Perusing the aisles at the Las Vegas trade show, the world’s largest automotive aftermarket-equipment event, reveals an extravaganza of innovative products
SEMA!What is it? Back in 1963 a handful of car guys founded the Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association. In 1967 when Noel Carpenter moved the association’s trade show to Las Vegas, there were 98 product booths. SEMA now stands for Specialty Equipment Market Association, and at the show last November, there were 165,000 displays by 2,400 companies spread out over six halls and acres of outdoor grounds that included three demonstration racetracks — well over 2.5 million square feet full of every product imaginable to make cars, trucks and RVs look cool, go faster and increase their reliability.
Oh, I should mention that the AAPEX trade show was just down the street. AAPEX is the Auto Aftermarket Products Expo with another 2,200 automotive aftermarket manufacturers and suppliers showcasing innovative products, services and technologies.
Together, these two annual shows represent the largest automotive-equipment event in the world, and even though both are closed to the general public, many of the amazing specialty vehicles are on display outside the convention’s halls, and exciting demonstrations of professional “drifting” take place on the enclosed track. If you want a thrill, sign up for a test ride in a Shelby Cobra on the drifting track or check out the lineup of off-road trucks all prepped for the Baja 1000 race that starts in Ensenada, Mexico, a few days later.
As we roamed through the countless aisles of products looking for the newest innovations for RV and truck owners like ourselves, it was sometimes like walking into a herd of migrating wildebeests going the wrong way. Through all the excitement were clear signs of the next technology waves to wash over us.
The first — maybe you’ve heard of it — is IoT, the Internet of Things. Some examples of this were the Craftsman tool chest that can be programed to lock itself as the owner walks away and the DieHard 3-amp battery trickle charger that can be monitored and turned off or on remotely with wireless syncs to a smartphone or tablet. Then there’s the Pearl license-plate camera that takes advantage of wireless technology to transmit multiple adjustable backup views to a dash-mounted smartphone.
The second glimmer of what’s on the horizon for RVers is virtual reality. There were several examples throughout the show, and the possibilities are endless. Never mind skydiving or sitting in the driver’s seat of an off-road race truck from your living room chair, but just imagine looking for a new travel trailer or fifth-wheel and being able to take a full walk-around tour of all the features and options without leaving your home. Hang on. It’s coming!
As the show wound down Friday afternoon, thousands gathered in bleachers and along the parade route as all of the super cars and trucks rumbled out to the SEMA Ignited event across the street, where the vehicles from the show were on display and the professional drift drivers were seeing how many tires they could burn up on the track. Food stands and live bands added to the carnival atmosphere, all open to the public.
Of course, we couldn’t see it all. That would take weeks, but we are guessing that you are not looking for new titanium wheels for your Lamborghini or Ferrari. The equipment and accessories that follow show a selection of fun and functional products we discovered for the RV lifestyle. Right now, my feet hurt. Next year I want to see the show with a virtual reality headset.
I really liked the BedRug BedTred Ultra Bed Liner. The four-piece zipped liner attaches with hook-and-loop fasteners that won’t damage the truck bed. The fade- and UV-resistant ¾-inch-thick foam is like that used in life jackets, so water runs off the surface and out of the bed’s factory drain holes, drying in as little as 20 minutes, according to the company. The liner is tough enough to withstand dents and dings while protecting cargo in the bed. The foldable gap hinge keeps things from falling into the tailgate crack.
BedRug | 615-847-0020 | www.bedrug.com
Most of the trucks at SEMA were adorned with various configurations of LED lights, and one stood out as an interesting candidate for a backup light. Rigid Industries’ D-SS Side Shooter is unique because, in addition to the high output of its main LED panel, it also has side lights that give it 120 degrees of horizontal coverage. Rigid lights are backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
855-760-5337 | www.rigidindustries.com
An alternative to camping coolers, the portable ARB All-Weather Fridge Freezer has a cooling capacity from 0 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, even out in the sun. Features include a code-protected electronic locking system, a weather-protected control panel and a recessed back for power-cable storage. The heavy-duty refrigerator/freezer weighs 70 pounds and is about 17 inches tall, 19 inches wide and 32 inches deep on the outside. Inside, two compartments keep food chilled and organized. The cooler can run on 12-volt DC with a three-stage integrated battery-protection system or it can operate on 120-volt AC power.
