Overland expo


I am debating on going to overland expo west 2018. It is about 7 to 8 hour drive from me. So its not just around the corner. I am wanting to be able to first hand see vehicle setups and different gear and talk with people with familys and see how they are making camping work.
I have always been into offroading and mostly did desert camping in a toy box trailer as a kid. Now that i have a wife, 2 kids 7mo and 3yr and a dog i have been struggling on what direction i want to go with gear. Im pretty sure the wife wants a nice trailer with tub/ shower and toilet and some type of air conditioning for hot days when the kids or us are borderline overheated. Puts me at about 21ft trailer minimum from what i gather and thats close to maxing out 4runner tow capacity. Would like to use the 4runner and not need the full size all the time.
That sounds nice but i want to get my kids off the beaten path and out of campgrounds with large luxury trailers everywhere. Before deciding on which brand rtt to get or if i go with a open trailer or a small travel trailer or a cargo trailer converted etc...
I would really like my wife to see what is out there and what and how people are doing it with little kids. Most of what i gather is with little kids base camping for a few days at a time is a better option then packing up camp everyday and moving. Just doing small day excursions around where camp is set up. So that seems like a trailer is a good way to do it.

So what im really asking is if i can get my wife to sit in the car for 8 hrs with 2 kids to go to expo will i really be able to look at peoples setups and gear and talk with them and be able to compare different brands? Or would i be the awkward guy bothering people at camp trying to talk to strangers giving a vibe i might rob them? Is it worth the drive to go for a day? Im not interested in any classes.

Going to the offroad expo in los angeles its just looking at products not really getting hands on and talking specs with booth workers who dont use the stuff and seem to just want to sell a product.
That is just no use for me as i want to see what works and can aid in making a nice camplife when my family goes and not have stress from the other half about how the setup is difficult with the kids.


I went to OX several years ago and am going again this year, coming from Denver it is a two day trip for me.
I don't like to ride for more than 6 hours at a time and with the sunset early night driving is out of the question. Moab area is just about the 1/2 way point for me so I will be stopping there for a night.
I plan to get there a day before it starts and try for a decent camp area.

I think it is worth the trip if one is going to see what is available and it can probably be done in one day and a day pass is much less expensive than a longer term camp. My plan is to stop by the North Rim on the way back to just see what is there if the snow permits, so staying for a long time at OX is not in my plans.
Each year they seem to include more things for the larger family type group.

edit of the edit: the something got canceled so this might still happen for me
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I have only been to Expo East but can say that at it you will see a lot of set-ups and people enjoy talking about theirs. If I was driving 8 hours I would plan to camp overnight at least and make a couple days of it. Expo West is bigger than East and there is too much to see and do in just one day. There are more than just classes and vendors.


Expedition Leader
Granted, I'm Prejudiced ...

We, that is Beloved Spouse and the Bleu Cat, have been to two OEXPO Wests and four OEXPO Easts. West is 2300 miles for us and East is about 500 miles.

Granted, we are presenting, but we are gearing up to get off a plane and drive the 2300 miles to West in 2018. (Won't be able to make East next year due to a conflict.)

We've been doing this for some 40 years and it is always fun to see the new toys and meet up with old friends. There may be exceptions, of course, but we have had hundreds of folks walk/crawl/prowl through our vehicle. And we have done the same with both professional and personal vehicles. Usually you can chat directly with senior people from most of the major manufacturers, not many "Demo Dollies" around - mostly folks with dirty fingernails and years of experience.

So if you only have an eight hour drive - sounds like a no brainer, especially if you want your spouse to chat with others about travel with kids (done that) and similar aspects of travel. Indeed, we have taught a class on "Reluctant Spouses." You will both find lots of people to talk with and there are programs for younger folk, given by younger folk.

Look at it this way, OEXPO West is a lot closer than Bad Kissingen (https://www.abenteuer-allrad.de/?lang=en) or Stratford on Avon (http://www.adventureoverlandshow.net).

Hope to see you there.
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Approved Vendor : Total Composites
I takes us 4-5 days to get there. Totally worth it, hands down! You will be surprised how many families are there.



That is basically the spirit of Expo, not just the gear, but the people as well. If you can swing camping in the general area its a good time, lots of different set ups. Although the camp areas are a bit tighter or more compact at the new venue it should still be a great experience. It really is a spectacle. I have been to Expo West for the last 4 years, 2 as a camper and 2 as a vendor/representative of a Veterans Non-Profit (Motorcycle Relief Project). My wife went with me the first year, and although I think she had a good time, she has not been back with me since. I think that having her see what is possible and works for other families will go a long way. Good luck.


