What To Expect When Going to an Overland Expo

That’s the question I asked my husband, who has been to several of these events, after I decided to go with him to not one but to all three events this year—Mountain West in Loveland, Colorado (August 27-29), West in Flagstaff, Arizona (September 24-26), and East in Arrington, Virginia (October 8-10).    

Even though my husband is a seasoned overlander, I am not and I really didn’t know what to expect.    

After talking with my husband and checking out the Overland Expo website, I concluded these events are basically a cross between a trade show and a professional meeting. They provide an opportunity for attendees to learn about the latest and greatest innovations and solutions for overlanding and a chance to network with other adventure-seeking, outdoor enthusiasts in this community.     

At each expo, there would be thousands of overlanders and hundreds of representatives from companies who specialize in manufacturing and selling products and services to enable and enhance their adventures. There would also be classes, seminars, demonstrations, and hands-on educational opportunities to help overlanders build new skills and hone existing ones.    

This was going to be a lot to take in. 

“Bring your walking shoes” 

That was the primary piece of advice my husband gave, and it turned out to be a really good one.    

At each of the three expos, which were all held outdoors in fairgrounds, we walked and walked. And walked some more. Did I mention we walked?   

The reason for all the walking is because there was so much to see and it covered acres of space. There was a mind-boggling array of vendor booths, offering everything from tires to toilets, and rooftop tents to rocksliders, and so many vehicles, each one uniquely outfitted and as diverse as all the different people who built them. The level of creativity that went into customizing all the vehicles was truly astounding. And there were hundreds of them!

Exhibit area at Overland Expo East.
A view of the vendor area at Overland Expo East in Arrington, Virginia. 

Endless Exhibits

Ill let you in on a little secret. Before we got to our first expo in Colorado, I wasn’t really that thrilled about checking out the vendor booths. I know my husband gets pretty excited about lift kits, shocks, and all the other mechanical doodads that keep him in the garage for hours on end but—honestly?—they don’t make my heart race.    

Instead of being totally bored, I was happily surprised to find plenty of gear and equipment throughout the vendor area that did catch my eye and make my heart go pitter-patter.    

At our first expo, Overland Expo Mountain West, I had so much fun checking out the earth roamers. These vehicles are behemoths, they’re like the Godzilla of overland rigs, and they have every conceivable comfort imaginable. One of them even had a wine rack. Seriously!    

One of the very large and comfort-packed overland vehicles on display at Overland Expo West in Flagstaff, Arizona. 

We also discovered a booth with kayaks, which made me happy. My husband and I both love kayaking and we’ve been talking about getting one for a while. Kokopelli, the vendor, was at both Mountain West and West and had their kayaks inflated so you could actually sit in them and thoroughly check them out. Not only were they rugged and durable, but they also folded up pretty compactly. Although, given how tall my husband and I both are, we would definitely need two singles—squeezing into the two-man version, which we tried at the expo, would put a serious strain on our marriage.