Overland Expo MTN West 2021

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My Magruder Corridor trip got canceled and there's fire restrictions for the whole county, so I'm feeling kind of bummed. This morning I watched a YouTube video that mentioned Overland Expo, so I looked it up. On paper it sounds decent, but it’s difficult to find solid information on the quality of the classes and demos, and it's not cheap.

Has anyone actually been to one of these events? Did you think it was worth the price of admission? (I'm currently considering the "premium" ticket, which includes the classes.) Is the more basic weekend or day pass sufficient? Is it really just a car show with vendor tents? Any other thoughts that you'd like to share?

Thanks!
 
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I still haven't been able to find very much about these events, but looking at various sources has started to put a picture together.

It appears that for "normal" ticket holders these events are an expensive walk through a vendor area. Sure, you may get to put hands on some new equipment and you'll probably walk away with stickers, a hat, maybe a t-shirt, but it looks like you're paying quite a bit of money for the privilege of listening to salespeople.

The "premium" ticket holders get to walk through the vendor area too, but they also get access to classes and a driving course. I've found just about zero information on the classes, which probably says quite a bit. I did find information on the event website for anyone who wants to run a class. So classes are run by volunteers? Or, more likely, vendors? So, again, paying quite a lot of money to be advertised to. The "premium" ticket also gives you access to the driving course. You get to access the course 6 times over the weekend. I could find zero information on what the course is, length, difficulty, or anything else.

Now it may be that I didn't do a great job Googling. It's entirely possible that these events are tremendously educational, extremely professional, and rewarding for everyone involved. But if that's the case you would think it would be easy to find a lot of people saying that. As far as I can tell, people have taken the "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything" approach.

I've decided that I'm not willing to burn a couple days of vacation time and a few hundred dollars to listen to salespeople. I'm going to hunker down, do some body work on the 40, and hope real hard that the fires clear up before the snow sets in for winter.
 
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I didn't go to the east one when I was there but had a friend that did and knew a vendor that was there. They had sort of mixed reviews, seemed to be more social than anything.
 
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Seth, what are you hoping for? I find most of the expo's I have been to are more "expo" than anything else. Like a big venue for vendors to peddle parts and services. Honestly, I think this is the best reason TO GO. If you want a RTT for instance, the big players are there, you'll get to touch and see and ask questions of vendors all in the same place. To me that is a cool aspect. I find they are usually a gear fest.

If you are after real training, there are likely better alternatives for your $$$. There are several pro's out there who are rock-stars in the off-road training world. Overland Experts, Bill Burke (maybe even @Bowser here locally, not sure if he offers private training) and others come to mind. For me, I'd rather spend the $$$ on a big trip, learn my own lessons the hard way :) However, at the off road events I have been at, I have learned something at each one and came away with real-world practical knowledge. The two I mentioned are truly top tier trainers.
 
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Seth, what are you hoping for? I find most of the expo's I have been to are more "expo" than anything else. Like a big venue for vendors to peddle parts and services. Honestly, I think this is the best reason TO GO. If you want a RTT for instance, the big players are there, you'll get to touch and see and ask questions of vendors all in the same place. To me that is a cool aspect. I find they are usually a gear fest.

If you are after real training, there are likely better alternatives for your $$$. There are several pro's out there who are rock-stars in the off-road training world. Overland Experts, Bill Burke (maybe even @Bowser here locally, not sure if he offers private training) and others come to mind. For me, I'd rather spend the $$$ on a big trip, learn my own lessons the hard way :) However, at the off road events I have been at, I have learned something at each one and came away with real-world practical knowledge. The two I mentioned are truly top tier trainers.
I'm definitely looking for more of the training/teaching/learning rather than walking through a sales pitch. Spending money and time on bigger trips is the ultimate goal, but I'm able to recognize my skill and knowledge limitations. We live in a place where it’s pretty easy to find adventure, but it’s also pretty easy to get in over your head. I'd like to be able to enjoy the outdoors without becoming a burden on SAR or creating a recovery situation when I should have known better.

