Import Alliance car show

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed the explosion of the ‘overland scene’. I guess Covid really fueled the primal need for people to get outta the house. Whatever the case, the camping & outdoor market saw numbers like never before. For the last two years, The SEMA Show has dedicated an entire section of the West Hall to an ‘Overland Experience.’ At this point, nearly every truck, crossover, and SUV makes an ‘overland trim’, and the overland hashtag is as hot as the sun. Which brings us to two obvious questions. What the hell is overlanding exactly? And… Why are so many import car guys jumping on it?

black bear off-road

If you want the Jeepin’ Bubba answer… 

I’d say overlanding is just glorified car camping. You’re basically taking everything from your house, packing it into your rig in clever ways, and attempting to make yourself comfortable in the woods. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. And I’m hooked on buying the latest camping gear, roof top tents (RTTs), flashlights, and all the solar. Getting away from everything with your family, riding some dirt roads, and sipping a cold beverage next to a roaring fire… it’s just good for the soul. 

overland LJ

But now for the technical definition of overlanding… 

“Self-reliant overland travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal.” Overlanders trace their roots to Australia, where overlanding began in the early 1900s. It started when herders would travel long distances to graze their cattle & sheep. It later became a pastime within the United States in the 1940’s post WW2. However, over the last 10 years, we have seen the scene grow to an all new potential & popularity. 

overland GX470

Take a quick search on Youtube or Instagram… 

And you’ll quickly find the many sub-genres of overlanding: Full timers, content creators, survivalists, van lifers, full size rigs, minimalists, jeepers, yota folks… the list goes on and on. Which brings me to the second question: What’s up with import car guys going full-on overland? Well I can tell you this, it’s not any cheaper. We still get together in parking lots… only usually it’s brewery’s instead of strip malls. There’s still a long list of mods we can’t wait to do. And – we struggle more than ever to keep them clean. 

JT Roof top tent

I’ll tell you my theory though, and it may not be what you want to hear. 

We’re getting old. No – but for real. As we get older our needs change… or evolve. And off-road/overland build checks a lot of boxes. One of the biggest appeals is the family aspect. And the end of the day, these are justifiable ‘family cars’, and overlanding is extremely family friendly. Plus it’s way easier to persuade the wife that it’s worth spending money on, if you center it around the kids & family memories. I know many guys, myself included, who build their wives a nice jeep or 4Runner for daily-driving & grocery-getting… and then hit the trails with it on the weekend. Plus, family extends bigger than the household. And roaming around the wilderness & telling bar-stories by campfires is a great way to keep old & new friendships strong. 

overland ranger

Oh… and it’s legal!

The cops can’t write you tickets if they’re not there. Get off grid, and you’ll find no speed limits, no speed cameras, no red lights, no congestion… none of that stuff. Plus, the resale value for a good Jeep or Toyota is amazing. It’s just a natural progression to go from beating the street, to hitting the dusty trails. 

ranger offroad

If you’re a car enthusiast, off-roading/overloading is a side of car culture that really should be experienced.

It opens up a whole new world. Get a Jeep or a Toyota/Lexus as ‘a daily’… & add accessories until you have the perfect Swiss Army knife. Or Hell – throw some mud-terrains on a Miata or Subaru & set sail with a hammock & sackful of Krystals. It doesn’t matter. Because I’m telling y’all, once you’re out there, it all just makes sense. Modern man: Testing their manhood by exploring unknown, getting stuck just for the challenge of getting un-stuck, crushing IPA’s by campfire, peeing off cliffs with your hands on your hips, eating meats & cheeses, and taking scenic photos for Instagram. It just doesn’t get much better.

Text by Jeepin Bubba

*Bubba (aka Jeepin Bubba) owns an off-road/overland shop in North Georgia called Black Bear Off-Road. He’s incredibly welcoming & knowledgeable, and loves to get people out on trails. Check him out on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, or Facebook.

In order of appearance… 

Jeepin Bubba’s 2020 Jeep Wrangler JL and Black Bear Off-Road Trailer. Bubba was previously known for having mini-trucks & Miatas.

Nathan Justice’s 2005 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited LJ and homemade trailer. Drove an S2000 in his prime lol. Now working on an old-school Escort GT project. 

Andrew Long’s Lexus 2004 GX470. Has had too many vehicles to list, but had a stunner of a S2000, a potent E92, and even a Jeep.

Kevin Dixon’s Jeep Gladiator. He currently owns a lifted Subaru to mash around town. Past cars include a Miata and a 72 Super Beetle.

George Atchison’s 2019 Ford Ranger. Being a loyal Ford guy, George also owns a big-turbo Fiesta ST, and a supercharged S550 Mustang.