Lexus GX470 Off-Road Lighting by DENALI Electronics

Lighting is one the most overlooked and frankly, scoffed at elements of a serious overland vehicle build. Honestly, we try not to drive at night when we are in new places or foreign countries. But getting stuck out after dark DOES happen and being prepared for low visibility is much easier with proper lighting. 

Full disclosure, I have been employed by DENALI Electronics for several years and I get an employee discount. With that said, I would still use DENALI even if I were paying full price and I hope you understand why after you see our setup.

GX470 offroad lighting DENALI Electronics

Driving Lights

We had a couple of conditions when picking out forward-facing auxiliary lighting. First, the lights had to be discreet and as subtle as possible. Second, the lights had to be rugged enough to survive hundreds of miles of washboard and rough roads. Lastly, the product had to perform. We didn’t want an entire Christmas tree worth of lights across our roof line if a nice set would perform at the same level. 

DENALI D7 Driving Lights

The DENALI D7 Driving Lights are “face of the sun” bright. With over 15,000 lumens per pair at 1 lux, they are one of the brightest 4.5″ lights available on the market. I wrote up a review of the DENALI D7s here for a more in-depth look. 

The D7s have lived in various locations on the GX and even spent a little time on a previous rig. They have found their forever home in the center of our steel bumper as the lights we turn to when it is really dark and there is no one else on the road. The beam pattern is obviously far-reaching, but is also wide and full. The pictures don’t do it justice, but it is worth a shot.

DENALI D7 + D3 Fog in the Utah Desert

We have had more than a few occasions where we would have been in trouble without our D7s. A  couple of years ago, a surprise thunderstorm in Moab created conditions that were extremely difficult to see in and I am not sure how we would have made it back without all of the extra light. 

DENALI D7 Driving Lights at

DENALI D3 Driving Lights

I will confess, adding the DENALI D3 Driving Lights to our bumper was mostly a cosmetic choice. Not because the D3s aren’t impressive, they are. We simply had too many spaces in the bumper and wanted to make sure it looked good. The D3s have turned out to be one of the light sets that we use the most because it is not as intense as the D7s but it still shines over a thousand feet! 

The D3 is my go-to light when I need to see, but there is a chance that a car could round a corner or that my lights might swing across a tent in a campground. When driving on the interstate at night, the D3 Driving Light with hybrid lens is my choice because it is plenty bright, but it is easier on my eyes than the D7s. Signs reflecting 15,000 lumens can become very distracting. 

DENALI D3 Driving Lights at

Fog Lights

The importance of a great fog light is often overlooked because the majority of OEM fog lights are weak and poorly designed. Most manufacturers aren’t even including fog lights, instead, they are opting for obnoxious and trending daytime running lights in big swooshes and gills in front of the radiator.  I am a fan of a true fog light and DENALI has a great option for just about any vehicle or motorcycle.

DENALI D3 Fog Lights

My favorite light in the DENALI lineup at the time of writing this is the DENALI D3 Fog Light. The D3 Fog is a DOT/SAE-compliant fog light that has an ultra-sharp cutoff and a crazy wide beam pattern. I elected to mount mine with amber lenses because I want to run it as a true fog light for foggy and rainy conditions and as a conspicuity light that is on all the time without blinding other motorists. 

ISOLUX chart showing D3 Fog Light Spread

One of my favorite aspects of how DENALI designs and sells products is that the design team always shares the ISOLUX testing of each product. This allows the consumer to know exactly how a particular light performs and ask for the same chart from other brands for an apples-to-apples comparison. DENALI could simply list raw lumens like everyone else, but it is the little things that set the brand apart. 

As you can see, the D3 Fog is extremely wide (300 feet) and still shines an impressive 450 feet in front of you, which is impressive given the DOT/SAE compliance. The best part of the D3 Fog is the razor-sharp cutoff that allows us to run this light 100% of the time without distracting other drivers. We have had these for over a year without a single flash from another motorist. 

DENALI D3 Fog Light at

Scene & Camp Lighting

Scene lights are one of those things that you don’t want to mess with until you actually need them. For us, our headlamp batteries typically die right after we pull into an extremely dark campsite. Effective scene lighting allows you to setup camp, assess your surroundings, and even deter unwelcome guests. 

