American Adventures

Overland Expo West 2021

For what feels like forever, Overland Expo West has been part of the calendar, like a holiday or some event that is just always in May.  It’s just always assumed that it’s going to be there, it’s just a question of which weekend in May.

Then things changed, and May came and went twice without Overland Expo West.  Meanwhile, the folks at Lodestone Events persevered, and thankfully they were able to lock in dates for September 2021 to get the original and longest running Overland Expo back on the calendar.  Coming in hot on the heels of the new Overland Expo Mountain West in Colorado, things were looking good. Mountain West was a great event, and you can check out our coverage of that event HERE.  Yet Mountain West was the first of it’s kind, and West was coming off of a long pause, so the question remained:  How would the OG Expo in Arizona return to form after this long hiatus?

The answer is: Almost like it never left. Folks are clearly ready to get outside, and back into outdoor activities and big events like this.  Overland Expo West is this awesome mixture of so many things that make it enjoyable for so many reasons.  There are the exhibitors, both new and old who bring all kinds of new gear and ideas from all over the world to share with attendees.  There are classes on just about everything from knot tying, to how to get published in this industry.  The camping areas are filled with the vehicles of folks who are actually doing the thing and using their vehicles for travel – and a trip through the campground at any Overland Expo is a great use of your time.  And of course there are the people – which has honestly become my favorite part, because you never know who you’re talking to, and there are some truly awesome folks that come to these events.  It’s good to have Overland Expo West back.

We spent the weekend walking all over the show to find cool new gear and rigs to share with you – here are some of our favorites, in no particular order.

Antigravity Batteries: I have been using Antigravity Batteries for years in motorcycle applications and they’ve proven to be great batteries, so it was exciting to see their product offerings expand into new categories at Overland Expo. Keep an eye out for new power stations, new jump start batteries, and new automotive applications in the coming months.

Deadman Off-Road: The Deadman Earth Anchor has been updated for better functionality and ease of use. These things are incredibly versatile pieces of kit – they can be used as tree savers, buried everything from sand or snow to create a recovery point, and as a work surface if you need to crawl under your truck in the mud.

Antishanty: I originally saw these trailers at SEMA 2019, and I have to say that I was impressed. These are well made all aluminum box trailers that can haul all of the toys and serve as a fully-featured camp trailer.

Garmin: Garmin is continuing to expand their offering of cool gadgets with a wireless switch controller that can be controlled with a Garmin Overlander Device. No running cabling through your firewall? Yes please!

ICON Vehicle Dynamics: This one is big – IVD launched their new IIC and CDEV system at Overland Expo. This is essentially a smart suspension system, that uses a brain called the IIC to measure data from sensors 1000 times a second to determine what the vehicle is doing. It can then send signals to CDEV shocks that can adjust damping in as little as 40 milliseconds. Not only will this system turn your truck into a magic carpet off-road, but if you need to do something like make an evasive move on the highway, this system can spike the damping on each side of the vehicle as needed to help keep the vehicle in control. Fitment currently exists for 2.5 shocks for Tacoma, Tundra, 4Runner, and Jeep JL/JT.

OVRLND Campers: Built in Flagstaff, AZ, OVRLND Campers are awesome campers that come with even better stickers. A few of the guys at OVRLND live out of their campers, and with years of experience on the clock supporting their design, these are well thought out units that don’t cost a second mortgage.

ALP Generators: These propane powered generators were a big hit at the show. No gasoline fumes or fuss, and everyone has propane for camping, so why not have a generator that runs off it as well? Solar only works when the sun is out afterall.

Dometic: This is a company that is continuing to make waves, and their new Dometic GO line of camp kit looks great. Standout products include their new HYD-J11 water jug, matching HYD-WF water faucet, and their super packable electric blankets – the CMP-H1 and CMP-B2. They also had a center console cooler installed on a truck parked in their booth.

iKamper:  Bringing some innovation to the skottle / discada game is iKamper’s Disco. You can hang the disco, use the disco in skottle mode, or pull the burner out and have a propane / isobutane burner to work with.

