Fall colors at Overland Expo in North Carolina

Yes, we went to Overland Expo East. No, we didn’t camp or stay the whole week like we did two years ago. For people in the middle of a build, those tickets get expensive and the time is better spent plugging up leaks. Yet, for one day, we waded through shoe-engulfing mud, the likes of which I hadn’t seen off the set of Deadwood to talk with fellow wanderers and vendors to inspire the next stages of our build.

Welcome to Overland Expo East 2018
Welcome to Overland Expo East 2018
Muddy tire tracks at the Overland Expo East 2018
Muddy tire tracks

Lessons Learned

Make A Mud Room

A lot of homes have mud rooms, but this Expo featured the first camper I had ever seen with a mud room. And, if there was ever an event that validated such a feature, it was this. Granted, it wasn’t explicitly a mud room. Simply put, the entry went through the wet bath. So one could easily clean up rather than tracking mud into the camper. Now, we already have plans for the arrangement of our camper, but making the first couple feet of the entry will certainly be optimized for trapping mud.

Buy Waterproof pants

Look, I had my raincoat. But I severely underestimated the strength of the rain. While my top half remained reasonably dry, my bottom half was soaked. It really was a shame that there weren’t any vendors selling rain boots and the like. They would have made a killing.

Wagg Bags

For those like us who have yet to install a toilet but are not quite up to the long term commitment of maintaining a shit bucket, there is the wagg bag. These military products designed for living in the elements are, as to be expected, over-engineered. And when it comes to a collection point for crap, that is exactly what I want to hear. They are puncture resistant, biodegradable, and odor trapping. After a glowing endorsement from a gentleman who has a toilet but relies on these when on prolonged overlanding trips, I have my first order in and can’t wait to give them a try and report back.

Don’t Get A Diesel Stove

We have been seriously considering converting to diesel fuel for our Avion. As we have gutted the Avion and will be starting from scratch, we are not tried to the original propane appliances or rusty propane tanks. So, we’ve been thinking diesel.

The downside: diesel appliances are MUCH more expensive.
The upside: diesel is MUCH LESS dangerous. Propane is highly flammable and a leak could end us all in our sleep. And, while there are many who have traveled for years without incident, we prefer to be conservative on matters where our lives are on the line.

That being said, questioning camper venders on their choices of stoves brought up a matter that we were unaware of: diesel is subject to elevation and a diesel stove takes a long time to heat up at higher elevations. As much as I love cooking outside, when it rains, I don’t want to have to wait 20 minutes for the stove top to heat up. And, frankly, the higher our elevation, the more likely I am to want to cook inside.

We are now considering induction stoves instead.

Inductive cook top at the Overland Expo East 2018
Inductive cook top


We learned a lot about tires. So much, that I’ll be following this post with one discussing tires.

A Few Parting Thoughts

I was rather surprised how underprepared Overland Expo was for the rain. While this is a gathering of Overlanders—individuals who thrive on extreme outdoor exploration—what we may search out in our rigs is not necessarily what we desire when shopping.

I appreciate the expectation that visitors have 4-wheel drive and that campers be prepared for rain. But the deep muddy tracks to reach vendors meant that we had some serious considerations before each attempt to cross the rivers of mud between tents. There were many vendors that I was interested in talking to…just not that interested. Not to mention, the more popular the vendor, the worse the mud.

So, sure, should I, as an attended be prepared for weather? Yes.

Should the vendors miss out because I wasn’t prepared? No.

Flexible solar panel at the Overland Expo East 2018
Flexible solar panel

Muddy footprints at the Overland Expo East 2018
Muddy footprints
Global Expedition Vehicles rig at the Overland Expo East 2018
Global Expedition Vehicles rig
Interior of the Global Expedition Vehicles rig at the Overland Expo East 2018
Interior of the Global Expedition Vehicles rig

Isotherm refrigerator at the Overland Expo East 2018
Isotherm refrigerator – one of the models we are considering.

In Conclusion

Did you go to Overland Expo East this year?

How was your experience?

What did you learn?

Fall colors at Overland Expo in North Carolina
Say what you will about the weather, the scenery at the REEB Ranch was amazing!

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.


  • Grant

    November 11, 2018

    Thanks for sharing your experience at Overland Expo! Your photo of flexible solar panels made me think that you might be interested in this discussion on AirForums:

  • Spike

    November 12, 2018

    I went with my son and my dad. After being redirected to yet another parking lot early Saturday morning, waiting in line for an hour for wristbands, we had to queue to the back of a shuttle line that was several HUNDRED people long. Only two busses wer running on 1 hour trip intervals. We finally lost patience ahd hope — having missed several planned sessions waiting in line. And figured if we continued to wait in the shuttle line, we’d miss a majority of that day. So we left for our long trip back home without even getting onto the event grounds.

    It was hugely disappointing for all of us. Perhaps the lack of preparation by the event organizers could be excused if tickets were sold on site, but this was a pre-ticket-only event — they knew attendance ahead of time. Neither was this their first event. Needless to say, the experience (or lack thereof) has soured me from any future plans to attend an Overland Expo.


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