April showers bring May rigs; at least, that’s how it works at Overland Expo West in Flagstaff, Arizona. The annual global overland event wrapped up last weekend, and owners and exhibitors of all stripes brought out the newest and most impressive hardware on the road. Two wheels or four, there’s something for everyone—from giant, world-trekking expedition vehicles to the most humble of Jeeps and Honda trail bikes. After scouring the grounds for three days, here are our top ten rigs.
This is, of course, a subjective exercise. With thousands of vehicles and tens of thousands of attendees, it’s impossible to come up with an objective ranking, never mind even seeing every truck and bike on display or in the back forty of the sprawling campgrounds. These ten reflect what I think are some of the current trends in the overland world, as well as rigs that simply speak to me.
Goose Gear 2023 Toyota RAV-4
The softroader market continues to boom for weekend travelers and long-term adventurers alike. Goose Gear showcased their newest drawer and storage systems for both the Subaru Outback as well as the Toyota RAV-4, featured here. Rock crawlers these are not, but when you’re seeking to get away from the regular grind, and there’s only room for one rig in your garage, these increasingly capable platforms make a lot of sense. One advantage to the Goose Gear systems is that they can be installed securely with a system of straps in less than half an hour, making it easy to swap your CUV camper back into the 9-5 commuter once it’s time to punch the clock.
2023 Jeep Grand Wagoneer Overland Concept with Redtail Roof Tent
The Jeep Grand Wagoneer Overland Concept rocks a 510-horsepower twin-turbo Hurricane inline six-cylinder engine, a 1.5-inch lift over stock on 35-inch tires, and a carbon fiber Redtail Overland Skyloft rooftop tent—possibly the most luxurious and advanced way to sleep on top of your car on the planet. The custom front bumper houses a hidden Warn winch, and other expedition travel touches abound in this estimated $110,000 Jeep. My favorite aspect of this concept, however, is the interior. The colorways of the leather and the plaid-cloth upholstery harken back to the Wagoneer interiors of the 1980s, and I love it.
First Generation Chevrolet Tracker
It’s nice to be reminded amid the crush of new products and vehicles at Overland Expo that you don’t need much to do a whole lot of exploring. Simply Lesa’s two-door Chevy Tracker has “not much” in spades; from its neatly packed spare wheel gear organizer to the minimal off-road lighting, cleverly mounted water tank, small, hood-mounted solar panel, and stock wheels, Lesa lives the ethos that less is more. She’s traveled all over North America in this beautifully preserved and rare 4WD, living only on her Federal disability payments. You can follow more about her travels on the Simply Lesa Instagram page and YouTube channel.
2023 Triumph Tiger 1200—Ultimate Overland
My colleague Graeme wrote extensively about Overland Expo’s Ultimate Overland bike earlier this week, and you can check out all the details there, but I couldn’t help including this Tiger 1200 in my top-ten list as well. It was hard to ignore it with Taco Moto global map wrap, the killer Mosko Moto pannier and bag system, and the Bridgestone Battlax Adventure Cross tires. Eva Rupert—Overland Journal’s Modern Explorer from the Summer 2023 issue—will be riding this beautiful machine across the American West and beyond all summer. Color me green.
1989 Chevrolet Square Body Pickup with 1985 Sun Lite Camper
Is there any truck more honest than a single-cab square-body Chevy? I spotted this well-traveled pickup and its matching Sun Lite pop-up camper in the far reaches of the Overland Expo volunteer/instructor campground. Judging from the door dings, slightly askew bumpers, and the slide-in camper’s ragged canvas, it has clearly seen some real adventures during its long years. I spoke to the owner, who has lovingly maintained and updated the Chevy’s mechanicals for decades, “Why buy something new when this gets me everywhere I want to go?”
Bowen Customs Ram Expedition Rig
Full-size trucks continue to dominate the newer end of the overland market, and this expedition rig from Bowen Customs, Supertramp Campers, and Elevation Off-Grid exemplifies what you can do with the super-duty chassis. This Ram 4500—known as the Warthog—features an 84-inch cab-to-chassis custom platform by Bowen, a super-single conversion, 41-inch tires, and a Liquid Springs suspension system. In addition to the Supertramp pop-up, guests can crash in the 23Zero rooftop tent mounted over the four-door cab. The size and capability of this Ram borders on EarthRoamer territory.
Sonoran Rovers Land Rover Defender 110
We chronicled the evolution of this gorgeous 200Tdi Defender 110 not long ago in Expedition Portal’s Video of the Week series. But it was something else to see in person. The level of craftsmanship and attention to detail in the interior build is nothing short of true art. The integrated Alu-Cab Icarus wedge camper adds not only a spacious sleeping platform but a usable living space as well, all while keeping the Defender’s profile low. As an owner of a 1992 110 two-door Defender myself, this Sonoroan Rovers build is both aspirational and inspirational.
2024 Toyota Tacoma
We’ve covered the roll-out of the new Tacoma at length, and there’s no denying it was the belle of the ball at Overland Expo this year, where it was revealed to the general public for the first time. Our own Scott Brady’s walk-around videos with first impressions will give you a nice overview of the pickup as a whole, and I was impressed that Toyota was able to keep the overall dimensions close to the previous generation Taco while still modernizing some of the shockingly old tech the Tacoma has soldiered on with for years. This will no doubt be another home run for the Big T, and the Trailhunter trim boosts the manufacturer’s commitment to the overland market.
Polaris Xpedition SxS
Cards fully on the table—I’m not a huge fan of ATVs/UTVs/SxSs. I understand their utility and appeal for certain segments in the market (big game hunters, for example), but they’re just not for me. That said, there’s no denying manufacturers of these versatile vehicles are turning their attention to the overland community. Polaris had a huge presence at Expo this year, and their Xpedition four-door side-by-side featured a Polaris-branded roof tent, tons of storage space, and beadlock wheels with 30-inch tires. It starts at $30,000 and has 114 horsepower, a claimed 200 miles of range, Fox suspension with 19 inches of ground clearance, and an integrated winch. The Xpedition has over 1000 pounds of payload and 2,000 pounds of towing capacity, and this fully-enclosed ATV has a wheelbase of 87.5 inches. For reference, a TJ-generation Jeep Wrangler’s wheelbase is only 6 inches longer. The lines are blurring here between UTVs and 4x4s, especially at that price point.
Ford F150 with Enduro Camper
Graeme Bell wrote about the Enduro Camper earlier this year for Expedition Portal, and this was another rig that was very interesting to see in the flesh. With clean lines and ultra-lightweight construction, the chassis-mount camper integrates seamlessly with the Ford F150 platform it rides on. Its minimal 600-pound shell weight means that customization of the interior can integrate as much or as little of life’s amenities and luxuries as you can think of without crowding GVW ratings or diminishing trail performance.
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