3D Printing and Vehicle Modification

3D Design for a sPOD SourceLT and Universal Mount

The affordability of 3D printing has changed the way I modify my vehicle. Not long ago if some part didn’t exist that fit my need I had to do without. A lot has changed over the years but how did all this lead me to making my own parts? How did I end up making this?

3D printed Quick Fist Mount

Before 2010 manufacturing my own parts wasn’t a reasonable option.

Charles W. Hull invented the stereolithography printer in 1986. In 1987 you could purchase the SLA-1 Original 3D Printer for about $300,000 UDS. The equivalent in 2023 value is just over a million dollars. For the next 20 years 3D printing and rapid prototyping was was out of reach for most people leaving just the traditional manufacturing process.

Between 2004 and 2005 the interest in low cost 3D printers skyrocketed when Dr. Adrian Bowyer, a Senior Lecturer in mechanical engineering at the University of Bath in England, introduced the idea of 3D printers that could self-replicate. The project named RepRap (‘REPlicating RAPid prototyper’) was open source and interest in low cost 3D printing spread worldwide.

Rep Rap Version I: Darwin 3d printer
Rep Rap Version I: Darwin 3d printer
Source: https://reprap.org/wiki/Darwin

Then the 3D Printing landscape changed in 2009. Charles W. Hull’s patent of stereolithography (SLA) and Stratasys’ patent for fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology expired. New DIY kits became available and competition for the new non-commercial user market drove prices for DIY 3D Printer kits even lower.

2010 and Maker Culture

During the early 2010’s, around the time Formlabs Kickstarter campaign for the FORM 1 began, online 3D printing service companies like Shapeways, Sculpteo, i.materialise, 3D Hubs, etc. moved to capitalize on the growing interest of 3D printing and the emerging market of low production number 3D printing. Offering multiple printing materials and the ability to print larger then a typical DIY 3D Printer. For individuals and small companies who didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to invest in a commercial 3D Printer it offers the capability of rapid prototyping without the upfront cost. By 2018 the 3D printing industry was generating more than $7 billion in revenue.

So here I am

It’s in this environment that I found myself looking for a part that didn’t exist. A Quick Fist mount for a Frontrunner roof rack. Having some CAD experience I was fascinated by the prospect of being able to manufacture my own parts so I dived in.

Not without mistakes of course. There’s an expression “fail fast, fail often” and by that measure my first attempts were an astounding success. If you plan on taking the same dive my advice is to literally start small when using online 3D printing services. You pay as much, if not more, for the volume of the object you wish to print than for the materials. Also invest in a precision measuring tools. Just eyeballing it will get expensive fast.

Eventually the incline of the learning curve began to level out. I also found myself in need of another impossible to find part. A relocation kit that worked with the OEM Tacoma backup camera and a custom rear bumper. It took several reprints to get the pitch of the camera correct as well as understanding the tolerances of the materials. Being a relatively small part the experience was worth the cost of the do-overs.

From There to Here by Just Making Stuff

Following is a sampling of the progression of the complexity of the parts I had manufactured. It also highlights a transition into creating parts to address an afterthought to that of being part of the modification from the very start. From filling in a need with a camera relocation mount on a bumper that didn’t have one. To making improvements on something that was satisfactory by cleaning up a solar panel cable pass through for a project that was in progress. To planning the location of a compressor switch and quick disconnect and working the other components in to fit within that design plan.

3D Printer Design of a Toyota Tacoma OEM Backup Camera relocation mount
Toyota Tacoma OEM Backup Camera relocation mount
3D Printer design of the Cascadia 4x4 VSS System / Deutsch connector bracket
Cascadia 4×4 VSS System/Deutsch connector bracket
3D Printer design of the ARB Compressor switch and quick disconnect mount
Tacoma interior ARB Compressor switch and quick disconnect mount
3D Printed mount used to relocating the backup camera to the rear bumper swing arm
Backup camera relocated to the rear bumper swing arm
3D Printed VSS System/Deutsch bracket mounted to the windshield cowl.
VSS System/Deutsch bracket mounted to the windshield cowl
3D Printed ARB Compressor switch and quick disconnect mounted in a Tacoma
ARB Compressor switch and quick disconnect behind the driver’s seat

You need only time to start manufacturing your own parts

3D printing services will vary in costs, materials available, and limitations of the size of the printed object. Online CAD services will vary in the design of the user interface as well as the file formats available for download. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Including their location to take advantage of shipping time and/or currency exchange rates.

