A few years back what was supposed to be a fun day of sledding to ring in the new year turned into a 24 hour long ordeal which led me to building a “go anywhere, do anything” rolling go-bag. Read the story here.
WHAT WE STARTED WITH
In April of 2018 I purchased a 2016 JEEP Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon with no intention of building her to the extent that we did.
The first thing I did was take the kids up a local trail with some larger rocks and ruts and asked them if they thought we’d ever get stuck again, the answer was a resounding “NO!”. And then to make sure they were totally comfortable with the rig I had them name her. We ended up on “Kate” so thus began the story of “Kate the Jeep”.
Overlanding was always something I was really interested in as a good friend of mine at work had built several offroad capable rigs one of which was fully outfitted for long excursions into the land. He’d invite me out and while I’d be busy pulling out my cooler and unpacking my bin of items, his stuff conveniently packed out from select spaces in and around his vehicle. That was a level of organization and attention to detail I had yet to achieve.
So when the idea of attending Overland West was mentioned by my brother-in-law, Chris, I jumped on it. I drove out and was lucky enough to have had two other friends who already lived the lifestyle save me a camp spot. Walking around the event I was floored by the demographic of 35-50 year olds with a passion for all things offroad and camping. The spark was lit and I started approaching companies regarding the build-out of the rig. Thanks to Luke over at RIGd supply we were able to get KC Hilites as our first partner with ICON following behind at the event and Goose-Gear expressing a strong interest as well.
I decided it was time to talk to the company I work for, 5.11 Tactical, and explain to them how I just came from an event where everyone was wearing our gear or using our bags. In addition a majority of the rigs at the event had molle systems integrated into their builds whether it was behind the seats, in the rear cargo area or outside of the vehicle and an assortment of random pouches installed on them. To me it was a clear bridge between our core consumer who spends his time being ready for the eventualities of his job and our aspirational consumer who though may not serve or is a former service-member still wants to be ready for any eventuality. So I spoke to the CEO and CMO and they both saw the value and the obvious connection and endorsed the build with one catch, no budget would be allocated aside from very limited support in terms of the support of existing company relationships and marketing PR support. So it was make or break and everything rested on my shoulders.
I created a full proposal of what I believed I could deliver in terms of both events and media. I connected with my friend Alex with whom I had done some video installation guides in the past and brought our old format back to life for this endeavor. I polished off the render and came up with this…
The render and ROI package gained momentum within the industry. Slowly but surely some of the best companies in the offroad and overland industry came aboard the project. Some moved by my reasons for starting the project (the whole thing about getting stuck a few years back in the other car) others the affiliation with 5.11 and some just liked the video installation guide format I had presented. Whatever the reason, all of the pieces started to come together to ensure the success of the build. And the sponsor list became truly incredible…
If it wasn’t for these 3 I don’t believe the project would have progressed to where it did within the time it needed to get there. Alex (middle) brought his filming experience to the table while Jon from Castle Fabrication (far right) put years of fabrication know-how to use.
We documented the major pieces of the build and created video installation manuals in an easy to follow and relatable format.
Jon from Castle Fabrication really went the extra mile on the build. Originally introduced to me by my friend, Tony, Jon was at first just excited to be part of a 5.11 affiliated build but quickly became a close friend. A true fabrication shop Jon also understands wiring, is traditionally trained as a mechanic and is generally the guy that other shops send their rigs to to get work done that they don’t specialize in. The amount of hours, hardware and attention Jon put into this rig would be very difficult to attach a number to which is why I consider him our greatest and most valuable partner.