Expo East 2018: Cool Trucks and New Gear

Overland Expo is about travel, education, friendship, and experiences, but if we’re honest, it’s also about the amazing trucks and gear. Enormous Unimogs, Earth Cruisers, Global Expedition Vehicles, and Earthroamers that we would rarely spot elsewhere litter the event. There are vintage trucks from every corner of the globe, expertly built 4WDs of various makes and models, and overland products that will change the way you camp and travel forever. This year’s event was certainly no exception, so let’s take a look at a few of our favorites.

The Overland Bug

Blue Ridge Overland Gear always brings something cool to the show, but this year their booth had more than just awesome gear— check out the crazy Bug you see here. Named El Burro, the owners tell us they built this Volkswagen to travel overland across North America. It is jam-packed with a roll-cage, tube bumpers, a winch, auxiliary fuel tanks, and a fully sound-deadened and temperature-controlled interior. Not only that, but it has undergone loads of suspension and motor work, as well as regearing to help it conquer mountain trails. We would give you the full scoop with all the details now, but there is just too much to cover, so look for an independent article on it soon!

Until then, check out all of the cool gear from Blue Ridge Overland Gear here. 

IGLHAUT Allrad

When I first saw this Sprinter, my mind simply went, huh, that looks very well-proportioned. Then as I moved closer, I suddenly realized why, it was sitting on 37-inch tires. My interest had officially been peaked, so I decided to dive a little deeper. As it turns out, this is far more than a big body lift. This Sprinter is made by IGLHAUT Allrad, a well-respected, and Mercedes-Benz approved, upfitter in Germany. Some of you are probably thinking great, another van we can’t have, but fret not, this is one foreign-produced truck we can actually legally own. Here’s how it works.

First, you purchase a 2WD van here in the states and book an appointment with IGLHAUT in Germany. Once the details have all been confirmed they ship the van over to their facility where it undergoes a conversion to a full-time, four-wheel drive system with a 50:50 power split. This uses more robust components than those available on US model Sprinters, which is why you start with a 2WD. They then re-gear the vans and install three differential locks. When the new suspension is in to match, they then add the 37-inch tires you see here.

The all-in price for this Sprinter and the conversion cost is roughly $130,000 USD, but that’s without an interior build-out. Pricey to be sure, but that gives you one heck of a base for an expedition vehicle, and more capability than most Sprinters can tout here in the States. Anyone want to add this to their wishlist for the season?

To learn more, visit their website here. 

Main Line Overland Prospector XL and Tacoma

This Prospector XL was without a doubt one of our favorite trucks at the show, and how could it not be? Built by Main Line Overland out of Pennsylvania, this RAM is one of just 10 Prospector XL Tray Beds to ever be produced by American Expedition Vehicles (AEV). It features 41-inch tires, high-mark fender flares, AEV’s premium front bumper and snorkel, Katla wheels, and, of course, the aluminum tray in the back. These features alone make it rare and envy worthy, but to take it that extra mile Main Line paired it to a Woolrich edition Four-Wheel Camper flatbed model. Can anyone say dream truck?

The AEV Prospector wasn’t the only truck Main Line Overland had on display though. Their team also showed up with what is certainly one of my favorite Tacomas, this absolutely stellar third gen. Packing a color-matched Dobinsons front bumper, their proprietary GTS suspension, Evo-Corse wheels, and a Norweld tray and canopy, it is ready for any adventure you could throw at it. Plus, it just looks so darn good. Look for the full build details in an upcoming feature here on the site. Until then, check out other awesome builds, products, and information on Main Line Overland’s website here. 

Rigd Supply 4Runner UltraSwing

One of the more intriguing products of the show came from Rigd Supply. They’re calling it the UltraSwing, a receiver mounted swing-out designed to carry a spare tire and accessories. According to the their team, the goal was to create an affordable tire carrier that could accomodate 35s without sticking too far out and ruining the departure angle. They also wanted it to be capable of carrying a bike rack while still allowing you to open the rear hatch of the vehicle. A tall order to be sure, but one the UltraSwing seems to deliver on.

It’s capable of doing everything mentioned above, plus hold a jack, shovel, jerry cans, or other accessories while still functioning as your standard trailer hitch. Now, we haven’t seen how this will fair long-term with the torsion of off-road travel, so we asked about the weight ratings, testing, and previous experience of the designer. As it turns out, he has a background with Wilco, and knows a thing or two about this style of rack. It is rated to a total of 250 pounds, which is half of the receiver’s rating leaving plenty of margin for error there. To reduce stress on the rack itself and improve departure angle the tire was tucked in close to the tailgate, but it was also placed at an angle to reduce the leverage it could exert off road. When the hitch wedge is fully tightened, they claim to have no discernible movement, leading us to believe this package should hold up for some time.