My current project is a sPOD SourceLT / universal mount for the engine bay of a Subaru Crosstrek. I don’t own a 3D Printer or CAD software. It, and everything I’ve designed and had manufactured, exists through using some of the services I’ve listed below. The lists are by far not exhaustive but they will help you get started.

sPOD SourceLT / Universal Mount for the Subaru Crosstrek.

3D Printing Services

Browser-based CAD programs

  • Onshape – Mechanical Engineering / Advanced Product Design
  • SelfCAD – 3D Printing / Beginners
  • Sketchup – Architecture / Product Design
  • TinkerCAD – Beginners / Education
  • Vectary – Product / Graphic Design
  • Fusion360 – Advanced Features / Free for non-commercial use.

I’ve used Sculpteo and Shapeways printing services. Both are similar in printing materials available and in price with Sculpteo being less expensive than Shapeways with some materials. Of the browser-based CAD programs I’ve only used Sketchup. Mostly because I’ve used it since Google acquired (and later sold) the original creator @Last Software and all its quirks are familiar to me.

Further Reading

We want your input

We invite you to participate and constructively contribute. Are you using a different online service that’s not listed here that you want to recommend? Let us and the readers know by joining our community.

FULL DISCLOSURE: The products and services mentioned in this article were paid for by the author.

10 Years Gone: Overland Expo, Then and Now

Enjoy the ride as we look back at TEN YEARS of Overland Expo! Lodestone Events has entered the game, and 2019 is shaping up to be even bigger than previous years so please stop by and say hi at the American Adventurist booth at site PS1. We’ll have a cold beer ready for you courtesy of Wanderlust Brewing in Flagstaff, bring your cup!

In 2009 at the Yavapai Fairgrounds in Prescott, Arizona, an ambitious group of like minded travelers gathered for something new. Something called Overland Expo.

Before 2009, roof top tents, 4WD vans, off-road campers, Glamping, Overlanding, all of it was virtually unknown in North America. Yes, some of the gear was around, and car camping was hardly a new thing, but Yakima didn’t sell awnings yet, and Walmart wasn’t dabbling in 12 volt fridge/freezers. It was more of a “you need to know a guy” to get a roof top tent or 12 volt fridge back then.

Overland style gear and builds were quite rare in the mid to late 2000’s, and gathering them all in one place was unheard of. Even more exotic were the tales some of these people told, with many miles traveled by 4WD in Africa, Australia and other distant lands.

Legend says that around 900 people attended that first event along with a handful of pioneering companies: Equipt, Adventure Trailers (AT Overland), Land Rover, Baja Designs, ARB, Viking Offroad, Four Wheel Campers, Ursa Minor, KC Hilites, Autohome USA, Sportsmobile, Overland Journal, Aluminess, and Global Expedition Vehicles. These are the Plank Owners of Overlanding in America as we know it.

Organized and led by Jonathan and Roseann Hanson, that first Overland Expo was the catalyst for the Overland mania that is now mainstream. Today, this event draws top automakers, hundreds of outstanding companies, and tens of thousands of eager enthusiasts.  Few dared to imagine back then that it would have grown to be the largest event of it’s kind in the Western Hemisphere, fueling a global, multi-million dollar Overland Industry.

Mark Twain said ““Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” I think if Mark Twain were here today he would be proud of the community that grew up around Overland Expo.

Photo by Chris Collard.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I still remember their second Overland Expo in 2010 at the Amado Territory Ranch in Arizona like it was yesterday. The entire Overland thing was still in it’s infancy and it was there that I met Jerry from Tembo Tusk, before anyone ever heard of a skottle. It was in Amado that I contracted the Snow Peak virus, a mishap that cost me more than a few dollars in “must have” glamping equipment over the next decade.

I shared midnight tequila with the late Al Walter and company in Amado, remembering favorite Baja trips while Al regaled us with his vast knowledge of obscure places and desert history. It was at Overland Expo that I got to hang out with people like Chris Marzonie, the Baja Taco himself. I had a beer with Scott Brady from Expedition Portal, and partied with the likes of Mario Donovan from Adventure Trailers and Paul May from Equipt before they were Overland Rock Stars.

