How to know if the Overland Expo is for you
An afternoon at the United States' premier—and mostly only—convention for people who really like to live in their trucks.
Not sure if you'd enjoy the Overland Expo? This video should serve as a simple litmus test: if you don't enjoy watching a $125,000 Sportsmobile (née Ford Econoline) being towed out of a self-inflicted mud bog by a $250,000+ MAN-based camper, then the outdoor show and clinic series probably isn't for you.
Last weekend's event was mired in a mud flat outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, a hard-packed clay that was coated in a two-inch layer of friction-breaking snot. All the better to test out driving a new Range Rover Sport on the off-road course with a provided navigator in the passenger seat, to guide me through each obstacle and to chirp disapprovingly when nearly putting the supercharged SUV into a pond. (Street tires were not the best choice when trying to stop sliding down a six-foot mud hill, but there's nothing more fun than learning the vagaries of a new machine that you don't have to pay to repair.)
Classes include off-roading basics like mechanical repair and winching, as well as more quotidian advice for long-term adventures like budgeting and relationship maintenance. Not every attendee will be driving to Tierra Del Fuego or spend their winters on safari in Africa, but some do, and there's no better place I've been to get a taste for all the methods available that involve gasoline and a vehicle of your own: BMW and KTM adventure bikes are parked in between road warrior ultra-RVs and beautifully restored 4x4 classics; there's a flavor for everyone but the backpackers. (Bless them.)
Every shade of compromise on the comfort-to-capability gradient is on display: motorcyclists with tents; small trucks with self-contained fiberglass rooftop tents; slide-in campers for pick-ups that can withstand some light wheeling; quarter-million-dollar all-but-custom rigs from the likes of Earthroamer and GlobalXVehicles, the latter of which has sold something like 60 large-scale vehicles in the last few years, according to its owner Michael Van Pelt. It's a first-world market for third-world tourism, to be sure, but Van Pelt told me not every client is rich—just wealthy enough to be able to invest in a bit of highly mobile real-estate welded to the chassis of used military trucks. (The resale value is, at least according to Van Pelt, pretty decent; they don't appreciate, necessarily, but they don't lose value as quickly as your garden-variety truck.)
As in every endeavor, when it comes to overlanding there are options for the rich and for those willing to make themselves rich by targeted deletion of their need for security. The Overland Expo is a great place to get a taste for the lifestyle, should it tickle you, without jumping headlong into a commitment. I learned a lot in my short stay (although not much from the vendors, all of whom were perfectly nice, but simply showing gear you can read about online; most offered on-site discounts, however). And as the drizzle turned into sleet that gave no sign of letting up, I was just as happy to be able to hop in my little truck and drive towards sunny weather and a warm, dry bed.
The nine-camera security system included with Tesla cars is the gift that keeps on giving, if not for automobile owners and their insurers. Here’s another vandal caught on tape keying an electrical vehicle for reasons known only to him. This gentleman offers the camera a smirk on the way out of the Davies Park and […]
Oh, the joys of #vanlife! I was checking up on my Vanagon yesterday and noticed the coolant was low. Missing coolant is very bad in a Vanagon for many, many reasons. I looked for a leak. I could not find a leak. It was possible the car had just burped an air bubble and swallowed […]
Pennsylvania resident Chris Persic says his wife called to let him know their SUV smelled like it was burning. When she opened the hood, a surprise was waiting: walnuts and grass piled all over the Kia engine, stashed their by misbehaving squirrels.
Do you own a Mac? Unless you’re using it for a paperweight, you almost can’t afford not to get the Magnificent Mac Bundle. It’s a roundup of some truly essential security and file management apps, bundled up with great photo and video enhancers. The best part is that all nine apps are potentially available for […]
As much as vaping has taken over the market during the last decade, there’s still a lot of questions about the technology, as well as health concerns that we’re just now finding out about. One thing you can say about smoking: You know exactly what you’re getting, especially when it comes to pipes that you […]
We can’t all go through life with just a pair of sneakers and flip-flops. Sometimes, you have to invest in a pair of high-quality dress shoes. However, you’ve probably discovered that high-end footwear almost always comes with eye-popping price tags. You’ve got to compromise on second-hand or just suck it up and take out a […]