Without trying to get into a whole history of overlanding, let me try to draw a few circles around camping, travel, and automotive hobbies to add some context before talking about a few things that caught my eye while testing out my Porsche 911 camper at the latest Overland Expo event earlier this month in Virginia.
Lots of people don’t get “overlanding.” The hardcore rock-crawling types rightly point out that a typical overlanding vehicle isn’t as capable on nasty terrain as a purpose-built rig. And that if the vehicle you’re planning on sleeping in at night is stuck, what then? [Editor’s Note: I’d rather get stuck in a car I can sleep in. Being stuck at night in a non-overlander is rough. -DT]
The general camping scene asks—again, rightly—if it might be cheaper, easier, and just about as good to throw a ground tent in the backseat and spend most of your money on gas and time off from work. But to be clear: overlanding as an enthusiast car hobby is about as perilous to one’s judgment as stance culture. I’ve spent hundreds of nights of my life sleeping in vehicles over the years and still wouldn’t consider myself an adventurer, but have every intention to continue vaporizing money to fix small problems largely of my own making. It makes me so happy.
[Editor’s Note: Honestly, I’m convinced that “overlanding” is nothing more than road-tripping in a 4×4. Even folks who use ground tents are still overlanders; take Dan Grec, for example. He drove his Jeep TJ from Alaska to Argentina and used a ground tent! -DT]
Basically, overlanding as a term and/or concept is a fusion of long-term tourism and international long-distance truck building. That truck building includes primarily blends African Land Rover-based travel (both the classic safari stuff but with a dash of U.N. peacekeeping Land Cruiser and neighborhood warlord Hilux gun platforms), Australian outback builds (aluminum flatbeds glinting in the desert heat on the backs of diesel Fords and Toyotas), and a variety of prosaically built Central and South American trucks that simply had to go long distances through tough terrain.
The ür-overlanding trucks were the original body-on-frame SUVs: the Land Rover Defender and Toyota Land Cruiser. Go-anywhere rigs that could haul everything you’d need, with just enough room inside to curl up to sleep if it wasn’t safe outside. After a few decades of experimentation around the globe, the Aussies were the first to really adopt one of the hallmarks of overlanding: the roof-top tent. (There was a small group of adherents in Europe, too, competing with the pop-top vans like the Westfalia conversions of VW buses and caravans.) Is a roof-top tent better than a ground tent? Sometimes! They’re almost always easier to set up. And depending on their complexity, they’re sometimes faster to pack up. And on a big SUV, they’re high up away from the ground, where the snakes are.
In the U.S., roof-top tents were expensive—almost mythological as recently as 15 years ago. Now there are dozens of companies selling roof-top tents in the United States, from Smitybuilt to hand-made contraptions that cost tens of thousands of dollars. They have their advantages, although never purely on price, but they’re also a big signifier of the culture, for better or worse.
Modern overlanding builds are done on platforms of all shapes and sizes. People will debate what’s better, but just like their RV cousins, there isn’t ever really a best—just what’s best for your needs, budget, and tolerance for compromise. (I’m a 180-degree flip-top camper shell on a body-on-frame-pickup man myself these days, but I’ve enjoyed full-size vans and SUVs in the past. It truly doesn’t matter much.)
The core differentiator of overlanding from basically all other vehicle-based tourism is that it’s self-supported. It’s about safety and comfort in environments that can be dangerous, either because of remoteness from civilization or human factors. The communities that kickstarted the overlanding trend were often the world travelers: people riding KLRs from Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego; someone spending months living out of a truck while touring Mongolia; and to a great extent, also the full-time #vanlife community before it was a hashtag. (Or before hashtags existed.)
Original overlanding rigs often had massive potable water supplies, spare axles and welding rigs, and food storage for weeks. A friend’s family used to run an African safari tour company with self-built Land Rover-based rigs, which they built on custom frames that held a second engine block as a support member in case they needed a spare in the wilderness.
That’s why you’ll see the word “expedition” everywhere in the overlanding community, from its primary English-language home online, ExpeditionPortal.com, to every medium-sized town’s local upfitter. Overlanding was—is—at heart about building a vehicle that will take its driver and occupants thousands of miles over nearly terrain and circumstance.
