Badass builds and major product innovations dominate Overland Expos. But sometimes it’s the lesser-known products that really make a show.
It’s kind of crazy, but I’ve now been to the last eight (of 10) Overland Expo West and all six Overland Expo East events. These are the premier events of the overland community and industry in North America.
I’ve basically seen it all, but I am always in search of new products, vehicles, and stories. At Overland Expo East 2019, I dug deep and tried to find all the little details — the obscure, interesting, and fun details. Here are a few that caught my eye.
Most overland vehicles these days have an awning. It’s a great accessory, providing shade and an open area to congregate out of the weather. The issue with awnings is that they sometimes hang off the vehicle and can easily get caught on trees and rocks, causing damage to the awning, rack, and sometimes vehicle. A solution that works on some vehicles is to have a corner protector that directs tree limbs up and over the awning. Shown here is the integrated awning protector on the Alu-Cab Khaya Camper.
A Holder Is a Holder
The Tembo Tusk Skottle is a fun cook system that basically turns a plow disk into the ultimate overland camp stove. I have one that I’ve cooked on it a good bit and can attest that having a lid for it is super important. The latest twist from Tembo Tusk is a cellphone “popper”-style handle for the Skottle lid. This little pop-up handle saves space, is super lightweight, and just an ingenious little handle solution.
Come on, we all want more horsepower! A great way to get more power, which is many times very needed with heavy overland vehicles, is to add a supercharger. Magnuson Superchargers has been a top manufacturer for decades. It offers superchargers for a wide range of vehicles — including the Tundra, Tacoma, Silverado, and Wrangler — and now offer a unit for the new Jeep Gladiator pickup.
Clean Clothes on the Road
Maintaining clean clothes while on the road less traveled can be a pain. Big, full-featured, European-style overland vehicles tend to come with a solution. Shown here is a tiny electric-powered washing machine concealed in a cabinet inside a big Bliss Mobil overland camper. While it might only wash one pair of pants at a time, you will have clean clothes at camp.
Winter Is Coming
Heat is something many of us yearn for to make those winter overland missions that much more comfortable. OK4WD has created a super fun and useful addition to the Alu-Cab Canopy Camper. It has integrated a Dickenson Heater unit into the rear wall of the camper. This Dickenson unit is usually found on boats. It’s like having a mini fireplace in your camper, mini flames and all.
Everything you bring with you on the road less traveled should have a specific, secure place for transport in/on your overland vehicle. Aluminess makes a wide range of aluminum hardgoods for vans and other overland rigs, but this rear bumper box is what caught my eye. I love the organized, perfectly fit and labeled soft bags in this quality rear storage box. Stay organized — life on the road will be better if you do.
Overland travel generally requires putting in some long hours in your vehicle. The direct interface you and your passengers have with your vehicle is the seats. Comfortable, supportive, adjustable seats are oh so important.
This custom van from Thule is fully outfitted with Scheel-man seats in the front and back. These seats are all the things you want in a long-range driving seat and are so comfortable that they’re great to chill in once at camp.
More Than a Timepiece
My old Garmin fenix 3 HR is looking a bit well-loved, but I do still love it. It’s a versatile tool for human-powered and vehicle-based adventures, and even looks good when you head out on the town.
The new Garmin fenix 6 Sapphire, especially in the orange (I love everything orange) is a sweet piece of kit I might have to acquire soon. Luckily, both allow for custom screen graphics that you can easily design through the Garmin Face It app.
Fun & Games
Many overland travelers take themselves too seriously. Those are the ones I tend not to hang out with. Travelers like Dan Grec of The Road Chose Me are the other side of that coin. They love what they do, love sharing their stories with others, and make fun of themselves on a regular basis.
At Overland Expo East this year, Dan set up a custom Plinko game board and created custom stickers as prizes. A few of these stickers were marked, and those people then got even bigger prizes. I won an “I got malaria” sticker, but nothing more besides a big laugh. Dan got Malaria more than once on his 3-year circumnavigation of Africa by Jeep.
7P Adventure Donut
The 7P Recovery Ring, aka the “adventure donut,” — a nickname I may or may not have created — is a high-quality piece of recovery gear. It’s essentially a pulley for use with synthetic-line-equipped winches during vehicle recovery scenarios. It’s a beautiful, lightweight, durable piece of kit that also happens to have a cool name.
The People Behind the Products
While well-designed, quality products are awesome, what’s even more awesome is the people behind these great products. Here I am pictured with Ashley from Mosko Moto, with Mosko’s latest adventure motorcycle riding gear. If you like to get after it off road on a motorcycle in the wilderness, this new gear is for you. I’ll also wager a bet that Ashley is a much better rider than you are, as I know she could probably ride literal circles around me.
Finding Clearance for Big Tires
People go to extreme lengths to make big tires fit under their vehicles. Many times, this comes at the detriment of the vehicle’s performance, both on and off road. This bolt has been “clearanced” in order to fit 35-inch tires under a 200 Series Toyota Land Cruiser. I hope they never need to remove the nut!
Keeping accessories on your adventure rig as clean and integrated into your vehicle as possible usually provides the best functionality, but not necessarily the extra bling many are looking for. Sarek Autowerke did an amazing job of integrating a big classic WARN M8274 winch behind and into the front bumper/grille of this Range Rover. This had to be no easy task but came out super nice.
There are lots of great quotes out there about travel and adventure that the overland community takes to heart. I love this quote: “Adventure is the respectful pursuit of trouble.” It sums up a lot about this community. Many think of themselves as a bit rebellious, but most also immensely respect the communities and places they travel through.
Subtle isn’t something you think of that often when you imagine an overland vehicle. But that’s starting to change as many try to create quality, tasteful builds that shine based on their functionality and purposefulness rather than the amount of stuff bolted to them.
This subtle “GXOR” graphic is under the wrap on the Lexus GXOR GX460 concept truck that debuted at FJ Summit this year. The truck made it to Overland Expo East and is named after the Facebook Lexus GX enthusiast group of the same name.
Not So Subtle
Some people like to go over the top with graphics, accessories, and lighting. This 4Runner is a prime example of a theme taken to the max. I’m pretty sure this owner is ready for the dinosaurs to come back.
As with most automotive enthusiasts, the overland community loves to personalize their rigs. Vanity license plates are a fun and easy way to do this. I think this mountain man is stuck in Florida — unless Florida’s got some mountains I haven’t found out about yet.