Overland Expo Experience Part 2: “The Equipment Trap”

On the first day of the Expo, I began walking through the vendor area and found all kinds of really cool gear I never knew I needed.  Well, at least, at that moment I needed it.  I did rethink a lot of the gear and, although it is really cool and useful, I knew I didn’t need it right now.

On the top of my list to look at were rooftop tents and an overland trailer.  Like I’ve mentioned before, I am so done with sleeping on the ground when I don’t have to.  Sleeping in a hammock every night while traveling with a dog, and at times, 3 kids just isn’t practical either.  So a roof top tent fits in with my picture of traveling, giving me the camping feel, but with more sleeping comfort.

There are an unbelievable number of different companies out there putting out rooftop tents.  I personally plan to

mount it atop the trailer so I can have a base camp and still go out exploring with the truck and not have to pack up anything.  CVT, Tough Stuff, Free Spirit, and are some of the bigger companies putting out nice products.

Overland trailers are even more diverse in style, engineering, functionally and price.  You have a couple from over seas like Patriot Campers and Conqueror which are very versatile and tough but are priced from low 30K to high 40K.  Then there were quite a few different tear drop manufactures who use different suspension systems and there finished products are quite different in functionality and aesthetics.  Finally, there are more basic utility-like trailers that are anything but typical compared to your wood trailer at home.  These have robust off-road suspension with up to 35” tires.  They have on-board power and propane for cooking and heating your water for showers.  A new Tennessee based company, Cumberland Adventure Trailers, has a product out that I’m sure would stop a 223 round.   Some of my favorites were from Turtle back, Hiker Trailer, O’Neil Overland, and Xventure, but there are many more that can be named.  These were priced anywhere from 8K-30K.

Of course there were more accessory vendors than I had time to visit and speak with.  You could find recovery gear, solar-powered systems, battery systems, lighting rack, and bumpers to name a few.  Then, there were the mechanical vendors, suspensions, engines, and exhaust.  Finally, we can round it off with 4×4 and overland clubs, bush-craft workshops, survival, and medical gear.  I joined Overland Bound, an online community for education and trip planning.

To say the least, I was very impressed with the wide spectrum of vendor tables.  It’s sure to keep everyone in your overlanding group happy.  You can easily spend the weekend just browsing the vendor area and speaking with them while popping in on impromptu demos.  I also enjoyed talking with many of the vendors who were company owners and hearing their stories.  I wish them all luck and prosperity in bringing quality U.S. workmanship and value to the overland community.

I concluded, though, that I am very happy with my basic camping gear.  I do have a wish list and a must have list before I head out to explore.  I plan to continually refine that and find out what works best for me by providing safety, convenience, and comfort.  Rooftop tent and overland trailer are still priority.  I will begin a new trailer build this month with the help of Dan Pugh at Falls Fabrication in Akron, OH.  This one will be more practical and functional than the last.

Until Next time,

Semper-Fi and God Bless!

Tom Knapp