Pricing is currently set at $825 for pre-order, and you can learn more about the UltraSwing here. 

Heritage Driven Cummins Defender

Okay, you’ve caught us, we like Defenders, but this truck is truly exceptional, even compared to other restorations. It was built by Heritage Driven out of New Mexico, and has been upgraded from top to bottom to look and feel better than new. Forged metal handles have replaced the cheap plastic ones used previously, the awkward steering-wheel angle has been adjusted, the seats have been replaced, and all of the body panels have been realigned to better than factory specs. Underneath the hood, a 2.8L Cummins motor hums away, but you wouldn’t know it through all of the layers of sound deadening now coating the cab. All of the seals were redone of course, and Heritage Driven actually had to design a door vent afterwards because the truck was so air-tight that nothing closed due to the trapped air! Basically, if they could find a piece to improve throughout the restoration they did, and that has resulted in some of the cleanest Defenders available stateside.

To learn more about Heritage Driven, visit their website here. 

FJ Company

As per usual. the FJ Company brought some amazing vehicles, but at this event they had something rather special: a beautiful FJ60 sporting a retro paint scheme and graphics. We’d still take the gray FJ43 next door, but it would be a close call.

To learn more about their trucks, check out their website here. 

Global Expedition Vehicles

GXV rolled in with a fleet of travel trucks this year, ranging from Patagonia models to a UXV Max, but it was the Adventure Truck that really caught our eye. It uses a molded fiberglass body mounted to a Ram 5500 chassis, and packs loads of upgrades to suspension and plenty of aftermarket goodies from various manufacturers. It is far nimbler than their larger variants, which will make it easier to explore the more remote and harder to reach corners of our world. This model of Adventure Truck is also available with Ford bodies, and both start at a cool $198,000. You can learn all about them on their website here. 

Off the Grid Pants

There are loads of outdoor clothing brands these days, but it can be surprisingly difficult to find a pair of pants that are durable, affordable, and also cut in a flattering way. Enter Off The Grid, a company run by clothing designers from some of the top names in the industry. (We won’t specify which company, but it sounds a lot like piranha.) Their Trailblazer 2.0 pants use a stretch canvas with crotch gussets to provide plenty of maneuverability without risk of blowouts, and the legs are pre-bent to match the actual form of your body. They feature a low profile zipper pocket for valuables, reinforcements in wear zones like the corner of your pockets where you would carry a knife, a contoured waistband for a comfortable fit, and most importantly a price tag equal to that of a pair of Levis; just $69. To learn more or order your own, check out their website here. 

New Legend 4WD

We fell in love with New Legend’s trucks a few years back, so we made sure to get some one on one time with the gray 800 you see below at Expo East. Built on a Jeep JK frame with an LS3 motor and a stunning interior, this truck blew us and everyone else who saw it away. As good as it looked though, it handled better, and you can read all about that in an upcoming article in Overland Journal and on the Expedition Portal home page. For now though, take a look at their website here.

Earth Cruiser EXD

One of the hot trucks at Expo East this year was an all new platform from Earth Cruiser called the EXD. It utilizes a composite body which can be bolted to almost any chassis with an 8-foot bed and single rear wheels. The entire package is designed to be lighter and more nimble than their larger Fuso mounted EXPs, giving the platform a wider range of destinations and capability. But don’t let its size deceive you, Earth Cruiser didn’t sacrifice any comfort in exchange.

Inside you’ll find all the luxuries of home, including a bed, kitchen, bathroom, shower, hot water heater, furnace, and so much more. The interior is clean and simple, with enough living space to be comfortable on extended trips. Of course, with domestic trucks as the base, there’s also the added benefits of larger payloads and towing capacities than you’d have on the Fuso, not to mention the increased power, which will make grinding away long miles a breeze.

Prices are set to start around $110,000 for the camper, and more information can be found on their website here.

Yokohama X-AT

Yokohama has been making a splash in the overland space lately, and they’re about to make a whole lot bigger one with their new X-AT tire. This new release bridges the gap between their Geolander A/T and M/T platforms, giving consumers the aggressive sidewall patterns and off-road performance they love, without sacrificing the daily ride quality and noise level of an A/T. It even has different sidewall appearances depending on which way you run the tire, allowing customers to cater the look to their tastes. You can see both by looking at the top right and bottom left photos below.

Sales are slated to begin in the second quarter of 2019, and we look forward to seeing how the perform in the field. For updates, check out the Yokohama website here. 

