We Tried a Handful of UST’s Hardy & Affordable Overlanding Gear

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There’s a good chance that you already own a piece of UST gear and don’t even know it. But, that is about to change.

UST has been making survival, camping and outdoor equipment since 1936. The brand is currently re-imagining what UST will be moving forward. Its goal is to inspire and cultivate people’s love of all things outdoors and to create gear that allows everyone to enjoy playing outside.

“The exciting thing about what we’re doing is we’re trying to figure out how to bring the brand beyond the camping accessory space and really explore what this brand can turn into,” said John Holdmeier in UST’s RE:fresh docu-series.

With an eye on fun, functional design, UST is using its 84 years of experience to build reliable, problem-solving gear that inspires everyone to head outside on an adventure.

A few Overland Expo staff members tried some UST gear and had some thoughts.


Freestyle Lightweight Backpacking Sleeping Mat — Eva Rupert


Photo: UST

Photo: UST

As a motorcyclist, storage space on my bike is always at a premium and if I can leave something at home without sacrificing safety, I usually do. That said, there are a couple of things that I never skimp on while adventure riding: coffee and getting a good night’s sleep.

When I packed my new UST sleeping mat, the Freestyle Lightweight Backpacking Sleeping Mat, for an overnight ride, I was a little nervous.

What if it leaks? What if it makes that annoying crinkling noise? What if it’s not comfortable?

Well, after stretching out on the mat, all my worries were laid to rest. The mat fit tidily into my moto kit and I used the stuff sack, which doubles as a pump, to blow it up.

The mat has a super-fun print and the baffle pattern is comfy and quiet to sleep on. Needless to say, this is just the first of many rides I’ll be bringing it on!


Highlander 2-Person Backpacking Tent — Zach Elseman


Photo: UST

Photo: UST

Innovation in the realm of equipment design and manufacture has provided many of us with outdoor experiences that are truly better because of the innovation of a few gear makers.

The Highlander Two-Person Backpacking Tent boasts a creative design that allows for varying configuration and weights depending on the type of adventure you are embarking on.

The included aluminum tent poles can be jettisoned and replaced by trekking poles for a lighter load out when backpacking and more substantial stakes can be added when weight is less of an issue. The less-than-traditional pole layout creates an overwhelming amount of interior space with the ability to sit up and change comfortably.

Although the Highlander lacks twin vestibules like a traditional backpacking tent, the bonus vestibule “cubby” is well-designed and provides access to a hidden vestibule only accessible from the inside of the tent.


Pack-Along Camp Table — Zach Elseman


Photo: UST

Photo: UST

Finding an adequate camp table that doesn’t break the bank and still performs the duties of supporting a laptop or a koozied beer has been a bit of a personal quest for us.

Some tables truly perform as tables and store conveniently in well-designed carry cases, but the price tag is often a bit too rich for my blood.

The UST Camp Table is an excellent balance of portability, usability, and cost effectiveness. With strong aluminum legs capable of supporting up to 30 pounds, the Pack-Along is plenty strong for our needs around camp.

The included carrying case is divided to store the roll-top in one pocket and the legs in another and to prevent rattles. Setup and tear-down is dead simple and this little table has found a home in our go-to camping kit.


Brila 580 Dual Power LED Headlamp — Nick Jaynes


Photo: UST

Photo: UST

“That thing is like a thousand lumens, dude. Point it somewhere else.” My buddy, Josh, said as he winced and ripped his head to his left.

Returning to the campfire after retrieving my jacket from my Jeep, I’d forgotten to switch off the Brila 580 Dual Power LED Headlamp, thereby blinding Josh, as I looked at him.

To be fair, the Brila is not 1,000 lumens. It’s only 580. But, with the ability to focus the beam with the twist of a knob, as I had done, the Brila feels a lot brighter than it is — especially when shone directly into your friend’s eyes. And, let’s be honest, 580 is a ton of lumens anyhow.

This was my first time using a super-bright and focusable headlamp on an overland journey. I am now a convert. Who would have thought that having multiple brightness settings as well as both red and white light outputs would have made such a difference?

I mean, lots of people. But I didn’t.

I’m hooked now. I don’t think I can go back to just a regular, relatively dim headlamp with only two settings, on or off. The Brila has earned a permanent place on my noggin at night around camp.


Header image: UST

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Photo by Brett Willhelm

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