The Best Vehicles From Overland Expo Mountain West 2021

Mercedes Lilienthal

The Overland Expo series has everything needed to prepare for outdoor exploration and adventure travels with a customized off-road vehicle.

Founded in 2009 by Roseann and Jonathan Hanson, the pair of annual Overland Expo events bring together enthusiasts and manufacturers of all stripes for product demos, workshops and a generally good time. Since its inception, adventure traveling and the Overland Expo series have exploded. So much so, for 2021, it added a third event dubbed the Overland Expo Mountain West to supplement the core gatherings, Overland Expo West (held in Arizona) and Overland Expo East (held in Arrington, Virginia) to expand its reach.

Held in Loveland, Colorado, from August 27 through 29, the 2021 Overland Expo Mountain West hosted over 17,000 show-goers, 270 registered exhibitors, approximately 300 classes and demonstrations, as well as a wide array of customized vehicles. From enormous expedition campers and built-up Broncos to customized Jeep Gladiators and lifted Porsches—the following vehicles represent a cross-section of the best adventure rigs in attendance.

1973 Hauk Designs Mercedes-Benz Unimog 416 Doka

Pennsylvania-based Hauk Designs teamed with Bilstein to create this lifted and loaded Mercedes-Benz Unimog. Mercedes Lilienthal

Built using a Mercedes-Benz Unimog double-cab found in upstate New York, this industrial and military-grade off-road platform went from a life of service to a revitalized existence as the face of Bilstein. This extreme Unimog includes an OE drivetrain, a 5.7-liter in-line six diesel powerplant, and a four-speed manual transmission (plus a separate lever for reverse).

In addition to its factory setup, this Unimog Doka 4×4 underwent a frame-off restoration by Hauk Designs that includes a multitude of niceties added post-build. It boasts upgrades like Bilstein M 9200 bypass shocks, a WARN ZEON 12-S winch nestled in a custom Hauk Designs front bumper, and rock sliders/side steps. The near 50-year-old off-road rig also showcases portal axles, low gearing, and an increased height to accommodate 47-inch Pit Bull Growler all-terrain tires. The Bilstein Unimog is set to tackle every type of trail and will get plenty of looks while doing so.

HUNTER RMV Acela Predator EXP

The Hunter RMV is based on a chassis from Montana-based Acela, a company that specializes in rugged terrain vehicles. Mercedes Lilienthal

If a fully-equipped expedition camper is more your style, the HUNTER RMV Acela Predator EXP could be an ideal answer for worldwide globetrotting. Priced from $335,000, this fully equipped expedition truck is fit to travel wherever your heart desires. The HUNTER RMV Acela Predator EXP is armed with a 7.2-liter Caterpillar engine generating 330 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque.

This massive home on wheels has a top speed of 74 miles per hour and boasts an impressive 800 plus miles of range with an allowance to hold up to 113 gallons of fuel. Gigantic Goodyear 395/85R20 all-terrain tires and a Dana/Eaton central tire inflation system improve off-tarmac performance after a day of dirt driving with aired down tires. A 25,000-pound recovery winch is included, so you’ll have a second chance even if its 22-inches of ground clearance let you down in a tricky situation.

In addition to its beefed-up exterior, the interior camper houses solid quarter-sawn oak cabinetry and a queen bed that invites solid nights of sleep. The kitchen showcases a butcher block counter, induction cooktop, convection microwave, and a stainless steel sink next to a dinette area. A drawer-style fridge, separate freezer, and storage cabinets and drawers keep edibles and personal belongings stowed safely—important when traveling on uneven terrain. LED lights ring the interior of this self-contained camper while water and solar systems and a backup generator keep everything running smoothly when in remote areas.

2010 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S

Mercedes Lilienthal

Adrenalin instituted vital modifications to make this Porsche Cayenne Turbo S an off-road capable beast. Equipped with a factory two-speed transfer case, low range capability, rear differential locker, and rock guards, this Porsche was the perfect platform to build up for off-road use and future competitions. The Adrenalin 2010 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S has 550 horsepower and is soon slated for a tune to bump up its power.

The Adrenalin Porsche includes a host of upgrades, including a Eurowise three-inch lift kit and suspension setup, roof rack, and front bumper with a WARN VR EVO 8-S winch. Lightweight 18-inch OZ Racing wheels shod with beefy BFGoodrich KO2 all-terrain tires improve handling when traversing through tricky terrain. Code 4 LED auxiliary lights keep Porsche’s occupants seeing clearly while a new enlarged side-exit exhaust emphasizes its deep growl. Underbody skid plates and a tube rear bumper are also in the works and should appear in the coming weeks.   