All the coolest people were there, and it was there that I realized I wasn’t that weird, and I found many others just like me, eager to follow the paths less traveled while exploring the most remote places in the world.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1557774108123-abc7103f-1d6e-3″ include=”9042,9036,9034″][/vc_column][vc_column][vc_column_text]Overland Expo was also my first look at many, many exotic 4WD’s and top-shelf vehicle builds. As a career military guy, “vehicle dependent expeditions” were nothing new to me but this new Overland thing was very, very different. I learned that I could eat well in the field, have hot coffee and cold beer, and above all I didn’t have to sleep on the ground unless I chose to. It was even possible to have a hot shower in camp.

So many things that I loved were blending together in one place: travel, 4WD’s, camping, cooking, training, gear, motorcycles, and the stories these activities produced. The Expo was blurring all the lines and I was all in.[/vc_column_text][vc_masonry_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1557774108130-aa9ac40c-8be1-1″ include=”9098,9097,9095,9062,9094,9096,9054,9056,9092,9068,9067,9065,9066,9064,9063,9061,9046,9041,9045″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]More than just a trade show, the Hanson’s brought in concepts like education, hands-on training, environmental responsibility, community service, and film festivals making the event greater than the sum of it’s parts. Above all, I was fascinated by the quality of people that I met at the Expo, and I left that event personally inspired to become better educated and better traveled. This all came at a time in my life when I was suffering from some combat related survivor’s guilt as well as recovering from my own deployment injuries and really needed “something” to focus my own surplus energy on.

Attending that Overland Expo in Amado inspired me to found American Adventurist, and I started organizing my own Desert and Mountain Rendezvous events that same year.

Thank you Jonathan and Roseann for inspiring us.

[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1557774108155-db63c481-078e-1″ include=”9075,9076,9077″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_media_grid element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1557774108159-9512a648-87f3-10″ include=”9044,9057″][vc_media_grid element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1557774108162-9b88b2d2-e723-3″ include=”9040,9052″][vc_column_text]Fast forward a bit as Overland Expo grew. And grew. The American Adventurist crew attended every year in Mormon Lake and then at Fort Tuthill. When they added Overland Expo East at Taylor Ranch, we expanded too with our first Appalachian Rendezvous in North Carolina. We attended Overland Expo East at the Biltmore and then at the Reeb Ranch. We met thousands of amazing people and became involved in land stewardship and access issues.

I am unaware of any other events that have inspired such a fast growing, diverse, and dedicated following as Overland Expo.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1557774108165-918ed293-5e06-0″ include=”9091,9086,9090″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Looking back now on 10 years of events we have nothing but good memories – Underwater Expo, Snowverland Expo and Mudderland Expo included. For those of you who were there well… if you know, you know!

Challenging weather, the tyrannies of time and distance to travel to these events, in our experience it was all worth it to attend these grand family reunions. The one family reunion that you don’t have to dread going to each year. Where else in the world can you learn so much, see so much, and do so much in one weekend?[/vc_column_text][vc_masonry_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1557774108168-f602e6c7-a740-6″ include=”9058,6362,9069,7070,9060,9050,9051,9070,9049,9052,9059,9055,9043,9054,9085,6597,6578,6589,6566,6560,6562,6559,6543,6508,6492,6479,3790,3762,3767,1679,1676,1677,1650,1699,1688,1638,3855,3854,3840,3838,3848,3835,3825,3817″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]So what did we learn along the way at Overland Expo? Too much to list really, but here’s a few salient points that may be of help to anyone attending for their first time:

  1. The 7P’s aka Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Always be prepared for the wind, the wet, and the cold. Or blazing heat. Or monsoons and mud. There are no guarantees when it comes to weather, and there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear.
  2. Site Selection. Just in case weather happens, select a camp site that provides for good, rapid water runoff and wind-blocking protection if at all possible. Tent and vehicle placement to take advantage of prevailing wind conditions is critical to maintain a stable structure. Arrive early for best results.
  3. Meal Planning. Plan your meals carefully in advance to save time and preparation, you’re going to be on your feet a lot at an Expo and being prepared with easy meal plans pays off.
  4. Be prepared to have FUN. We’ve made so many great friends at Overland Expo, and every year brings a wild bazaar of the latest goods and services sprinkled with happy hours with friends old and new. Bucket list trips and new business partnerships take root here every year.
  5. Bring some walking around money. You don’t know it yet, but there’s something shiny there that you need that you’ve never seen before. Trust us when we say shiny squirrels abound.