Purpose-built is cool! Just like F1 is almost as much about the engineering as the racing, overlanding is a truck anorak’s delight, a largely hand-built collection of vehicles that try to shoot the categorical rapids: not being the best at anything, but being pretty good at nearly everything.
15 years or so ago, when I first started getting into the community, it was almost anathema to build a machine that wasn’t intended to go on an international journey. My own interest started with a plan to build out an Econoline or Land Cruiser for a six-month trip down the Pan-American highway.
And like a lot of “overlanders,” I got as far as buying a vehicle (both the Econoline and the Land Cruiser, one after the other), but not quite as far as… actually going on a big trip.
That’s kind of the rub with American overlanding: most of the people who can afford a purpose-built 4×4 rig and all the attendant equipment have jobs that keep them relatively close to home. So the aftermarket economy that has spun up over the last decade has largely catered to those folks—the people who can afford to drop $10k on suspension upgrades, twice that for rugged camper shell setups, or even giant hyper-RVs that cost several hundred thousand dollars built on commercial truck chassis that can go nearly anywhere, even if they rarely do.
So! Overland Expo East.
The original Overland Expos were, like much of overlanding, held in the West, especially the southwest, where the BLM land and logging roads are as abundant as the rust-free beaters. When I first attended an Expo, probably a decade ago, it was much more of a community-organized event, with fewer vendors and almost no OEM manufacturer presence. It also had a big focus on training clinics, where full-time overlanders taught others various practical skills: navigating river crossings and the vagaries of procuring international visas.
That vibe and programming is still a big part of Expo, but as the community has grown, so has the presence of the big vehicle makers. Ford had several Broncos on hand. Nismo had a new Nissan Frontier (more on that in bit); new OEMs like Ineos and its Defenders-will-not-go-quietly-into-that-good-night Grenadier were there; Honda and Yamaha powersports; and most amusing for me, General Motors—the company I consulted for several years ago and had to practically beg to get them to invite overlanding publications to the launch of the last Colorado ZR2—was there with a new Hummer EV, the new GMC Canyon ATX4, and more. (The launch video for the new Canyon even uses the word “overlanding,” which…fuckin’ told y’all!)
As a disclosure, my automotive consulting history included General Motors (I helped build the launch strategy for the Bolt EV) and Thor/AirStream (I helped them launch a connected RV project). I’m also friendly with a lot of people at Ford, although I haven’t ever worked for them except for writing some copy for a Mustang brochure literally almost 20 years ago. And I haven’t taken a dollar from an automotive company or supplier or anything in the industry in at least five years as my client work moved back into traditional tech, although I think it’d be fair to say I still have some weird biases that come when you’ve helped work with companies, both positive and negative. While I used to work as a journalist before my consulting career, now I’m just a schmuck who likes cars and trucks and talking about them. I don’t mean to over-labor any of this; just trying to be as transparent as I’d expect from anyone else who gets to go to a big show like Expo for free and write it up for readers.
I camped among several hundred other attendees in a big field on a private estate, each of whom had brought their own rigs to the show. Talking to the folks who gathered together over a propane campfire near my car, most had paid to go to Overland Expo not for the classes—primarily good ol’ boy types from the South who exuded plenty of confidence in their abilities, including a mining company operator, a state patrolman, and a couple of guys who worked at a big pharma company—and not even to check out the OEM trucks on display, but to shop the aftermarket vendors. One of the first conversations over shared beers was what they’d all bought at their last Expo, if they liked it or not, and what they were looking for this year. The first night, we all commented on how quiet the campgrounds were compared to the average group of campers before realizing that we were all a bunch of middle-aged men who started to get sleepy around 10PM. (There were plenty of women and younger people at the show, to be clear, but overall the overlanding community skews older than many other enthusiast communities, which I chalk up mostly to the cost of the trucks and gear.)
Good lord, enough scene setting. Here’s what caught my interest!
I didn’t do anything but say hello to the fellas at Sarek Autowerke, a shop in Glen Allen, Virginia, that is focusing on upfitting the new Defender. But since I am an annoying edit, I knew I needed to give a gift to The Autopian editors: two white trucks with white steel wheels in one photo.
