Overland Expo 2012

May. 29, 2012 By Jaime Hernandez
All roads lead to Overland Expo, the largest event in North America to celebrate off-road adventure travel.

Overlanding is the fastest-growing segment in adventure travel and the Overland Expo is where it begins. From exploring your backyard to trotting the globe in your 4x4 or motorcycle, the Overland Expo has the right tools to kickstart your adventure.

Before we get too far, what the heck is overlanding? You’ll get different definitions depending who you ask, but this is what the organizers of Overland Expo describe:

Overlanding is exploring the world by self-guided means, in your own vehicle, on your own motorcycle, or even bicycle. The journey is the purpose in overloading.  Overlanding is not about conquering; it’s about exploring.

From outfitted 4x4s to classes addressing travel and vehicle recovery, Overland Expo gets people inspired about exploring.

In 2009 Roseann Hanson founded Overland Expo. The event was created for people who see their 4WD or ADV motorcycle as a means to adventure and exploration, and who see travel as a portal to learning about the world. Off-Road.com takes you there.

Photo Gallery
More overland vehicles, adventure motorcycles and expedition gear from Overland Expo


This year Overland Expo was held outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, at Mormon Lake Lodge (Elevation 7,100 ft.) May 18-20, 2012. The serene Northern Arizona 300-acre ranch is lined with Ponderosa pine and blue skies in every direction. Many of the participants camped or bunked on-site, making it one big adventure festival.

Different camping configurations, cooking areas and furniture compliment the style of overlanding people do.

Overland Expo had over 150 exhibitors on site to answer questions, demo the latest adventure gear, or even get you prepared for the next Dakar Rally on a motorcycle.  There was a lot of activity, from vehicle recovery classes to riding BMW Adventure Motorcycles, to climbing into the latest off-road ready camper. There was something for everyone, even kids were encouraged to participate in activities put on by the Rover Divas (as in Land Rover).

Prefer to travel by two, then grab your packs and get rolling. Motorcycles from BMW, KTM, Kawasaki and Yamaha are all bona fide world travelers, with fully functional cargo attachments and the ruggedness to go on dirt. ADV Motorcycles take touring to a whole different level.

With over 85 classes led by instructors and presenters from around the world, the Overland Expo is estimated to have drawn 500 students and over 4,000 visitors, making it the largest event to date for the group.

“Get Outfitted, Get Trained, Get Inspired” was the resonating theme at Overland Expo. A big part of the experience are the training courses, seminars and learning about products or services that will help you become self-reliant in your adventure travel.

Special areas like this off-road course sponsored by Land Rover, Jeep, BMW RawHyde Adventures, and Outback Proven were used all weekend to train and test vehicles.

Adventure travelers share notes on their next expeditions to the Silk Road and around the World. Gary & Monika Wescot of Turtle Expedition (left) and Scott Brady of Overland Journal & Expeditions 7 (right) discuss their travels.

The atmosphere was very relaxing. Participants and day visitors were able to walk around freely, looking and discovering some very unique vehicles and the people that drive them. It’s amazing what people build to make their adventure travel possible. A great deal of customization goes into outfitting each vehicle--function is king with this crowd.

Every night there was a social event for participants to attend, mingle and meet other adventure seekers. It was also just a good time to talk about the day and trips on the horizon. Saturday night, Equipt put on one heck of a party under the star-filled Arizona sky.

Jeep brought out their JK8 Wrangler truck, Jeep off-road trailer and even a retro Jeep Willys Wagon. Jeep has been fueling the American adventure since 1941.

We ran into Dave Druck and Yoshi from AdventureDuo and their well-traveled FZJ80 Land Cruiser. Dave is the inventor of Trasharoo. You can follow the Adventure Duo’s blog at www.adventureduo.com.
 Since much of overlanding involves being self-sufficient, camping plays a big part. Companies like Four Wheel Campers were on site showing off their latest pop-up campers with creature comforts for your home away from home.

Just in case you ever need to build a raft or sharpen a machete for clearing an overgrown trail, the Overland Expo had classes for such things.

American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) had their Jeep Wrangler JK adventure vehicles on display, including this V8 HEMI powered Jeep 4-door pick-up called the Brute.

On the last day of Overland Expo, Greg Miller drove off in his VDJ78 V8 turbo-diesel Toyota Land Cruiser to kick off Expeditions 7. This group of adventurers, led by Scott Brady of Overland Journal, will travel to all seven continents of the world.  Off-Road.com is excited to bring you coverage from this epic journey. Stay tuned for future adventure stories!

We always like learning about new ways people utilize their 4WDs and motorcycles off-road. The Overland Expo shed some light on new trends in off-roading within the United States and North America.

What started back in the ‘50s as 4x4 camping in the backcountry and then evolved into off-road racing and rock crawling. Today it seems to be coming back full-circle as more people get back to the basics of off-roading, camping and exploring.

Overland Expo

Mormon Lake Lodge

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