What I was hoping to get out of Overland Expo is education. I really don't know enough to know what I don't know. For instance, you've mentioned trainers. It didn't occur to me that that could be an option. That's probably something I should look into. It's probably a much better use of my very limited time and my money than an expo would be.
 
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I'm definitely looking for more of the training/teaching/learning rather than walking through a sales pitch. Spending money and time on bigger trips is the ultimate goal, but I'm able to recognize my skill and knowledge limitations. We live in a place where it’s pretty easy to find adventure, but it’s also pretty easy to get in over your head. I'd like to be able to enjoy the outdoors without becoming a burden on SAR or creating a recovery situation when I should have known better.

What I was hoping to get out of Overland Expo is education. I really don't know enough to know what I don't know. For instance, you've mentioned trainers. It didn't occur to me that that could be an option. That's probably something I should look into. It's probably a much better use of my very limited time and my money than an expo would be.
ill take you out on some stuff and give ya some pointers one of these days. there are some really good members of the club that have a ton of experience and advice. some not so much but you'll figure that one out pretty quick
 
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If you’re looking for info on the experience try YouTube, seems like there’s dozens of walk throughs from every year and location.

I went to Overland Expo in 2015 and 2018 back when it was always in Flagstaff mid-May, and completely enjoyed both times. To the best of my understanding the event organizers/owners have changed since then, and thus the details of the events have also changed. As well as the quality, quantity, and locations of events. Keep in mind the explosion of Overlanding popularity in the last 5-8 years…2018 was several magnitudes larger than 2015 and by the number of events they’re holding now I can only imagine how big expo west would be.
I wouldn’t say it’s just a sales pitch, there’s a ton of product out there you don’t get hands-on with hardly ever so it’s cool to see and touch for yourself, not to mention builders and experts in the field. If you’re planning a build or contemplating a large purchase, or multiple, I found it priceless to get to see everything that’s out there and talk to owners. Surprisingly just wandering the camping area was just as interesting and inspiring as the actual expo. Also talking to folks everywhere during the event is all part of the educational offerings. It’s all part of the community aspect of spending time with a ton of likeminded folks with similar interests.
So yes, there is a large social aspect to it too, last time I camped next to a couple from the UK in a converted Mercedes cargo van (decades before the sprinter) that had been traveling internationally for 4 years covering several continents. Just spending a few hours chatting with them in camp was like a class on its own. But the actual classes covered the spectrum from trip reports to round-table discussions to actual hands-on Camel Trophy challenges! Honestly the driving course, which I thought would be the biggest thing to do while there, was a fun spin but far less educational than talking with folks that have driven across Africa in a rwd Mercedes sedan.
Both times attending it was the perfect excuse for big trips, saw all the national parks of Utah and Arizona, so the expo was only a part of the adventure.
Personally I’d say if the classes are the only factor you’ll be disappointed, you can find a driving school for that. If you want to go for a trip, spend some time with some fellow adventure minded folks that have been there and back, and stoke the travel bug then expo could be a good time.
 
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If you’re looking for info on the experience try YouTube, seems like there’s dozens of walk throughs from every year and location.

I went to Overland Expo in 2015 and 2018 back when it was always in Flagstaff mid-May, and completely enjoyed both times. To the best of my understanding the event organizers/owners have changed since then, and thus the details of the events have also changed. As well as the quality, quantity, and locations of events. Keep in mind the explosion of Overlanding popularity in the last 5-8 years…2018 was several magnitudes larger than 2015 and by the number of events they’re holding now I can only imagine how big expo west would be.
I wouldn’t say it’s just a sales pitch, there’s a ton of product out there you don’t get hands-on with hardly ever so it’s cool to see and touch for yourself, not to mention builders and experts in the field. If you’re planning a build or contemplating a large purchase, or multiple, I found it priceless to get to see everything that’s out there and talk to owners. Surprisingly just wandering the camping area was just as interesting and inspiring as the actual expo. Also talking to folks everywhere during the event is all part of the educational offerings. It’s all part of the community aspect of spending time with a ton of likeminded folks with similar interests.
So yes, there is a large social aspect to it too, last time I camped next to a couple from the UK in a converted Mercedes cargo van (decades before the sprinter) that had been traveling internationally for 4 years covering several continents. Just spending a few hours chatting with them in camp was like a class on its own. But the actual classes covered the spectrum from trip reports to round-table discussions to actual hands-on Camel Trophy challenges! Honestly the driving course, which I thought would be the biggest thing to do while there, was a fun spin but far less educational than talking with folks that have driven across Africa in a rwd Mercedes sedan.
Both times attending it was the perfect excuse for big trips, saw all the national parks of Utah and Arizona, so the expo was only a part of the adventure.
Personally I’d say if the classes are the only factor you’ll be disappointed, you can find a driving school for that. If you want to go for a trip, spend some time with some fellow adventure minded folks that have been there and back, and stoke the travel bug then expo could be a good time.

