Overland Expo: What You Need to Know About the World's Premiere ADV Event
The World is Waiting!
What if there was one rally each year that you could go to? What would it be? If you’re an Overlander – a vehicle or moto-based outdoor explorer with the self-contained means to go practically anywhere – the ideal rally will have all your favorite gear vendors and manufacturers, beautiful, scenic camping areas, social events, seminars, films and vehicle demos, classes, tailored one-on-one instruction and a skills challenge with prizes. Does that exist?
It does! Meet the Overland Expo, coming to Flagstaff, Arizona May 17-19, 2019. The event has grown massively since it was first held in 2009. In 2018, the event practically sold out, with 14,500 attendees over five days. Overlanders came from all over the world, some as far away as Japan and Ukraine.
Founded with the idea of introducing consumers to all the innovations in camping and overland vehicles – be it an old van you got on Craigslist, a new Land Rover or your trusty BMW R1200GS – it’s now known as the most unique Overland event, combining a professional-level trade show with camping, social events, adventure and wilderness training. There’s even a dedicated Overland Skills Driving Course for attendees to use with their own vehicles.
There’s a lot at Overland for adventure-motorcycle (we like to call ourselves “ADV” riders) enthusiasts. Check out presentations from famed adventurers Sam Manicom, Ted Simon, Tiffany Coates, and Simon and Lisa Thomas. There will be demo rides on Honda, Royal Enfield, and Ural motorcycles, and RawHyde adventures will have a fleet of BMW adventure models for demos as well.
Gather with your ADV friends at the Motorcycle Village (yes, there’s a motorcycle village) on Saturday night for an exclusive dinner (just $45 to add tickets to this exclusive event-within-an-event) with craft beer from Mother Road brewing. And show off what you learned at the motorcycle seminars, workshops, and (optional) one-on-one training at two events designed to measure your skills against other riders; the famous Saturday Night Slow race and the Ultimate Riding Challenge on Sunday! The kicker: overlanders arriving on two wheels get a 10% discount!
Travelers let somebody else take them, but overlanders get there in their own vehicle, and are always sharing their knowledge. At Overland Expo, you’ll find ample opportunity to expand your travelling skills. Participants in the full Overland Experience package – which includes camping, drinks and buffet supper on Sunday – can sign up for the classes, which include more than 220 different activities, classes and programs, from learning how to get your 4X4 across water obstacles, to backpacking cooking classes to setting up your vehicle for travel. General admission participants get camping and access to more than 120 events and programs, including films, slideshows and Q&A sessions with your favorite overlanding celebrities.
It’s not an overland event without camping. Weekend pass holders and Overland Experience package attendees get their campsite at the beautiful Fort Tuthill county park near Flagstaff, Arizona included with admission. And if on-site camping areas sell out, the Flagstaff area has ample camping options near Fort Tuthill County Park where the event is hosted. An array of food, beverage and coffee vendors will be on hand; you won’t go hungry! For more camping details, read the FAQ.
There are three ways to attend: the limited number of the all-inclusive Overland Experience packages, the Weekend Passes which include access to vendors, seminars, camping, and more, or just check it out for a day or two with an individual camping or Day Pass! Children/youth 17 and under are free with paid attendees, and tickets must be purchased in advance online. Oh, and pets are welcome as well.
Attend Overland Expo to Get Trained, Get Outfitted and Get Inspired for your next adventure. The world is waiting!
I went to Overland Expo from NorCal to AZ (1800 miles roundtrip) in May 2015 (after I bought my KTM 1190 Adventure R in Jan 2015) to learn how to ride it off-road from RawHyde Adventures which was offering free introductory classes. Their beginner, intermediate and advanced classes in CA will set you back $6000 (some of it for the decent lodging and chef prepared meals and drinks). Instead I took offroad classes from the Jimmy Lewis Offroad School in Pahrump NV later that year which cost only $600 plus $300 for two day rental of a Honda 230cc dirt bike since my bike was too big to learn dirt bike riding on. I got two speeding tickets on the Overland Expo trip, one near Bakersfield on my way to AZ and one on the way back in CA just before the exit to my home. I thought AZ was going to be hot but didn't realize that Mormon Lake (south of Flagstaff AZ where Overland Expo is held) is at 7100 ft elevation. It rained, hailed and snowed on us the whole time we were there. Since we were camping, my tent would collapse on me at night due to the weight of the snow. The constant rain turned the dirt in the camping area to six inch deep mud. Had to slog through mud to get to the portapotties. Also had to ride our bikes through it (it was good experience). Learned how to jump logs (it was hard to do with a 6.1 gal tank full of gas). Probably bent the front rim on my bike banging it against logs. Couldn't learn how to ride through deep sand. Kept falling and dropping the bike on my foot. Didn't want to damage the bike or seriously hurt myself since I had to ride 900 miles back home to CA. Took the Ham Radio exam and got my 10-year technician license and call sign. The rear tire on my bike was almost bald and I wasn't sure whether I would make it home. My debit card stopped working in Kingman AZ where I stayed for the night on the way home. The bank thought someone was misusing my card. Then my bike fell over in the sloping motel parking lot. Picked it up and set the alarm. Then went out at 10 pm and shook the bike to see if it was stable and set off the alarm. All in all it was a great (mis)adventure!