DENALI Daytime Running Lights (DRLs)

The Daytime Running Lights from DENALI are one of the most versatile lights in the catalog. The DRLs are slim, easy to mount and draw a tiny amount of power (0.5 amps at full power). The DRL is available in amber, white, or red and can be wired at 50% and 100% brightness. We have two DRLs mounted on the driver’s side and two mounted on the rear of the roof rack. We will likely add a DENALI B6 Brake Light (a DRL with red LEDs) to the center of the roof rack as we often have a bike rack blocking the brake lights. 

The most interesting use for the DRLs is when something brakes on our vehicle and we need to work on it in the dark. Whether trailside or in our apartment parking garage, the DRLs really light up the space and they should because each pod puts out nearly 900 lumens of broad flood light. 


DENALI SoundBomb Horn

The DENALI SoundBomb Airhorn is one of those modifications that you didn’t know you needed until you used it for the first time. It is EXTREMELY LOUD. Clocking in at 120 decibels, the SoundBomb is twice as loud as a standard car horn. The compact design allows it to be mounted in a variety of places on almost any vehicle and the performance is unbelievable. 

Like most overland travelers, we can’t afford to travel year-round and much of our driving is commuting in cities. In traffic, an effective horn can mean the difference between being seen and not. We use our SoundBomb liberally in traffic and it has kept us out of more than a few scrapes. Plus, it’s really fun to honk at the texters in front of you when a light turns green. 

The DENALI SoundBomb Horn at

Four-by-Four Driving by Tom Sheppard May Be the Best Off-Roading Instruction Book Ever Printed

If you’re an adventurer, thrill-seeker, or just someone who loves off-road driving, then Tom Sheppard’s Four by Four Driving is the perfect book for you. Tom dives into the depths of choosing a vehicle, outfitting your vehicle, and most importantly, using your vehicle for expedition travel. The easy-to-use book provides an in-depth guide to off-road driving, offering valuable insights and practical tips for beginners and seasoned drivers alike.

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Replace Your Kawasaki Versys 650 Front Wheel with a Vstrom 1000 19 inch Wheel

The Kawasaki Versys 650 is exactly what the name suggests, a versatile system. My 2008 Versys is at home on curvy roads and is an absolutely splendid sport touring motorcycle. The Versys is not a great off-road adventure bike, mostly due to the 17” front wheel and street tires. It is common knowledge in the Versys community that a Suzuki Vstrom 1000 front wheel will fit on the Versys with a little bit of work. It took a fair amount of scouring the internet and the various pages of information on Advrider and the Kawasaki Versys forums, but the information is not in one place. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about adding a 19” wheel to the Kawasaki Versys 650.

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Skip the Long Lines at Monument Valley and Camp Amongst the Rocks in Valley of the Gods

Just a few minutes north of the famous Forest Gump Point and sacred Navajo lands that make up Monument Valley is a lesser-known area that is as majestic and beautiful as the crowded neighbor to the south. Valley of the Gods is a network of intricate and superb rock features that line San Juan County Road 242 below Cedar Mesa.

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DENALI D7 Driving Light Review | Excellent Design and High Performance Driving Light

We have had our hands on the DENALI D7 Driving Lights for over 6 months and the results are really impressive. Our D7’s have been installed on a couple of our 4×4 trucks and their permanent home is on the steel bumper on our Lexus GX470.


We wrote another article of our first impressions of the D7 that you should read before continuing on. In the past 6 months of use we have explored all of our local trails and even made a trip to Moab, UT with the DENALI D7 lighting the way. Read on for an in depth look at the D7 and hear our opinions on their performance.

DENALI Lights-Top Notch Build Quality

The build quality of the DENALI D7, like every product that we have handled from DENALI, is top notch. The case is tough and sleek looking, while not being obnoxiously designed like a lot of other light brands. We are fans of traveling under the radar when possible, so the discreet branding and simple design is appealing. The D7 optics use seven CREE LED’s placed behind a polycarbonate lens with a rugged rubber gasket to keep the elements out. The D7 is IP67 rated and we can attest that after several submersions, our D7’s are still completely sealed.

