[Event Report] A three week swing of fall events: Appalachian Rendezvous, Expo East, VT Rally [Part 2b]

In Part 2a I got a little sidetracked talking about my own personal experiences attending the expo as a volunteer and my own personal thoughts and opinions about the role the weather played in the overall expo experience.

Overland Expo East taking shape around the lake at Taylor Ranch

To be a little more “on point” I’ve decided to do a separate post about the expo itself in hopes to provide a little more of an objective summary of the weekend.

Part 2b: Overland Expo East, 2015

First, I must apologize for the lack of photos.  Due to all the moisture provided by Joaquin I was having a wicked hard time keeping my camera from fogging up on me.  It’s getting sent to CPS shortly and hopefully they can reseal it.  That, combined with the problems I was having with my feet, meant I was unable to do a lot of wandering around taking photos.  I did take photos along the way though.

One of the other humble campsites I passed that manage to weather the storm all weekend.

Anyway, there are three main elements to events like Overland Expo.  First, the people.  I touched on that some a little in Part 2a, but there is still more to be said about the people at events like this.  Second, there are the “things.”  Checking out everyone’s kit and rigs is a great way to get ideas.  Lastly, the classes.  While technically part of the “people” category due to the role presenters play at events like this, I want to talk more abstractly about the knowledge, wisdom, and experiences available at events like this.

The people: Big events like an Overland Expo is a great way to network with like minded enthusiasts.  Some people are turned off by large crowds and “field parties” that don’t really qualify as authentic overland experiences.  While such complaints are somewhat valid, the purpose of an event isn’t to “camp in a field.”  I doubt any serious overlander would limit their overlanding experiences to just festival shows (be it Expo, MOAF, VOR, or even a Rendezvous to a certain extent).  Events like expo bring ether people from all walks of life from all corners of the globe that share one thing in common: we like to travel.  For some that means a minimalist kit on the back of a dual-sport bike.  Others it means “car camping” in the family SUV.  A few push the bounds to long-distance trips and live their life in their rig.  While we joke about glampers, titanium sports, and super underware it’s not the WHAT that makes the adventure it’s the WHO.  While I prefer to travel solo, or at least in a small group, it is nice to connect with people from time to time and shows are a great way to do that.

The pavillion by the lake served as the social hub of the expo.
It was also home to authors’ tables and the “Overland Theater.”

The Things: Gear, equipment, kits, rigs, camps, clothing, toys… you name it, it was there.  I wish I would have been able to get more photos of the event, but I was fighting a moisture issue with my big-boy camera so I didn’t get many DSLR photos.  Also, due to my foot problems, I didn’t get to wander around the campsites getting shameless photos of everyone’s “stuff.”  I’m pretty sure there will be countless pic threads out there showing off cool rigs, sweet kits, and neat toys.  While I will share a few of the pics I did manage to take, what I want to talk about the most is the intangible.


Trick shovel and axe mount by Aluminess.

Lots of goodies on display at the Warn booth.  Even walked away with some swag.

Bomber Products is a new USA based production upstart with a neat modular roof rack bracket…

… works with both Thule and Yakima racks to support awnings.
I was told more trick items Bomber Products are on the way.
Wouldn’t be an overland event with Adventure Trailer showing off their goods.


AEV + BFG = One epic JK Brute conversion.

Can’t go wrong with a classic Rover.

Camel Trophy FTW!

Yeah, you recognize this.  Don’t lie.

Trek orange Disco?  Yeah, I’ll admit I checked this out.

I checked out the Ram and JK at AEV’s booth a little longer though.

I still want to do an Ambo conversion.  Seeing this didn’t help that obsession.

Outfitted and kitted for one heck of an adventure.

The classes: You can log into any forum and talk to people.  You can search online for photos of rigs and gear. You really don’t need to attend an event like Overland Expo for either of those things.  I guess to be honest you could search for the web for the class content too… but as someone who subscribes to experiential learning theory I think some things are best learned “hands on.”  While such things can often be learned out in the field, sometimes it’s best to learn them in a controlled environment.  Having over a decade of experience in the outdoor education field I know the value of taking the time to learn a skill in a relatively safe environment rather than “under fire” in the heat of the moment out on the trail.

Trivia fact: I hung this sign during setup.

One of the man classes in the “classroom” tents near the lake.
Rigging and recovery class with a focus on breaking strength and working load limits.

Example of an overloaded D-ring from the rigging and recovery class.

A class on storage and cargo management.  Gave me a few ideas for winter projects.

In conclusion I will say this about the expo: It’s a must-attend event if you’re serious about the overland lifestyle.  Not everyone is into big crowds or camping in a farm field.  I get that.  Honestly, neither am I.  I would never limit my overlanding to just these kinds of events.  However, it is nice to come together once a year at events like this to meet people, check out the stuff, and learn a few new tricks.  You can still play “lone wolf” and set up camp in your own corner.  No one expects you to attend every social function.  If you’re to the point where you don’t think you can’t learn anything else, then take the opportunity to teach those who are new to the lifestyle.  In short, there’s no good excuse to not attend an event like this at least once every year or so.

Stay tuned for Part 3…