2017 Overland Expo Showcases Adventure Travel Creativity


The idea of packing up your expedition vehicle and heading to parts unknown is becoming more popular. Let's be honest, given the state of local and national politics, and impending economic doom, who hasn't thought about getting off the grid and returning to a simpler life? The increased popularity of events such as the recent 2017 Overland Expo in Flagstaff, Ariz., demonstrates how much momentum these ideas are getting.

One of two annual adventure travel expos (the other happens in October in Asheville, N.C.), the Flagstaff event showcased some of the coolest and most impressively stocked exploration vehicles on the planet — some of which can be strapped right on top of a pickup truck. We also saw some amazing customized rigs worth more than most houses.

Here are just a few of the interesting things we saw at the 2017 Overland Expo West. For more information about the shows, click here. photos by Matt Avery


Although this might look like a U.S.-made Hummer, it's a Toyota Mega Cruiser. These were built in Japan for the military and offer four-wheel steering, central tire inflation from inside the cab and a torquey four-cylinder diesel.


Among the relatively stock-looking pickup trucks with cab-mounted fold-out tents, was this Frankenstein. The owner started with a 4×4 GMC TopKick, then welded a full-size GMC Savana van to the back with all the luxury details inside.


One of the trends we spotted at this year's expo was more for relaxing than exploring the backcountry. This "hammock" attaches to the normal receiver hitch, then spreads two bars to suspend the swinging bed.


Camper shells have been around almost as long as pickups themselves, but this one from EarthCruiser is lightweight and pops up in seconds to sleep two comfortably. And even though this is a lightweight shell, the company still advises buyers to watch their gross vehicle weight numbers closely.


If you're looking for the most impressive outdoor explorer with the most forward and Reverse gears on which to mount your world-discovering house, the Mercedes-Benz Unimog is probably your best choice, even if it's several decades old. The flexible 4×4 chassis allows the living quarters to be mounted on a center-pivot beam, permitting the whole thing to rock back and forth while climbing rough terrain.


This display vehicle from Buckstop Truckware was one of the coolest flatbed trucks at the show. It's a Ford F-550 chassis cab with a 3.5-inch lift, a single-rear-wheel conversion and 41-inch tall tires with custom fender cutouts.


We liked the look of this 2016 Nissan Titan XD in the Hellwig Products booth because it seemed well-sorted: moderate 2-inch lift, heavy-duty rear sway bars, load-leveling airbags and a nice, custom-painted Lance camper on top with extra shade canopies.


American Expedition Vehicles has made some of our favorite Ram heavy duty and Jeep conversions (both of which have solid front axles), but now AEV is offering its first independent front suspension lift for any Ram 1500 that does not have air suspension. This base-level package, called the Recruit, fits 35-inch tires.




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