Overland Expo East 2019: Show Report

ByUnsealed 4X4October 18, 2019
Overland Expo East 2019: Show Report

Unsealed 4X4 sent its intrepid travellers, Grant Hanan and Linda Bloffwitch to Overland Expo East 2019 which is mecca for 4X4 touring enthusiasts.

When it comes to bucket-list events, Overland Expo East held in Virginia, USA, is right up there for most four-wheel drivers and overlanders. Alongside its sister event, Overland Expo West in Arizona, and a recent announcement of a new northern event in 2020 in Colorado, these annual events draw adventure travel enthusiasts from far and wide.

Last weekend’s Overland Expo East 2019 was the biggest in the event’s history, with more than 12,500 attendees. And that was after moving location. “We took a chance on Infinity Downs, moving the event more than 300 miles north of its traditional home to a new region of the country,” said Overland Expo East’s Jessica Kirchner.

“Not only did we find the new event capable and picturesque home for this world-class event, but moving further north into the core of the mid-Atlantic region exposed our brand to a new audience of engaged enthusiasts. We’re sensing more industry growth in the coming years – more than 40% of the East attendance was new audience.”

If you’re planning a trip to the US and considering visiting an Overland Expo, the next one is in Flagstaff, Arizona from May 15-17, 2020. We highly recommend it.

Watch some of our videos:

Here’s all the fun of the fair:




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The teardrop campers are a popular camper when they’re lightweight, offer a bed under a hard roof, and come with a rear access kitchen. A quick action rooftop tent has been added here for additional sleeping quarters, which can easily be set up by one person.

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Enrolling in a driver-training course allowed participants to use their vehicles and receive education from expert qualified instructors. Expo organisers constructed several tracks to challenge drivers of all experience levels. These training sessions proved popular with expo visitors and booked out well in advance.

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Unlike a regular 4X4 show, which closes at the end of the day, at Overland Expo East there was no need to leave at the end of the day. It catered for visitors and exhibitors both day and night. One major point of difference from other shows was the ability to camp onsite with amenities provided.

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Expo entry tickets included access to more than 100 classroom-style seminars. Sessions covered a range of topics, including mapping, communications, maintenance, health and safety, cooking, trip planning/logistics, world travel, travelling with kids, and inspirational destinations.

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One exhibitor had a range of bags, which are a twist on the standard seat-back organiser. While a typical seat-back organiser has individual open pockets, Blue Ridge Overland Gear has opted for a mix-and-match concept. They use a range of zipped bags that attach with Velcro. Numerous organiser sizes are available, including one for the headrest.

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A benefit of being able to camp onsite at the expo is the ability to walk around the camping area. Show goers are only too keen to invite you in to give you the rundown of their setups. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn from their experience and ask questions about their gear.

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Whether you’re looking for accessories, trying to get ideas for a new rig, or to see what’s new on the market, there are plenty of exhibitors happy to chat.

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This setup was unique. You climb into the rooftop tent via the vehicle’s tub. So, no need for an external ladder. Drop the walls and peg them out to provide additional privacy.

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How’s this for additional storage? Turn your bonnet into a recovery board holder equipped with sidelights and aerial. This wasn’t the only vehicle we saw that had this setup.

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This three-storey camper trailer equipped with a rooftop tent turned lots of head in the campground.

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Overland Expo East 2019 catered for both instructor-led style training and also offered a self-drive course. That allowed attendees to put their vehicles through its paces while having the assurance that help was available if need be.

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These bungees are far from your traditional style, stretching to two-and-a-half times their length and have integrated locking slots.

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Unlike many of the slide-on campers we saw, which sat inside a tub, this setup with side entry stood out. It was one of the very few campers to sit on a flatbed tray and provided access to additional under tray storage.