity for some pre-SEMA releases in off-road tech and gadgets. Many manufacturers use this show as a preview point for new products and prototypes. It’s a great sneak peak into what’s in store for 2019 and going into 2020.
Alongside the chance to see prerelease prototypes from manufacturers, Off-Road Expo also boasts hundreds of exhibitors, off-road demos, the O’Reilly Show-N-Shine, and the reveal of the official SCORE International Baja 1000. The show offers a great mix for everyone in attendance. With that said, let’s dive a little deeper into some of the best and newest tech Off-Road Expo had to offer.
Rigid Industries 360 Series lights
The 360 Series is the newest part of the Rigid lineup. With what feels like an endless amount of offerings in lighting, it can be hard for new products to stand apart from the crowd, but Rigid’s new line of 360 Series lights does exactly that.
Featuring the build quality rigid is known for, all of the options in this line have aluminum housings, convex lenses, removable faceplates, and Rigid’s limited lifetime warranty. The lights are available in both four and six-inch round versions.
The series offers several beam patterns to choose from. Starting with the six-inch, you have the choice of either spot or drive lenses. The four-inch version offers two additional options, including a diffused lens and an SAE-compliant option. What really helps these lamps stand apart is the backlighting feature. Available in four backlit colors – white, amber, blue and red – the lamps are great for color matching with your rig. The lights also offer an option for an amber lens if you would like to forgo the color backlighting. With so many options, the 360 series offer a great looking backlit lighting option for multiple applications.
What’s more, Richie Schatz from Rigid chatted us up on the next product being released. “Next month, Rigid will be launching a line of direct-fit OE fog lights,” he said. “These lamps will feature factory mounting and harnesses to integrate seamlessly into the factory locations.”
Energy Suspension Toyota 4Runner/FJ Cruiser bump stops
It’s always great when a manufacturer brings the newest gear in their lineup to a show. It’s even better when they bring a prototype that’s not on the market yet. That’s what Energy Suspension was showing off at Off-Road Expo this year.
The prototype was a direct-insert bump stop for the FJ and 4Runner platforms. These stops mount directly in the spring to significantly soften the ride when pushing suspension to the extreme. This design offers fairly easy installation with zero modifications and will be priced much lower than a set of hydraulic stops. With a release date set for sometime this year, Energy suspension doesn’t have hard test data available yet, but keep an eye on their website for the latest updates.
Victory 4×4 modular bed rack
Victory 4×4 has long been known for rock-crawling Jeep armor. Recently, they decided to expand their offerings to include the adventure and overland segments. Their latest product, the modular bed rack, is designed to work on any modern truck and offers additional carrying capacity. The structure is made of CNC-cut, 1/8-inch steel coated in a matte black finish.
The whole assembly bolts together and includes the necessary hardware to install it on second and third-gen Tacomas. Victory’s plan is continuing to make adapter plates for easy bolt-on installation for more trucks.
The rack system comes with slotted top and side racks to get you started on mounting points, but the real magic comes from the available accessory mounts – MOLLEE panels, spare tire, traction boards, high-lift jacks, and more. Victory 4×4 also offers a range of adventure mounts for bikes, kayaks, snowboards and rooftop tents to complete the loadout on any trip.
Pittman Outdoors tents
For a long time, Pittman Outdoors has been helping people sleep in their trucks. Their AirBedz system has been the flagship product in the market. Recently, the company started offering a full line of rooftop tents. With both soft and hardtop options, Pittman’s tents mount easily to most roof racks. They include telescoping ladders, high-density foam mattresses, and waterproof and wind-resistant designs.
The soft top series offers a few variants with the ability to sleep up to four people. For me, the real star was the two-person hardtop and its quick setup. Using automatic gas springs, the tents went from closed-up to deployed in about a minute. The quick and easy setup is perfect for short-term stops and day trips. The fully encased hard shell provides maximum protection when it’s time to hit the trail again, reducing the risk of low-hanging branches ruining your evening plans.
Another great piece of gear that Pittman had on display was their rooftop side awning. This quick-deploying shade makes a great addition to the campsite. It also doubles as an easier solution for shade than a traditional pop-up.
Artec Industries Jeep Gladiator product line
Artec Industries made a statement at Off-Road Expo this year with their Jeep Gladiator project vehicle. With the front bumper sitting about eight feet off the ground, showgoers got an up-close look at the company’s latest developments. Starting off on the sides are the prototype version of their sliders. For me, the clean, simple design was a perfect fit for the JT, providing the extra protection without compromising the factory body lines.
With the Jeep practically on its tail, a clear view of the belly pan gave viewers a chance to fully appreciate the construction and coverage offered by this piece. It’s a mix of 1/4-inch aluminum and 3/16-inch zinc-plated steel brackets that offer a boost in protection over stock. They do this while only increasing weight by 10 pounds. Other great features of this pan are the countersunk bolts, eliminating any protrusions to hang up on.
Even with all of the armor getting shown off, Artec’s real jewel, the one-ton swap kit, grabbed everyone’s attention. It offers a simpler design, as well as decreased weight, install time and cost.
The kit is a modular system that you can piece together as needed for your project. Artec claimed a 70-percent reduction in welding during install, cutting down time to between 3-4 hours on average. Artec also has some good news for the non-JT community: This updated kit is coming soon to the JK and JL.
Overall, the Off-Road Expo was a great event. With plenty to see and do, the sprawling venue is a must-visit on the list of off-road events. Tons of manufacturers come happy to show off their latest and greatest. Perhaps best of all, it’s the perfect place to start forming Christmas wishlists and winter project plans!