Overland Expo West 2019

Photography Credit: Richard Soohoo took the vast majority of the photos.

Overland Expo West 2019 may have just ended, but here at American Adventurist we’re already looking forward to Overland Expo East 2019 and beyond.  That’s because Overland Expo continues to be an event that raises the bar year by year with more and more awesome people, new gear, and epic vehicles.  The big news of course is that Overland Expo turned ten in 2019, and after nine years of cultivating an outstanding global event, Jonathan and Roseann Hanson have passed the torch over to Lodestone Events

At the time of this writing, feedback has been extremely positive on the new management which is a huge feat in and of itself considering the cult following surrounding this event.

By the numbers, this tenth birthday was by far the biggest Overland Expo event yet with over 22,000 people attending to check out the more than 400 exhibitors, 1,500 adventure vehicles, and 330 classes.  In other words, Overland Expo just continues to grow with no plateau in sight– and things are only looking up from here.  Based on the number of new faces and vendors we saw at this year’s event, there are obviously a great deal of people who are getting the appeal of this car camping overlanding thing that we love so much.

This year, Flagstaff did a great job of showing why the locals say “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes”, and I’m pretty sure someone out there has already started calling OXW19 Snowblowverlandchanceofrainandsomesun Expo.  We’ve had Blowverland Expo and Snowverland Expo, and now we’ve had Just a Little Bit of Everything Expo – but even with the changing weather, the show was still awesome, and thoroughly enjoyed by so many people – so lets dig in to the photos, because we all know no one really reads these articles anywho.

Speaking of photos, BIG thanks to Richard Soohoo for all of the amazing photos here. He worked very hard to help cover everything for you!

The Venue

Fort Tuthill County Fairground was packed full of Overland-Awesome for the event.  Well planned changes in layout from last year provided a larger continuous vendor area, and a nice new skills area which were huge hits with old hands and first-timers alike. There was definitely a more centralized feel to the venue this year.


Overland Expo is the place where you can learn anything that relates to the skills you need to adventure and travel.  With over 450 session-hours of instruction at this year’s event, there was no shortage of expert mentors and new things to be learned.  From classes on obvious topics like first-aid and vehicle recovery to more advanced topics like international fly-and drive-trips and how to not end up in jail at border crossings, Overland Expo assembles some of the best subject matter experts on the planet to teach you what you need to know before you go.


One of my favorite things about Overland Expo are the rigs that come to the event each year.  From Sherps to the Rivian R1T electric truck, to monster military trucks to scramblers and Honda Trail 90’s, there’s something here on two wheels, four wheels, or more than four wheels to blow any enthusiast’s hair back.  OEMs, complete vehicle builders, one-offs and plenty of company vehicles compliment the assortment of awesome DIY rigs on display.  More than once, I’ve found inspiration for one of my vehicles from a vehicle on display at Overland Expo.


There’s so much awesome gear on display at Overland Expo.  From well established names in the industry to small companies just getting started, there are so many cool things to see.  This is where new ideas see the light of day for the first time, and little projects become big sellers.  Here’s just a small sampling of the awesome newness that was on display.

Goose Gear will soon be importing these awesome, German-made 50TEN modules.  We can’t wait to see one of these fully built out with their interior know-how.

The Poolahoop keeps your bog roll exactly where you need it when you’re answering the call.  This isn’t a new product, but we love the display and seeing people’s reactions to a mannequin on a can.  Check out Hinterland Industries to get your own Poolahoop.

Dogs on motos is a thing, and Rex Specs makes a whole line of goggle sizes for your furry, four legged adventure buddy.

Pack rafts are an awesome way to add a new waterborne option to your overland travels.  Hike in and raft out.  Check out Kokopelli Rafts for more.

Warn had a bunch of new gear on display.  From new rigging with their Sidewinder and Hyperlink offerings to new Warn winch covers and bags.

Again in 2019, the #Patchgame continues to be a big part of the Overland scene.  If you didn’t walk away with at least a handful of relevant morale patches or utilitarian gear tags you missed out on an Overland Expo tradition.

