Overland Expo East 2014
Overland Expo has been around since 2009 and is the largest gathering of its kind. The west coast edition has grown so large so quickly that it only made sense to show the east coast a little love. The first annual Overland Expo East (Oct. 3-4, 2014) was held at Taylor Ranch in Fletcher, NC. The unofficial numbers: there were 5,000 attendees, over 100 vendors, 300 session hours of overlanding courses, all held on a 300 acre horse ranch. We were greeted at the gate by the friendly staff and quickly headed towards the parking lot.
Having only witnessed Overland Expo on Expedition Portal and never in person, I was overwhelmed with the amount of exciting things to see. Hell, the parking lot looked like it was torn from the pages of Overland Journal. After parking, we headed over to registration where we received our credentials and were presented with a pair of swag bags filled with brochures, info about the event -including a map, and some decals -I heart decals.
We then proceeded to follow the extremely well labeled path towards the rear of the property where we would choose our camping location amongst a sea of roof top tents, Landrovers, Landcruisers, Jeeps, Tacomas, Sportsmobiles, Earthroamers, etc. Luckily, there was still one flat spot right next to the lake to drop the teardrop for the weekend. At our vantage point, we could basically see the entire event from the comfort of our window. Of course, this also meant that where ever we were on the property, we could also see the tiny camper perched on the top of the hill -cool!
The first night was spent doing some preliminary scouting in order to find out where our classes would be held, be it in a classroom (in a large enclosed tent), or in a unique area that catered to a specific task such as vehicle recovery, field welding, etc.. There were so many cool rigs, trailers, and products in the main vendor area that Gwen had to guide me around by my hand to keep me from running off and getting lost like a little kid at Disney World -did I mention I was overwhelmed?
Friday morning (Oct. 3rd) began with dual battery basics. The instructor was charming and had a very firm understanding of 12v batteries and how to get the most our of them. It was an interesting class and as appealing as dual batteries are, I think this is one mod that won't find it's way into either of our rigs. More on this later. Next, we headed over to meet up with Rachelle Croft and Rhonda Cahill of Expedition Overland for a lesson in basic compass and map navigation. This was my first experience with using a real compass and I really enjoyed it. The rain didn't stop us from having a great time and we stayed mostly dry, that is until Rhonda managed to soak my backside while trying to drain the pooling water in the canopy. Overall the class was very informative and I walked away with a greater understanding of navigation via map and compass ...and a wet backside.
We then headed to Basic GPS navigation. There was a lot of information in this course, but for the most part what I learned was to pay close attention to which companies were easiest to share information. Some companies make it difficult to do so. Google Earth is also worth investing in if you aren't already using it to plan your trips.
In addition to putting on an awesome event, Jonathan Hanson also teaches class as well. We were fortunate enough to spend time learning non lethal Hi-Lift Jack techniques. It was a fairly basic class, but the info is invaluable. I enjoyed lifting his Tacoma by its impressive Pronghorn brand front bumper. Another valuable class consisted of food prep and packaging. There was a lot of info available from the instructor and we learned a lot. Luckily we brought note pads along with us.
I won't bore you with an account of each class we took as there were numerous, instead I'll just say they were very well thought out and equally informative. We learned to weld with car batteries, purify drinking water, package food, navigate, vehicle recovery and a ton of other fun and useful things. Needless to say, we are looking forward to attending Overland Expo again in the future -next time, in Arizona.
Oh, I almost forgot, the reason I don't think we will be going with a dual battery system has to do with our needs. Since our main reason for wanting dual batteries was to keep from becoming stranded with a dead battery in the middle of nowhere, we found a better solution: Antigravity Micro Starting system. Amazon has them for <$100 USD with free shipping. Despite their small size, they will jump start several dead batteries, charge your iPhone, iPad, etc. several times all on one charge. What ever your needs, they are worth looking into.
ARB 2500 awning mounted and ready to go.
Adventure Trailers flippac equipped JKU.
Exploring Elements was there having just finished up in Alaska.
Paul May from Equipt was very friendly and brought his very well equipped 4 Runner.
Mario Donovan instructing.
Mario Donovan of Adventure Trailers fame demonstrating safe trailering in technical terrain.
One of the many Defender 110's in attendance.
Jonathan Hanson's Hi-Lift safety course underway.
How to winch with a Hi-Lift.
NC Transport's Doka.
Every kind of Defender you may desire was in attendance.
Gwen falling in love with this 510hp Supercharged V8 Landrover Sport during her Landrover Experience participation.
An all electric Motoped spotted near the fire pit.
Many people were eager to share their personal vehicle builds with others.
Expedition Overland's Toyota Tacoma.
Gwen trying her best to stay warm. Camp fires were forbidden in the campgrounds.