Overland Expo West 2018

Packing All of the Things into the Internet’s Attention Span

Overland Expo West can’t be contained in a single article.  Well, okay, yes, we could make a ten part article with hundreds of awesome photos, but it would be so heavy for your browser that it would take forever and a day to load on all but the fastest of internet connections, and you’d likely get tendonitis in your thumb from scrolling through it on mobile.  So just know that from the thousands of shots we took over the course of Overland Expo, we’ve knocked it down to this more reasonable collection – and it’s still going to take a second to load.

While you’re waiting, use that time to mark your calendar for next year, because if you haven’t been to Overland Expo West, you need to make it happen in 2019.  There is nothing else like it this side of Overland Expo East.  Nowhere else will you find a bigger gathering of vendors, instructors, and this wildly diverse community of interest.  If you need to get gear or outfit your rig, this is the place to see and buy the things you need, or learn what your options are before spending your money.  If you want to learn X skill or how to do this “Overlanding” thing, there are classes taught on everything from the best bugs to eat in Africa to how to fly to Australia and buy a rare vehicle you can’t buy here in the states.  And, if you want to meet like-minded people who run the spectrum from repeat round the world-ers to just getting started; Overland Expo is where you need to go.

Now, stretch out your scrolling fingers and get ready for a pic-splosion.  Sorry not sorry if you’re on a slow connection.

Getting to Overland Expo West

We’ve been attending Expo since Amado in 2009, and this year our American Adventurist staff traveled to West from all points on the map.  We had a guy fly in, other guys came in from the West, and I lead a group of folks in on dirt from the North.  We got to enjoy trails, starry skies and some epic views.

By Thursday afternoon, our team was in Flagstaff, AZ and hard at work getting our booth setup. No, we don’t stay in some hotel in town, we actually camp and live on site during all our events.

For 2018, Overland Expo West had a record number of vendors in attendance selling all manner of adventure travel related gear.  Event attendees had literally miles of aisles to walk to see it all.

Vehicle OEMs, like Jeep and Ram Trucks were on hand to show of their latest and greatest platforms.

KTM and BMW were also at Overland Expo, offering folks who brought their riding gear and motorcycles licenses the opportunity to try out their latest offerings.

Mosko Moto had their new Reckless 10 luggage system and Pico tank bag on display.  I’ve been really enjoying all of their gear that I’ve been using, so if you’re in the market for moto bags, take a look at what what Mosko Moto has to offer.

Always on the lookout for interesting bikes, we spied the new Royal Enfield Himalayan as it made an appearance on Sunday…

Each year, more and more traditional Outdoor Industry brands are crossing over into the Overlanding market and making an appearance at the show.  Nemo Equipment was one of the first companies to cross over and they were on hand again with a handful of their awesome Stargazer chairs. These were constantly occupied by weary visitors seeking a minute of rest.

Colorado-Based Voormi was also at Overland Expo with their 100% USA-made merino wool clothing.  Voormi is a small company, but they’re bringing some great new features to market and setting the bar on what an awesome merino garment can be.

Big Rigs – From awesome American made Acela trucks, to Hallmark Campers, and the even bigger Earthroamer if you like to run your rigs in size XXL. There were an number of new and interesting platforms and complete turnkey solutions on display for the affluent consumer.

#VANLIFE.  Vans were everywhere, in all levels of build from mild to wild.  One thing is for sure, if you’re a new van owner, there are about five-kabillion awesome builds out there to provide inspiration.

The Tire Give-A-Way

American Adventurist has a great relationship with Falken Tire, which means that we’re fortunate enough to be able to give away sets of tires at our Rendezvous events and at Overland Expo.  On Friday evening, we drew a pretty good crowd as we gave away five 35″ Falken A/T3Ws!

Learn Things – Overland Expo has a jam-packed schedule of classes – some of the best instuctors from all over the world come to share their experience and knowledge with attendees on a variety of subjects. Notable instructors from the International 4WD Trainers’ Association and 7P International are present every year and keep things interesting.

Altitude Rack Systems has come up with a really impressive way to mount your roof top tent on your truck.  With the push of a button, you can raise or lower your tent to either keep the tent tucked behind your cab, or up and out of the way if you need to carry something larger in your truck bed.  The guys at ARS even made the entire thing out of stainless steel, so this system has next level rust resistance.