This little lad was right at the front of the show and always had a crowd. It’s the “Adventure 1” from Potential Motors, an EV camper van built on a custom UTV-scale chassis.
That means one immediate thing: this le petit van will never be street legal in the U.S. And for something that costs $136k and won’t be out until 2025, my initial reaction was: Oh no, they’re doomed. Actually, my initial initial reaction was “I want this.”
But after talking to the Potential team—who are based in New Brunswick, which is in a country called Canada—things started to make a little more sense. They were up front about both the market for a six-figure camper you can’t even drive on the road (rich folks) and their intention to use the Adventure 1 as a development platform for their “Off-Road OS,” a combination of EV powertrain, adaptive suspensions, and sensor packages they expect to be the basis for future UTVs from a variety of manufacturers. Basically they’re hoping to be a Tier 1 supplier to the Can-Ams and Hondas of the UTV world who will eventually want or need to sell more technology-forward EV-based UTVs. (Those companies are my examples, not theirs.) And it’s easy to suppose that same Off-Road OS could be useful to full-size EV truck manufacturers, too.
They’re intending to build only 100 or so Adventure 1s over the next few years, which definitely changes the economics. And while EV powertrains don’t mix well with multi-day off-road expeditions, I’ll be the first to admit that the smaller size of a UTV is better suited for many trails across North America, even if you have to trailer the vanlet behind a gas truck to get to the trailhead. (That’s what my rock-crawling, overland-skeptical, far-better-at-off-road family does; they throw their UTVs on flat-beds and tow them from the farm in Missouri to Colorado to run around for a few days.)
I basically invited myself to New Brunswick to visit Potential Motors at some point in the future, in no small part because having recently bought a house in New York State and slowly accepting that my off-roading trips to the West are going to be more infrequent, have committed to pushing north into the Canadian wilderness more in the coming years.
As I said before, I did work for GM for several years. But I’ve never owned a GM truck since my otherwise trouble-free S-10 Blazer died on a trip to Burning Man in 1999 when I overloaded it with lumber. Everything since? Toyota or Ford.
But as I’m in the market for another mid-size, I have been watching the launches in the mid-size pretty closely. And while the upcoming Raptor Ranger is still on my short list, and it would be dumb for me to make any moves until the 4th-gen Tacoma is announced, and also I keep wondering if maybe there will be good deals on the new Frontiers soon, I think two things about the new GMC Canyon design are true: the DSSV shocks available on the highest trims of the Colorado and Canyon are truly impressive tech and the new Canyon in particular might be the best-looking modern truck design.
Except I didn’t like the design as much in person. I still think it’s very handsome, but something about the sheet metal made it feel small in real life—and I acknowledge that as a person who prefers a smaller truck my grousing is ironic. It could be that there was a Silverado AT4 in the exact same shade of red right next to it. And also that the interior, which is really handsome, also looks like it might be a little cramped. Those white seats of the “Edition 1” launch version are fun, but very Ren Cen Fancy—like a lot of General Motors design, it all seems a bit out of fashion before it’s even launched. Minimalism, for better or worse, has been the signifier of luxury and high-tech for a couple of decades, but GM can’t ever quite resist an extra swoosh or panel. (It’s still so much better than the last-gen Canyon interior, even in Power Rangers white and red.)
This mid-size truck is $60k+ in the Edition 1, though, which I understand might simply be the new reality for cars in hot segments, but if I’m spending that much on a vehicle any compromise—no IRS, in particular—makes me wince. And also makes me go “Man, I could build a lot of truck from the frame-up for $60k.”
You know what I’m really waiting for, though? A plug-in hybrid mid-size truck. And it may just never actually happen. But when it comes to overlanding, that would be the powertrain that would get me to go into hock with a new truck loan: long-distance range, EV mode for puttering around when at home, and a big battery pack to run lights and more while out in the woods. PHEVs are the perfect solution for so many vehicles these days, but with the rush to EV, we just may never get what we could really use in the interregnum between ICE and EV.
GM, bring back to Volt as a pickup truck! (They no longer return my emails.)