[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1557774108218-de3af5f0-cee8-9″ include=”7347,7399,7343″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_masonry_media_grid element_width=”3″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1557774108223-77a3125c-8be6-8″ include=”7440,7439,7437,7433,7428,7429,7423,7418,7420,7397,7391,7372,7353,7349,7340,7335,7345,7997,7954,7580,7456,7333,7426,7443,7377″][vc_column_text]Today, the Hanson’s have handed over the keys, and Overland Expo West 2019 marks the first year with Lodestone Events at the helm. We’re confident that it’s in good hands, and we look forward to seeing what they do to take it to the next level. With well over 10,000 like-minded enthusiasts headed to Overland Expo West, it’s guaranteed to be a show for the record books. Again.

So stop by and have a beer with us at Overland Expo West 2019 courtesy of Wanderlust Brewing in Flagstaff. Grab some swag from us, trade some patches, grab a raffle ticket to win a set of Falken Wildpeak tires at 3pm on Saturday, we’d love to hear your story and how this community of interest impacts YOU.

See you out there!



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Event photos used with the express permission of Overland Expo and Exploring Overland.
Additional photo credits and thank you to: Chris Collard, Chad de Alva, Richard Soohoo, Chris Griggers, Bryon Dorr, Chazz Layne, David Croyle, Bosque Bill, Adventure Trio, Mike Petrucci and Gary Haynes.


Long Term Review: ARB Jack

ARB successor to the Hi-Lift jack

Re-inventing the wheel isn’t an easy task.  Many companies try and try to bring a product to market that completely redefines the standard of a given item, and fail.  So when a company actually comes up with something that brings about considerable increases in user safety, ease of use, maintenance, weight savings, and increased portability over a long-accepted standard you have to spend some time with this new item to see how it really compares to the old standard.  In this case, I’m happy to report that ARB has come up with a worthy successor to the Hi-Lift jack – and they’ve named it after one particularly rugged and dapper looking fellow. Meet JACK.

ARB’s JACK competes with the Hi-Lift jack that has been around for more than 100 years, and in that time the Hi-Lift has become the gold standard recovery item that’s carried on all manner of rigs for good reason.  A Hi-Lift is a very dynamic tool that can be used in a multitude of ways to help solve all kinds of recovery problems.  Unfortunately, many Hi-Lift jacks live their lives exposed to the elements, and the only time these outdoor-dwelling jacks have ever seen lubricant was at the factory. Like any tool that isn’t cared for, a Hi-Lift doesn’t work as well when it’s neglected, and rust build up and/or dry running gear can turn a very capable tool into a boat anchor – and that won’t help you solve a recovery problem

Using a Hi-Lift can be the clutch tool you need to get unstuck, but they’re also tools that can seriously harm you if you fail to respect the forces associated in using one.  A Hi-Lift uses mechanical means to raise and lower a load, and as such has a number of places to pinch, smash, and otherwise impart damage to your body.  In a lowering situation, the lever arm can runaway from the jack operator and turn into a body-smashing runaway arm.  Google “runaway Hi-Lift” if you want to see what I’m talking about.  Yet for all their faults, Hi-Lifts have been getting folks unstuck for decades, because they work well in all kinds of situations.  So ARB’s JACK has to bring some serious advantages to the table to compete with the tool that’s been king for over 100 years.

Regular maintenance and training can mitigate many of the risks associated with using a mechanical jack.  Yet taking these risk factors out of the picture all together is a better solution, which is exactly what JACK does.   JACK uses hydraulic power to raise and lower a load, which means that the steel standard bar, running gear, steel handle, and all the effort required from the operator to use a mechanical jack, are replaced with a lever that requires a fraction of the effort to operate.  To raise a load, simply pump JACK’s lever and watch hydraulic power do all of the work.  When it comes time to lower the load, simply press the red lever to engage one of two circuits; a high speed and low speed depending on how quick you need to lower said load.

Folks who are lightweight will really appreciate how much easier it is to use JACK to raise and lower a load compared to a Hi-Lift jack where the operator is the weight imparted on the lever that causes the Hi-Lift’s running gear to climb or descend the standard bar.  JACK also lets you make much more finite and precise adjustments to load height, as opposed to the Hi-Lift which is limited to the spacing of the holes in the standard bar.  Then there’s the weight and packed size of JACK to consider – JACK may look big and imposing in photographs, but he packs up to a compact 36 inches long and weighs in at 23 pounds which is roughly 7 pounds less than a 48-inch top-shelf Hi-Lift.

