Overlanding, it’s 4X4 Camping, it’s 4WD Touring, it’s Off-Road Camping – aka Vehicular Remote Camping!

Overland EXPO - Overlanding it's 4X4 Camping, it's 4WD Touring, it's Off-Road Camping - aka Vehicular Remote Camping!

We just returned from the 2023 Overland EXPO West Edition in Flagstaff, Arizona and saw some amazing rigs specifically built for overland adventure pursuits! A wide range of vehicles from motorcycles to the “super-Gucci” 27North mega-trucks were on display for the some 30,000 attendees to check out. The show has grown so much since my last visits in 2012 and 2014, so much so that some of the vehicles in the vendors section felt very “display-show-built” around the adventure theme! But considering the amount of growth the “overland” segment has seen, it has obviously become a worthwhile endeavor to build such rolling showcases!

Overlanding is self-reliant overland travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal. Typically, but not exclusively, it is accomplished with mechanized off-road capable transport (from bicycles to trucks) where the principal form of lodging is camping.” 


For those of us who came before Overland Journal Magazine and “born” into the “lifestyle,” basically called it camping because that is what our parents called it. Before the term “overlanding” was commonly used here in the USA, we simply called it camping. “Hey kids, get the 4X4 loaded up, we are going camping up in the mountains this weekend!” The folks at Overland Journal has given their efforts a “higher purpose” yet the fancy phrase “Overlanding” has become more generically used to represent a lifestyle segment combining both the 4WD automotive culture and camping culture. With every “trend” or “segment change” comes new participation from new walks of life.

Many of these “noobs” did not grow up with parents taking them camping or wheeling clunky old 4X4 vehicles, thus they are freshly entering a new era of “overlanding” without judgment, armed with GAIA GPS, WeBoost’ers, Starlink and electronically controlled traction controlled vehicles. Yes, we are “dinosaurs” and becoming extinct by the minute. But there is more of them than us, so we hold the responsibility of telling the campfire stories of yesteryear and lifelong wheeling lessons, hence the numerous presenters, trainers and classes held during the EXPO weekend.


Regardless of the newfangle electro gizmo’s there is merit in understanding the basics of vehicle recovery and self sufficiency, because a stuck vehicle, electronic or mechanical controlled, is a stuck vehicle! The only electronically controlled system that is going to help you is the winch, but the use of the winch is more about technique and the understanding of mechanical load and weight. Hey, maybe there is an app for all types of winching scenarios!?

Typically off-roading of any sort requires some “educated risk” to overcome obstacles with a sliding scale between ignorance and confidence, stacked with a willingness and preparedness. Maintaining your Toyota Land Cruiser’s service maintenance is top priority (or any vehicle!) as you want your vehicle in the most reliable condition when putting your rig and self in the most remote of locations! Outside of maintenance is recovery gear – read our 4X4 RECOVERY GEAR – YOU ONLY NEED IT WHEN YOU NEED IT!

Some people go all out with modifications right out of the gate with their vehicles; big lift, big tires and fully loaded! But it is a good idea to start with the vehicle in its stock condition to learn what the vehicle can do in its stock configuration while you also start your learning curve and confidence building. Spend money on education and then on aftermarket parts. A great glove box / bedside table book to read is Mark A. Smith’s Guide to Safe Common Sense Off-Road Driving. Who is Mark A. Smith? Ever head of the Rubicon Trail? Guess you have some more reading about one of our founding fathers of 4X4 adventure! Give Chris Collard’s “The Passing of a Legend: Mark A. Smith” a read. Chris is the Editor-in-Chief of Overland Journal.

More to come from our 2023 Overland EXPO experience!

Story: Rodney Wills
I attended my first Overland EXPO in 2012 as a vendor for Axial R/C in conjunction with TJM USA.
All my photos from the event.

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