Gear Showcase: Communications and Handheld Electronics

Communications equipment and other handheld electronics have come to be central tools in our travels. Whether they keep us together, entertain us, allow us to call for help, or simply stay charged, electronics are part of overlanding. Here’s our picks for overlanding gear worth buying in March 2024.

Midland Radio — T77VP5J Jeep X-Talker Extreme Dual Pack

Gear up for spring and summer adventure with Midland’s T77VP5J Jeep X-TALKER Extreme Dual Pack. Adventurers can rest easy knowing they’ll have reliable, clear communication wherever they are. With the help of two favorite off-road brands- the Jeep brand and Midland, users can build connections through communication. The Official Jeep logo and the vehicle manufacturer’s signature green make these walkie-talkies stand out, bringing enthusiasts’ love to every adventure.  

These walkie-talkies pack a punch with push-to-talk communication that is easy to use. When cell phone service is spotty or non-existent, these make it easy for users to stay in touch as they navigate the trails, spread out around the campground, or explore the great outdoors. This bundle is sure to keep adventurers connected with its extended range, ensuring no message is missed.

With seriously impressive battery life, those relying on staying in touch won’t have to worry about losing power while taking on their adventure. Water resistant, these are a must-have item for any adventure. 

Weather can change, so it is crucial adventurers are in the know so they can make safety a top priority. Because these walkie talkies have NOAA Weather Radio, adventurers can get the latest, most accurate information straight from the National Weather Service. This will give users the time necessary to seek safety and shelter if severe weather is headed their way.

This bundle comes put together in a soft-shell carrying case that makes it easy to keep them together and easy to grab when off grid. Inside, users can find Midland’s favorite accessories that make communication on an adventure that much easier. Accessories in the bundle include a pair of belt clips, rechargeable battery packs, a desktop charger, an AC wall adapter, a micro-USB charger, and two boom microphone headsets.

Make safety a priority while building lasting memories on the trail with the help of Midland’s T77VP5J Jeep X-TALKER Extreme Dual Pack.

MSRP: $134.99

Turtlebox Audio — Gen 2 Portable Speaker

Big sound in a small box. The TurtleBox Audio Gen 2 Portable Speaker offers big sound through a 6″x9″ speaker housed in a case roughly the size of an old-school lunch box. The svelte and weatherproof package weighs in at only about 10 pounds and can put out an impressive 120 decibels of premium sound. The premium amplifier driving the sound is powered by a lithium-ion battery that promises 20 hours or more of playtime. The battery doubles as a portable power pack and can be used to charge your devices through its built-in USB-C output.

The speaker box comes with both a mic input and an aux jack, but you’ll probably choose to pair it with your phone or other electronic gadget through Bluetooth 5.0 with its extended range. The TurtleBox comes with large rubber feet on the bottom and back of the unit for placement flexibility. If that’s not enough stability, the device also comes with stainless steel tie-down anchors that will accept a 1″ anchoring strap. What more could you want in an outdoor speaker?

MSRP: $399.00

GoPro — Hero Black

The new HERO 12 Black is the best camera GoPro has made to date. The Hero takes GoPro’s top-of-class image quality to the next level with new HDR (High Dynamic Range) 5.3K and 4K video, upgraded HyperSmooth 6.0 video stabilization, and a 177° field-of-view with Max Lens Mod 2.0. Other new features include a totally redesigned power management system for improved thermal performance and up to 2x longer runtimes, as well as Bluetooth audio support for wireless headphones to record sound and give remote voice commands. There are also pro-level features like wirelessly synchronizing multiple HERO12s via timecode, advanced color controls, and more. HERO12 wraps all of this into GoPro’s waterproof, ultra-rugged design to make sure you get the shot, no matter the environment.

Starting at $349.99

READ MORE: Gear Showcase: Spring 2024

Garmin — Tread XL Overland Edition

The Tread XL takes all of the great features found in Garmin’s other outdoor units, packs in a ton of off-road specific tools, and puts it in a rugged, weatherproof enclosure, and puts it all behind an enormous 10″ screen. In addition to the normal on-road functions of Garmin’s automotive GPS units, the Tread series of devices feature turn-by-turn trail navigation for unpaved roads and trails using Adventure Roads and Trails map content comprised of OpenStreetMap (OSM) and US Forest Service (USFS) Motor Vehicle Use Maps. Maps also include detailed topography with 3D maps, iOverlander™ points of interest, and Ultimate Public Campgrounds data to find well-established, wild, and dispersed campsites. U.S. public and private landowner information is also provided to aid in go/no-go navigation decisions. Route planning can be done on a smartphone or tablet with Garmin’s companion Tread app that allows access to the same maps, vehicle profiles, and route preferences set on your device.