When it comes to lifting loads, JACKS’s body has nine notches where you can position the tongue to interface with your load, which leaves the piston stroke for actually lifting the load.  In terms of packed size, a 36-inch Hi-Lift will top out at 22 inches, while JACK can go all the way to 48 inches.  Likewise, a 48 inch Hi-Lift will top out at 34 inches, and the 60-inch Hi-Lift will get you 46 inches.  It’s important to note here that a Hi-Lift can run its entire range (length of standard bar) in one go, while JACK is limited by it’s piston stroke of 21-22 inches.

If you’ve taken a class on advanced Hi-Lift technique, you’re aware that a Hi-Lift can winch, clamp, and spread, which are things that JACK would be unable to do without modification or some ‘solution-engineering’, so be aware that JACK only lifts, it does not provide power in both directions to clamp and spread.

Folks who are well-versed in Hi-Lift will also key-in on the fact that a number of tongue-mounted accessories that work with other recovery devices will also work with JACK.  I need to point out though, that if you try and use such accessories, that you can’t blame me if your improvised solution fails and someone gets hurt.  JACK has eliminated a number of risk factors over a Hi-Lift jack, but the fact that you’re still lifting thousands of pounds from a single point means that significant risks still exist.

Yet, JACK isn’t without fault.  You can still smash a finger on the lever (prevent this by pushing with an open hand, like you’re pushing a wrench), and operationally speaking you’ll find that lowering the running gear on your Hi-Lift is much easier that compressing JACK back to his storage size when you don’t have a few hundred pounds of load to fully compress the piston.  So how do you compress the piston when your load is back on the ground?  Well you make a game out of it – essentially what you need is weight to compress JACK, so stand on the tongue and start balancing while holding down the red lowering lever.  If you’re good, you can get the piston fully compressed without having to dab for balance with your other foot. If your balance isn’t so good, have a friend help stabilize you while you’re JACK-standing.

While you’re balancing on JACK, take a second to appreciate the JACK’s foot, which thanks to a beefy ball joint, is actually EXTREMELY stable.  Yet, the foot can still sink into the ground if you try and lift a heavy enough load on a soft enough surface, so you you may need something to distribute the load further when working on soft surfaces.  ARB does make an off-road base for JACK, so if you’re going to be using JACK in dune sand or soft surfaces this base is a good thing to pick up as well.

Yet compressing JACK’s piston isn’t the biggest piece that needs addressing – it’s the price tag that is going to be the challenge for JACK.  With a quick Google for ARB JACK turning up prices around $775 USD, this isn’t a small purchase – so let’s think about this by considering some alternatives.  On one hand, you can buy a Hi-Lift for a fraction of the cost, and if you take care of your Hi-Lift and learn how to use it, there’s no reason it won’t take care of you.

But, let’s say that you don’t really take care of your Hi-Lift, or maybe you like it, but don’t want to pay for training by an I4WDTA Certified Trainer on how to use it correctly. And then, one day you get to experience a run away Hi-Lift.  Depending on how bad the Hi-Lift gets you, $775 could be a steal compared to what an EMS response would cost you.  But please, don’t think that high quality training or buying JACK makes you invincible – you’re still playing with thousands of pounds of force and working against gravity.

Off road recovery isn’t cheap, and while I’ve never had the privilege of footing such a bill, I do know that it’s easy to spend a four-figure sum, so a three-figure recovery device sounds like a better deal to me if it means you’re going to have said tool with you, instead of leaving your Hi-Lift at home because it’s too big, rattles too much, or destroys your vehicle interior.  JACK does pack up small and rides quietly, and the included bag means it can ride inside any vehicle without trading paint with your interior.  Hopefully, this means you’re more inclined to bring it with you on your adventures.

Even when you’re not in a recovery situation, JACK can prove to be quite handy for work, such as when you’re trying to lift a grooming implement up so that you can hook it up to your Ranger with Tracks, because letting JACK do the work is way better than letting your back do it.  I know this is a random example, but stick with me.  This is something I’ve considered doing with a Hi-Lift for years, but I’ve never felt quite safe doing it.  Yet, JACK is easier to use and stable enough that I feel comfortable using it to lift this implement – and my back is quite happy to not have to make that lift.

