Overland Expo West

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Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world
~ John Muir

I love the outdoors, exploring new places, hiking to the lake, up the mountain…and I love to hear how others get out into nature and see the world…There is no right way to explore and wander….just as long as you are out there doing it!

I had the pleasure of attending and volunteering at this years Overland Expo in Flagstaff, AZ. To be honest I didn’t know till recently was the term “overland” even meant….but for those who are not cool like me to be an Overlander” is:

Overlanding describes self-reliant adventure travel to remote destinations where the journey is the primary goal. … While expedition is defined as a journey with a purpose, overlanding sees the journey as the purpose.

Jeeps, Jeeps and more Jeeps!!….among a lot of cool gear and camping setups….

This was the 10th year at it was huge!! 14,000 folks camping on site, with an estimate of 20-25k coming though over the 3 days with hundreds of session-hours of classes for 4-wheel-drive and adventure motorcycling, inspirational programs,, roundtable discussions, demonstrations, food, and a large expo featuring over 300 vendors of adventure travel equipment, camping gear, bikes, vehicles, and services. 

For volunteering I got a free 3 day ticket, VIP parking, a free beer a day and meal on the last day….pretty good trade off…and the volunteering was fun! Got to meet a bunch of cool, nice people (both other volunteers and the folks attending). I got to help set up a circus like tent, pick up some trash and walk 12 miles putting up signage and roping off areas in the forest, and help with parking.

I’m not too sure how I fit in the overloading community. When I’m in the outdoors I would rather be on foot hiking, so my journey lies on the hike up the mountain or to the lake, not as much in a Jeep climbing rocks or discovering nature behind the wheel…BUT I agree the journey, either by foot or wheel should be the purpose!

The expo did excite and inspire me…now having a Jeep once again, I will have the ability to get off the beaten path more to hike and camp…so I have some Overlanding in me : ) I just didn’t know what it was called!

Some of the setups at the expo were pretty awesome! See my photo gallery…and the folks attending ranged from solos, the families to weekend adventurers to full timers. Most of the Jeepers were the weekend adventures and folks with bigger setups more the full time travelers. And these setups cost some money!!! Everyone has a tricked out Jeep, truck or 4×4 of some kind, almost all have the rooftop tent setup with many, many accessories, ready for any trouble they might get into out there on the trails and backcountry.

This seems to be an industry, community that is really exploding! When I was helping with parking I was talking to a guy who had a super nice Jeep towing a military type popup camper. He said he bought it bare bones 7 years ago and built his up….he has about $7,000 into it and now he said that buying something new cost $20,000 – $25,000!!! Crazy stuff!!

With the explosion too of the RVing community, I can see more people wanting to get deeper into nature, away from the National Parks, State Parks, and busy roads of the RVers and weekend car campers. And I can get on board with anyone wanting to get out into nature and explore….and do it in a simple and minimalist way!

Some quick observations and cool things I saw

  • Never seen so many people with and selling the rooftop tents….its an Overland staple I think
  • Jeeps are the vehicle of choice by far….Between this event and a Jeep safari in Moab Ive seen hundreds over the last couple months
  • The Overlanders dont see age! Does not matter if you are 10 or 90…If you have the passion and willingness, you are an Overlander

Best things I saw

The Earth Cruisers – see my gallery…there are many similar type of off roads vehicles like this, but after living in Bend for the winter and being down the road from the shop I just love these!

The Rivian truck – right at the front end of the bed, coming out the side is a kitchen setup (cool) plus the truck is 100% electric!!…storage where the engine would be, 0 to 60 in 3 seconds, and 400 miles per change!!

Off Road Teardrops – I have been in love with teardrops for a while now, and the off road, off grid ones takes ir to the next level

Overall I really had a good time, the people at the expo treated me well and inspired / got me excited to get out this summer. Last summer I lived in my old Subaru and car camped a lot….NOW having a Jeep I already have a couple trips planned to get out for a few days without my camper…and have some gear on order!!!

Check out my photo gallery below….Hope it get you excited for the summer!!

Last modified: May 24, 2019

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