Overland Expo West, held each year in Flagstaff, Arizona, is the largest gathering of overland enthusiasts in North America. This year, the event celebrated its 10th anniversary and was bigger than ever. Over 17,000 people gathered to take part in the action. As you’d expect, there was a wide range of custom-built cars, trucks, vans, and more in attendance. Here are a few head-turning overland builds from the show.
Rivian's Electric Camper
An all-electric pickup truck, especially one that hasn’t even been released yet, doesn’t quite fit the overland vehicle mold. Rivian did make a strong effort to appeal to this audience, however. Think 400-plus-mile range, a rooftop tent, and a built-in, full-featured camp kitchen. Read all the details in “Rivian Electric Truck Gets an Overlanding Camper Makeover.”
Tesla Model S Overlander
An all-electric Tesla Model S isn’t exactly made for off-road or overland adventures. Travis Rabenberg, of TravisTravels.org, has big plans, however. This is his wind tunnel test vehicle that he’s using to promote and design his all-electric overland camper concept. This should be a fun one to follow!
1980s Honda Truck
An ‘80s Honda ACTY kei truck from Japan is pretty cool, but it’s not exactly what comes to mind when you think of overlanding. This one has 4WD, a Maggiolina RTT, and Hella off-road lighting. But it’s lacking in ground clearance, and I’m not so sure how well the lowered suspension and slicks will do off the pavement. It looks fun and is sure to turn heads, though!
Honda Passport Camper
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, as the small SUV is the vehicle choice for most Americans today. Honda showed off a full line of vehicles, motorcycles, side-by-sides, and generators at Overland Expo this year. One of its main projects was this Honda Passport with Sandpiper RTT and a host of aggressive-looking off-road accessories.
The minivan, even stock, might be the ultimate budget overland adventuremobile. This year, Journeys Off Road showed up with a daily driver AWD Toyota Sienna with a 3.5-inch lift kit and big AT tires. I’d wager that this vehicle can go most places a fancy overland SUV can go. And it offers a ton more interior living space, improved reliability, and inexpensive repairs.
VW Golf Alltrack
Station wagons have always been a great way to get out and explore. This modern AWD Volkswagon Golf Alltrack with Roofnest RTT will get you out on a lot of adventures. Even with a manual transmission, this VW gets 30 mpg on the highway — which is pretty impressive.
Dodge Power Wagon
Sometimes, looks can be deceiving! This monster 1959 Dodge Power Wagon looks like an old beater, but under the beautiful patina is a serious truck. The body was actually put on a 1996 Dodge RAM chassis that was shortened by 3.5 inches and boxed for strength. The famously reliable 12V Cummins turbo-diesel lives under the towering hood. The truck sits on massive 39.5-inch swampers and big, air-locked Dana 60 and 80 axles. A full host of overland and off-road systems ensures this vehicle can explore far and wide.
Old beaters might just be the best adventuremobile possible — as long as you enjoy turning a wrench. New Legend 4×4 restores, upgrades, and generally keeps old International Scouts alive. The brand has a few personal and customer vehicles they refer to as the “Terrables.” These vehicles are mishmash Scouts that are used for big adventures all over the country. They might be rough, but they bring big smiles wherever they go.
This one is Russian engineering at its finest. The Sherp is a nearly unstoppable all-terrain vehicle. It can even drive across water! With fuel tanks in the wheels, a diesel engine, and massive tires, this beast will take you there and back again. Surprisingly, there is actually enough room in the back for drop-down bunks and lots of gear storage. Too bad it isn’t street legal or even fast enough (24.5mph top speed) for you to want to drive it very far.
The big American SUV isn’t used all that often for overland builds. They are generally quite expensive and a bit big to fit down many trails. On the flipside, they are loaded with comfort features, have tons of room and load capacity, and are offered with proper 4×4 systems. This Ford Expedition, spotted in the General Tire booth at Overland Expo, is fully outfitted and ready for adventure.
We all know Subarus are capable and fun outdoor adventure machines. Recently, they have also been built into overland machines with all the car camping and off-road features you’d want. The biggest issue with this type of build is the max payload, around 1,000 pounds, which is easily and regularly exceeded. The extra weight is extremely hard on the vehicle and greatly reduces reliability and longevity. Rally driving your home on wheels down forest roads is good fun, though!