When my wife Julie and I lived in southern Africa for a couple of years, we were privileged to take an extended overland trip through Botswana, South Africa, and Namibia in a 70-Series Toyota Land Cruiser pick-up.
A mythical beast in the United States, the 70-Series has set the standard for tough and reliable trucks for decades the rest of the world over. They make excellent platforms for overlanding. Borrowed from Wild Wheels Safari Rentals, ours had all the bells and whistles - roof tent, two 12 volt refrigerators, two spare wheels, a long range fuel tank, a drawer system, a winch, and tons of camping and recovery gear. Something that stood out among all these accessories and tools was a single brand: Front Runner Outfitters.
From the Slimline roof rack, to the water storage, to the camp chairs, even down to the cutlery and the fun spare tire-mounted BBQ grill (call it a braai, like the South Africans), Front Runner gear matched the ruggedness and the ease of use of the big Toyota. You just knew it was all going to work, and that it was built to last. Safari rental vehicles inevitably see hard use at the hands of many different drivers in harsh conditions (I know we put it through its paces during our time with the truck). So, it's doubly important to be outfitted with equipment you know will endure abuse.
Front Runner Outfitters is a brand synonymous with overlanding. For decades, Front Runner has been outfitting the toughest off-road and adventure vehicles on the planet, and their products have proven their mettle from Greenland to the Australian Outback and beyond. With the grueling African wilderness as a testing ground, Front Runner focuses on a tough love approach to developing everything you need to equip your own adventure - from roof racks to spoons and beyond.
Overlander offers a wide variety of Front Runner products - let's take a look at a handful that I've had first-hand experience with in some seriously tough environments.
We were surprised to find a pair of Front Runner's Expander Chairs in our Land Cruiser's gear stash. Traveling with chairs has always been a difficult task due to their size. Comfort is always the first to go when challenged with an over-packed vehicle. You wont need much room to bring along the Front Runner Expander Chair [$76.00]. This chair is designed with a new space-saving patent pending technology. This innovative technology allows this full-sized chair to compact to 1/16th its size! The Front Runner Expander is easily stored in limited space because it folds down to the size of a laptop case. The Expander is:
Comfortable and extremely portable.
Folds in 3 easy steps.
Does not sink into sand.
Comfortable table height.
Constructed of rugged steel.
The Stratchit [$46.95 for a pair] is one of those forehead-slapping products that is so useful and so simple that it makes you wonder whey you didn't think of it first. A combination bungee cord and ratchet strap, the Stratchit cinches down loads simply and effectively so you don't have to worry about gear rattling loose on bumpy roads.
Adjustable from 22” to 63” and with an additional 8” when fully stretched the Stratchit won’t damage your expensive gear like surfboards through over tightening. It fastens to, and around, just about anything and is perfect for Front Runner Racks and accessories, but work with all roof rack systems. Keep your rack clean and organized with the cinching hook and loop strap that neatly stows away excess strap length.
“So, are you going to have a braai, or what, hey?”
If we had learned anything over many thousands of kilometers of travel around southern Africa it was this: when they arrive in camp, South Africans get very, very serious about their BBQ. Grilling is a religion that borders on fanaticism. Was that a threat?
But the voice calling out from the darkness one campsite over on Namibia's Atlantic coast sounded friendly, and the cold beverage extended my way confirmed it.
“We saved some firewood for you.”
As a South African company, Front Runner also takes the braai very seriously. And their Spare Tire Mount Braai/BBQ Grate proves it [$234.00]. This ingenious, stainless steel cooking grate, stores over your spare wheel and takes up virtually no space. The grate is made from laser cut 3CR12 stainless steel grill secured to aluminum legs and features both grill and griddle sections for campfire cooking option. Carrying the grate on the spare wheel keeps soot and grime out of your truck, and you'll always be prepared for that all important braai.
We've covered the benefits of Front Runner roof racks here on the Notebook in past articles. With their modular construction, high strength and huge range of accessories, they're hard to beat. A Slimline II rack should outlast the life of your vehicle, and Front Runner is always at the forefront of roof rack design for the latest vehicles on the market, like the new Land Rover Defender [$1,685.00].
With a Slimline II roof rack, you are guaranteed a prefect fit on your valuable new ride, and gain extra versatility and storage to complete your overland build. One of my favorite accessories Slimline accessories is the bottle opener [$19.95]. Share a beverage with your friends and fellow campers with the convenience and ease of this sturdy bottle opener that mounts anywhere you need it on your Front Runner Roof Rack. It's probably the most fun tool in their entire lineup.Front Runner Roof Rack Bottle Opener
Questions about Front Runner products? Looking for that perfect fit for a roof rack or a holiday gift that will inspire your favorite overlander to get out there and explore even more? Drop us a line down in the comments, or reach out to Overlander's customer service team - we're here to help!
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