Blue Ridge Overland Gear had a new backback on display. This bag works with the same style of packing pouches that the tool bag and first aid kits use. BROG has also updated their pouches to make the contents easier to see. We also spied this fridge cover in the back of their van…

Mosko Moto makes some of the best motorcycle luggage around.  They’re now stepping into the apparel market and I have to say that I’m really eager to try their riding gear out.  Cut to fit over armor (versus having it as part of the garment) the Mosko apparel looks and fits great.

There were a number of Ford Rangers at Overland Expo as well as lots of new Jeep Gladiators.  It will be interesting to see how the aftermarket industry adopts these workhorse trucks.  We’re keenly interested to see how they hold up long term when used off road as advertised.

Adventure Imports is a solid company known for bringing Aussie and South African brands like Maxtrax, Indeflate, and MSA 4×4 into the US.  Their display was chock-full of rad new kit ranging from the new Maxtrax Extreme and Maxtrax recovery gear, to MSA’s line of well made outback accessories. Of note are their excellent drop fridge slides and drawer systems which were both very impressive.  The MSA 4×4 drawer system is different than most as it is made from aluminum extrusions which allow for much bigger drawers, which are lockable with interior lighting.  These drawer units have also been crash tested in Australia so they’re built for real world use. Consider us impressed!

Step 22 Gear continues to expand their quality line of recovery gear and soft goods.  Their anchor straps are now offered in several lengths to fit any need and unlike some lesser brands, all their recovery gear is independently tested to failure.  Step 22 also had a number of new bags, packing cells, and backpacks on display that feature all of the small touches and superb attention to detail that you would expect from Step 22.  Did we mention that all their gear is Made in USA?

It’s always awesome to see what new vendors show up each year at Overland Expo, and this year we were pleased to see Flagstaff-based Wet Dreams River Supply at the show. Wet Dreams sells all kinds of top shelf gear to support the Grand Canyon river outfitters that are based in Flagstaff.  From Cook Partner stoves, to custom made “river-rated” Aluminum boxes, their gear has proven to be Grand Canyon rated.

Rivian had their R1T on display at Overland Expo, and it drew quite a crowd. Say what you want, but EVs are coming to the Overland-O-Sphere very soon. Now if only I could afford one…

I’ve had the opportunity to see what a Sherp can do in the field, and they’re every bit as awesome as they appear on YouTube.  It was great to see them at the Overland Expo West 2019.

Exhibitor Awesome

The main exhibitor area was a dizzying bazaar of gear and people.  Words cannot do it justice so enjoy a few more photos from around the sprawling exhibitor areas at Overland Expo West 2019.  You can ask questions in the comment section below if you want to know something in particular!

American Adventurist

We’re grateful that we had an amazing location to interface with our own American Adventurist community members and the greater global adventure travel community.  This year we worked with kickass companies like Prometheus Design Werx, Exploro and Adrift Adventure to host a treasure hunt that sent our followers scrambling on foot across the San Francisco peaks in northern Arizona, and we worked with Falken Tires to host a give-a-way for a set of their tough as nails Wildpeak tires.  

We were also given the opportunity to honor the men and women who wear the cloth of our nation for Armed Forces Day.  We were honored to address members of the Arizona National Guard and all those currently serving at a brief commemorative ceremony at Fort Tuthill.  American Adventurist and Overland Expo also produced free, limited edition Overland Expo West 2019 commemorative decals for active and retired service members.  Freedom is not free – thank you for your service!

In closing, Overland Expo is an experience.  Overland Expo West 2019 was three solid days jam packed full of awesome rigs, gear, and most importantly, cool people.  If you want to learn about this Overland thing, this is where you need to go.  If you want to meet smart people, this is where you need to go.  If you want to check out some new gear and purpose built rigs, this is where you need to go.

Hopefully we’ll see you at Overland Expo EAST, October 11-13, 2019 at Infinity Downs in Arrington, Virginia. With a brand new venue and Lodestone Events in the game, we’re convinced that 2019 will be the best Overland Expo East yet.