Go Fast Campers had their awesome setups on a number of rigs at Overland Expo.  One of our staff will be getting a GFC soon, so stay tuned for in depth coverage.

If you’re not familiar with Maltec, take a close look here.  These rigs are built in Europe and the attention to detail is next level.  Diesel 200 ‘cruiser?  Yes. Please.

Equipt Expedition Outfitters had the new Eazi-Awn Dart fiberglass hard-shell roof tent at Overland Expo, and it looks great.  Not only does Equipt offer great products, but they make the learning process on how things work quite easy with their great displays, like the example dual battery systems they had on hand that were built with National Luna components.  And because Equipt knows what is important when you’re relaxing in camp, they’ve created a rather clever bar kit for one of their Alu-Boxes.

Black Series Campers was creating quite a buzz at the show with their “US made to Australian-spec” tent and travel trailers.  After over a decade on the market in Australia, we can finally get our hands on these units here in the states.

The guys at AT Overland had their new Summit wedge-style camper on display.  Wedge style campers seem to be becoming quite popular, and AT completely nailed it with their new design. Insulated walls, Euro spec insulated windows, and top-shelf fit and finish define the Summit.

Warn had their clean looking Semi-Hidden 5th gen. 4Runner / 3rd gen Tacoma bumper on display.  This looks to be a solid option for anyone wanting to add protection and a solid winch mounting point to their Toyota.

You may have seen this 4Runner jumping it’s way through a race course in Texas recently.  What some folks may call going full send, Pelfreybilt Offroad calls product testing.  Pelfreybilt makes some great products for Toyotas, and they also use them. Hard.

Sunday Breakfast

Bacon. Eggs. Boerewors. If you’re scratching your head wondering what on earth boerewors is, it’s a South African sausage that guys from Tembo Tusk love to serve during Sunday breakfast.  It’s darn good and goes quite well with bacon and eggs, which the American Adventurist staff brought to Sunday’s all-out skottle cooking session where we went through 28-dozen eggs and 20 pounds of bacon.

Garmin had their new inReach mini for sale at Overland Expo.  This was the first time we’d seen it, and it’s a great weight and space saving addition to Garmin’s inReach line of satellite communicators.

Gone Overlanding Equipment has developed a fire ring that fits around your vehicle’s 29″ – 37.5″  spare tire.  No rocks, no problem – with a spare tire fire ring you can have a contained campfire just about anywhere.

Flatpit had a very well thought out packable firepit on display.  The attention to detail here is impressive.  Individual pouches for each part in the carrying bag and parts that serve multiple roles are just two examples of the utility of this product.

The Poop-a-loop.  The answer to having your bog roll rolling away from you while you’re answering nature’s calling.

ARB USA had a few new products on display, including a new soft shackle, TRED Pros in an ARB specific colorway (we prefer MAXTRAX) and their new ARB Jack which we’d like to do a detailed test and review on when they become available.

Step 22 Gear had a number of great products on display.  All of their gear is American made using top shelf components, and I have to tip my hat to Adam at Step 22 for putting some much needed truth on their product labels.  If you’ve ever noticed how the ratings that really matter on recovery equipment are missing from the products made by some manufactures, you can trust Step 22 Gear to tell you what a given product can really handle. They test ALL of their recovery gear to destruction with an independent test facility.  Buy your recovery gear from a reputable company like Step 22 that independently tests and rates their gear with generous safety factors.

Other Awesome Rigs

One of my favorite things to do at Overland Expo is to talk to people – especially the folks who are holding the keys to some of the awesome, one of a kind rigs that show up at this event.  These rigs are as unique as their owners, and most of them have seen some hard miles.  Take for instance this awesome diesel Toyota Alpha-Cab camper that I first ran into on the Tuesday before Overland Expo at Jacob Lake, AZ.  The couple who owns this rig shipped it over to the US from Europe, started in New York, and is on their way to Deadhorse, Alaska by way of Arizona.  Once they run out of road to drive North on, they’ll point it South and start making their way to South America and Ushuaia.  Cheers to these folks for making adventure happen.

