The 2016 Overland Exposition East in Asheville, North Carolina was our first visit to an Overland Expo – but it won’t be our last. And, there’s so much more to the Overland Expo than just Land Rovers.
Sited on the magnificent and sprawling Biltmore Estate, the Expo hosted thousands of overlanders, campers, and explorers of all stripes for three days of education, skill building, networking, and general camaraderie. Julie and I presented two sessions on our 2015 trip to southern Africa, and participated in an Africa travel roundtable.
There were dozens of exhibitors selling everything from cutlery and portable solar panels, to tents and fully-built global expedition vehicles. Our two-wheeled friends buzzed around on Triumph Tigers, BMW GS’s, and Honda Africa Twins, and hundreds of folks turned a wheel on the B.F. Goodrich and Land Rover off-road driving courses. Winches and tow straps were put to the test at the Camel Trophy Overland Skills area.
The campground was a sea of roof-top tents and expedition trailers – and not even two days of wind, rain, and drizzle (courtesy of Hurricane Matthew) could put a damper on the good vibes at the event.
But, beyond the striking array of jaw-dropping adventure rigs and drool-worthy gear, the real heart and soul of the Expo is the human element. The opportunities to swap knowledge, stories, and aspirations with your fellow travelers, to share a beverage with one of your overlanding heroes, meet new friends, and simply to learn something new are unparalleled anywhere.
These were our people.
The Expo offers scores of classes on topics ranging from camp cooking to major expedition route planning – all from folks who have been there and done that.
At the Camel Trophy Overland Skills area, you can learn a variety of essential skills from some of the most experienced off-road and adventure travel instructors on the planet.
As did this beautifully restored FJ40 ‘Cruiser – an iconic shape.
While they were definitely the soggiest bunch, the moto tribe always seemed to be having the most fun.
Not your average biker bar – adventure bikes lined up in front of the concessions tent.
Dometic was a major exhibitor at the Expo – a 12v portable fridge is a prime piece of overlanding kit.
This Syncro Westfalia sports 6-cylinder Subaru power and a trick custom rear suspension with massive amounts of articulation.
The owner and builder says he surprises lots of folks on the highway with all that new horsepower out back.
Our only complaint? Too many amazing classes and sessions to attend, and not enough time to see them all.
Says it all.
The bridge spanning the entrance to the Camel Trophy Overland Skills area was built using nothing but logs and manila rope.
One of the perks of being an instructor was access to all the amazing educational opportunities at the Expo.
Role playing in the “How to Cross International Borders: An Interactive Simulation Experience” course with Peter Sweetser as the Congolese customs agent.
There were a surprising number of military vehicle-based builds. Some of them were huge.
Speaking of huge, this GlobalXVechicles expedition rig drew a lot of attention all weekend.
Based on an International Trucks platform, it looks ready to conquer the world!
Egypt – a classic overlanding destination, but recent travelers there have run into a host of geopolitical and logistical problems moving through the country.
This International Scout sported a V8 from a Cadillac CTS-V.
I hope it has upgraded brakes!
The Mitsubishi Fuso is a versatile platform that has been popular with European overlanders for some time now – the well-respected firm EarthCruiser is responsible for this impressive build.
Four Wheel Campers had a large display, including this undeniably cool flat-bed Mercedes Unimog.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a well-stocked kitchen to enhance your travel experience. This is a high-end Camp Champ set-up.
More from the Camel Trophy Skills area – winching and recovery on side-slopes. Skills instructor Tim Huber is behind the wheel of the yellow Discovery.
Photos: Julie and Steve Edwards