ARB | 866-293-9078 | www.arbusa.com
Setting up camp is much easier without having to hold a flashlight, so I was impressed when I saw the Coast FL75R Headlamp demonstration. Featuring an adjustable reflective strap, the headlamp casts an ultra-wide flood beam, a long-reaching spot beam or a fixed red LED light. It uses a lithium-battery pack that can be recharged with a micro USB cable and also runs on standard alkaline batteries. The FL75R is impact- and weather-resistant, and is backed by a lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.
Coast | 800-426-5858 | www.coastportland.com
A clear example of the new wave of technology called IoT, or the Internet of Things, is the 3-amp, 6/12-volt DieHard Smart Charger and Maintainer that allows users to wirelessly charge vehicle batteries from virtually anywhere. With the DieHard app for iOS and Android devices, users can receive notifications of the battery’s status on a smartphone or tablet, and can start or stop the charging process. The trickle charger automatically senses whether batteries are 6- or 12-volt and keeps them 100 percent charged.
Craftsman | www.craftsman.com
On the market since 1996, Plastex Plastic Repair Kits contain a powder and liquid that, when mixed, become plastic that dries and is ready to be painted in an hour. Plastex kits are easy to use, have no mixing ratio and last indefinitely if stored out of direct sunlight and high heat. Every kit contains a reusable molding bar that makes it simple to reproduce broken or missing tabs and parts. The instructional video (included on the kit’s CD) shows various uses for the product.
775-852-4066 | www.plastex.net
Created by former leaders of Apple’s iPod and iPhone teams, Pearl RearVision is a wireless backup camera and alert system that installs in minutes. Dual HD cameras mounted in a license-plate frame deliver super-wide views of what’s behind, with no drilling, wires or professional installation, and transform a smartphone into a rearview monitor. Audible and visual alerts provide warnings when objects and people are in the way. A phone mount is included, and the system updates automatically.
Pearl Automation | 844-877-3275 | www.pearlauto.com
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve used RapidFix products to repair small things while on the road, so I was curious about the newest one, RapidFix Fiber Patch. Fiber Patch is an ultraviolet- or sunlight-activated self-adhesive repair patch. Made of fiberglass-reinforced polyester with strong adhesion properties, it is nonflammable and nontoxic. It sounded too good to be true, so I tried it by drilling a couple of ½-inch holes in an old plastic paint bucket. I followed the directions, set the bucket in the sun, and 20 minutes later, the patch was rock solid. I couldn’t even peel it off with my fingernails. I tried it on a couple of pieces of metal and got the same results.
RapidFix | 231-798-3600 | www.rapidfixuv.com
Whether you travel with bicycles, motorcycles, ATVs or a golf cart, or simply want to air up a flat tire on the side of the road, having an onboard air compressor can be a real advantage. Extreme Outback Products Air Compressors are an engine-mounted, belt-driven option. Kits are available for Ford and Dodge/Ram three-quarter-ton and larger gas V-8 and V-10 trucks built since the 1980s, Chevy half-ton and larger gas V-8s built back to 1973, and all Cummins, Duramax and Power Stroke diesels. Auxiliary tanks for reseating tubeless tires are available and can be mounted anywhere on the frame with convenient outlets for external quick-connect air hoses.
Extreme Outback Products | 866-447-7711 | www.extremeoutback.com
To prevent trailer theft, there is nothing like a visible sign of security. The Bolt Off-Vehicle Coupler Lock secures a trailer when it isn’t hooked up to a tow vehicle. The lock permanently programs to the vehicle’s ignition key for single-key use, no matter how many Bolt locks are being used. Spring-loaded plate tumblers uniquely code the Bolt lock cylinder to that specific key the first time it is inserted. Made of hardened steel, the lock carries a lifetime warranty and works with 17/8-, 2- and 215/16-inch couplers.
Bolt Locks | 844-972-7547 | www.boltlock.com
Equipped with heavy-duty polyurethane cushions, the Convert-A-Ball Cushioned Ball Mount acts as a shock absorber, reducing bounce and vibration on Class IV hitches and helping to protect the drivetrain, hitch assembly and trailer contents from metal-to-metal jerking on the hitch pin, according to the company. The AM-SC series is designed for 2-inch hitch receivers. Rated for up to 10,000 pounds gross towed-vehicle weight and 2,00 0 pounds maximum hitch weight, the mounts are available in a variety of drops and are reversible for use as risers.
