We are now 14 years into this Overland Expo thing, and based on the 2023 edition of Overland Expo West, enthusiasm for the event is as strong as ever. The original Overland Expo continues to be a gathering of community where folks from all over the world and all walks of life spend the weekend catching up, checking out the latest gear and vehicles, and attending classes on everything from Drones to Driving techniques.
As is tradition, I logged 10’s of thousands of steps walking around the vendor booths, moseying through the campgrounds, dropping in on classes in both the classrooms and driving area to try and capture a sampling of everything that is Overland Expo. In no particular order, here is a selection of cool stuff from Overland Expo West 2023.
Black Rhino / Axial – Booth engagement is a thing – how do you draw folks walking down the aisle into your booth? I think the Black Rhino crew figured this one out by partnering up with Axial RC to make a RC crawling course where the fastest time won a set of wheels. Scale RC cars are pretty neat, and this sixth scale Axial rig had my attention.
TRED – TRED Outdoors had a some properly burly screw-in stakes and their new line of vehicle leveling products on display. Hit their website for all of the details on their new leveling products which look well made and well thought out.
ARB – The folks at ARB have been busy working on everything from the new 2024 Tacoma to a host of other products for other platforms. The new summit bull bar pictured for the 3rd gen. Tacoma looks brilliant, as do the new Ford Bronco bits like the compressor mount and JACK mount. ARB is expanding their rack offerings with new platform and bed rack options.
74 Weld – Speaking of impressive Toyota parts, 74 Weld had their portal axle kit on display, which makes stuffing 37’s on a 3rd gen taco an easy thing. The kit uses OEM geometry, and provides the gear reduction to maintain factory ratios. Plus, you get disk brakes on all four corners.
LEXUS – It’s always interesting to see which OEMs are going to show up at Overland Expo on a given year, and 2023 marks Lexus’ first appearance at the show. GX / LX Overland builds are verymuch a thing, so it’s always good to see an OEM recognize what their customers are doing.
GMC – AT4X all of the things! GMC is applying the AT4X treatment to all of their truck platforms from the Canyon up to new new Silverado HD. In partnership with AEV, these rigs are turn key with fancy shocks, lockers, and real armor so you can just load them up and go have fun. A detail I appreciate is the ability to remove the steps from the rock rails shown on the Canyon AT4X.
EQUIPT – The Paul May isn’t scared of a little electronics work in the rain, and I happened to catch Paul in the middle of installing a new control board in a National Luna fridge. This retrofit control board adds Bluetooth control to most all National Luna fridges (check with Equipt for your specific model), so NL owners do not have to shell out for a new fridge to take advantage of the company’s latest wares. Equipt also had Eezi-Awns new sword hard shell root tent on display.
AT Overland – The Aterra Truck Topper and Aterra XL Camper we’ve had the opportunity to check out at Desert Rendezvous made it’s official debut at Overland Expo. The Aterra Topper is a particularly appealing option for anyone who is interested in a slide in camper.
GOOSE GEAR – The new Park Series from Goose Gear is a DIY interior system for Subarus and Toyota Rav4s – and it looks just as awesome as any other Goose Gear system. Goose Gear also had their new interior for the Scout Tuktut on display as well.
Dometic – Dometic is continuing to press headlong into the Overland-o-sphere with a new roof top tent and inflatable shelter system. The TRT 140 roof top tent uses air poles instead of aluminum to save a little weight up high on your vehicle and the HUB 2 is the inflatable version of an EZ-UP. Color me interested to see how these new products work.
Overland Kitted – The folks who have been the US importer for MAXTRAX have launched mounting systems for MAXTRAX recovery boards, and other externally mounted accessories (rotopax shown for example). They’ve also got the lastest from InDeFlate – a digital two hose unit.
Kakadu – New to the US market, this established Aussie brand has some great kit on display like their 1P and 2P sleep systems. They were also showing off a very interesting shower system and based on the specs and initial impressions it all looks very good.
Surefire – Piece of the sun in your pocket maker Surefire had a couple of their new Turbo EDC lights on display at Overland Expo. The EDC2 and EDC1 lights are specifically designed to project light to extreme distances and can be powered by 123s or rechargeable 18650 cells.
