Amazing how weather can affect the overall mood among a large group of people. The lack of rain, snow, and mud this year made the strong winds bearable. Vendors were upbeat, classes were full, and attendance increased 40% over last year.
The 250 exhibitors included feature vehicles, authors, and filmmakers. Also in attendance were approximately 20 VIP travelers, who were on global journeys from Germany, South Africa, Spain, Mexico, and South America. There were many more international guests who chose not to register as VIP travelers. I met a couple from Australia, who had already conquered much of the world and were now enjoying the U.S.
Class offerings include subjects on technical off-roading, wilderness medical, and battery welding.
Total participation was close to 10,000 people, which is a significant increase over the 6,000 in 2015.
“We were blown away by a 40% increase in attendance this year—we sold out of Overland Experience packages (610 people), and the camping area completely filled, something we didn’t anticipate happening for a few more years,” said event organizer, Roseann Hanson. “We ended up running a shuttle for the weekend serving the outlying forest camps. We couldn’t be more pleased—with 400 session-hours of world-class teaching, and 250 exhibitors of fine equipment and services for overlanders, it was a huge success thanks to our talented and hardworking staff, instructors, and volunteers.”
Indeed, it was a spectacular event. My favorite thing to do is meet international participants who stop by Overland Expo as part of their world tour. Amazing what can be learned in a 20-minute conversation with these experienced travelers.
From a product perspective, I sought out anything that reduced setup and takedown time. Less time fiddling with gear means more time for taking in scenery, socializing, and cooking. I also looked for anything innovative that seemed highly useful and/or convenient. Following are products that seemingly met my criteria.
Road Shower (RoadShower.com)
This product is a long black tube, capable of holding 5 gallons, with a water port featuring standard hose threads and an air pressure port. The black tube heats the water during the day at 15-20 degrees per hour (includes built-in thermometer). Pumping air into the tube provides the water pressure. It mounts onto a roof rack where it can contain maximum sun exposure. Attach the included short hose and sprayer, add air (a pocket CO2 tire inflator will suffice), and you’re ready for a hot shower.
This is a battery case on steroids and can serve as an easily accessible power source for all of your campsite needs. Drop in a Gel AGM battery of your choice, and the ArkPak 715 provides a LCD battery management display, two 12v sockets, a 2.1 amp USB, a 50 amp Anderson plug, and a 150W Power Inverter. Not enough wattage? Upgrade to their 730 model and drop in a 31 Group batter for 300W. Plug it into your vehicle’s 12V socket to achieve a dual-battery configuration. During the day, additional charging can be achieved via solar panels. Mounting bracket is included. It is also compatible with lithium LiFePO4 batteries.
ShiftPod Tent (ShiftPod.com)
With a cushion-patterned silver exterior, it appears as something designed for use on the moon. The waterproof and dustproof roomy tent features built-in poles so that it can be set up in under 2 minutes. The exterior reflective material reduced heat absorption during the day. Waterproof vents can be opened from the inside. For hot climates, the included A/C port can be used with a portable air-conditioner. If near a power source, power cables can be ran through a power cable hole with adjustable closure. The spacious tent is 12’x12’x6.5’ open, and 12”x12”x74” stored.
Wilco Offroad HitchGate (WilcoOffroad.com)
If you don’t want to equip your 4Runner with an off-road rear bumper, but you desire a way to carry a spare tire, fuel canisters, and other items, then Wilco has a great solution that plugs directly into the hitch receiver. The swingout arm is easy to move out of the way for tailgate clearance. The upper rack can haul wood and other items not wanted inside the SUV.
Scout Equipment Co. Overland Kitchen (scoutequipment.co)
This clever system fits in the back of the 4Runner and features a slide-out fridge, sink, stove, and utensil drawer, with additional storage compartments at the top.
Want more of a minimalist tent camping experience that integrates you into the environment? Tentsile Tree Tents are hammock-style tents that tie between trees, or even off-road bumpers, and elevate you off the ground or above water. With a screen covering to protect from insects, and a floor that isn’t touching the bumpy ground, this is a great way to stay cool at night.
XPCamper V2 (xpcamper.com)
Pickup bed campers are limited by the width of the pickup bed, so XPCamper offers an aerodynamic hard-side pop-up design that replaces the pickup bed completely, and thus offers more room. The V2 model doesn’t disable the utility function of your Tacoma or Tundra, rather it expands it. The camper base is a flatbed and walls can be attached when the camper is detached. The hard-side popup is motorized for raising and lowering. Roomy interior features kitchen and bed, interior shower setup, table, and chairs. The exterior has multiple storage compartments.
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