Let’s get this out of the way up front: Skinny Guy Campers are not cheap. (This will be a common refrain for all this overland stuff.) A basic setup is $15k for a slide-in camper that pops up into a tent. The fully kitted out version is $35k or more. It has less room inside than a traditional slide-in camper. It’s not doing anything practically you couldn’t do with a bunch of bags and gear in the bed of a truck.
It’s also one of the most innovative pieces of overlanding design I’ve seen in years.
The core conceit is this: cram as much utility into as small of a box as possible. (Which, come to think of it, is one of the common principles of overlanding builds in general.) There’s nothing that the Skinny Guys do that you can’t do in an RV or any other well-appointed overlanding rig, but everything folds back into a package that sits at the roofline of a truck’s cab and leaves a foot or two of space underneath for more storage in the bed itself. There’s a pop-up tent and bed, of course. There’s a hot-water shower. There’s solar power with battery storage. There are heaters. There’s a cook stove. It has a toilet. A toilet!
It’s not exactly luxurious or spacious, but it’s utilitarian, rugged, and dare I say minimalist. It’s a complete system (minus the truck, of course). The product planner in me wonders if they’ve done something exactly right for a demographic so tiny that they’ll have a hard time scaling the business. But the engineering fan in me can’t get over how clever the whole thing is.
There’s one big flaw in the concept compared to camper shells like the AT Habitat or GoFast Camper or roof-top tents on rails: you lose the ability to throw big things in the enclosed bed of the pickup. In fairness to Skinny Guy, campers that let you use your pickup as a pickup still force you to take all your camping gear out of the bed first or remove the camper shell entirely, while the Skinny Guy can just be lifted up by jacks and kept on a stand. They’re even considering selling a trailer system that has the same mounting points as the truck bed system, so depending on your specific expeditionary needs any given weekend, you could tow the camper and leave your bed free for hauling relics or tactical mulch.
It’s probably out of my price range, especially since I need to buy a new truck, too. Yet it’s a triumph all the same. And the co-founders have experience in the RV world and live in Indiana, the home of RVs and their suppliers, so they’ve got access to supply chains and fabricators that other builders may not.
It’s not all trucks at OEE! It’s also things that go in those trucks. The new Dometic GO jug didn’t catch my eye at first, but I kept hearing other people talking about them, so went back to take another look.
All-in, this setup would cost you $170—$70 for the jug, $100 for the electric faucet. (Or you could buy a couple of gallons of water at a gas station for $4.)
But spend the big bucks and you get a nice jug that comes in several modern colors made from a plastic not currently known to cause brain damage (low-density polyethylene) with integrated carrying handles and slots for tie-downs, as well as an opening that is sized to fit any standard Nalgene caps.
For another bill, a USB-rechargeable touch sensitive pump and faucet—with a magnet on the bottom so it can be mounted on or off the jug—gives you one-touch water dispensing.
Compared to jugs of water or even a nice NATO can, it’s expensive. Compared to the expense and hassle of integrated water supply systems in a build—not to mention grey water capture, if you go down that road—I can see the utility. Honestly? For my style of interior builds—modular, hose-off-able, easily reconfigured—I could see a place for this.
I wasn’t sure there was a way to make the front end of the new Tundra look more ridiculous, but that was clearly a lack of imagination on my part.
While Nissan wasn’t at the show, their in-house aftermarket brand Nismo brought this new Frontier to show off some of the upcoming parts that will be available for vehicle-specific upgrades, including some upgraded coilovers developed with Bilstein, some racks that are not from CBI/Prinsu but look an awful lot like they could be, winch bumpers…all the standard mild off-road upgrades that you’d want to get some larger tires under the wells.
The project manager for Nismo Off Road said the aftermarket upgrades aren’t currently grandfathered into any warranty, but that’s something Nissan/Nismo is considering as an option. (Other manufacturers like Jeep and Ford are really happy to sell you upgraded parts from your dealer that tie into the warranty, because that means that you can’t cross-shop prices as much.)