On X Off-Road: This navigation app is continually getting updated with new features. Two of the latest updates include active wildfires and the much requested addition of folders so you can stay organized and quickly access specific info on the fly.

MAXTRAX: Spotted at the show was MAXTRAX’s new line of recovery kit which features shackles, and kinetic ropes of varying lengths. Of note here is their new fuse shackle, which is a way to plan a known point of failure into a recovery rigging system. You can get all their latest gear through Adventure Imports here in the US

NISMO: Nissan is getting into the performance parts game through NISMO with a line of off-road accessory parts for their XTerra and Frontier platforms. OEM engineering, fit, finish, and compatibility (so things like airbags and crush zones still work.) is always a win in our book.

ARB: Bronco parts are incoming! Expect to see the full ARB treatment including armor, Old Man Emu suspension and a number of other Bronco-specific goodies in the coming months. ARB is also getting into the rack game with more base racks being produced for other applications beyond their current lineup.

Step 22: If you ever have a need for a bag or for some help organizing your gear, Step 22 needs to be on your radar. From their new kitchen kit to organizing toiletries, tools, personal items, recovery gear, clothes, and tech/camera equipment, Step 22 makes bags that are over-built and exceedingly well thought out. And they’re easily the BEST LOOKING storage ecosystem on the market, bar none.

Force Protector Gear: FPG makes some really nice shade systems and other quality gear. Check out our review of their company’s outstanding Shade System HERE. Their booth was popular under the blazing sun, as their shade systems make things considerably cooler than other offerings by actually blocking the radiant heat that most tarps and awnings fail to mitigate.

Pelican: More boxes, in more shapes, and Overland specific styles are the latest from Pelican Cases. New boxes are designed to be left up on a vehicles’ roof or out in the elements, and I really like the custom laser topo work done on a few of these cases for the show.

QuietKat: There were a number of e-bike vendors at Overland Expo this year. Quietkat is the company that partnered with Jeep to create the Jeep e-bike. Their line of bikes runs from hardtails to full suspension setups with trailers for hauling even more kit afield.

Gear Repair: I was stoked to see a booth for gear repair at the show. So often the things that take a piece of outerwear or a favorite bag out of commission are things that can be fixed, and this crew out of Utah was working for tips, which is an awesome price to pay for getting a second lease on life for a loved piece of gear. I hope this continues to be a thing at Overland Expos in the future.

Highroad Adventure Gear: These guys partnered up with the Last US Bag Company to bring some innovative new gear to the show. Their Woodgaiter is a great way to pack and transport firewood, and their Treadpack bag is great for gotreads or recovery gear, and it can be used as a line damper when using a winch.

HD Pan America: I’ll just say that this bike has proven a lot of people wrong with how good it is. This engine cut away was pretty well done too, and eagle-eyed readers will notice some really impressive tech in this mill. We love seeing American companies like Harley-Davidson evolve!

Mosko Moto: Many moons ago, Mosko Moto was just a couple of guys with one product and a few hay bales to make a booth at a long past Overland Expo. Today, they’ve grown into a powerhouse in the motorcycle industry. They make killer luggage and bags, and their foray into riding apparel is looking like a great success. All of their gear is well thought out, and I love their open design process that incorporates rider feedback at every step of the way.

Forest Tool Company: This thing was pretty cool – a true multi tool with a Pulaski, shovel, pick, axe, Mc Cloud and more. The best part about their design is that the harder you swing the more secure the joint gets, which is more than I can say for other attempts at forest multi tools I’ve seen in the past.

Wagan Tech: Is a family owned company that has been selling jump starters, inverters, solar power kit, and other safety products for the last 35 years.  They just launched a line of solar generators / power stations called lithium cubes, and we’ve got one on the way to do a full review on, so stay tuned for that.  Wagan supports the Rebelle Rally, and they happen to be really nice folks too.

Rigd Supply: If you’re in the market for a hitch mounted swing out, check out Rigd Supply. These things are well made, rock solid and silent. They also come packed with useful features and options.

Leitner Designs: Leitner continues to expand their offerings for their Active Cargo Systems with their new 4.8 gallon Shower Pod, and their new medical kits designed to work within the Leitner Gear Pod ecosystem. The new first aid kits are ready to go and come pre-stocked with brightly labeled, top shelf medical supplies from MyMedic. We’ll talk more about this Leitner Designs/MyMedic collab in a future article.

