We've taken a look at the camper vans, and one pretty damn cool Jeep camper, but many of the campers of Overland Expo West 2018 ride behind the main vehicle. Once again, the show was awash with rugged expedition trailers from established brands and newcomers – everything from lifting, sliding and popping shape-shifters, to military-grade blocks of run-flat, go-anywhere off-road destruction. If you want to explore the muddiest, dustiest and rockiest parts of the world and tow a temporary home with you, there's a trailer that's just right for you. And if not, there's a builder who will help you customize one.
We'll be looking at some of the interesting Overland Expo trailer debuts in more depth in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, we thought we'd give our readers a look at everything we saw, starting with a few models that really stood out.
The Living Vehicle shines
It may not be the hardiest off-road trailer of the lot, but the Hofmann Architecture Living Vehicle was one of the most memorable trailers at the show. It was also an easy-to-locate visitor's center thanks to its shimmering shell.
More an off-grid mobile home than a traditional all-terrain trailer, this aluminum-clad tiny home offers a very impressive living space for up to six people. At US$150,000, it had better, given it's priced more competitively with real estate than small adventure trailers.
But with a 100-gal (378.5-L) fresh water tank, lithium battery bank, 600-watt solar array, multi-room audio system, kitchen with microwave, dishwasher, trash chute, stainless three-burner cooktop, and washer/dryer among its deep features package, it also lives more like a real home than a small trailer. It seems like the type of place modern nomads will be plenty comfortable staying in a while – maybe indefinitely – as they wander from place to place.
The brochure we picked up at the show says there are seven available units left for the 2018 build schedule – although, if things went well at the show, that may no longer be the case. Hofmann is also working on an entry-level $89,995 model for launch next year.
The foreign invasion forges on
Back at Overland Expo East 2016, we noticed a lot of unfamiliar names as we looked around the field of exhibitors. More accurately, we noticed a lot of names familiar in foreign markets like Australia and South Africa but new to the US. Since then, brands like Conqueror and Patriot Campers have established what seems to be a solid presence in the States, capitalizing on years of experience building rock-solid trailers for African safaris and/or Australian Outback adventures.
The overland import segment seemed like it was hitting another growth spurt at this year's show, where we saw a number of new entries from Europe, Africa and Australia. Black Series is one of the new trailer brands from Australia looking to establish a footprint in the US. Much like Lotus Caravans, its trailers are an almost artistic mix of rugged, galvanized construction and cozy, home-like interior appointments.
We spent the most time in and around Black Series' HQ15, a mid-sized, hard-sided 23-foot (7-m) three-sleeper with custom-designed, quad-shock trailing arm suspension. It includes both indoor and outdoor kitchens, a bathroom with shower and toilet, a hot/cool outdoor shower, roof-mounted solar, a cozy bed nook, and all kinds of other creature comforts you wouldn't necessarily expect to have in the boonies.
At a cool $50,000 base price, the feature-packed trailer doesn't come cheap, but it is an intriguing, Australian-proven design now available to tow across the American outback. Plus, for those with (much) tighter budgets, Black Series also offers simpler but equally rugged tent trailers starting at $9,000.
Camping and toy hauling, perfect together
A trend in the off-road trailer market that seems at least partially influenced by the growing number of foreign brands, the flatbed camping trailer is becoming a more widely available option. We didn't spot the Turtlebacker at the show, but we did look at its competition, the Schutt Industries XV-F (XVenture-Flatbed).
Schutt builds on the versatile, solid design of its XV series with this new dual-axle flatbed trailer that features an upgradeable, forward-set storage/camping box. The XV-F can carry a four-person side-by-side OHV on its 16-foot (4.9-m) bed while providing a base camp via accessories like the roof-top tent and slide-out kitchen. The base $29,000 trailer comes with Schutt's military-grade, "severe-duty" aluminum construction, a 22-gal (83-L) water tank with electric pump, an on-demand water heater, lighting and a propane system with 20-lb (9 kg) tank. Options include roof-top tents, awnings, kitchen equipment and fridge/freezers. The model pictured in the gallery and above was listed at $35,595.
And if you're comparison shopping toy-hauling camping trailers, Australia's Patriot Campers told us at the show that it will be bringing its awesome TH610 and larger TH730 to the US. The trailers landed on US soil just a little too late to make it to the expo, so we don't have any photos, but the pricing sheet we picked up puts them at $47,990 and $49,990 to start, respectively.
Those models are just the tip of the iceberg, and we've photographed many other rugged trailer exteriors and neatly laid out interiors for you to check out. Whether you're in the market, looking for inspiration for a garage build, or just daydreaming about venturing out into the great wide open, there's likely something to catch your eye and tickle your imagination in our gallery.
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