Words & Photos: Mercedes Lilienthal
Thousands of people flocked to Flagstaff, Arizona, to attend the 2022 Overland Expo West. This yearly event showcased a wide array of customized vehicles and a plethora of products, more than 400 vendors and 175 educational courses, and even product demonstrations and driving classes. It’s a hub for adventurers who use their vehicles for remote adventuring or long-term travels.
Classic vehicles and newly finished 4x4s dotted each row of the massive outdoor event. Mainstream 4x4s like Toyota 4Runners and Tacomas, Jeep Gladiators and JLs and new Ford Broncos boasted front bumpers, rad wraps, rooftop tents, and more. HD trucks were a popular choice for expedition camper units; each offered a unique solution for self-sustaining during off-road or long-term travels. Electric bikes were everywhere as they zipped past unique vehicles like Mitsubishi Delica 4×4 vans, classic K5 Blazers or International Scouts, and old-school Land Rovers. Although vendor vehicles were some of the best seen, a stroll through the event’s camping areas revealed DIY treasures and well-used overlanding machines.
Copious amounts of products lined all areas of the event’s grounds, showcasing anything and everything for large and small adventure mobiles. Booths were stacked with great gear and free swag. Vendors were at the ready, they answered questions and demonstrated their wares.
Exterior amenities included front and rear bumpers, auxiliary lighting, roof racks and rooftop tents, wheels and off-road tires, solar panels, and more. Vehicles featured various setups, with owners or vendors nearby that answered questions along the way. It was a chance to see how each part and piece was installed on a vehicle or displayed in a booth—perfect when pondering future upgrades.
Interior accouterments showcased items like satellite-related communication systems, GPS units, storage compartments and drawer systems, and gadgets to hold tablets, smartphones, or whatever else one needs to keep off-road adventures rolling smoothly. Critical remote-living items were also featured: water filtration systems, hard-wired fridge/freezers, auxiliary or replacement fuel tanks and other important things.
Overland Expo West also offered a wide range of classes and hands-on courses to satisfy all sorts of subjects. From traveling well as a couple to vehicle safety and recovery classes, show attendees learned how to be prepared and travel anywhere in the world successfully—from people who are the experts.
There’s a definite uptick in overland rally events. No matter where you’re located in the United States, there’s at least one overland event close to you. Regional rallies entice adventurers from nearby areas and large gatherings like this one draw people worldwide. Overland events bring people who have common interests together. It’s a unique opportunity to see great products, check out rad rigs, and get educated on sound principles and how-to subjects. Overland rallies give off-road adventurers the chance to connect and be informed, something we can always use.