American Adventurist would like to extend a sincere thank you to everyone who has worked to make Overland Expo what it is today.  A special shout out to our members, supporters, industry partners, and of course, Overland Expo Directors Emeritus Jonathan and Rosanne Hanson, for making Overland Expo a thing.

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!

Desert Rendezvous 2017

You know you’re in the right place when you find the weathered, hand-carved sign hanging from an ocotillo in the middle of Anza-Borrego State Park.  The sign moves around from time to time, but it always marks the place where each year something happens that is unique to the adventure travel community.  It’s a gathering where old friends can reconnect, and new friends are made.  It’s a place where you can learn the skills you need to be safe in the backcountry, or get inspired about how to build your vehicle.  It’s a place where you and your family can eat world-class food cooked from a Dutch-oven under a canopy of stars.  And it’s the place where everyone comes to help leave the place better than they found it, by picking up thousands of pounds of trash from your public lands.  This is the SoCal Desert Rendezvous – hosted by American Adventurist.


As the sun sets on Friday, folks mosey into camp.  They come in all manner of vehicles, from EarthRoamers to Jeeps to Adventure bikes, driven by folks as unique as the vehicles themselves.  Around a number of campfires, people share good food and conversation – everyone is happy to be outside.

Saturday arrives with a sunrise that has the folks lucky enough to be awake scrambling for their cameras.  For a few minutes the world is painted in bright and brilliant colors, and it’s the perfect way to kick off an exceptional day spent outside.  A couple of hours later, everyone musters for the trash cleanup.

From the air, it looks like dozens of ants wandering around at random across the landscape – yet this is actually an organized process.  Dozens of people cover the ground seeking out trash which is piled up for later collection.  By the time we’re done, we’ve removed a mountain of trash from the landscape for the BLM, but the day is far from over.

Back in camp a couple of members teach a class on wilderness first aid.  They’re both combat-seasoned Navy Corpsmen, and they put on a great class.  Tourniquets, H-bandages, and Sam-Splints are passed out and students learn how to use them.  The instructors talk about mindset and other topics that will help the students become better prepared for what they could run into in the field.  While the adults learn, kids get to play in the dirt and jumps are constructed for RC cars.

With the class concluded, people head back to their camps to start cooking – it’s time for the Dutch-oven competition and pot-luck.  As evening rolls around, tables are lined up and every square inch of surface is covered with dishes for every appetite.  The food is outstanding, and everyone feasts.

The day is capped off with a raffle, and everyone gathers at the main camp to cheer on the folks that win prizes that range from recovery gear to Dutch-ovens.  American Adventurist is fortunate to have the support of a number of great companies that have pitched in to support our community year after year.


Desert Rendezvous is one of three events that American Adventurist puts on each year.  Each event is held in a unique environment and steeped in the region’s local flavor.  Yet all of our community events have the same core values of friends, family, an active outdoor lifestyle, and giving back to the local community.  To learn more about our events, please visit our EVENTS PAGE.

Thank you to Richard SooHoo, David Butters, and Justin Pitcairn (@pitcairnoverland) for contributing photos, and to Dave Bennett for helping with this story.  Thank you to David Butters and Kyle Treptow for stepping up to teach our first aid class.  American Adventurist would like to thank the following companies for their continued support of our events:

Support these companies:
4X4 sPOD
Agenda Trading Company
Amaesing Decals
AT Overland
Baja Designs
Canyon Coolers
Danger Ranger Bear
Energy Suspension
Factor 55
Falken Tire
Front Runner
Goose Gear
Ironworks Tactical
JRs Knives
LT Wright Knives
Mojoe Outfitters
Off the Grid Surplus
Overland Xplorers
Princeton Tec
Prometheus Design Werx
Rancho Suspension
Tembo Tusk
Wilco OffRoad

Overland Expo 2016 West

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.

Bryon Dorr

AT Habitat

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.

Chazz Layne

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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 »

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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 »

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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 »

Cris Mateski

Safe Jack

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.