Can we take a moment to say that the new Frontier is quite handsome? While I haven’t driven one, most of the reviews have been what you expect from 2022 Nissan: mandatory updates to old platforms, but not ground-up redesigns. (c.f. The Z.) To me, that means there’s a pricing opportunity here. While GM, Ford, and Toyota test the waters by releasing a lot of monstrous midsize trucks at $50k+ MSRP, Nissan could slip in with a body-on-frame truck with a V6 with reasonable tech (adaptive cruise control is available!) and decent 4×4 hardware like a rear locker for under $40k fully kitted. (Ideally well under.) Is there a market for Just A Truck these days? Arguably that’s what the 3rd-gen Tacoma is, but Toyota’s reputation for reliably—justified or not—lets them command some premium.
Hard to say. I just can’t help but give some nice pats to an underdog, and nobody has been kicked harder than Nissan in the last few years, despite a former CEO who was clearly crate trained.
Okay, enough stuff for the Overland Orthodontist set for a minute. The Builds field is where the real overlanders got to show off their rigs, including this ‘88 Delica diesel van that has been used as a full-time home for a pair of yoga teachers for over a decade. Splitting time between Puerto Rico and North Dakota, there’s both on-board heating panels and wool (!) insulation layer in the body panels, as well as heat-reflecting Lizard Skin paint on the outside. There’s forward-facing infrared cameras for spotting lurking wildlife on night drives and a Tesla (Bosch) brake booster in lieu of the original vacuum system.
These are my kind of scum. Awesome, practical build that clearly reflects their lived experiences on the road.
Overland Expo themselves have some more choice builds from the show that are worth a look.
There were a variety of boxes on display in which one can take a shit. I refuse to talk about any of these.
There’s nothing much I can add about the Ineos Grenadier that hasn’t been said or that Tracy won’t eventually say better: it’s a clone of the classic Land Rover Defender, but updated as a new product line with all-original everything—a clean-sheet restomod, of sorts, available only with a BMW B58 or B57 diesel inline-six. Ineos is fond of saying it’s a “no-nonsense 4×4,” and that’s apparent down to the finishes and switchgear. I know fuck-all about Defenders, so can only say that if you were going to start an all-new internal-combustion car company in this century, picking the Defender as the vehicle you’re going to keep alive is about as safe of a choice as one could make short of making new air-cooled 911s.
The Grenadier at the expo was a year-and-a-half old show car, with 3D-printed interior panels and lots of slightly outdated sheet metal, so when I say that I maybe sort of ripped off one of the overhead switches when playing with it, please know that I am sharing that to say the following: 1. If someone tells me not to touch a switch I am going to touch that switch. If you are taking me on a tour of your nuclear plant please label all the important stuff with “Touch As You Please!” so I lose interest, and 2. I am deeply enraptured by the aesthetic of the switchgear of the Grenadier’s interior. It’s obviously military-practical-inspired, including a bank of acid-etched panels and buttons in the ceiling; as a mid-century nerd of a certain age, all the big rotary knobs and momentary switches and pointlessly overwrought bumpers around things (what are those called?) made me as giddy as a Torchinsky stuck in traffic behind a car carrier. (He hates to see them go, but he loves to see them leave.)
It won’t get me into a Grenadier, but it has already sent me down a Digikey and vintage audio equipment rabbit hole to see what I might be able to tinker together for my Auto Exec Desk project in the 911. What dreams may come when I solder off this metal coil…
peaking of madness, a short ode: The first words out of my mouth to the founder of roof-top tent company Terrapod were “Fuck! You made one!” And by “one” I meant the single-person, laser-cut aluminum roof-top berth I’ve been daydreaming about for a decade.
Here’s why both I and Terrapod founder Chad Austin are insane: I already have a great single-person backpacking tent from MSR that I’ve used for over a decade that’s exactly this size. I mostly go camping with my wife these days. The price of the Terrapod Solo ($3,700 with all accessories) is barely cheaper than the full-sized version. The tents didn’t need to be made so precisely or out of metal. (Austin used to work at Boeing and has a fetish [my diagnosis] for aluminum.) It’s probably less practical than any other roof-top tent including the one that I just put on my car. But look at it. It’s so tidy! It would fit so nicely on the 911 for the 2-3 weeks a year I’ll actually leave it on! It would leave space on the rack for something else I don’t actually need! Perhaps a second single-person roof-top tent!
