Our favorite 4x4s and off-road gear from Overland Expo West 2021
The off-road market in the United States is huge and, judging by the turnout at Overland Expo West 2021, it’s only growing larger. The event, which offers outdoor-oriented seminars and education while highlighting adventure rigs and hardcore camping gear, was canceled in 2020 and postponed in 2021 from its usual spring date.
The turnout at Arizona’s Fort Tuthill County Park proved that people were excited for the event’s return. Besides the thousands of attendees, hundreds of campers staying nearby showed up in their own off-road basecamps. Like the rest of the crowd, they were ready to see the latest products that make roughing it a bit less rough and to ogle the new vehicle builds that inspire adventure nuts at home to make the next modification to their own rigs. We were in Flagstaff thanks to an invite from Ram to drive a Power Wagon, but we made time to stroll through the vendors and exhibition vehicles. Here are some of our favorite 4x4s, off-grid campers, and products from Overland Expo West 2021.
Glenn Pratt of Red River Rigs gave us a quick tour of the American Safari JXL. The company currently builds extended JK Wrangler Unlimiteds, and the next generation of the product is, naturally, an extended JL Wrangler Unlimited.
The conversion includes a new roof with a pop-up tent, a steel-and-fiberglass body extension, and bumpers that all together add 15 inches of cargo space. A low-profile roof is only 3.75 inches taller than stock for a minimal effect on fuel economy. An optional Expedition roof is stepped, five inches taller in front and nine inches taller in the back. It allows for a thick mattress to be stowed up top for more headroom and an even quicker setup. Customers can spec their interior depending on whether they want the second-row seats left in place, folded flat, or removed. Base models include fabric storage pouches along both walls, but cabinets are also available.
Metal fabricator Jordan Kepler is currently building this Chevy K30 and it got a new coat of paint just in time for the Expo. The bed was shortened 18 inches and it rides on coilovers from ADS Shocks. The truck was showing off Roam Adventure Gear’s rooftop tent and storage solutions. We’ll be following this build—we love the modern take on the classic squarebody 4×4.
This huge, custom-built overlanding rig is coated in Line-X for durability and squats on a Ford F-550 chassis that uses LiquidSpring smart suspension. The suspension system, currently used in ambulances across the country, uses a unique series of reservoirs filled with a compressible silicone liquid and takes both ride height and steering angle into account to reduce body roll by activating valves that adjust the spring rate at each corner individually.
LiquidSpring also offers fender flares, front bumpers, and single-rear-wheel conversions for F-550s that use military tires. The single tire allows users to air down for off-road scrambling and provides a more durable solution than dual rear tires—which often pick up rocks between the sidewalls—while still keeping a massive load rating.
In between the upfitted SUVs and the behemoth off-roaders, there were quite a few cabover rigs that packed a lot of space and utility into a small footprint. The Hunter Predator EXP and Adrenalin Industries Expedition Truck offered pop-up hard-sided campers for four-season camping in all elements.
The outdoor gear on display included tents, teardrop trailers, showers, slide-out kitchens, and all kinds of organizational systems. We particularly liked the bags from Adventure Tool Company and Factor 55.
Of course, there were dozens of memorable vehicles, trailers, and solutions to off-grid camping, so scroll through this slideshow to catch a glimpse of just some of what was on display at Overland Expo West 2021. Let us know which vehicles were your favorites.