The chaos which ensued in the weeks leading up to OX15 should have been a hint. I wrote chaos as if it was a bad thing…often times it isn’t, and this particular chaos was the good kind. The out with old-and-busted, in with new hotness, perseverance and persistence overcoming, new alliances and last-minute salvation kind of chaos. The weather that followed us to the show was much of the same: wind, rain, snow, sleet, and the endlessly deep slurry left behind when all of the above happens on a dry lakebed.
I’m making Overland Expo 2015 sound miserable, when it was quite the opposite. The beauty of a trade show put on by a group of self-reliant world travelers for a group of self-reliant world travelers is that the principles of adapt and overcome are second nature. Exhibitors braced against the cold and wet with fire and awnings; attendees strapped on the mud gear, grabbed a hot beverage, and slugged on through the muck; when the heavyweight campers bogged there was no shortage of torque and strap to free them. The fellow adventurists that weathered out the storm and stuck it out through the aftermath made the show—in four years of going to Overland Expo, this was the best one I’ve attended. Plus, there was bacon.
This year American Adventurist stepped up when our campsite was canceled mere days before the event. Their answer to my panicked “Dude, can I crash on your couch?” was to place the Discovery as a featured vehicle in the booth. What a welcome change in pace to hang with a group of such chill-yet-prepared folks and make new friends. Humbled by their generosity, I prepared a little something special for the show (first photo).
As the Friday winds started to die down the snow rolled in, nothing overwhelming, just that perfect light dusting that makes everything with a light seem magical (especially the Rigid Industries beacon). I never saw the six inches of snow I was promised, but we did wake to a beautifully crisp Saturday sunrise. I love a good saloon, and thankfully Mormon Lake Lodge keeps theirs well stocked and at the perfect temperature—a welcome respite when the weather turns too cold (or too hot).
Enough about the weather, on to the adventure vehicles. The usual suspects returned this year, but there were a few standouts: more classics, more motos, more trailers, and more fatbikes. Rocky Mountain even showed up with a fleet of Sherpas. Bivouac Camping Trailer’s take on the teardrop concept, the M.O.A.B. Gobi, was particularly well suited to life in this weather.
The gear front was a little disappointing for me this year. There were plenty of large items, but most of the little gadgets, gizmos, bags, and kits were nowhere to be found. Noteworthy new products included Ark Corporation’s Off-road Jockey Wheel, Blue Ridge Overland Gear, Brian DeArmon’s attainably-priced and easily packed shower mat (review to come), Goose Gear’s elegantly versatile storage solutions, LynxHooks straps, LuminAID’s PackLite 12 lantern, and Threshold’s tasty (and soy-free) bars.
Many thanks to American Adventurist for putting us up for the weekend, Roseann Hanson for the last minute vehicle entry approval, and everyone else involved with making Overland Expo work in spite of the weather. Here’s hoping we return to lemonade and flip-flop weather for next year.