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!

The Detour of the Locked Gated Pinnacles

The group arose to a damp ground with wet tents and vehicles, but partly cloudy skies with breaks of sunlight. The weather this morning was a lot more brisk than the previous nights so the ones who were up early got the fire started to keep warm and dry off the chairs left outside in the rain.

It was definitely a slower morning than the previous nights as well since we had to get the tents dry enough to stow away. We all got breakfast and coffee underway while we stood around the fire to eat and warm up. Once things were dry enough to pack, we were underway at almost noon time.

We decided to do another supply run since we were running short on firewood and others were short on food and other items. We took Jolon Road up to Highway 101 at King City and resupplied at Safeway Market. We then headed north to our next site at Pinnacles National Park via Highway 101 and cut across the north side of the park utilizing La Gloria Road. We were hoping to find some plotted BLM land to camp in so we plowed on the miles to find it off La Gloria Road somewhere.

We entered the park visitor center to gather some data of the area and also pick up some souvenirs. As we were leaving, Brett reconned the area ahead to make sure the road was passable, but he radioed us to say it was another locked gate. The only way to that area was back the way we came, so we double backed to Highway 101 and exited Camphora Gloria Road to La Gloria Road. We zig-zagged up the road hoping the road would lead us to the BLM lands, but we kept running into locked gate after locked gate. We continued to push towards Highway 25 hoping to find an open trail to camp-able land but it was all private lands with more locked gates.

After a surprisingly beautiful drive along La Gloria Rd, the convoy ended up stopping at Highway 25 intersection and debated what the next course of action would be since we were running out of daylight and people were getting tired. Our options would be to give Pinnacles NP a shot, head back to Ft. Hunter-Liggett to the same campground from the night before, or head to Clear Creek Campground in BLM territory further down the road. We opted to check out Pinnacles NP since we were short on time and that would be the first stop anyways along the highway.

The group saddled up and began the short trek to Pinnacles Visitor Center to get some intel on the camp availability and/or the immediate vicinity. Good news was had and the group was told that there was a vast area of open campgrounds tucked away in the furthest corner of the site. We were also ecstatic to hear that they would also be able to fit the 9 rigs, and some. We took that option. Humberto fanned us out and we all picked the corner site as our community area. Deanna and I deployed our ground tent, while Jon set up his rain fly on the Flippac for that just-in-case rain. We all then got the dinner cooking, fire going, and finally were able to relax for the night. With hot showers, running water, flushing toilets, heck and even a pool (although closed), this place was heaven after a mileage pounding day.

It was a beautiful night, partly cloudy but the stars were visible in the clearings so we were optimistic for no rain. I had tired out quickly and fell asleep at the fire. Thankfully I’m among mature adults so luckily nothing happened. I hit the sack early. The guys who stayed up were disrupted by two raccoons who stalked them all night from the next morning’s report. The two trash pandas made their way up a tree and watched them from above until we all went to sleep.

Again, the light pitter patter of rain had awoken us and we were thankful we set up the ground tent and rain fly, even putting the chairs under the awning to keep them dry. Deanna decided to sleep in so I did my usual camera sniper task around the camp.

We had both decided to cut this trip a little short since we wanted to be home for New Year’s Day, so after breakfast, Deanna and I said our farewells to everyone who were continuing on to the planned site of Carrizo Plains. Andy, who also needed to be back this weekend, left as well so we hit the road together. Our route home was Highway 101 via Highway 25 South to Highway 198 West.

We stopped in Paso Robles for lunch. Deanna had chosen a pizza place called Rustic Fire just off the Hwy 101 and Hwy 46. The food was pretty good, along with the beer selection, but a tad pricey. Not bad, so after a coffee break, we hit the road for about 4 hours all the way home into Los Angeles. Once on I-405, we went our separate ways and arrived home safely in times for New Year’s.

Just joining us? Catch up with Part I and Part II of the story.