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.


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]