Convert-A-Ball | 888-699-0073 | www.convert-a-ball.com
When traveling in an RV, things are bound to spill, and stains just happen. Invisible Glass, known for its glass-cleaning products, teamed up with Mötsenböcker’s Lift Off, known for its water-based biodegradable formulas that are uniquely “stain specific.” I watched in amazement as a bad coffee stain and a splotch of hard-to-clean Kool-Aid on a beige carpet were removed in seconds with the correct formulas. Lift Off is available at retailers and Stoner Car Care in 16-ounce spray bottles and smaller containers.
Mötsenböcker’s Lift Off | 800-227-5538 | www.stonercarcare.com
Fans of Carhartt’s work clothing can outfit their tow vehicles with the new Carhartt Work Truck Cover. Covercraft and Carhartt teamed up to produce truck and SUV covers that are classically styled and similar to the rugged clothing Carhartt produces. The covers protect vehicles from the elements with Rain Defender technology and sport the Carhartt logo on the sides and tailgate.
Covercraft SeatSavers have taken an interesting twist, thanks to wildlife artist Stacie Walker. Walker’s new designs display patterns seen in nature and organic shapes of predators in the wild. Printed on robust 600-denier urethane-coated polyester, the covers are water- and mildew-resistant. SeatSavers are semicustom-fitted for car and truck bucket seats and include headrest and armrest covers when needed.
Covercraft | 800-274-7006 | www.covercraft.com
The new Curt OEM Puck System 5th Wheel Legs for the Nissan Titan XD allow for easier and more secure installation of most of the company’s fifth-wheel hitches. Utilizing the mounting platform built into Titan XD pickups with the towing-prep package, the legs bolt to the hitch head and drop into the pucks using a set of anchors, instantly equipping the truck for fifth-wheel towing. The legs can be installed or removed by turning the handles on the unique quarter-turn anchoring system. The legs have a gross trailer weight capacity of 20,000 pounds but are limited to the lowest-rated towing component.
Curt | 877-287-8634 | www.curtmfg.com
Hellwig Products Big Wig Air Springs were a prominent feature on the Nissan Titan XD diesel overland truck and Lance truck camper setup Hellwig debuted at the SEMA show. The 2,800- pound-rated air springs allow the driver to fine-tune load support and ride quality, and level the load from front to back and side to side. To improve control on the highway and backroads, Hellwig also equipped the Titan XD with its forged, adjustable Big Wig Sway Bar.
800-435-5944 | www.hellwigproducts.com
The Golight Stryker LED searchlight attaches to any flat surface with a portable magnetic mount or a permanent stainless-steel bracket. The 40-watt, 2.8-amp light rotates a full 370 degrees with a 135-degree tilt and operates with a wireless remote or a hardwired dash control to direct its 320,000-candela beam a maximum distance of 3,711 feet. The Stryker LED can be an asset on a dark night, whether looking for the perfect campsite or a lost dog.
Golight | 308-278-3131 | www.golight.com
The Trailer Valet XL is a newly patented trailer A-frame jack designed to move trailers into tight corners — or almost anywhere else — without the help of a truck. The Trailer Valet focuses on maneuverability, convenience and safety. With a hitch-weight capacity of 1,000 pounds for trailers weighing up to 10,000 pounds, the trailer mover has a three-gear system that operates with a hand crank or an 18-volt cordless drill. The steering handle is also an automatic brake system that locks the trailer in place. Its 9-inch pneumatic tires provide good maneuverability, and a patented hitch-ball attachment features a quick release.
Trailer Valet | 626-400-6299 | www.trailervalet.com
The 250-lumen Grote XTL Task Flexible LED Strip attaches with 3M VHB tape and is designed for use in toolboxes, compartments, truck beds and other locations where illumination is needed but power is difficult to source. Suitable for outdoor use, the .04mm-thick light strip is powered by a AA alkaline battery box that runs for more than 60 hours with one set of batteries, according to the company. Available in various lengths, the light is waterproof and resistant to chemicals commonly found around cars, trucks and RVs.
Grote Industries | 800-628-0809 | www.grote.com
The new midship Transfer Flow 50-Gallon Replacement Fuel Tank for the 2016 Nissan Titan XD diesel provides nearly double the fuel capacity and driving range of the Titan’s stock 26-gallon tank. Everything needed, including straps, mounting hardware and illustrated instructions, is included. Installation can be done by the owner, a qualified mechanic or one of Transfer Flow’s 320 authorized installers. Constructed from high-yield 12-gauge aluminized steel, the auxiliary tank is powder-coated with a durable black finish and has a six-year unlimited-mileage warranty.
