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Editor’s Note: The following article was originally written by Sara Liberte (owner of the Battlevan) and published by our friends at Breach Bang Clear. It appears here in its entirety with their permission. For more from the Mad Duo and crew, go to BreachBangClear.com or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.
When I first rolled into the Ft. Tuthill County Park in Flagstaff, AZ for the Overland West Expo with the Battlevan I thought, “This is a ton of people crammed together for an event that caters to people that like to get out in the middle of nowhere, as far away from people as they can get. This oughta be interesting.”
I could have spent a few days just walking around the camping area checking everyone’s overloading rigs out. I did the best I could, but people… so many people, I could only stand it for so long before I had to escape to the little safe-spot of earth my van was parked on.
There was no shortage of Toyota 4Runners, Tacomas or Land Cruisers. Those guys were everywhere, and the majority of them were set up tight, complete with Tepui tents and even stand up bathhouse tents for showers and private morning rituals. Don’t worry, no one’s gonna look at your 53-year-old hairy ass, trust me, no one cares to see it.
A few of my friends were staying over in the motorcycle camping area and that was also jam-packed with adventure bikes with the top of the line tents and camping accessories. The Overlanding industry is alive and well, and a stark comparison to other industry events I attend.
The vendors were on display in full force, and if you couldn’t find exactly what you needed to make your stay in the great outdoors all the more comfortable then I’m afraid there is no pleasing you. Everything and anything you could possibly need was on hand — tents, cooking stoves, wheels, lift kits, roof racks, solar panels, winch kits, camp chairs, knives, backpacks, and even clothing. This place is your one-stop overloading outfitter.
There was also an area set up for OEM’s that allowed you to get behind the wheel and see for yourself the supreme handling capabilities each brand boasts about. The challenge courses weren’t all that challenging, but it wasn’t stopping anyone from having fun and giving it a go.
I think the part of the Overland Expo that is really appealing to the wider audience is the seminars. This allowed some of the newer to Overlanding the opportunity to learn new techniques and absorb stories and experiences. The seminars offer a really nice range for everything from basic land nav to dealing with the call of nature on longer trips, getting the most out of your fixed blade, cooking, and even basic off-road driving techniques for both vehicles and motorcycles.
The Overland Expo has two events each year, one on the west coast which happens late spring and one on the east coast that you can catch in the fall. Head over to their website for exact dates and locations.