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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Overland West Flagstaff

I’ve been to Overland West numerous times over the years, and it has become my favorite yearly expo by far.

Sure, it’s a bit of a trek to get to Flagstaff from my home in the L.A. area, but it’s worth it once I get to the beautiful mountains and can breathe some fresh air and commiserate with other overlanding enthusiasts.

The 2023 Overland West didn’t disappoint. There were tons of awesome vendors, great people to chat with, and despite some pretty dreary weather on the first day, it turned out to be a really fun weekend. I discuss some of the highlights of the 2023 Overland West below!

Table of Contents

What is Overland West?

overland west 2023

Overland West is one of four yearly expos put on by Overland Expo (the others being Pacific Northwest, Mountain West, and East). Overland West is in the spring each year in Flagstaff and is three days of non-stop fun.

In addition to a great camping environment, Overland West this year featured over 400 exhibitors – a huge number to explore in just three days! What’s more, there are classes, demonstrations, presentations, and other activities to enjoy.

The other Overland Expo events follow much the same footprint – a three-day expo with awesome new gear to explore, outdoor activities, and loads of new friends to make.

2023 Overland West Day 1

My son joined me at this year’s Overland West, so we loaded up and hit the road with some friends and drove the nearly 500 miles to Flagstaff, arriving on Thursday, May 18th, to set up camp.

This was my first extended trip in my Jeep since I installed Desert Does It Seat Jackers. These metal shims, for the lack of a better description, lift the front of the seat up, the result of which is improved leg support. With more leg support, the less likely you are to have lower back stress and back pain (which at my age occurs a lot!).

At any rate, I was absolutely delighted with how much better I felt driving to Flagstaff with the Seat Jackers installed.

Our camp at Overland West consisted of my Jeep Gladiator and my Turtleback Expedition trailer, which I’ve customized over the years to include all sorts of goodies that make camping a more functional and comfortable experience.

You can check out the video above to get a complete tour of my Turtleback setup (though there are additional amenities I’ve added since I shot this video, but you get the gist.

I will say that upon arrival, I was a little disappointed in how tightly packed we were – the sites were virtually on top of one another. However, as we spent more time there meeting new folks, it ended up being a total blast, as usual!




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2023 Overland West Day 2

rain at overland west

The second day we were at Overland West – Friday – was the first day of the expo. My son and I got up early, had some fun conversations with our friends and neighbors, and were ready to hit the expo when it opened at 8 am.

The day started out great – beautiful, cool weather that made it fun to explore various booths at the expo. I stopped and chatted with the folks from Tailgater (who make the Tire Table – one of my all-time favorite overlanding accessories). We were discussing some of the new products they have coming to the market when we noticed some ominous clouds building in the distance.

Those ominous clouds turned into an absolute downpour…

bad weather at 2023 overland west

As the clouds opened up, everyone at the expo headed for the nearest cover they could find. My son and I took shelter at the Icon Suspension booth under their massive awning and stayed there for about an hour until the heavy rain subsided.

The weather was pretty dreary for the rest of the day with rain, lightning, thunder, and hail, so, unfortunately, we didn’t spend much time at the expo. Instead, we hunkered down at camp inside the awning space attached to my Turtleback Trailer.

After the storm rolled through, it was cold enough that my son was getting chilly. So, we fired up my new EcoFlow Wave 2 and used it to heat the awning room. It was in the 40s outside, but the Wave 2 kept the awning room pretty steady at around 73 degrees. This was my first opportunity to take the Wave 2 for a test drive, and it did not disappoint!

working at overland west 2023

In fact, my plan was to test the Wave 2’s air conditioner. I figured mid-may in Arizona would give us some warm days to do so. Not this year, though! Good thing EcoFlow designed the Wave 2 to be a two-in-one air conditioner and heater. That night, I fired up my trusty Planar Diesel Heater that’s installed in the nose of my trailer to keep my son and I nice and warm in our rooftop tent.

inergy power station overland west

This was also the maiden voyage for the Inergy FLEX 1500 Power Station. I used the FLEX 1500 to power my Starlink and charge my devices, and man, was it a champ. The FLEX 1500 offers tons of connectivity options, multiple means of charging its battery, and you can use it in conjunction with stacks of batteries (you can see the power station with two FLEX batteries in the image above) to get long-lasting power.

As I said, this was the first chance I had to field test the FLEX 1500, so I don’t have a great deal of time using it under my belt. But, so far, so good! You can learn more about the Inergy FLEX 1500 Power Station in my video above.

This trip gave me a chance to test out two other items I’ve been really excited about…

I brought along the EcoFlow Glacier, which is a 40-quart dual-zone refrigerator and cooler that has an ice maker. Yes – an ice maker! We didn’t really need a lot of ice on this trip given the cold temperatures and abundance of hail on the ground, but, hey, it’s nice to know that feature will be available later this summer when the temperatures are really toasty.

You can get more details on the EcoFlow Glacier and the EcoFlow Wave 2 in my video above.

Last, but not least, I also had a chance to test out a new telescoping awning bracket that I made. The purpose of this bracket was to raise the awning up so I can actually stand up straight underneath it. As you can see in my video above, making this bracket took a little ingenuity, but it turned out great!




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2023 Overland West Day 3

2023 overland west

Our third day there, Saturday, was a much better day from a weather standpoint. Though the expo continued for another day, I needed to hit the road and head home, so I endeavored to explore the expo as much as I could that Saturday morning with a plan to get out of there by noon. I ended up pushing the departure time back by an hour to give my tent and awning more time to dry out from the deluge the day before.

As my son and I explored the expo in earnest, I saw lots of familiar faces. We stopped by the Aiden James Customs booth to see their 4Runner with a brand-new killer suspension. Then we popped by and said hello to our friends at Overlandish (whose Base Camp V2 tent is an absolute rockstar).

Next, we hit the Barebones tent, where I bought a new light for my camping setup, then we visited the Hello Werk tent, where I bought a German-crafted hatchet with a leather sheath. This hatchet is absolutely insane – the metalwork is next-level good!

2023 overland west aiden james booth

Before we had to leave that Saturday, we had a chance to stop by the Space Trailers booth and get a good look at their rig (which is unique because you can store it vertically) before stopping by the Rustic Mountain Overland booth.

Truth be told, I wasn’t familiar with Rustic Mountain Overland, but their trailer is so unique and innovative that when I saw it out of the corner of my eye, I rerouted and headed straight to their booth. As it turns out, their trailer, which I review here, is a go-anywhere, do-anything, multi-purpose trailer that includes a storage bay for your motorcycle and interior access to the rooftop tent.

I was so glad the weather was better on Saturday because it allowed me to see some truly incredible gear. I’ll say this, though – people came out of the woodwork on Saturday because Friday’s weather was so bad. But, it was exciting seeing so many overlanding enthusiasts all in one spot.

And, with that, my son and I loaded up the Jeep and headed back to Southern California with another successful Overland West experience in the books!

Looking Ahead to Overland West 2024

As far as I know, the specific dates for Overland West 2024 haven’t been announced yet. But, what I can tell you for sure is that it’ll be in Flagstaff in late spring, and it will be an awesome time.

Aside from seeing folks from the industry and getting to explore new and exciting overlanding gear, Overland West gave me a chance to be with my son doing something we love with good friends. That’s what overlanding is all about, right? Getting out there, having a fun adventure, and doing it with the people you love.

If you’re inclined to head to Overland West in 2024, keep your eye out for me – I’ll be there ready to see what new and exciting gear the industry has in store!

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