Transfer Flow | 800-442-0056 | www.transferflow.com
The Hopkins Easy-Pull is claimed to be the first through-hole finger-grip device for common four-flat electrical trailer connectors. Weatherproof and easy to use, even with gloves on, the Easy-Pull looks like a great idea that was way overdue.
Hopkins also showcased its heavy-duty Endurance RV Leveling Kit and Leveler LED Display. The leveling kit contains six plastic ramps that work with wood blocks (not provided) to stop RV tires from rolling out of position. A nonskid traction mat prevents slipping and doubles as a carrying strap. The Leveler display can be used with or without the leveling system. It mounts on the side of the RV and is visible in the rearview mirror. The number and color of lights indicate how many of the Hopkins Leveling System blocks are needed to level the RV.
Hopkins Towing Solutions
Multi Seal Tire Sealant with Kevlar instantly seals tire punctures as big as ½ inch, according to the company. Multi Seal introduced its line of three extreme-performance sealants, including one engineered for RVs that can be used on tires for travel trailers, boat trailers, ATVs, UTVs, dirt bikes and golf carts. The sealants feature super-strong Kevlar fibers to prevent flats and fix slow leaks. A single treatment is claimed to last for the life of the tire.
Multi Seal | 800-577-3353 | www.multiseal.us
With its thin 5/8-inch LED and adjustable angles, the 250-lumen Mychanic Blade Multi Light illuminates small crevices and other hard-to-reach spaces. Providing high, low and emergency-flash modes, the Blade is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and comes with a micro USB AC charging adapter. It folds for compact storage and has a metal hook for hanging and a magnetic base that sticks to metal surfaces.
The Mychanic Jump and Drive Booster Reel protects booster cables and keeps them compact and tangle-free. The retractable storage system holds heavy-duty cables. Available in 4-gauge (20 feet) and 6-gauge (16 feet) sizes with copper-clad aluminum clamps, the cables fit top- and side-post batteries on most vehicles and are rated down to minus-25 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mychanic | www.mychanic.us
The Odyssey Extreme PC1200LMJT Battery is a powerful upgrade for side-by-side UTVs like the Polaris RZR 1000. With its high-capacity starting power, absorbed-glass-mat construction and unique design, the battery is engineered to withstand harsh environments and demanding conditions. Extreme series batteries are vibration-resistant, classified as “non-spillable” by the U.S. Department of Transportation and carry a limited two- to four-year full-replacement warranty.
800-538-3627 | www.odysseybattery.com
For outdoor tasks in cold weather, the Mechanix Wear Original Insulated Winter Glove locks in warmth without sacrificing dexterity. Flexible TouchTec technology on the thumb and index finger lets wearers connect to touch-screen devices without taking off the gloves. A comfortable fleece liner supplies insulation, the water-resistant outer keeps hands dry, and durable synthetic leather covers the palm. A hook-and-loop closure provides a secure fit at the wrists.
800-222-4296 | www.mechanix.com
Permatex Spray Nine Heavy-Duty Cleaner/Degreaser tackles the toughest grease, grime, stains and bacteria. The company says the cleaner will remove carpet stains, ink, insect splatter, and mold and mildew without bleach or corrosive chemicals. Spray Nine’s Triple Threat formula delivers professional-strength cleaning.
Permatex | 877-376-2839 | www.permatex.com
The 3-inch Gen-Y 32K Hitch was developed to meet the demand for a higher-capacity hitch in the powerboat industry as well as for the 2017 Ford Super Duty, which is available with a 3-inch receiver. The 32,000-pound-rated hitch is also available in a 2.5-inch version and comes with a 6-, 9- or 12-inch drop.
574-218-6363 | www.genyhitch.com
Du-Ha’s line of vehicle storage units, toolboxes, and cases for guns and fishing gear is great for pickups, SUVs and even UTVs. The new heavy-duty Du-Ha Squad Box installs easily in the vehicle’s cargo area and features removable trays, retractable handles and a lockable lid. The Squad Box also acts as a legal gun case in many states and can hold four 38-inch-long tactical rifles. The storage boxes come with a lifetime warranty.
Du-Ha | 866-306-3842 | www.du-ha.com
Known as “the can with thousands of uses,” WD-40 Multi-Use Product protects metal from rust and corrosion, displaces moisture, penetrates stuck parts, lubricates, and removes grease, grime and other gunk. For use on vertical surfaces and moving parts like chains and cables, WD-40 Spray & Stay Gel Lubricant is a no-drip, no-mess formula. Spray & Stay is said to provide long-lasting lubrication and prevent rust for up to a year.
WD-40 | www.wd40.com