The Overland Expo, held for the last three years just outside Tucson, Arizona, is growing steadily. Adventure-seeking motorcyclists and four-wheel-drive enthusiasts come from all over the country to share stories, discover the latest products and technology, get advanced training, see extreme adventure movies, and often make lifelong friends, all in the name of mild to extreme backcountry exploration. This show is quite different from other 4x4 or camping exhibits in that there is an active push to get people prepared and excited about their next big trip. In fact, the central theme of the Overland Expo is "Get Outfitted; Get Trained; Get Inspired; Get Going."
If you've ever spent much time in Africa or Australia, you've likely heard of "overlanding." Overlanding is not four-wheeling as we know it in the U.S., where the vehicle's primary focus is to navigate and conquer an obstacle or trail. Overlanding is more about using the vehicle as a tool (in fact, one of many tools) for exploration, adventure, and discovery. Of course, that can be done in an old 2WD Chevy van or a custom-built 4x4 global expedition vehicle, as long as the main goal for the people involved is to learn more about the world by getting out there and experiencing it. This type of safari-like lifestyle has naturally spawned and tapped into a growing industry of manufacturers that provide a wide range of products to support such activities.
One of the most exciting aspects of the expo is the abundance of product booths offering everything from rooftop tents to water purifiers to solar-powered battery chargers. As you might expect, some of the themes are self-sufficiency and conservation of the beauty of remote lands and cultures. A key component to the weekend is learning, facilitated by dozens of training sessions and clinics covering new safety techniques, tips on how to use your gear, and discussions about faraway lands with experienced travelers.