Overland Expo West in Flagstaff, Arizona, is my absolute favorite event of the year. What I love most is that it’s not just an event, it’s an experience. You don’t just goto Overland Expo West—you engagewith it. From the campsite to the vendor area, you’ll find endless opportunities to see, learn, and connect.
There are so many new products and modified vehicles to see. A ton of classes and lives demonstrations to learn from. And a huge gathering of overlanders who all share your passion for adventure to connect with. Everything and everyone there has the potential to improve your journey.
If you haven’t been, and you love going off-road and traveling to remote destinations, you need to go. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your overland vehicle of choice is, how experienced you are, or what your budget is—there is something for everyone at the Expo.
What Other Overlanders Are Doing
My favorite thing to do at Overland Expo West is to just walk around the campsite where there are hundreds of vehicles nestled among the trees. I love checking out all the cool upgrades and modifications that people have done to their vehicles. The variety is incredible. You’ll find everything from earth-roamers that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to classic Chevy trucks, Toyota’s, Jeeps, and more.
But the main reason I love checking out the campsite is because you not only get to see what the average guy has done to their vehicle, you get to talk to them about all the cool things they’ve done. You can learn how they’re making overlanding work for them and, just as important, find out what doesn’t work.
I guarantee you’ll get lots of great advice because when it comes to modifications, the level of ingenuity and creativity of my fellow off-roaders never ceases to amaze me. It’s impossible to walk away and not have some new ideas of your own.
TIP: Just make sure you bring a pair of really good walking shoes because some of the sites are pretty far away from the main vendor area—a half-mile or more.
Gear and Equipment to Make Your Off-Road Journey Even Better
Speaking of the vendor area, this year there were more than 400 vendors showcasing the latest and greatest gear to improve your overlanding experience. I'm always on the lookout for new products at Expo and this year’s vendor exhibits did not disappoint.
I'm always on the lookout for new products at Expo and this year’s vendor exhibits did not disappoint. There was something for everyone from trailers and tires to kitchen gear and new tech. My friend Marco even found a blow-up couch for those who prefer glamping to roughing it.
Skills and Information to Enhance Your Adventures
This was the 10thannual Overland West Expo and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger. This year, there were more 300 classes and demonstrations, all there to help adventure-seekers like you and me learn how to make our overlanding experience even better.
If you're new to off-roading and overlanding, honestly, these classes are invaluable in my opinion and they’re a really big benefit of attending this event
The variety of classes are truly staggering. New to overlanding? No problem, there was a seminar explaining what overlanding is all about. Traveling with small kids or your dog? They had you covered with roundtables featuring experienced overlanders sharing their tips.
Even if you’ve been overlanding for a while, there was still plenty for you to learn with classes ranging from advanced driving courses to personal safety tips for women travelers.
And, let’s not forget first aid. As a retired Navy Corpsman, this is near and dear to my heart and there were several classes that focused on ensuring you can take care of just about any injury or illness while you’re overlanding. These are skills that are not only essential but could save a life if you or a fellow traveler get hurt in a remote location. They even had a first aid class geared for kids, which was pretty cool.
Of course, you’ve got to eat while you’re on the trail and there were several opportunities to learn all about camp cuisine. You may have heard me mention a time or two that my friend Marco has some amazing culinary camp skills. Well this year at Overland Expo West, he demonstrated how to make his famous fish tacos at the Tembo Tusk booth. If you missed it, his cookbook should be coming out soon.
TIP: Something to keep in mind for next year is that classes fill up very quickly—usually within the first few days of ticket sales—so sign up early if there are any you’d like to attend.
The Latest and Greatest in Bright Ideas and Technology
This massive event is not just for those of us with four-wheels—adventure bikes are always a big part of Overland Expo. I really enjoyed taking a look at all the setups for the bikes because we could all learn a few lessons about how to pack for overlanding from these folks.
With a bike, limited space means bringing only what’s essential on a long trip. A tent, a sleeping bag, and food is all you really need. Everything else is just a luxury. I know I get a little carried away sometimes because of the extra space in my Jeep but traveling light is always a good idea. If you’re looking to become more of a minimalist when you’re on the road, checking out the adventure bike displays is well worth your time.
And then, there was the new tech. I love gadgets and high-tech gear (have you seen my dashboard setup?). This year’s Expo had vendors showcasing environmentally friendly products including solar hood panels for jeeps and Toyotas and electric vehicles, from two-wheels to four.
Sustainability and treading lightly are really important to me. I want my kids and their kids, and generations to come to be able to enjoy this amazing planet we have, so I’m excited to see the overlanding community embracing technology that minimizes our footprint.
The electric bike definitely caught my eye and, if you had a way to transport it with your vehicle, it could enhance your overlanding experience by adding ways to explore the area around your base camp with its 75-mile range.
I’m not quite ready to trade in my Rubicon but electric vehicles have so much potential.
The other aspect of Overland Expo that I truly enjoy is getting to meet great people who share a passion for adventure and overlanding. The diversity of people you’ll meet is incredible because overlanding has something for everyone. You can go from having a conversation with a solo off-roader who lives for the journey to meeting a family who finds overlanding a better bonding experience than game night.
And, when you’re walking around the camp and vendor area, you never know who you’re going to run in to. It probably goes without saying, but I was definitely not the only YouTube creator at the Expo and running into my fellow YouTubers always makes for a good time.
From the Epic Family Road Tripcrew and Ronnie Dahl to Justin from Patriot Campersand Kevin from Lifestyle Overland, I was able to spend some time with them and find out what stood out the most to them at this year’s Overland Expo. Nearly everyone found it really hard to confine their answer to just one thing but top picks ranged from the new Jeep Gladiator (a personal favorite of mine) and the solar-powered gear to the Sherp and the Rivian.
I was extremely thankful that my good friends over at KC HiLiTES allowed me to park at their vendor booth again this year because it was a great location to just hang out and meet and greet with so many Expo attendees and fans of TrailRecon. It honestly means a lot to me to be able to shake people’s hands and thank them for supporting the channel.
I had a blast at this year’s Overland Expo West and I’m looking forward to next year!