2014 Overland Expo: Cool Camp Gear and Off-Road Adventure Trucks

11 Turtle II

By John Cappa

It doesn't matter if you travel cross-country on monthlong excursions or only have time to take weekend getaways with the family, your pickup truck can be outfitted for it all. Years ago, we called it camping. Coleman tents, coolers and cooktops were what most of us started with and what many of us still use.

Today, an entirely new vehicle and product niche has been created to cater to what is known as overlanding. It's still the same off-road adventure, but now the compact specialized gear and vehicles make it easier than ever to explore both on- and off-road. One place to see what's new in the off-road camp-gear industry is the Overland Expo. This year we happened upon the Mormon Lake, Ariz., event in May while testing the 2014 Ram Power Wagon and drooling over old trucks and equipment in the Gold King Mine and Ghost Town. During our stroll through the outdoor aisles, we found everything from efficient ice chests that keep food cool for weeks to $500,000 turnkey 4x4 campers ready for overseas adventure. If you'd like to see these items for yourself, a second Overland Expo will be held Oct. 3-5 in Asheville, N.C.

 

1 Unimog II

This Unimog U500 featured a Pangea Lifting Roof from Global Expedition Vehicles. The two-story camper has all the amenities of home and more, including two queen-sized beds, a microwave convection oven, teak wood paneling, composting toilet, heater, air conditioner, 140 gallons of fresh water and a flameless diesel cooktop.

 

2 FWC II

Four Wheel Campers specializes in building durable raluminum-frame slide-in pop-up campers for pickup trucks. The top and waterproof fabric walls collapse for travel, offering more overhead trail clearance. There are many different models available that fit mini-trucks; half-, three-quarter and one-tons; and even flat beds.

 

3 James II

If you're into rooftop tents, James Baroud offers many models that can be fitted to a roof- or bed-mounted rack. The elevated, collapsible hard-cased tents get you up and away from critters and fold up easily.

 

4 XPC II

The XPCamper replaces your pickup truck bed with a functional utility camper. The company offers campers for full-size and compact pickups. If you want more than just a camper, the company can create a complete turnkey package with bumpers, tires, wheels and more, to make sure your truck is ready for any obstacles.

 

5 Tonto II

If you aren't ready to own an overland vehicle but want to give it a try, Tonto Trails will rent you one of several 4x4 campers including this Ram Power Wagon topped with a pop-up camper from Four Wheel Campers.

 

6 Aluminess II

Aluminess specializes in lightweight aluminum bumpers, racks and off-road accessories for pickups and other overland vehicles. Ultimately, if the rack is lighter, your vehicle can carry more cargo.

 

7 PW II

Ram made a splash at the 2014 Overland Expo by unveiling the 2014 Power Wagon to the public. Ram also had a restored 1954 Dodge Power Wagon on hand. This truck punched out 99 horsepower from its 230-cubic-inch L-head inline-six-cylinder engine. The original base price was a mere $2,307 in 1954.

 

8 Hallmark II

Hallmark Campers brought out several models of slide-in pop-up campers. Unlike many other campers, these can be ordered with different interior colors and other options.

 

9 Field Bar II

If you're out in the wild you often can't easily make it to the local bar, but the Kanz Outdoors Field Bar can bring the booze to you. The portable bar is available in a dark Mahogany (pictured) or a light Baltic Birch. Just like a professional stationary bar, the Field Bar is designed to hold bottles, glasses, ice bucket, condiment tray and more.

 

10 Solar II

Goal Zero specializes in solar panels, power packs, solar kits and accessories. If you're looking to capture the power of the sun for your camp items, Goal Zero likely has something that will work for you.

 

11 Turtle II

A travel trailer would likely get destroyed if you tried to tow it through the woods or a desert two-track. Off-road is where Turtleback Trailers shine. The compact trailers are designed to be rugged, versatile and ready for any off-road excursion.

 

12 Baja Rack II

If you are a heavy packer and quickly fill your truck's bed, you'll appreciate the extra storage provided by BajaRack Adventure Equipment. The storage racks can be mounted to truck roofs, camper shells or on top of bed racks. Several accessory mounts are also available.

 

13 VMI II

The all-aluminum VMI Xtender OX trailer has all the amenities of an off-road adventure trailer in a lightweight package. At 740 pounds, it can be easily pulled by large and small pickups on- and off-road.

 

14 GEV II

The Global Expedition Vehicles Turtle camper features a toilet, shower, sink, a dining area and pretty much all the accessories you'd find in a modern day on-road camper. The Turtle can be mounted to the chassis of a Ford F-450 or F-550, Ram 4500 or 5500, or one of several other medium-duty 4x4 trucks.

 

15 Lance II

Lance has been building America's most popular truck campers since 1965. They feature a sturdy aluminum frame with pieces that fit together like a puzzle. The rigid frame makes Lance a good choice when venturing off-road. Many different sizes and floor plans are available.