I have to hand it to ARB – they’ve succeeded in reinventing the wheel, or the high lifting jack in this case with JACK.  Yes, its going to cost you a pretty penny up front, but you’re getting a safer, easier to use (especially if you’re a smaller or lighter person), easier to transport option for a tool that’s been the standard for a very long time.  As mentioned, JACK can’t winch, or clamp, or spread, but I’d wager that with some clever thinking, a good recovery kit, and a solid understanding of physics, you could employ JACK to do just about anything.  Aside from the limitation of the piston stroke (with is more than enough stroke to lift the vast majority of vehicles that will carry JACK), the ARB JACK can lift higher, pack up smaller, and weighs less than a Hi-Lift.  There’s less maintenance, and cleaning JACK is as easy as wiping it down.  The fact that JACK lives in a case inside your rig means that it’s not going to let you down due to rusting or getting gummed up with dirt and debris, and you’re never going to have to improvise some form of lubricant to get the thing to work.

The upfront purchase price of JACK is definitely something to consider, but in the time that I’ve had JACK, I’ve put it to use many times and found real value added in it’s ease of use and safety factor.  So I can confidently say that JACK pays for itself in short order.

Full Disclosure:  ARB USA provided a JACK on loan for an independent review by American Adventurist.

Overland Expo East 2018

Thanks to American Adventurist, I have now been fortunate enough to attend my third Overland Expo East event.  Surprisingly, each one just happened to be the first at each location: the Taylor Ranch, the Biltmore Estate, and now the Reeb Ranch.  This event has grown beyond belief, I can remember the first Expo East with maybe 20 vendors at Taylor Ranch… fast forward to 2018 with over 154 vendors and it’s easy to see that Overland Expo has already outgrown this beautiful new venue, tucked away within the Blue Ridge Mountains south of Asheville, North Carolina.

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”7339″ img_size=”full”][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769197-841f02f0-fc76-4″ include=”7332,7333,7334″][vc_column_text]If the 2018 event had a theme, it would have been “improvise, adapt and overcome” due to Mother Nature making sure that this would be one of the more memorable Expos on record. Benjamin Franklin said it best – “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. Those who failed to watch the weather prior to the event, and plan accordingly, paid the price at Mudderland Expo.

When the American Adventurist team rolled into Reeb Ranch on Wednesday, we were greeted with beautiful green pastures and blue skies, which was the calm before the storm.  Everyone was soon to be tested with what felt like 30 hours of continuous rain along with freezing temps.  Our American Adventurist team is a well equipped group who’ve been in every climate on earth, so a little precipitation and chilly weather wasn’t going to dampen our spirits.  Despite the inclement weather, we felt fortunate to be able to be in North Carolina to share our passion for vehicle based adventure travel with thousands of like-minded folks.  Excuse our foggy lens and shaky hands here folks, and enjoy![/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769197-5335d9cc-6a0c-0″ include=”7347,7343,7342,7428,7346,7345,7348,7344,7349,7417,7335,7350″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Now let’s get to what you came here for….The gear…  The rigs… The vendors… The EXPO!



OK 4WD was our neighbor and had one of the biggest vendor sections showing off a nice selection of Alu-Cab products including several models of the Khaya camper and one sweet American Expedition Vehicles RAM 3500 with a tilting bed tray.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769201-65ce29b9-0438-10″ include=”7351,7352,7377″][vc_media_grid element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769202-65981120-51db-5″ include=”7386,7378″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Genesis Offroad

Genesis Offroad had their new Jeep JL dual battery system on display, a very well thought system with high quality components.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769204-a53b9498-d808-9″ include=”7353,7354,7355″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Kinsmen Hardware

A newcomer in the North American awning market is Kinsmen Hardware who teamed up with Blue Ridge Overland Gear.  They had their Rapid Deploy 270°awning along with the Rapid Deploy Camp Shower Stall on display, both very well made with Sunbrella marine fabric and powder coated steel and stainless-steel hardware.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769205-4cb160bd-19ea-4″ include=”7360,7358,7361″][vc_media_grid element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769206-e48275c2-891f-0″ include=”7357,7356″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Sloop Imports

