Expedition Portal and Overland Journal first attended the Outdoor Retailer show in 2006, over 13 years ago. Initially, we were met with reserved curiosity, the outdoor industry unsure about its relationship with vehicle-based adventuring. However, in the subsequent years, we have received more and more attention and adoption from the community, and the outdoor industry is now recognizing the opportunities with overlanders. For 2019, vehicle-based travel is in full swing at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, with dozens of booths representing vehicles and vehicle-based equipment. Vendors from familiar brands like Dometic, iKamper, James Baroud, Mercedes, Rivian, Pelican, and Yakima now dot the aisles, and as a centerpiece, the OR show featured an Overland Experience booth in cooperation with Overland Journal– exciting times! Outdoorretailer.com
The show started off on Monday with the Outdoor Demo Day, a venue that allows participants to test equipment in the field. We had our project Tacoma on display.
Colorado Teardrop was also in attendance with their full-size teardrop, which features bunks for the kids and the ability to configure the interior for both sleeping and eating/lounging.
There were a few unique portable boat companies in attendance as well, easily packed into a vehicle. The Oru Kayak easily folds for storage on the roof rack on in a truck bed, and the Kokopelli Rogue Packraft would be fun for exploring and fishing on small lakes, or for more ambitious adventures with bikepacking.
The Tenkara Japanese fly rods are particularly unique, as they require no reel for use. This results in an extremely compact fishing kit, perfect for the adventure bike, or to store in the drawer system for those camps by the river.
Tasty Bite was on site with their incredible shelf-stable meals. They are one of the best options for adventure motorcycle travel and for those that want zero mess and easy to prepare camp meals—and they are cheap! Also, LifeStraw was in full display with one of their many Airstreams. The straw is a good choice for adventure motorcyclists and bikepackers. Their new pitcher is also a great choice for those with campers.
QuietKat had their full-suspension electric bikes at the demo arena. Bikes like these are a perfect companion to larger vehicles and campers/trailers when having a lightweight scout vehicle is critical or just to have the option to explore more technical terrain then the primary vehicle can traverse.
Inside the Show
At the main venue in downtown Denver, there were hundreds of manufacturers on display, the entire Denver convention center packed with gear from around the world. The show also featured overlanding as a vertical category for the first time and worked with Overland Journal to support overland vendors and provide educational opportunities to attendees. This session shown below was led by Brian McVickers, CBDO of Overland International, the parent company of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal magazine.
The Rivian electric vehicle was on display and is truly exceptional. Imagine a 4WD where each wheel is infinitely variable, and one side could drive forward while the other reversed to navigate a turn sharper than a Vespa! Storage is voluminous, and the range is 400 miles. The future of EV is starting to get exciting.
Loki, the Wolf Dog, was in the Dometic booth, taking a nap with his pal in a 5th-generation 4Runner.
The new CFF line of Dometic fridges was on display, with several units retailing for less than $800 and still able to cool to zero degrees.
Yakima continues to innovate for the vehicle-based traveler with a robust line of bed and roof racks. There are both durable and lighter weight and intended for survival on corrugated roads.
Front Runner always brings innovation and heritage to any event, and this New Legend Scout is no exception. This is an absolutely beautiful restoration, built on a Jeep JK chassis for day-to-day driveability.
Other overlanding stalwarts were also in attendance, including CVT tents and Tepui.
Here is Garmin’s new Overlander GPS, which was developed with the team from XOverland. It is exciting to see a purpose-built GPS for our form of travel.
The mini hardshell hybrid roof tent from iKamper is impressive and fits above the cab of a compact pickup. This model will shake things up in the RTT world.
Also in attendance was James Baroud, one of the highest-quality hardshell tents on the market, known for their ease of set-up and robust materials.
The Matador bag company had a nicely-prepared EarthCruiser in their booth.
Tourig had a few of their Sprinter conversions on display. The buildouts are of high quality and thoughtfully designed.
Craghoppers clothing and Tincup Whiskey both had fantastic vintage overland vehicles in their booths.
So, how popular has the idea of overlanding been with the Outdoor Retailer audience? We feel this image tells it all. overlandjournal.com
For this article, we are featuring the manufacturers specific to vehicles and vehicle equipment. Our outdoor gear feature will follow in a few days.