Each D7 comes with a proprietary DENALI 3 wire plug at the end of the light and adapters included to wire up your lights if you aren’t using the DENALI harness. We opted to use the DENALI harness and ease of installation and the plugs click in with no drama and 10,000 miles of trouble-free driving.

The most appealing selling factor for us, besides the performance of the light, is the size. At 4.5″ in diameter, the D7 is small and packs a massive punch. The light fits perfectly in our Explore Overland front bumper and is less obvious than a light bar or larger set of lights. As much as we like camping, we often spend time in hotels or AirBnB’s while we travel and having a light that doesn’t scream “Please steal me” is an added benefit.

The D7 comes standard with a clear lens, but DENALI offers a Selective Yellow and Amber lens as well. Swapping the lenses is extremely simple and only requires the removal of 4 small screws on the rear of the casing.


The D7 is Stupid Bright

We have had the opportunity to test the D7 in a variety of conditions including forests in the Ozarks, long highway stretches, and desert runs in Moab. We are a bit blown away each time we flip the switch, these lights are crazy bright. Each D7 cranks out 7,665 lumens per pod and the spot beam pattern reaches over 1,200 feet at 1 lux. In real life conditions, the D7 projects light nearly 2,000 feet in a usable beam.

On our most recent camping trip to Moab, we got caught out in a rain storm and came back to camp to find our tent overturned and water inside. Not only did the D7’s save our bacon on the drive back to camp in a torrential downpour, but also lit up our campsite while we drained water and re-pitched our tent. The amount of usable light is simply amazing. Where we live in rural Oklahoma, most roads are poorly lit at night and the chance of hitting a deer or other animal is pretty high. We use the D7’s as our high beams nearly every day and have noticed many hazards well before they became problems.

The DENALI D7 is a Great Value

I understand that claiming a light kit that costs $700 is a great value will come as a shock to some. If that is you, it’s probably best that you look at the pretty pictures and move on. If you have found that you typically get what you pay for when it comes to gear, keep reading.

At the current price for the D7  light kit ($699.99 USD), the D7 comes in at a cost of $0.04 per lumen. The nearest competitor offering claims 7,500+ lumens at a cost of $1,179 ($0.15 per lumen). The competitor’s offering of similarly performing 7 LED spotlights costs 275% more than the DENALI D7. The decision for us is really easy, the D7 offers superior optics at an affordable price, relative to the alternatives.

There are absolutely a ton of offerings from name-brand lighting companies at cheaper price points for this size of light. However, at the lower price point you lose total lumens, distance at 1 lux, and cheaper build materials. DENALI is extremely straight forward about light performance and even offer ISOLUX charts (like above) for all of their lights. Tracking down light tests for many of the bigger lighting brands is extremely challenging.

We have found that the motto of “buy once, cry once” applies to nearly every gear purchase we make. After using cheaper big name lighting brands and amazon knock-offs, we will only be running quality lighting on our vehicles. Safety is not department that we want to skimp on.

Oztent RX5-30 Second Tent First Impressions

The roof top tent game was not for us, at least not the $1000 roof top tents-the “cheap ones”. We have historically used a backpacking tent more than anything else in our off-road adventures and that worked fine. The backpacking tent is likely the best compromise between setup time, durability, cost, and storage requirements. As we have traveled and met others that camp a lot and are tough on their gear, we have come across an interesting tent and decided to give it a go- the Oztent RX5.

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DENALI D7 Off-Road Lights First Impression Review|1986 Toyota 4Runner

1st Gen 4Runner Off Road Lights

These Lights Are Ridiculously Bright

We had the opportunity to test the DENALI D7 LED Auxiliary light set and spoiler alert, we were blown away by the performance. I (Zach) had heard from friends and coworkers that the D7 was a powerhouse and to watch out for blinding reflective street signs when rounding corners with the lights on. I was a bit skeptical initially, but my first impression of the DENALI D7 confirms all of it!

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Tips for Full-Time Travel

I can’t say when it happened, but somewhere between meeting my now-wife Rachael and when we got married, we decided that full-time travel was right for us. I can’t say what started the conversation or what the final deciding factor was for us to quit our jobs and travel full time. I can, with a fair amount of confidence, give advice about leaving your stable life and embarking on a life of full-time travel. Here are five tips that everyone should see before hitting the road.

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