Chevrolet Aftermarket Ramping Up

Chevrolet has been making a bigger impact in this space with each year, and now it seems the aftermarket is taking notice. Products are not only rolling in from big name companies like AEV, but from smaller batch brands like CBI and 589 fabrication. Personally, I’m excited to see what other products begin to roll out for these Chevrolet platforms in the near future, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them on the trail. For more information on these manufacturers, check out the links below.

CBI Off-road       589 Fabrication       American Expedition Vehicles

Adventure Tool Company

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Adventure Tool Company products out of Colorado. Every one of their high-quality canvas products is handmade right here in the USA, and they’re exceptional for organizing any aspect of your vehicle. Now they’ve added one more option to their kit, a recovery gear bag made from 12-ounce waxed canvas, a 1500d ballistic Cordura bottom, and a 1000d Cordura interior.

Inside you’ll find reinforced pockets ready to accomodate heavy shackles, ropes, and snatch blocks, with MILSPEC high-tensile nylon stitching and binding tape in the seams for additional protection against tears. These pockets will not only keep your gear organized and protected, but also isolated without the annoying rattles of metal clanking together.

Like their other products, the recovery bag carries a lifetime warranty, and it is currently priced at $65 on their website which you can check out here.

Goose Gear S-Series

Goose-Gear’s storage systems have become synonymous with quality and precision over the past few years, but now they’re upping the ante again with a top-tier lineup of modular overland camper interiors called the S-Series. We had the chance to inspect it firsthand at Expo East, and here’s what we can tell you thus far.

This new product line is the lightest and strongest system they’ve built yet. It’s based on a proprietary aluminum extrusion which bolts directly into aircraft track or L-track on the floor, which makes it easier than ever to install them into a wide variety of vehicles, especially vans, box trucks, and old military rigs.

The subframe of each product is riveted together to maximize the strength to weight ratio, and the cabinets are assembled with ultra-lightweight marine-grade woods before being sealed with laminate surfaces for longevity. Because no two styles are alike, a range of wood grain and contemporary laminate surfaces will be available to match your vehicle’s interior to your personal style.

Although we’ve only had the chance to quickly poke around the interior of this Sprinter, I was impressed by how well everything worked and the little details incorporated into the build. Room for shoes on the doorsill for example, and dead space being utilized for wiring or storage. Everything has been planned out, and the result is a space that feels much bigger than it is.

Official pricing hasn’t been released yet on these systems, but we’re being told it will be available by Overland Expo West in May. For now, check out Goose Gear’s other great products on their website here.

Nomadica Outfitters and Kovea

We first spotted Kovea gear with a few of our favorite world travelers and contributors, so when Nomadica Outfitters became their US distributor, we knew we needed to check them out. Thankfully, they made it easy on us by attending Expo East with an array of products like bamboo camp tables, high-powered single and two burner stoves, and some beautiful folding chairs. The aesthetics were clearly on point, but it was the quality that impressed me upon closer inspection. Unlike much of the gear being built these days, everything felt solid and durable. Even the carrying cases looked and felt the part. We’re planning to review several of their products in the near future, but for now check out some of the gear on their website here.

Kenda Tires and the Samurai

Kenda is another company that has been making a big push into the overland space recently, especially with their new M/T at Expo East. We haven’t used the tire enough to know how well it handles, but it certainly looks good. Still, we’d be lying if we said it didn’t look better on their amazingly clean DIESEL Samurai parked behind the tire display. This truck was in perfect condition, with no signs of damage or wear on the interior or exterior. It actually looked so good that we asked the owner if he’d be willing to sell it. Wisely, he refused.

To learn more about Kenda Tires, check out their website here. 

Ford Ranger

The most unexpected attendee of the event was Ford’s new Ranger. This mid-size has been among the most highly anticipated vehicles in our space, so the surprising part wasn’t necessarily that the trucks were there, but rather that people were actually allowed to drive them off road. Keep in mind that this is an experience the media hasn’t even had yet, so there were more than a few surprised expressions before we all flocked to get our chance at a drive. Sadly bad weather shut the track down before we got the chance, so we will have to wait for the official launch like everyone else. Darn.

And so much more.

There were countless amazing products and vehicles at this event, and we know we’ve missed many of them, so here’s a peek at a few more cool trucks and accessories we spotted during the three rainy days there.

Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Chris didn’t receive a real taste of the outdoors until moving to Prescott, Arizona, in 2009. While working on his business degree, he learned to fly and spent his weekends exploring the Arizona desert and high country. It was there that he fell in love with backcountry travel and four-wheel drive vehicles, eventually leading him to Overland Journal and Expedition Portal. After several years of honing his skills in writing, photography, and off-road driving, Chris now works for the company full time as Expedition Portal's Managing Editor.

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