 

16 Host II

The Host RV Mammoth triple-slide is a truck camper first, as far as we know. The spacious floor plan leaves little to be desired. At 3,360 pounds, you need quite a truck to haul it around, though. Host RV offers other camper sizes as well.

 

17 Tiger II

There wasn't a big turnout of GM vehicles at the Overland Expo, but we did spot the Malayan HT from Tiger Adventure Vehicles. The Malayan HT replaces the bed of your pickup with a camper structure and features more headroom than some other Tiger conversions.

 

18 F-100 II

We found this early 1970s Ford F-100 Custom Sport sitting on a trailer hidden backstage. It was just too cool to pass up. Someone had recently installed a lift kit and a fresh set of Toyo Open Country M/T tires.

 

19 Military II

This ex-military M101A2 made for a great DIY overlanding trailer platform. The M101A2 rolls on 37-inch tires, has a bunch of ground clearance, can carry plenty of weight and can be found used for $400 to $1,000 in great condition. Many even have beadlock wheels.

Cars.com photos by John Cappa

 

Comments

That F100 is very similar to my first pickup. The misty-eyed nostalgic part of me would like to say I miss it--but the thinking part of me realizes the 360 was a gutless fuel swilling turd. No power-steering sucked too.

Finally, something that has to do with trucks and/or truck stuff.

Awesome article, Mark. Thanks for posting.

Thanks for the article.

These type of shows/events are interesting and full of ideas for the dedicated campers.

I really like the 'Mog. Great base for a expedition vehicle and an expensive one at that.

Most pickups haul air most of the time.

I mainly haul a fishing boat, fuel, beer etc for an outing. Lot's of guys go out hunting etc for extended periods. But, I haul air most of the time and why not over 30mpg I don't need to have a car for affordable day to day transport like you do.

As I've pointed out to you I was originally after a 4x4 SUV ie, Discovery with a V6 Lion diesel or the Grand Cherokee.

@DeverMike/Paul/Tom Lemon/Greg Baird/TRX4Tom/Dave/Hemi V8/Tom Terrific/sandman 4x4/lautenslager/zveria/Bob/US Truck Driver/Glenn/Jason/Hemi Rampage/smartest truck guy/Maxx/SuperDuty37/Ken/Ron/johnny doe/jim/ALL1/Frank/Idahoe Joe/The Guy/AD/Casey/papa jim/Young Guy/BeeBe/Steve/Chris/The truck guy/Alex/Mr Chow/Yessir/All Americans/Scott/Buy American or say Bye to America/Ram Big Horn 1500/Hemi Monster/Tom Wilkinson at Chevy, mark49, Tom#3 or whoever you want to call yourself.

Quit the crap, really.

It's getting long in the tooth.

You want to debate, but it has to be on your terms.

Learn to debate with good information, then we might be able to have a decent debate.

Opinions are good, but if they are only your view to support the UAW, then how good are they. Look at what you guys have done to Detroit.

Terror tactics (union tactics) don't work on me.

If PUTC wants the UAW or whatever to control this site I suppose it's their decision.

It's not kids like I've been told by PUTC.

I love camping. I am thinking about buying a restored Dodge Power Wagon hand built with a 450 Horse 500 ftlb torque 408 Magnum V8 4 door gloss army green. 42" tires with 5.13 gears winch front and rear alpine and A/C. :)

http://www.legacypowerwagon.com/

I was hoping to check that out but I see the expo was 6 weeks ago.

Big Al you are the copy and paste queen. Give it a rest or get lost.

"There wasn't a big turnout of GM vehicles at the Overland Expo."

No surprise there. I tell you, both Ford and Ram a firm foot in the off-roading market, but like usual, GM drops the ball and demonstrates their apathy to remaining competitive.

It is interesting to see some of the campers built specifically for off-roading. I doubt general use campers are as durable as those when it comes to the wear and tear generated by off road use.

I am not sure that any camper that necessitates a dually truck would be the best thing for off-roading. Dually trucks tend to perform pretty poorly off road.

The Overland Exhibition is organised and sponsored by Australian Company ARB. The Off Road Travel Trailers are Campertrailers here and one stage there were over 100 builders. Truck Campers are Slideons, they are Conventional I.e Like Lance or Unconventional, optimised for jungle rather than a arid or normal environment

A little late to post on an event that happened 2 months ago, no? Would have thought coverage should have been a little better than that.

@TV
Better late than never.

A truck bed mounted camper is nice to have when the world comes to an end or a natural disaster such as a flood or hurricane knocks your house out.
I high ground clearance 4x4 can run thru flood waters and climb trees that block the roads. (a tow trailer won't make it)
Solar powered generator makes sense when power is knocked out.
One very important item you need is a water purifier cause you can't live without clean drinking water.
( I have one and I keep 2 new ones for spares)

@Robert Ryan
I see a few of the those larger MDT expeditionary vehicles up here, along with a number of off road camper trailer and caravans.

At work many guys, about 1/5 have off road campers. They are generally the second item bought after a 18'-20' fishing boat.

I should have taken a picture of the RV car park in town once a year to show the difference in campers.