Wrapping it All Up

There’s a lot of awesome at Overland Expo – more than a single person can see during the show, no matter how hard they try or how many miles they walk.  With so many different people from all over the world, Overland Expo is so many different things on so many levels, but that’s exactly what makes it such a cool event.  The staff at American Adventurist had a great show, and we want to say thank you to our partners for their support and our Members who make our Community what it is. You will find no greater group of people to spend a weekend with.  We’ll see you at Overland Expo East in North Carolina this November!

Leki Table XS Lite

When I first saw Leki’s Table XS Lite at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in January of 2017, I was suddenly very interested in the idea of a packable table.  Leki (pronounced Lake-ee) had solved the problem that I’ve always seen folks run into with packable tables:  Things set on soft top tables tip over and spill.  I’m sure that many readers can relate – when a soft top table is in play, it doesn’t take much to cause a spill.  The slightest bump, a breath of wind or other disturbance, or even a second item that causes the soft top table surface to sag can cause things tip over.  Even when you get a soft top table perfectly level, there are no guarantees that things placed on the table will stay upright, and it’s this very reason that’s kept me from owning a packable table.  Yet, the Table XS Lite is different, because it has a hard top. Upon seeing this, I knew I had to get my hands one and put it to the test.

The Table XS Lite falls into the “It’s about time someone made this a thing” category for outdoor gear.  It’s a packable table that you can actually use, because you can set things on it without worry (or a severely reduced degree of worry, you can’t cheat the laws of physics) that said things are going to fall over.

The outdoor industry has keyed in on the genius of a hard top packable table too, as other manufactures who only had soft top packable tables on display at winter market, were sporting new hard top tables at this year’s Summer Market.  Hard top packable tables make sense, and happen to be quite useful.

When set up, the Table XS Lite provides a 24 x 16” tabletop that can hold up to 110 pounds (Editor’s note – No that’s not a typo) of gear.  The surface is stable and instills trust that whatever things you’re about to set on the table aren’t going to fall over as soon as you look away.  Yet, the table weighs in at a mere 1.9 pounds and packs up to measure 16 x 4 x 6 inches, which means you can take it with you on just about any outing.  Toss it in your vehicle when you need a quickly deployable table to go with your chair(s) when making camp for the evening.  Strap it onto your pannier or soft bags on your moto to keep countless tasks off the ground when you’re living off your bike. I’ve even been known to strap it to my backpack, because it’s just that useful.

When the ground is a wet, muddy, or uneven proposition, the Table XS Lite becomes even more valuable.  Spend a minute setting up the Table XS Lite, and now you don’t have to hunt around for a level spot to set your stove.  This also lets you can hydrate meal pouches without worrying about them falling over and spilling your precious calories.  You can simply set your beverage down on the table, and not have to look around you for a flat spot to park your drink.  Cameras, and other electronic devices also really appreciate not being set down in the dust and dirt too.  The Table XS Lite brings real practicality into camp.

Setting up and packing up the Table XS Lite is something that make take a minute the first time around, as there are 14 individual pole sections that you have to fiddle with.  Yet once you’ve used the table a few times you’ll have no problem getting the table out or packed up.  Once you have the frame setup, you snap the tabletop sections into place and it’s here that I ran into my one complaint with the table.  On our example, all of the edges where the plastic table sections snap on to the frame were rather sharp, so careful handling was required when setting up or breaking down the table.  Yet, this wasn’t anything that a few minutes with a deburring tool couldn’t fix when I was home, and I suspect that this is simply a new production issue.


Leki’s Table XS Lite is a great piece of gear, because a hard top packable table is useful in so many different situations.  From keeping drinks and meal pouches upright to keeping cameras and food out of the dust and dirt, the table will quickly become part of your standard load out on so many adventures.  The table has been on countless outings over the last few months and is no worse for wear – the poles still fit snugly together and the table surface snaps into place confidently.

The fact that other brands are launching hard top tables underscores just how brilliant a piece of kit the Table XS Lite is.  Packable soft top tables certainly have their uses, and with drink pockets and careful placement they can do a number of things, but placed next to the Table XS Like, they’re not on the same level.  Bring the Table XS Lite with you on an outing, and you’ll find yourself reaching for it nearly every time you’re packing for an adventure.