Shiftpod: Spotted here in the wild at the event… the new Shiftpod III features improved ventilation and an integrated carbon fiber frame & hub system making it significantly lighter than the previous iteration. It still has that signature  “Burning Man” look with a true 4-season fabric system that is both heat reflective and insulated with mildew protection and hydrophobic coatings to protect against the elements.

Loki Basecamp Falcon 8: For roughly $135,000 you can have this crazy camper to drop in your full size truck with an 8 foot bed. It’s VERY nice, and it’s also estimated to weigh in around 3,000 pounds, so I’ll let the comment section expand on that.

Equipt Expedition Outfitters: If you know, then you know. If you don’t know, then know that these guys import top shelf stuff from all over the world, and they happen to be outstanding humans too. One of the treats to Overland Expo is always the Equipt party on Saturday night, and this year was awesome as always. On the new gear front, Eezi-Awn now has a 2nd and 3rd gen taco cab rack, and National Luna has some great DC to DC chargers that you can install as a standalone kit, or in one of their awesome battery boxes.

Kokopelli Packraft: I am continually impressed by the way folks use these things to link adventures together. From stringing together obscure routes in the Grand Canyon to big safaris through some of the best canyon country has to offer, these little boats are tough as nails and a real force multiplier on any trip. This new 2 person version is awesome, and can be seen here in “packed up” form leaning against the bow of the fully inflated boat.

Canyon Coolers: Their coolers are killer, and their new drinkware designs are a refreshing serving of something new in a world of powerdercoated clones. Canyon’s new ice sacks are also a great way to keep melted ice out of your food.

Truckhouse: Where do I begin with this one… The truckhouse is a single piece composite camper that’s inspired by the TRD Pro Tacoma, which also happens to be platform it’s riding on. There’s apparently an extensive list of modifications that are done to a TRD Pro Tacoma prior to installing this camper, like stretching the frame and completely replacing the rear axle. I’m willing to bet that this thing is more than 3,000 pounds over the GVWR of a stock 2022 TRD Pro Tacoma, which is 5,600 pounds for reference. The guys that build this thing said they enjoy flipping the bird to the auto industry so it will be interesting to see how this goes to say the least. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Super Pacific: The growing wedge camper game gets yet another new entry, this time from the Pacific Northwest. Competition is good for the consumer, and Super Pacific is bringing some cool functionality to the game with unique features and design choices. Sleeping platforms are cut for Molle, and they can be hung vertically when not in use. The Super Pacific Campers are made in what they call “aircraft style” using a fully riveted design which is incredibly strong. This allows for plenty of internal space to route wiring too.

Ford Bronco: This thing is the business, and I’m going to enjoy watching a few Jeep owners I know over the next few years to see if they get on the blue oval train. Hey Toyota, if you’re reading this, where are you?!

Classes: Overland Expo is so much more than a place to just come oogle the latest shiny widgets, and kick the tires on the latest and greatest vehicles. It’s a great place to learn, and there is an extensive schedule of classes on all kinds of topics from knot tying to MAXTRAX usage, and a million other things. Even when it’s pouring rain there are classes.

Random Overland Expo Stuff: Overland Expo is so many things, and it’s attended by so many different folks from just as many different walks of life. So sometimes you just see stuff that’s photo worthy:

In closing, it’s good to have Overland Expo West back. Whether you are an accomplished around the world traveler, or someone who is just testing the waters with this whole Overland thing, Overland Expo West is always a great time. There’s just a lot of awesome that gathers together for this show, and while there’s always a few things that make you scratch your head at any large show like this, on the whole it’s an awesome event attended by great people. As best as I can tell, the outdoor industry shows no signs of slowing down, so it will be exciting to see what the coming years bring for the Overland Expo event series and the Overland industry as a whole.

Chad de Alva is an FAA approved drone pilot, filmmaker and photographer based out of Flagstaff, Arizona. Born and Raised in Telluride, Colorado, Chad ...
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