When the first Overland Expo took place in Prescott, Arizona, nearly 10 years ago, most of the vehicles in attendance fit the same mold. Built on 4×4 SUV platforms, they all included a roof top tent and a bevy of bolt-on modifications designed to maximize off-road proficiency. Not to say those trucks are less prevalent in the overlanding world, but vans and campers have crept in to take a larger share of the segment.
In the last few years, campers and vans have moved into the fore as the go-to for extended travel, or even quick weekend getaways. The convenience of the live-aboard often comes at the sacrifice of off-road proficiency, but many people are more than willing to make that trade-off. The slide-in camper, once only favored by Midwestern weekend campers, has become an integral part of the global overlanding experience. When the Sprinter van hit the scene, a new audience was born, as well as a growing range of aftermarket builders poised to snag some of the potential revenue.
This year’s Overland Expo proved once again that the live-aboard overland vehicle is gaining popularity and not within any particular demographic. From recent college grads hoping to tap into the van life culture, to retirees reaping the rewards of a life of hard work, the van and camper scene shows no signs of slowing.
Lead Image: Nissan has recently discovered the potential of the overland market and teamed up with several key overland players with two new projects. The Hellwig truck, capped with a luxurious Lance camper, was on hand at the event to show attendees the potential of the traditional truck camper. We had the pleasure of joining Nissan, Hellwig, and Lance on a short day trip to the Colorado River at Peach Springs to see how the rig performed on pavement and two-track. More coverage of that project is on the way.