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Overland Expo West 2018

Posted: Sun May 27, 2018 12:42 pm
by NotAMog
I attended the Overland Expo West 2018 event held near Flagstaff, AZ on May 17 - 20. This is a great event to attend to see new products for camping and overlanding, to see lots of interesting rigs from all over the world, and to meet many interesting people from the U.S. and abroad who have experienced all types of adventure travel.


On-site camping for the event opens at 1:00PM local time on Thursday. Last year I came to the venue about a half hour after the scheduled opening time and had to wait in line for some time before getting in. This year, I came by the venue about a half hour before the schedule opening time. Rigs were causing quite a traffic jam and some drivers were being told to leave the area and to come back later. There was a long line of rigs waiting to get in on a side street north of the entrance that were safely parked on the shoulder of the road so I got in that line. After the gates finally opened it took about an hour to get in and find a camping spot. The campground filled very quickly.

As you can see from the picture below of my camp the camping area can be quite crowded but with the solar panel in the sun and the truck in the shade, life is good!

A bicycle is very useful to have at the Overland Expo as the closest general camping is about 3/4 of a mile from the main show area. The bike really speeds up trips back and forth.

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New Products

As usual, there were many interesting new products to check out at the vendor displays.

Camp Kitchens

There were a number of new camp kitchens and the return of Kanz Outdoors to the kitchen market.

Kanz has been around for a number of years but left the market a couple of years ago. Now they are back with their line of well constructed camp kitchens that break down into a Zargus like box.
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Trail Kitchens was there with their line of packable kitchens and chuck boxes.

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Here is a cool modular camp kitchen / chuck box system from Tailgate N Go.
The various module units attach to the frame using the slots seen on the edges. They have a wide variety of add on modules. I'm not sure if the small beer keg will become a standard item but it did attract attention at the show.
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Another view of the Tailgate N Go kitchen
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Here are a couple of items, while not camp kitchens, they are designed to aid your camp cooking -

First is the EXO Table. This unit is designed to attach to the rear door of a Jeep. Its made from heavy gauge aluminum and completely folds up along with the Cook Partner stove into the vertical box. The design is very clever in the way the stove folds out and slides to the side. Everything on this unit is very heavy duty. ... expedition

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Next is the "Windtamer" from RV and Off Road - ... Fwindtamer
This sits over your stove or small grill to block the wind. It folds to a compact size for easy storage.

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Fire Pits

There were a couple of new fire pits on display this year.

First is from Campfire Defender. Last year they debuted their unique silicone and fiberglass fire cover. This year they added a portable folding fire pit which also makes use of modern materials to make a lightweight folding fire pit.

It seems that I didn't get a picture of this unit so you'll have to check it out on their website -

Another new fire pit is the Flat Pit. The design is very similar to the Slat Grill which showed up at the Overland Expo a number of years ago. It's made from multiple laser cut steel pieces that store flat and fit together to make a portable fire pit -

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Another interesting idea for a fire pit or ring in this case is the spare tire fire ring from Just Go Equipment -
It conveniently wraps around your spare tire for easy transport.

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A couple of new camp toilets were at the show.

First is the Thunderbox from Australia. Thunderbox is Australian slang for a folding toilet. This one is brought to the U.S. by -

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Another, rather more sophisticated toilet from in Japan uses a continuous roll of special plastic to automatically seal waste in plastic bags after each use -

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The OAUSA coffee net was very successful and pointed out how important good coffee can be in the overlanding community. Apparently, it's not just our net participants who like good coffee on the trail. There were at least 3 vendor displays at the Overland Expo devoted primarily to coffee and coffee brewing apparatus.

First is Planetary Design -

They were displaying a wide variety of French press coffee makers from individual cups to large vacuum insulated pots.

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Their French presses feature a unique one way valve design that keeps the grounds separated from the brewed coffee once the plunger is pushed down. This is to keep the quality of the last cup just as good as the first.

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Planetary Design also has a line of similarly designed coffee and food storage containers with a plate the pushes down in the container to separate the contents from the air above.

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Next is system from Java Can that packs a custom set of coffee brewing paraphernalia into a specially padded ammo box -

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Got Your Six Coffee Company was there selling their coffee products. They use their profits to support the Got Your Six Foundation which helps veterans and first respondeners -

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VSSL was showing their array of survival kits. These cylinders are equipped with a multi-mode flashlight on one end and a compass on the other. They have a number of versions containing everything from survival supplies and first aid kits to shanks for impaling zombies (I wonder if they have a oak version for vampires?).

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My favorite is the survival flask that has a bottle opener, two collapsible shot glasses, and storage for 10oz of your favorite survival beverage. I believe they said this was their most popular model.

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If you like to buy U.S. made camping gear, Princeton Tec was showing their line of U.S. made lights and lanterns. Their new Helix lanterns have a very clever design starting with a collapsible silicone globe that disperses the light without glare and glows in the dark after the light is switched off, a power switch with a very positive off position to minimize the chance of the lantern accidentally being turned on to legs which can grasp or be clipped onto lines. The light output is adjustable and can be either white or red.

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Big Agnes was showing their line of cots. These are the closest competitor to the High Tech cot that I've seen. The design packs very small and has fewer parts to assemble than the High Tech.

