Every year wanderers from around the world make the climb up to the mountains outside Flagstaff, Arizona for Overland Expo West. The event is a great opportunity to make new friends, get training for your upcoming adventures, or just check out the variety of adventure gear and vehicles available from modest to extravagant. The sheer volume of activity can be overwhelming, even for seasoned attendees, so rather than try to show it all we’ve narrowed it down to a few of our favorites. If you’d like to dig deeper, drop on by Exploring Elements and check out our friend Bryon’s detailed coverage: Overland Gear, Top 50 Trail-Worthy Adventuremobiles, and Top 50 Homes On Wheels.
The all new Tacoma Habitat, by AT Overland Equipment, integrates the proven Nemo Equipment Habitat tent system into a new innovative truck bed topper. The unit utilizes durable and light aluminum construction. The design provides a huge sleeping area, covered standing room in the truck bed area and a covered area behind the vehicle, which is perfect for cooking and generally staying out of the weather.
Probably the nicest GX470 on the planet is up for sale. Sexy “Lexy,” Adventure Driven‘s fully kitted out 2007 Lexus GX470 overland adventuremobile build is a proven vehicle, which is ready to take you wherever you your heart desires. The finest components available have been integrated, and modified, to create a vehicle that is much more than the sum of its parts. While not inexpensive, at the asking price of $78,500, you get what you pay for. The attention to detail, level or refinement and like new appearance of this vehicle are not things you are likely to ever find in a similar rig again.
Hema Maps is the leader in 4wd Touring mapping for Australia, both in the print and digital arenas. They have just released their Hema Explorer App, for both iOS and Android, that covers all of North America. This new app is already a powerful tool for backcountry overland explorers, and will only get more robust as the community of users expands.
A camp chair that’s compact, comfortable, easy to set up, and has no moving parts…is such a thing possible? The Blue Ridge Chair from Blue Ridge Chair Works (not to be confused with Blue Ridge Overland Gear) accomplishes all of these with it’s simple two-piece design. Deployed, the chair is a very comfortable low lounge style seat. When it’s time to go the back and seat halves simply slide apart, then the seat nests into the back for a flat, easy to stow package. Check out this and other innovative gear at Bomber Products »
If you read my review of the Tepui Kukenam XL Ruggedized last year, you might remember my statement that I’m not a fan of roof tents. As I said then I’m still not, but Tepui has again pulled me a little closer to their line of thinking with their prototype hardshell. The new unit addresses two of my three biggest complaints: they’re too tall, and they take up all your roof’s cargo space. This prototype is only six inches tall at it’s tallest point, and features stout Yakima/Thule compatible bars for carrying your kayak or bike up top. Very cool design, I look forward to seeing the full specs on the production model. Tepui Tents »
I’m torn on my number three between something I need, and something I want. Need: Wilco’s stout little hitch-mounted, swing-out tire carrier keeps the twisting forces where the vehicle is best able to handle them: on the hitch. It’s perfect for something like a Forester, where the stress of a full swing-out bumper could destroy the unibody chassis. Want: Tentsile’s line of tri-tipped tree tents and hammocks are absurdly comfortable and not as expensive as one might think. I’ve walked the hills of Chazz’s Butte twice now looking for appropriately placed trees, which is the obvious disadvantage of camping in a treehouse. Wilco Offroad and Tentsile »
One item is was impressed with at Overland Expo this year was the Safe Jack 6 ton bottle jack recovery kit from Bogert Manufacturing. It is a compact safe alternative to the HiLift in many applications.
For the category of “Rig I could retire in” my vote goes to the EarthCruiser EXP. At first glance it looks huge, but at 21 feet 9 inches it is actually 2 inches shorter than an F350 Longbed. The interior features 92 square feet, and every bit of space is well thought out and used efficiently. The EXP model also uses a pop top, keeping the profile low so it fits in a shipping container and has less wind resistance on the highway.
As for vehicles, the “Best of Show” award has to go to the beautifully crafted International Scout built by Anything Scout for Nemo Equipment. The rig was built on a Jeep JK frame and sports a Chevy V8 engine.