Do I need it? No. I don’t need any of this! I am not living out of my vehicles for more than a couple of weeks at a time, not going outside of the U.S. anytime soon, not worried about pushing the edge of performance capabilities. But I want it. And I have the most important overlanding tool of all available to make it happen: a credit card that isn’t quite maxed out.
Is there anywhere you can overland east of the Mississippi that isn’t just a dirt road? I get the attraction for those out west with abundant BLM land, but I’ve always been confused by the vehicles I see around here, where the only off-roading is in dedicated spaces.
I’ve been round off-roading / overlanding for far too long now and have long ago concluded that 95% of the whole scene is just a bunch of people showing off how much gear they can buy & bolt to their vehicles (like a lot of other scenes, amirite?).
Usually the stuff they’re doing would either be better served by just buying a “normal” 2WD van & converting it & spending the change on actually going places, or they’re never really going anywhere and just have all the stuff for appearance / boasting about it.
There’s so much ridiculous gadgetry and gear that’s ultimately no better than the cheapest bits Ikea have to offer ($100 carbon-fibre extreme outdoor all-season lightweight culinary tool Vs a $1 plastic spork.
The B.O.O.B.S have it about right I reckon: https://beardies.co.uk/
That Delica is absurd.
We quit our jobs, had tickets for many events at the ’84 Olympics in LA, got married, and headed for LA. After that we spent 8 months on the road and about 20k miles around the US and Canada in our ’76 VW camper bus. We actually camped in a campground about one day per week, spending the rest of the time camping somewhere out there for free. Were we overlanding?
More than most!
“Potential Motors”?! Well played guys!
Can we just call 99% of this automotive cosplay?
I will continue to hold the position that at least 80% of “Overlanding” in the US is just fancy car camping with an Instagram
A safe position.
Totally with you on a PHEV truck. Until a bunch of things get figured out with pure BEV trucks, I see a plug in version being so much more useful.
I’m pretty impressed with the F150 hybrid. I’m averaging around 23 in town, it tows the Airstream really well (Ain’t getting 23 there tho — 10/11 across I40.). 7.2kW available from the onboard power which is amazing. I wouldn’t take it anywhere tight, but it’s a great all around truck.
The Nissan Frontier is lovely. I just had the extended cab SV version for 3 months as a rental (deer took out my Explorer) and loved it. I owned a 94 Ranger for about 9 years, and Frontier reminded me of all the good things I loved about the Ranger. Comfortable, not too wide (seems everything is so wide these days), decent gas mileage (avg. of 25mpg, compared to my average of 19 in the Ex), and no extra frills. On top of that the engine had plenty of power. When it comes time to buy a new vehicle, the Frontier is definitely in the running. Probably would jump to at least the Pro4x package though. I imagine if you overload it with a bunch of overlanding stuff the mpg will go down, but man I loved driving it. Only complaint – steering and turn radius. But a minor downside to what I felt was the perfect mid-size pick-up.
A Budy of mine has a 2nd Gen SV shortbed on 33’s that he’s been using for years. He keeps up with my 80 series on 33’s and his brother’s 2nd Gen Tacoma TRD off-road on 33’s just fine. There are a few times where a locker would be a huge help, and a few times where the lower body compared to the Tacoma are a hindrance, but otherwise its been comfortable, reliable, and capable for him.
The skinny guy set-up makes more sense to me than these rooftop monstrosities.
Nothing that sleeps 1 person under canvas for 4 grand makes any sense.
What’s your take on what I see as a trend towards bigger and bigger vehicles – Tacoma’s giving way to Tundra’s. 1500’s giving way to power wagons, etc. It doesn’t seem like it at ExPo east as much as west, but out west, it seems like all the new stuff was based on heavy trucks.
Good question. They definitely make more sense for the desert or other wide open terrains. And with prices barely more than midsized the extra room at basically the same MPG makes sense. For “fancy camping” why not? For forest roads and mountain trails, though, width matters. I think the biggest factor is just how much money you have; any vehicle is an off-roader if you are able to wang it without regret.