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Stay Tuned, More Content to Come!

Re: Overland Expo West 2018

Posted: Sun May 27, 2018 8:47 pm
by DaveK

Great stuff!!!

I hope there is more!!

Re: Overland Expo West 2018

Posted: Mon May 28, 2018 7:09 pm
by NotAMog
There is much more to come. Unfortunately weekend chores got in the way finishing the post today. Please check back throughout the week. I hope to have it finished by the weekend.

Re: Overland Expo West 2018

Posted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:25 am
Thanks for the report, Bruce! Especially interested in the FlatPit, though their site is not fully operational yet.

Re: Overland Expo West 2018

Posted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 10:26 am
by DaveK

Thanks for the update on the Expo. Looking forward to more.

Incidentally, I don't see a "Thunderbox" in my future, but I really like the name. I think I'll be getting a new name plate to stick on my dumper!!!

Re: Overland Expo West 2018

Posted: Sun Jun 03, 2018 5:37 pm
by NotAMog

Oh well, the name is Aussi slang. From what I know of Aussi slang be happy that it isn't worse :D

Re: Overland Expo West 2018

Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:02 pm
by NotAMog
I figured that it was time to start a new reply rather than to keep editing the same entry.


One of the most interesting aspects of the Overland Expo is looking at the wide array of vehicles in the show and also in the campground and public parking lot.

A couple of vehicles I specifically wanted to check out in the show were the Acela Monterra 4x4 and 6x6 trucks. These start life a military FMTV vehicles purchased at auction and are thoroughly reconditioned and upgraded for civilian use. I had the opportunity to test drive this 6x6 beastie and was very impressed at the ease of driving and the degree of sound deadening that was added to the cabin.

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This 4x4 customer unit was sitting in one of the parking lots. While checking it out I started a conversation with a couple of guys from South Africa and we chatted for some time about travel, bush camping, general safety, and border crossings in Africa. Interesting chance encounters like this are not uncommon at the Overland Expo.

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Very close to me in the campground was another surplus LMTV that was being refurbished by the owner. I talked with him and his wife quite a bit about their truck. One difference of note was that even with an application of Dynamat the engine noise in the cab was considerably louder than the Acela but that's part of what the extra $90k gets you.

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As much as I like these trucks and think they would make a great platform for a heavy duty expedition vehicle they are virtually impossible to register for street use in California :cry:

At the other end of the size spectrum was this very rare North American spec Steyr Puch Haflinger Pathfinder. The North American spec Haflingers have 7" sealed beam headlights and the addition of Pathfinder badging. This one was found parked along the campground access road. These vehicles were the predecessor to the Steyr Puch Pinzgauer.

They have selectable four wheel drive with a 2 speed transfer case and front and rear lockers. Much to the annoyance to modern side by side owners in California these can be registered for street use as they met the street use regulations at the time they were imported. More information on the Steyr Puch Haflinger may be found here -

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A step up size wise from the Haflinger is the Mitsubishi Delica. These little 4x4 vans are popular around the world as mini adventure campers. They were sold in Canada and are importable into the U.S. being that the earlier models are now over 25 years old. Every 4x4 Delica I've seen is right had drive.

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The vehicle here on the right is a newer model Delica. The vehicle on the left is a 70 series Toyota Landcruiser which was never imported into the U.S. but is achieving some following here now that good 25+ year old units are being imported from Japan and Australia.

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Proving that you don't need a 4x4 truck or SUV type vehicle for overland exploring here is a 1982 Mercedes Diesel that was entered in the Cool Ride contest -

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Here is information on the Mercedes plus a map of where the owner has taken it -

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Here is another really nice 70 series Landcruiser that was in the Cummins re-engine display. This truck had been re-engined with a Cummins 2.8l turbo diesel.

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Walking through the camping area is a vehicle show by itself. Here is a nice Mercedes Unimog U500 with a camper box -

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Another interesting vehicle spied in the camping area was this Land Rover Dormobile -

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Another very unique vehicle was this Mercedes DOKA (Dopplekabine or double cabin) with camper box -

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Staying in the camping area over Sunday night was this collection of Earthroamers. This event allows the opportunity to talk with owners of these rare and unusual vehicles to get a feeling for how they work in the real world. I talked with these owners about taking such large heavy vehicles off road. The feedback was that you do need to be careful to choose where you take them and a pole saw becomes your best friend in wooded areas.

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There was also a large contingent of Earthcruisers -

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Keep checking back. There are still many more vehicle pictures to come.

Re: Overland Expo West 2018

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 7:49 am
by DaveK

GREAT report. Thanks!!!

Re: Overland Expo West 2018

Posted: Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:34 pm
by Crismateski
Great write up and photos Bruce. I was there in one of the booths, in the heart of the venue and still found a few things in your write up that I managed to not see on site.
KK6DYO wrote:
Sun Jun 03, 2018 9:25 am
Thanks for the report, Bruce! Especially interested in the FlatPit, though their site is not fully operational yet.
You can also check out Fold A Flame, they were also at the show, have a similar design and is a small home garage-based business and happens to be an acquaintance of mine.