THE JOURNEY BEGINS
My name is Bond Gilmer and I’m Irish, but I grew up in South Africa, where I raced Motocross and BMX. I grew up in a country far from most conveniences. And being Africa, everything breaks down. From cars to tractors to motorcycles and chainsaws; even the diesel generator that ran our house. So at an early age I learned to tinker and fix things. I moved to the United States at the age of 16, where my first vehicle was a Jeep CJ7 and so began my involvement with the Jeep brand.
At the age of 20, I worked for a dealership selling Jeeps and Hummer H1s. When I was 22, I moved to Australia and this is when I really got into overlanding. I shipped my modified Jeep, a 1992 YJ to Australia. I converted it from left-hand drive to right-hand drive, got an engineer’s approval for the Jeep to be road-worthy and then headed out to do some serious overlanding. Keep in mind that Australia is roughly the size of the United States and only has 23 million people in the entire country (17 million when I lived there). So, in a country as vast as Australia, traveling from one area to another is an overlanding journey that requires a lot of preparation as there are only small towns scattered through the center of the country and no paved roads; there are only dirt roads and two tracks. Imagine traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago with no cities and no paved roads in between.
I have done plenty of three-week (and up to six-week) overlanding journeys, where I camped in a different location every evening as I crossed the Australian Outback. In an environment that is this harsh and unforgiving, there are many factors that you have to take into account for a successful trip. Setting up your rig correctly is paramount. What to pack for each trip, where each item is located in your rig, and how often you will need to get to those particular items all play into the success of your trip, and go a long way to keeping everyone in your rig happy and wanting to continue. Being able to set up and break camp in a timely and organized fashion and having the correct camping gear for your excursion all lend to having a great time.
THE REBEL IS UNLEASHED
When I lived in Australia, I worked for two different off-road companies that set up Toyotas, Nissans and Mitsubishi vehicles for overland travel. I also saw the need for Jeep accessories in Australia, so I started my own Jeep accessory company, Overland Equipment, and imported American-made Jeep accessories to Australia.
I returned to the States and began Rebel Off Road in 2010 during the recession. There were many obstacles and many more growing pains. Being an unknown company, I had to rely on my expertise and knowledge to set Rebel Off Road apart from the other companies that were already in the industry. I did lots of events like Easter Jeep Safari in Moab and King of the Hammers (KOH) to Jamborees and began traveling across the country for these events, where I would let the quality of the workmanship and the components that I used for the builds speak for themselves.
Our success, first and foremost, stems from our staff. Rebel Off Road is an enthusiasts’ company. Our sales staff is incredibly knowledgeable about components that we offer for sale. Our techs perform high-quality work as they are off-roaders themselves. They know the importance of doing a great job and having the components that they installed work in unison with each other to ensure that the customer has a successful off-road excursion. We also work closely with the top brand manufacturers and make recommendations to each customer on what will work best for their particular application and vehicle use.
While Rebel Off Road is known for its long travel suspension and coilover kits, there are a whole host of new products that are already developed and others still coming. From our XPLOR Bed Rack Systems for the overlander in all of us to our Halo roof racks and bumpers, expect many new products to follow.
For Rebel Off Road, the biggest growth will come from the overland category as this is really where the whole family can get into the outdoors and outdoor travel. Having a rig that is capable of letting the entire family experience this great country’s backroads and trails and lets them explore with the confidence and ease is what will drive the company’s direction.
OVERLANDING AND BEYOND
While overlanding in the USA is not the same as in, let’s say Australia, where the distances one must travel while being totally self-reliant are so very great, America has vast open areas that we have public access to explore. And while you don’t have to carry enough fuel for a week’s worth of driving to cross the vast expanse of desert, the landscape offers its own unique challenges. America is a rugged country full of open areas like deserts, where temperatures soar into the triple digits to the high forests of the Rockies, where snowfall can impede the passage of trails, making them impassable even during the summer months. Then there is terrain that’s in between, and it’s all waiting to be explored. Having a rig that is set up correctly with the right gear is not only the key to whether you and the family will have fun in the outdoors with your vehicle, but also the safety and security of the entire family.
The off-road scene here in the USA is growing in all categories. Desert racing is growing, especially with the TV coverage now available. On the east coast, the Rock Bouncers are hitting it hard and continue to entertain. Rock crawling and rock racing is growing. Just look at KOH and all the Ultra 4 racing which are great examples of this. People in general are enjoying the outdoors with their vehicles more than ever, and the capabilities of these vehicles has never been higher in great part because of the aftermarket parts and accessories that are available. This is USA car culture. We love to customize our vehicles and all of these categories will continue to grow.
What you pack is important and so is how you go about packing the items you have chosen to take. You rig is the place to start. Set it up so that you can have easy access to the item you will use frequently or may need in an emergency. A well put together first aid kit is not only a must, but also needs to be very easily accessible, not buried somewhere in the back of your vehicle. Moreover, items that you will most likely not use, but are needed when the circumstance dictates such as a Hi Lift Jack or a chainsaw could be mounted to a bed rack or roof rack so that they are out of the way.
And since this is overland travel, all larger items need to be secured so as not to come loose and fall off or damage your vehicle (such as bicycles, kayaks, paddleboards, etc.) as well as gas bottles for your stoves. Make sure, and check twice, that these items are secure on or in the vehicle. Remember to check all straps periodically as the tie downs will come loose with off-road travel. I like to check them numerous times a day during fuel stops and bathroom breaks which are a great time to inspect that these items are secure. I also recommend soft cases or duffle bags for clothes as they conform to the limited bed or interior spaces much better than a suitcase. And remember that if you have a wrinkle on your shirt, no one cares!
I have two Jeep Gladiators. Both are set up for overlanding and they each have our XPLOR Bed Rack System. One has our full rack and the other our half height rack. All of the accessories such as Hi Lift Jacks, gas cooking bottles, ax and shovel holder, camping tables and fuel holders are secured to our modular rack system to keep them secure and out of the way of the bed allowing full bed access. Roof top tents are also mounted to the XPLOR bed rack systems. They both have fridge systems on removable mounts for when we are not exploring the outdoors. Both are set up with our Halo Roof Rack and light bars, etc., and they have long distance radios for extended range communications.
The Gladiator is a great platform to start with, and we have solid axles both front and rear with front and rear lockers, and long travel suspension. One is on 40” tires and the other is on 37” tires. Rebel Off Road will be doing overland trips with these vehicles and as you should all know, traveling is always safer with two or more rigs.
Remember that going out and having fun is just part of it. Getting back safely with the family makes it all worth it!