2019 Kalaber Creations BDR’er Ural

Mercedes Lilienthal

Prescott, Arizona’s Kalaber Creations sells stock and upfitted Russian-built Ural motorcycles, their Ural Kalaber Expedition Conversion Kits, and off-road accessories to enhance off-road capability. Additionally, the company and its founder Mark Tetreau have been a fixture at the Overland Expo West show since the show’s inception.

Kalaber Creations’ 2019 Ural, coined the BDR’er, was totaled by a client in an accident but was traded back to the company for a new one. The shop figured it would make a good test mule for test fitting and mocking up new parts and accessories, so it kept it. Consequently, they put a new front end on it and brought the motorbike up to “usable but not new” condition. Kalaber Creations mounted their winch plate and skid plates, a custom “doggie door” for passenger sidecar egress, front and rear racks, and a two-into-one exhaust system to BRD’er to make a fully functional off-road chariot for two.  

upTOP Jeep Gladiator JT

Mercedes Lilienthal

When preparing for overland travel, having the right vehicle upgrades and gear can mean the difference between successful trips or getting stuck in the middle of one. So Colorado-based upTOP brought a Jeep Gladiator JT showcasing a multitude of accessories and upgrades to make this truck a 4×4 stand-out. From bronze Method Race Wheels and BFGoodrich KM3 mud-terrain tires to a hefty lift kit and front rock-crawler bumper fitted with a Factor 55 Ultrahook and WARN VR EVO winch, this truck is ready to take on challenging trails.

The upTOP Gladiator didn’t stop there. This kitted out 4×4 dons a full bed rack system that can haul a vehicle awning, rooftop tent, Baja Designs auxiliary lights, MAXTRAX recovery boards, and more. The truss bed rack mounts to the bed of the Jeep JT to secure the base layer. The upTOP cap rack is an additional add-on to fit over the base rack, making it the perfect platform to haul necessities while still allowing additional cargo-carrying capacity in its truck bed.

1993 Maltec Land Cruiser

Mercedes Lilienthal

What happens when a Land Cruiser 80 series chassis intermixes with a 79 series double-cab body and Maltec, a German vehicle outfitter? A genuinely unique and well-built camper rig fit for Overlanding the world. This vehicle was carefully constructed in Germany but is built for North America.  

Having owned this Maltec-outfitted camper 4×4 for about a year, owner Tim McGrath of Sackwear has taken it to Colorado several times as well as a few short local jaunts due to Covid restrictions. Even though this adventure 4×4 only has 9,000 kilometers on the odometer, he expects to take it on many more trips with his family throughout the country. Equipped with off-road necessities, solar panels, and a spacious and functional interior, this Maltec Land Cruiser can stay off-grid longer, easier. Storage boxes and dry bags atop the Front Runner Outfitters roof rack allow for extra storage, while a pass-through into the camper enables them to crawl into the back without stepping foot onto the ground.

TruckHouse Toyota Tacoma

Mercedes Lilienthal

Located in Sparks, Nevada, TruckHouse debuted its BCT Toyota Tacoma camper prototype at Overland Expo Mountain West. Built in-house, this 4×4 adventure fully outfitted camper setup dons a single-piece fiberglass and carbon fiber composite shell constructed with aerospace technology. The TruckHouse camper is only available for new extended and crew cab Toyota Tacomas as each vehicle undergoes upgrades and necessary modifications to meet their application. Changes to the OEM Tacomas to handle the extra weight include boxing and reinforcing the frame, upgrading brakes, re-gearing front and rear differentials, mounting a custom suspension system with heavy-duty leaf springs and replacing the factory rear axle with a custom fabricated Ford nine-inch axle.

A new Toyota Tacoma can be purchased on its own or through the company via TruckHouse’s dealer affiliation to serve as the base of the conversion. Founded one year ago, the TruckHouse launched their Tacoma camper unit six months ago during the Covid pandemic. Their goal is to blend the lines between an adventure van and a “giant expedition vehicle.” The company states its kitted-out Tacoma camper is similar in size to a van but lives large inside. The prototype weighs a bit less than a fully built short-wheelbase Sprinter van. The TruckHouse Tacoma starts at $325,000; initial units will begin shipping later this month.