One thing. I'm seeing less HDs than I did 4 years ago. They seem to be dwindling in numbers as a favoured tow vehicle.

I know Rob Ryan tries to turn everything into an Aussie competition. But the Overland Expo is not organized by ARB, they are just an exhibitor and they are not even a major sponsor this year. Just so you know...
http://www.overlandexpo.com/exhibitors/

Overland Expo is produced and solely owned by Roseann & Jonathan Hanson through Overland Expo LLC. A portion of proceeds from the show supports ConserVentures Charitable Organization, an Arizona-based non-profit whose mission is promoting exploration of our planet and conservation of its cultural and natural heritage. www.ConserVentures.org

Overland Expo / Exploring Overland
3400 E. Speedway Blvd., Suite 118-138
Tucson, AZ, USA 85716

http://www.overlandexpo.com/contact

The event has already passed, but they have a second one happening in October in North Carolina like the article stated...

"If you'd like to see these items for yourself, a second Overland Expo will be held Oct. 3-5 in Asheville, N.C."

Go to overlandexpo.com for more info.

I just had a look at the Overland Expo website.

Some great pictures, especially the off road link. There is even what appears to be an old Queensland registered 40 Series Landcruiser with a rooftop tent. Nice setup, they were probably the most bullet proof of the small 4x4s, in diesel of course.

http://offroadaction.ca/2014/05/20/2014-overland-expo/

@Paul ARB was the original sponsor of the event and I dare say a lot of say in the running. Been a lot of Australian products shown at the events. The event has mainly TC's(pop up type) and Campertrailers.. Lately Expedition Motorhomes that have turned up are the Earthcruiser(sold under Host in the US)and All Terrain Warriors cheap Mitsubishi based Expedition Camper this year.
ARB hopes this market will grow in NA. My feeling is this Is a very much a niche market in NA unlike here.


I really appreciate that the folks that really do and really know overland travel have brought some incredible gear to North America. But now that it's growing in popularity, we're really seeing quite a bit of over-the-top RVish stuff that costs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's not what they use in Africa or Australia. I guess the prepper movement didn't help either.

Once again we're seeing camping involving the tremendously wasteful and impractical transport of a hotel room mini suite. That's not overland travel. That's not camping. That's RVing. Then again that's what people on this continent do. They can't live without their air conditioning and TV. Not even for a day.

I find it interesting that all of the campers are on HD pickups. More fuel to the fire on the debate that most crewcab 1/2 tons are just SUV's with a balcony.

@Tom#3 - you can get offroad capable trailers. Most are tent trailers. Coleman and Forest River both have them and they also come with a cargo deck that will fit quads or gear.

@Maxx. They do use stuff worth thousands of dollars here ,
.There is roughly by my estimate 6 builders of Expedition Motorhomes , not counting the hordes of Off Road Caravans/Cross Over Caravans in Australia, the Off Road Caravans are luxury condos on wheels.
What you rerfering too is ancillary providers, like I noticed as well as ARB ,OzTent and some group Australian Off Road 4x4? Were sponsors of this years event.The problem is the market is very small in NA, about less than a quarter of the total market here.So no big ticket items, more Pop Up TC's, small tents, winches etc.

@ Lou_bc the 9th pic down is a 1/2 ton

@ Big bob lost in rock city - if you look again that is a Ram 1500 mega cab - remember those?

And what chassis where those built upon?

WoW! I didn't know that there's such kind of truck made just for camping and going around the city. I like "Global Expedition Vehicles Turtle camper" because it has everything I need when I need to take a break from a long stressful work.

I also like the idea of bringing our own solar system to charge to get some electricity to do things like charging my cellphones, radio, laptops and pretty much any kind of gadgets.

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@ Lou

Just because the pictures show HDs with campers doesn't mean other pickups don't carry them. I have thousands of miles with a truck camper on my Tundra. There are plenty of Tacomas that do to.

It is partially less common because people don't camp as much any more, the "glamp" and want a camper with every accessory, TV, etc., (heavy) that they can get. I try to go camping where folks with the big trailers and such would never think about going.

@Dav - I do agree that camping has gone from rustic camping to luxury RV camping with every amenity. My was aimed more at some of the fanboys who ignore certain specifications and focus on others that really have no bearing to a truck being used as a truck. Cargo capacity and durability should be the most important and 1/4 mile times or peak HP the least important.

I spend Friday and Saturday roaming the back country. One area I went into was an area that I had timber cruised over 25 years ago. Since there wasn't any active logging the gravel roads were getting rough and overgrown. The further I got into the bush the less vehicles I saw. The most remote site I accessed had a few pickups with older campers in the box since the overgrowth would chew up anything newer. It was a fun drive and took me 3 1/2 hrs to cover 140 km (87.5 miles). I spit out onto a back country highway and went deeper into the mountains.

Articles like this along with tests that reflect real truck use are what this site should cover. I doubt that I'd see too many full bling trucks where I went as scratching up the paint and scuffing up the bumpers, frame and wheels is totally unavoidable.



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