Fresh from their debut at SEMA, Sloop Imports had their Camp King Industries heavy duty and light pickup truck accessories including their 12 Volt Mate Portable Dual Battery System.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769206-fab84e8f-f455-1″ include=”7362,7366,7365″][vc_media_grid element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769206-0dc049b3-30dc-6″ include=”7363,7364″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]


EarthCruiser’s new EXD chassis-mount camper for 1-ton trucks was a sweet home on wheels capable of going off the beaten path. A nice plug and play option for HD truck owners.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”7376″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Black Series Campers

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Overland Experts & ARB

Overland Experts put on a class at the ARB booth on how to replace a valve stem on the trail using their new ARB hydraulic recovery jack. ARB had some seriously nice equipment on display including their new lineup from Old Man Emu.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769210-5f005cfd-c170-2″ include=”7379,7380,7381,7382″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Kenda Tires

Kenda Tires had their full display of tires for everything from bicycles to motorcycles to 4×4’s. They also had their awesome diesel Suzuki Samurai SJ410.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769212-7fd9f6f5-40a1-4″ include=”7383,7385,7384″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Rhino Rack

Rhino Rack had their soon to be released and newly redesigned Pioneer Platform and Backbone System for the new JLs.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769213-67310a0a-7367-7″ include=”7388,7387″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

WARN Industries

WARN was there showing off their black Epic Sidewinder.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769214-30d714ca-0960-3″ include=”7410,7411″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

New 2019 Ford ranger

I had the opportunity to take the new 2019 Ford Ranger for a spin. We’re looking forward to the competition and innovation that this will bring to the mid-sized truck market.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769215-1f20d129-9292-8″ include=”7391,7392,7393″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]


7P Overland’s Mark Farage was on hand instructing recovery classes.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769217-3e66d7b5-97af-4″ include=”7395,7394,7396″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]


And who doesn’t like a Sprinter Van with 37″ mud-terrains? Or an easily mired Earthroamer? Lots of big tires and big budget builds at Overland Expo.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769218-ba5c2e42-1b5f-9″ include=”7415,7429,7431,7448″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]


Goose Gear, Engel Coolers, REDARC Electronics, L.T. Wright Knives… and many more. SO MANY VENDORS TO SEE!!![/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769219-06ba6807-db4a-5″ include=”7418,7421,7419,7422,7425,7426,7423,7439,7430,7436″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Hard Korr Lighting

New on the scene here is Hard Korr Lighting. They’ve been making really cool stuff for the Australian market for years and we were super impressed by the sheer size and scope of their product lineup. We’re a bit jaded when it comes to LED lighting, but we have to say their products are extremely innovative and well made.

Their UNILIGHT wins our BEST NEW PRODUCT AWARD for the show – we’re not posting a picture of it so follow the link to check it out – these are flippin’ amazing! They’re really nice people too so check them out and tell Marty we sent ya![/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”7420″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Veteran’s Day weekend

With this year’s event falling on Veteran’s Day weekend, and the Marine Corps birthday, the American Adventurist crew stood tall to honor our American Veterans.  On Saturday night we put out an all hands call for U.S. Marines past and present to proceed to our booth at 1900 for the reading of the annual birthday message from the Commandant of the Marine Corps followed by the traditional cake cutting ceremony. This birthday celebration has been taking place every year for 242 years, in every clime and place, and we made sure that this was a truly a memorable experience for all who attended.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid element_width=”6″ grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769222-8e3c2a81-88bb-0″ include=”7486,7397″][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769222-74b1fc87-6537-3″ include=”7398,7401,7399″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Meanwhile, out and about in the main camp areas.

You never know what rare and interesting vehicle you’ll find camped out at the show.[/vc_column_text][vc_media_grid grid_id=”vc_gid:1546370769223-fadad3e0-514b-5″ include=”7456,7455,7454,7446,7444,7443,7450,7442,7440,7453,7452,7449,7441,7438,7437″][vc_column_text]For me I have just as much fun if not more walking around these many “regular people” camps surrounding Expo.  Seeing all of the cool rigs and meeting new folks is a major highlight.  Because let’s face it, there are plenty of rigs to drool over, and putting your hands on the hot new products is fun.  But the best reason to attend one of the Overland Expos is the people you meet and the stories and knowledge that are shared.  Next time you are at one of the Expos stop by our booth, say hi, and share a story.  Oh…and don’t forget to ask Dave for your free hug.  Tell him I sent you![/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”7433″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][/vc_row]