I think it would be worth your time to get eyes on equipment to see what you want to do. Plus having your wife and kids along could possibly get her more excited about the idea of what is out there and what is available. Also, you can plan to do things outside of Expo as well, or if your wife and kids only want to do a day at Expo they could look to do something in Flagstaff. Also, Bearizona http://bearizona.com is about 30 minutes up the road and would be worth checking out while your in the area.

Outside somewhere

Overland certified public figure brand ambassador
Side note: you say a 21 ft unit so I assume you would be looking at almost 4k pounds dry. Have you done the math on the additional weight? Most trailers that size hold around around 80 pounds of additional weight in fresh, black and grey water alone. Then add in propane, food, gear, people. Just saying creature comforts add pounds fast.

On a personal note, never been to oex west but from ive been told it's the go to place to see everything in one place.


Active member
Check out Escape Trailers 19 for something that is above average in quality and would work with 2 kids and is the proper weight. There are people on the escape forum that tow them with a 4Runners. They are not suitable for serious off-road, but you could use it as a base camp on graded dirt forest roads. It will make your wife happy. We have a 17B which is great but would be too small for 2 people + 2 kids and a dog.

I went to Expo a couple of years ago and didn't see any larger off-road trailers. It's mostly teardrops and chasers with RTT's.


Went to a 4X club gathering several years in CO and one of the guys had a trailer delivered and set up waiting for him. The rental was less than I thought possible. He flew in from somewhere back east, had a trail vehicle delivered and waiting next to the trailer. Didn't have the time to drive and tow a trailer and a trail vehicle so he planned it out well. after the week was over he drove to the airport and flew home leaving the trailer and trail vehicle.
Amazing what money can do.
I recall that there were rooms to rent close to the site that was operational several years ago. Even if you can't camp it is still possible to have a great time.


Thank you all for the info! Im really hoping i can get the wife there and she can see first hand all the different setups and see that she really doesn't need a glamper and everything will be just fine with the kids. Being in san diego big travel trailers and toy boxes are the norm so thats all she ever really sees.

I used my 12v 51 qt fridge for the first trip with her up to a cabin in the mountains for 4 days and packed everything that needed to be cold in there since it was a 3 hour drive before being able to store it in the cabins refrigerator and she was definitely liking not having to buy ice,double ziplock everything and reach in the slush to get things out and it packed smaller than a cooler to fit the same amount of food. FINALLY after owning the thing for a year she admits that it was a handy purchase LOL.


New member
We are also from San Diego and will be making the trip for the 4th time. I think the kids enjoy it more than I do. They really do put on a great program for kids and have some exciting things planned this year to take it to another level. Hope to see you there.



don't forget, all the NAtional forests in Arizona are basically free camping on any road you can find turnouts and spots where free camping can be had. It's also at elevation over 8000', so it'll be cool at night.
I went in 2016 to Expo West, it was pretty great.
you get to see awesome products, get tons of swag and beers even for free at some booths, I saw lots of stuff I couldn't afford, but lots of items I wished I had and could manage.
Everyone was more than willing to explain, set up, tear down, fold over, open and close, push pull, try on whatever...it's all hands on.

My wife loves the safety aspect of everything. Once I showed her that stuff, she was on board. I kept her away from the titanium sporks and 500 dollar camp chairs and pointed at shower accessories like I found a gold bar on the ground.

Seeing the stuff at 1:1 scale also changes your perception of what you need. Looking at a specific tent after settling on it from reviews and photos in ads can be a huge advantage. I counted at least 15 different tents I crawled inside of, around, dropped and lifted flaps and doors. I'm 6'4" so having the usual sizes of things don't work for me.

The parking lots are the best truck show on earth. The motorcycles that show up are really cool too. There's a bunch to see, but the camping around the area is just awesome. I didn't think I'd be missing it so bad, but I really do. Flagstaff is a great college town, has all the shops you can imagine, and 15 minutes down the road is a dirt road to somewhere with a dozen great turnouts to find your spot. Monument Valley is a bucket list to see. Also Route 66 is there, tell the kids it's like in the Movie, CARS.


Ovrlnd Rd

It'll be a 17 hour drive for us but we won't have kids along. We're going to try and make the Gila NF and camp on the way over.


Approved Vendor : Total Composites
I will be coming down to the expo through Montana and Colorado. Anyone interested in meeting up before hand or along the way, give me a shout.