I’m surprising myself a little looking at full-size considering I’ve never had one. (In a pick-up, at least.) I think for me as a more dedicated toy I’d stay midsized, but if I was building a soft roader that I had to daily with a family, I’d probably go full-sized in an older model instead of a newer midsize. No wrong answers as long as you’re willing to scratch it up?
I guess what gets me is the reason people are upsizing. It seems like it’s mostly about carrying more stuff. People will always want to bring everything they can bring but I feel like it’s a spiraling trend where people are trying to get ALL the overland accessories on a single vehicle and running out of payload. I totally understand if you need the size, payload, or towing – living out of a 3/4 long bed slide-in full-time sounds a LOT nicer to me than sleeping in my 80 series…and I LOVE sleeping in my 80 series – but otherwise, it just feels like size for size sake. Even out west I can’t imagine wheeling some of these monsters would be a lot of fun. I’m in Utah and I have a LOT on pinstriping on the cruiser, I can’t imagine what trying to push an HD truck trough some of these trails would be like.
I feel like its getting to the point where half the people in this would be better off in an actual RV.
It’s certainly moving in that direction. Not that I’m mad, I would totally rock a 4×4 long bed pickup with a huge slide-in, but you would need to be honest with yourself about what it’s all about for you. My perfect middle ground is a Maltec 80 like my friends Tim & Kelsey. Damn, I love their truck.
I am lucky to have learned early what makes a real difference to me and what doesn’t. I love the big flip out tents, but the interior build outs have gotten only more simple for me as time has gone by. I don’t need beautiful, I need modular and comfortable.
You can always pick out the people that have been doing this for a while by what they don’t have. Time teachers overlanders this lesson – simple and light wins.
Sounds like a similar situations in backpacking. a) If you bring a bigger pack, you will fill it. b) the more you do it, the more you leave at home.
Could have to do with you guys having a lot more room on that side of the country. To get to almost anything remote on the east coast you need a reasonably small vehicle because the trails are so tight. I’d love an EarthRoamer or something similar, but I wouldn’t be able to take it anywhere thats not a dedicated campground.
It certainly helps if you are in open country, but even out here, the trails can be pretty tight, especially if you go into the mountains.
You’re not actually buying the American western frontier, but that’s what the manufacturers are still selling after all these years.
Some of that is due to a need for more capacity. A Tacoma fully decked out for overlanding is at or more frequently over GVW where a Tundra or other full size truck has some margin left over. Also the bigger trucks have bigger engines that can manage tall tires without regearing the differentials which is a sore spot with Tacomas because stock gearing is tall so bigger rubber leaves them lugging everywhere
I use my cheap, getting older, brown, diesel Dacia Lodgy as a camper.
I have noticed that, cheap, old and a somewhat good ground clearance, beats a new 4×4 when it comes to getting to the right spots.
It says “Lodge-y” right in the name! You’re overlanding all the time, baby!
” [Editor’s Note: Honestly, I’m convinced that “overlanding” is nothing more than road-tripping in a 4×4. Even folks who use ground tents are still overlanders; take Dan Grec, for example. He drove his Jeep TJ from Alaska to Argentina and used a ground tent! -DT]”
It’s just a term. I personally use the word “touring” as a general umbrella term. Or the more complicated “vehicle-based adventure travel”. Truthfully, VERY few “overlanders” are overlanding. They are mostly like me; Weekend car camping trips that focus on difficult-to-reach locations and scenery.
I like your writing style! Keep up the great articles. It is so refreshing reading an original article and not some copy & pasted with added politics/opinions. Keep up the great work Autopian crew
On a side note: It looks like Victoria is a freelancer again. She did a great multi-post about her across the country adventure
I appreciate it. Thankful to this crew for being so welcoming.
“I camped among several hundred other attendees in a big field on a private estate” is pretty vague.
You never say where this was, or at least I can’t find it after 2 readings.
It was at a place called “Oak Ridge Estates” in Arrington, VA.
As the guy that just pulled the backseats from my disco 2 to build a platform/drawer/bed thing in that I’ll probably use 3 weekends a year this article hit all the right spots. We know its useless most of the time, but dammit, we’re gonna do it anyway!
Only god (and Tom Silva) can judge you.