Fort Tuthill County Park in Flagstaff, Ariz., transforms into an overlanding extravaganza each spring when Overland Expo West takes residence. A who’s who of off-roading, backcountry camping and automotive performance, the show is stuffed with new product reveals and vehicle debuts.
It’s also a well of inspiration as hundreds of modified vehicles and new adventure innovations fill the park. Among them: decades-old Land Cruisers built for off-grid travel and massive expedition rigs that could survive an apocalypse.
Here are our favorite overlanding vehicles from Overland Expo West.
2020 JEEP GLADIATOR WAYOUT CONCEPT
The 2020 Jeep Gladiator recently hit dealer lots. But Fiat Chrysler Automobiles already had designed and built an impressive concept of its new pickup, aptly named Jeep Wayout. The Wayout made its debut at Overland Expo West clad with a rooftop tent, canvas awning and sidewalls, as well as an integrated roof rack.
The build also includes a snorkel, a Warn winch and a hard-mounted ladder for access to the roof rack and rooftop tent. The truck’s bedsides have built-in jerry can slots that lay flush with the rest of the exterior.
The sliding storage system on the truck bed uses one side for storage and the other as a mobile refrigerator. An on-board air supply can fix flat tires and power a Vitamix blender attachment in the refrigerator. The rig runs on a 3.6-liter V6 engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
1979 LAND CRUISER HJ45
Outside of its familiar body style, the Land Cruiser HJ45 doesn’t appear to be from the 1979 model year. And it’s been upgraded for off-road fun, with a supercharged 3.4-liter engine, a front and rear live-axle suspension kit and front- and rear-facing cameras.
Its owners installed a Warn winch with in-dash remote activation, a sine wave inverter for AC power and a custom-built truck bed canopy with roll-up sides. A built-in Garmin GPS device is used for navigation and for Sirius XM, Apple CarPlay and Bluetooth connectivity.
1996 MERCEDES BENZ G 463
Mercedes G-Class SUVs are effective off-roaders. And this 1996 Mercedes Benz G 463 looks every bit the part. It was designed and built by the German expedition vehicle company Maltec and costs $169,000.
With a 3.0-liter turbo diesel engine, BF Goodrich mud-terrain tires and the capacity to carry up to 40.5 gallons of fuel, it’s primed for the backcountry. The build also features a 400-watt solar panel, a carbon fiber pop-up roof, a pass-through cabin and an exterior ladder that doubles as a table mount.
Its interior has a kitchenette area with a 12-volt refrigerator, two-burner propane stovetop and sink, and upper and lower sleeping areas. Leather bench cushions line either side of the rear cabin. Storage compartments are located under the seats. Maltec also included an outdoor shower with hot and cold water.
RIVIAN ELECTRIC CAMPER TRUCK
Upstart electric vehicle maker Rivian showed up with a camping-specific version of its R1T electric truck. The appearance further stoked the conversation regarding its truck concept’s capability as an adventure vehicle.
Featuring a Tepui-collaborated rooftop tent sitting on a rack system in its truck bed, the R1T also had a rack on top of its cabin outfitted with Maxtrax and a Hi-Lift Jack.
But it was Rivian’s installation of a sliding mobile kitchen in the pass-through storage area that really stood out. The setup featured compartments designed to house cooking utensils, plates, bowls and pots and pans. The opposite side housed a two-burner induction stovetop and counter space for preparing food.
EarthCruiser’s flagship EXP adventure rig is an RV with an attitude. Designed to travel through any environment, the EXP is a 4×4 built on Daimler’s Fuso truck chassis. It stands just over 8 feet tall, stretches roughly 21.5 feet long and is nearly 7 feet wide.
Its interior comes standard with bench seating in the rear, a kitchenette with two sinks, a swinging dinette table, a ceramic cooktop and a 12-volt refrigerator-freezer combo. The roof pops up to increase interior headroom. Built-in fans throughout help circulate air.
The EXP has a queen size bed, a cassette toilet that recesses when not in use, roof-mounted solar panels, a shower area and an air and water heater. Lockers and tool boxes are located throughout for storage use. And ceiling-mounted speakers are included.