The Tread XL has a built-in In-Reach device for global satellite communication, two-way text messaging, location sharing, and interactive SOS. The device pairs with a host of other off-road and outdoor-oriented Garmin devices such as their Group Ride Radio, PowerSwitch digital switchbox, and even allows you to track your dogs from your vehicle with the Garmin GPS dog trackers.

MSRP: $1499.99

GoalZero — Nomad 50 Solar Panel

With an explosion of electronics on our expeditions, it gets harder and harder to keep all our devices charged, especially when our vehicle batteries are increasingly called upon to power larger devices like fridges. Solar panels can be a great option for providing power, but they are often bulky and a bit unwieldy. Enter the GoalZero Nomad 50 solar panel. At just 17 x 11.25 x 2.5 inches small while folded, it fits in just about any vehicle, even a motorcycle pannier. Unfold it and connect it to one of Goal Zero’s Yeti Power Stations, a Sherpa Power Bank, or directly to a device with its built-in USB A connection, and you have 50 watts of power at your disposal. If you need more power, multiple units can be daisy-chained together, or you can step up to one of the larger Nomad models offered in 100-watt, 200-watt, and 400-watt varieties.

MSRP: $249.95

Garmin — InReach Mini 2

Travel enough on backroads, and eventually, you’ll find yourself in a situation where you or someone with you needs help. Without a means of calling for help, the situation can easily go from an inconvenience to an emergency. A way of communicating from the trail when cell phones don’t work is a necessity for overland travel. Garmin offers one such option with its InReach line of devices, which allows global two-way messaging through the Iridium satellite network. While there are a large number of InReach devices to choose from, one of our favorites is the InReach Mini 2. It’s exactly what its name implies: a diminutive 2” x 3.90” x 1″ unit that weighs in at just 3.5 oz. It’s easy to store in your vehicle and easy to take with you when you venture out away from camp.

In addition to two-way text messaging and emergency SOS, the Mini 2 also includes a compass, altimeter, InReach weather information, GPS tracking with Garmin’s Tracback feature and a host of mapping options when paired with your smart phone and the corresponding app.

MSRP: $400.00

Jackery — Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station

Sometimes, big adventures need big power. The Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station provides 1002-watt hours of power and up to 1000 watts of continuous power in a respectable 22-pound box. The Explorer packs 8 ports that can be used simultaneously, including two USB-C, two USB, three pure sine wave AC outlets, and one DC car port. The pure sine wave output plays nicely with delicate electronics that often struggle with modified sine wave power. With a surge output capacity of 2000 watts, the Explorer 1000 can be used to power larger appliances. Jonesing for a microwave, electric space heater, or espresso machine on your next trip, this thing can power it. It’ll run a 700-watt microwave for over an hour or a 500-watt coffee maker for an hour and a half. All this power comes wrapped in 94V-0 fire-rating fireproof material, making the Jackery a durable, safe option for mobile power.

MSRP: $999.00 (Currently on sale for $749.25)

READ MORE: How to Find Overland Trails

weBoost —  Drive Reach Overland Cell Signal Booster

There are a lot of options for trail communications – satellite messaging devices, HAM radios, PLBs, and many others. Sometimes, you just want data, though, and a cell phone is still the best and cheapest way to browse the internet or upload that work assignment from the trail. Good cell phone coverage can be tough to come by the further you explore. The weBoost Drive Reach cell signal booster can turn a failing connection into a good one.

The weBoost Overland package is an industry-first cell signal booster designed for off-road and overland use. The booster features an all-terrain omni antenna that can be raised up to 33 cm with the included mast extension for maximum performance or easily folded flat to get the rig in the garage. Teh antenna’s 50 dB of gain works with the amplifier to provide 5G, multicarrier service improvements anywhere a cell signal reaches. WeBoost has measured up to a 32x enhancement of available signal allowing fewer dropped calls, uninterrupted texts and faster available data speeds when you wouldn’t otherwise have reception.

MSRP: $550.00

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