Editor’s Picks: The Coolest Vehicles from Overland Expo East

October 22, 2019 by Amanda Ellis, @WanderRedFox

Luxury conversion campervans, custom teardrop trailers and over-built off-road vehicles headed the lineup of cool vehicles at Overland Expo East at Infinity Downs in Arrington, VA. earlier this month.

The campground was packed with attendees’ backcountry-oriented overlanding rigs — some outfitted and others in the making. Rigs ranged from jeeps and trucks to massive tank-like vehicles that look constructed for permanent off-grid survival. Here are some of the coolest vehicles from the weekend.

Mercedes-Benz Unimog U1300L

NATO first used this stock 1990 Unimog U1300L as an ambulance in Europe. It’s now an impressive expedition vehicle. The model is 4×4 with fully locking front and rear differentials, a deep water wading kit, and a heavy-duty turbo-diesel engine. An insulated steel rear box features a diesel-fired 40K BTU heater and a separate 24V split charged battery bank.


Mercedes-Benz Unimog U1300L

Despite its large size, the vehicle’s turning radius is tighter than most pickup trucks. This build features heavy-duty Michelin XZL 365/80R20 44-inch diameter tires. Unimog roughly translated means “universal motorized implement machine” — designed for use in the world’s harshest environments. This Unimog U1300L is a capable off-road vehicle,` effectively living up to its namesake — and then some.

Brand-On Beast aka B.O.B. M1088A1 Expedition Truck

Brand On’s flagship vehicle serves as the mobile office for the crew — and it’s worth drooling over. The 2004 Stewart & Stevenson M1088A1 Expedition Truck belongs to the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) developed by Oshkosh Defense to transport semi-trailers, armored vehicles, and heavy construction equipment.

The M1088 features full-time 6×6 all-wheel drive, a 25,000 pound payload, and a 7.2-liter six-cylinder Caterpillar C7 diesel engine. The owner converted the tractor into a capable, expedition-ready campervan. Renovations included building and mounting the rear box, adding a roof rack and Protech storage, installing King shocks and air conditioning, and outfitting the vehicle with appropriate recovery gear.

“The Jeep That Conquered Africa”

Jeep Wranglers are popular overlanding vehicles — but few compare to this 2011 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. Its owner outfitted the vehicle for a two-year adventure around the entire African continent — branded “The Road Chose Me”. He selected the Rubicon for the base vehicle’s off-road capabilities, including locking front and rear differentials, low range transfer case, and electronic sway bar disconnect.

Vehicle modifications include a 2.5” lift, the addition of front and rear bumpers, front and engine skid plates, an AEV snorkel, and a Warn ZEON 10-S winch. The owner mounted an Ursa Minor J30 Pop Up Camper on the roof for sleeping and replaced the back seats with custom built cabinets for storage.

Living amenities include a 35L Dometic fridge, Outback Trailgator kitchen space, and a basic water system. Two isolated batteries power the fridge using either the engine or solar power from two 100W Renogy Eclipse solar panels. A rear-mounted ARB 1250 awning serves as a sunshade over the kitchen space. The modifications make for an adept off-road vehicle that’s pragmatic for off-grid living — not to mention a 53,726 mile expedition.

Global Expedition Avalanche

Global Expedition Vehicles (GXV) is the premier extreme off-road RV outfitter. The brand offers a line of models for building onto pick-up or medium duty chassis. GXV exhibited three different vehicles at Overland Expo East. Its largest Patagonia model —  dubbed the “Expedition Avalanche” — paved the way.


Kenworth, International, Freightliner, Ford F750, and most Class 7 trucks are Patagonia build chassis options. Exterior features include dual-paned glass windows, a 12V awning, 800W solar panels, exhaust fan, skylight, and a roof rack with storage boxes. This model provides for convenient cab-to-cabin access, a 14,000 BTU air conditioning unit, 135 gallon fresh water supply and a Webasto Hydronic Thermo Pro 90 heater.

The Patagonia boasts a luxurious interior. A kitchen area displays handcrafted cabinetry, a stainless steel deep-bowl sink and granite countertops. An induction cooktop, stainless steel fridge/freezer, microwave, and adjustable dining table complete the dining area. The bedroom area features a queen-size mattress, LED lights, cabinets and underbed storage.

This model lacks for none of the comforts of home — including a shower, cassette toilet, vanity cabinet, medicine cabinet and the option to add a washer/dryer. The dining area converts into a second sleeping space, offering enough room for the whole family.

Amanda Ellis October 22, 2019
Overland Expo East’s vendors presented the latest and greatest in outdoor gear — but the array of over-the-top adventure rigs stole the show.
Amanda Ellis October 17, 2019
We scoured the adventure film-worthy displays of more than 150 vendors in attendance at Overland Expo East. Check out our picks of the best gear we could find for outfitting an overlanding vehicle.

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