Good insights Lax!
 
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If you’re looking for info on the experience try YouTube, seems like there’s dozens of walk throughs from every year and location.

I went to Overland Expo in 2015 and 2018 back when it was always in Flagstaff mid-May, and completely enjoyed both times. To the best of my understanding the event organizers/owners have changed since then, and thus the details of the events have also changed. As well as the quality, quantity, and locations of events. Keep in mind the explosion of Overlanding popularity in the last 5-8 years…2018 was several magnitudes larger than 2015 and by the number of events they’re holding now I can only imagine how big expo west would be.
I wouldn’t say it’s just a sales pitch, there’s a ton of product out there you don’t get hands-on with hardly ever so it’s cool to see and touch for yourself, not to mention builders and experts in the field. If you’re planning a build or contemplating a large purchase, or multiple, I found it priceless to get to see everything that’s out there and talk to owners. Surprisingly just wandering the camping area was just as interesting and inspiring as the actual expo. Also talking to folks everywhere during the event is all part of the educational offerings. It’s all part of the community aspect of spending time with a ton of likeminded folks with similar interests.
So yes, there is a large social aspect to it too, last time I camped next to a couple from the UK in a converted Mercedes cargo van (decades before the sprinter) that had been traveling internationally for 4 years covering several continents. Just spending a few hours chatting with them in camp was like a class on its own. But the actual classes covered the spectrum from trip reports to round-table discussions to actual hands-on Camel Trophy challenges! Honestly the driving course, which I thought would be the biggest thing to do while there, was a fun spin but far less educational than talking with folks that have driven across Africa in a rwd Mercedes sedan.
Both times attending it was the perfect excuse for big trips, saw all the national parks of Utah and Arizona, so the expo was only a part of the adventure.
Personally I’d say if the classes are the only factor you’ll be disappointed, you can find a driving school for that. If you want to go for a trip, spend some time with some fellow adventure minded folks that have been there and back, and stoke the travel bug then expo could be a good time.
That was a pretty awesome reply. Thanks!
 
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For what it is worth, I was in the same boat as @pigmony. That the MNT West show is close enough and would potentially be a great opportunity for more education. I thought is strange too that there was extremely limited details, tho. I was already planning a camping trip with a few buddies, as one of them lives in Denver now, and would be in that area. However, one of their work schedules recently changed, and we have to leave that Saturday the 28th. Therefore, we are just doing a single day access on Friday. I am still excited to see the toys and people. But I am hope to learn a little more on the finer details around the training courses. We will see, as we already bought the tickets (roughly $30 after the fees). I hope to learn from many of greats folks on here too (and probably learn more).
 
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For what it is worth, I was in the same boat as @pigmony. That the MNT West show is close enough and would potentially be a great opportunity for more education. I thought is strange too that there was extremely limited details, tho. I was already planning a camping trip with a few buddies, as one of them lives in Denver now, and would be in that area. However, one of their work schedules recently changed, and we have to leave that Saturday the 28th. Therefore, we are just doing a single day access on Friday. I am still excited to see the toys and people. But I am hope to learn a little more on the finer details around the training courses. We will see, as we already bought the tickets (roughly $30 after the fees). I hope to learn from many of greats folks on here too (and probably learn more).
I think I probably stand to learn more faster if I make sure my rig is ready to go on short notice and then tag along with any of the weekend trips club members post.
 

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