Kelty – It’s always interesting to see how established outdoor brands approach the overland industry, and Kelty had an appealing selection of gear on display. Their Backroad and Sideroad awnings are great options for affordable, packable shade that work with SUVs, trucks, or vans, and their multi-seat chairs are always a win.
Rollercam – The company that reinvented the cam strap now has a solution for anyone who can’t remember a trucker’s knot, or anyone who likes an easy to use solution for tying stuff down. The Roperoller works just like the Rollercam, and is a game changer for anyone who has struggled to guy something off.
Zero Breeze – A/C for Overlanding is officially a thing. It will be interesting to see how this segment of the market fares in the coming years.
Tembo Tusk – The company known for the Skottle actually started off as a fridge slide company, and their latest product is a tilting fridge slide. As always, the Tembo Tusk crew were throwing down on their Skottles all weekend serving up all sorts of food.
Total Chaos – If you’ve heard about how some older Toyotas had issues with their lower ball joints suffering a rapid unscheduled disassembly – here’s your fix.
Arctic Trucks – The legendary Icelandic manufacture of vehicles that have driven to both poles of the planet is now established in the United States. Having watched videos of these trucks in action for so many years, it was a treat to see one in person and nerd out with the folks from Arctic Trucks USA.
RUX – Bags are a dime a dozen – everyone makes them, so how do you stand out? You make bags like Rux. This Canadian manufacture uses RF welding to build some extremely well thought out bags that are absolutely worth checking out if you like well made, highly functional, durable gear.
Polaris – UTVs are officially overland vehicles. Polaris’ new line of Side-by-Side / UTVs have all the farkles, enclosed cabs, heat, A/C, and a price tag that makes some mid-sized trucks look like a deal.
Step 22 Gear – Step 22 gets a crisp high five for making custom laser etched patch labels which work great on all of their awesome bags or any other place you need a label. Their bags and mounting panels like the Reef shown here continue to impress with their design and attention to detail.
Deep Cycle Systems – Another example of more awesome from Aussieland are DCS batteries. Featuring shapes and sizes that can fit in the voids left in many vehicles and high charge / discharge ratings, these batteries look awesome.
2024 Tacoma – Toyota pulled the cover off of the all new 4th generation Tacoma at Overland Expo. Two models were on display – a PreRunner which initially had a gigantic snow plow of an air dam that mysteriously disappeared shortly after the launch, and the Trailhunter which is directly targeted at the overland crowd. Let us know in the comments what you think about the new Taco!
Classes – Overland Expo has classes on everything: From the expected offerings like driving, spotting, and recovery, to more wildcat offerings, there hundreds of hours of courses availible so the challenge becomes picking the courses that interest you the most.
Cool Rigs – It’s always a treat to get to take a walk through the campgrounds at Overland Expo. Here you’ll find a spectrum of setups as unique as the people that use them. To a person, everyone I chatted up about their camping setup was more than happy to talk to me and generally stoked to be out actually using their gear. It just goes to show – it doesn’t matter what you drive or where you sleep, but that you’re out there actually doing the the thing.
THE BIG PICTURE – Early in 2023, Lodestone Events announced that they had been acquired by Emerald Expositions – the company that puts on industry trade shows like Outdoor Retailer. Yet from a boots on the ground perspective, not much has changed. Overland Expo continues to be run by the same small crew of passionate folks, and many of the familiar faces can been seen making the event run. Time will tell how this new owner changes the heading of their latest acquisition. Despite some classic Flagstaff spring weather (it rained hard on Friday), the show saw plenty of attendees, and the venue seemed to be mostly full of vendors.
Speaking of vendors, most all of the familiar brands were there, and while there is a trend of new names continuing to sell the same Chineseium with their stickers on it (recovery gear and roof top tent cloners I’m looking at you.) there continues to be cool and new things coming market – you just have to seek out the quality kit. One thing that hasn’t changed is that there is no shortage of cool stuff on display. If you attended OXW 2023, let us know about your experience in the comments!