Car Camping Convention: The Workshops and Wares of Overland Expo West 2018

    The workshops and wares of Overland Expo West 2018

    Jered KorfhagePhotographer, Writer

    The 2018 Overland Expo West was wheeling, camping, exploring, and self-sufficiency, all rolled into a rooftop tent and parked in the wilderness. A record-breaking 14,000 people ventured from all corners of the globe and gathered outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, for the 14th Overland Expo West.

    As the sun rose over the horizon, casting a glow on Fort Tuthill County Park, the French presses and camping stove-top espresso machines came to life, drawing the overlanders from their abodes. Some crawled from tents in the dirt, others pitched forth ladders from the doorways of their vehicle-top fabric palaces, while the rest peered out from the windows of their hard-sided glamp-yachts.

    However they chose to spend the nighttime hours, the overlanders had congregated in the open camping areas on-site at Overland Expo West. Before long, sunblock was applied by the gallon, wide-brim hats were donned, and queues of showgoers shuffled toward the day’s activities. For those coming to the show wanting for all the gadgetry the overlanding market had to offer, there stood the vendor show—display tents lined up like barracks showcasing a variety of wilderness wares. Companies were quick on the trigger to explain how, with a few stealthy modifications, the passenger quarters of most vehicles could be outfitted with sliding drawers, tanks of potable water, steamy showers, and enough cooking gear to satisfy a sunburnt sous chef.

    Need help un-stucking your ride? Vendors were on hand with un-stucking gear. Want power for your gadgets while making camp? Solar-powered solutions were on hand. Also, if one took the time to lend an ear, the only thing more abundant than rooftop tents at the show were the stories from the adventurers of terrain crossed, gear used, and experiences gathered.

    Overland Expo West was not just a gear grab; many were on-site peddling skills as well as wares. Poke your head into a canvas tent and you might have found yourself in a class learning the intricacies of wilderness medicine, or perhaps meal preparation or welding from vehicle batteries. Other vendors provided instruction on vehicle recovery, driving skills, and obstacle navigation. We’ll take you on a trip through the show visiting everything from skills clinics to the vendor booths, so you can plan your journey to Overland Expo West (or East in North Carolina!). More information can be found at overlandexpo.com.

    Big-Rig Roster

    Many companies at Overland Expo West were on hand with king-sized rigs fit to take a family into the backcountry—in style!

    Global Expedition Vehicles tells customers, “You will run out of world before you run out of truck!” The custom-built vehicles are designed to be self-sufficient, allowing customers to “cut the umbilical cord” and free themselves from the water and electrical hookups typical of RV resorts. This rig combines high-class RV amenities with the chassis and cab of an International 7300. Find out more about these rigs at globalxvehicles.com.

    Bliss Mobil, based in the Netherlands, is unique in that the camper boxes are built to be removed from the chassis of your desired vehicle, placed on a cargo ship, and sent across the globe. Though this box sits upon an LMTV 1078A1, customers have chosen Mercedes-Benz Unimogs or Zetros 6x6 platforms. The camper boxes come in lengths up to 20 feet and include solar panels, climate controls, and enough space to comfortably sleep four adventurers. Want one? Check out blissmobil.com.

    EarthRoamer built what we affectionately call a “camper mansion” on a Ford F-750 chassis. This 35-foot-long behemoth holds 115 gallons of diesel fuel, 250 gallons of fresh water, has a 2,100-watt solar system, and carries a price tag of $1.5 million. Read more about this rig (XV-HD) and other creations by EarthRoamer at earthroamer.com.

    Scavenging for Skills

    Adventure Equipment