I recently had the pleasure of attending the Overland Expo at Mormon Lake Lodge outside of Flagstaff, Arizona and was able to catch up with a veteran of the event.
J. Brandon, founder and president of American Sahara, a marketing, communications, and event management services for adventure travel companies, has attended the expo since it started four years ago, experiencing its significant growth. Overland is designed to encourage and educate attendees on traveling, and this year was another hit.
With no place to sit down and interview J., a combination coffee/paracord vendor kindly offered me one of their tents, representing the camaraderie event attendees have at the Overland Expo. I got another taste of that sense of community when J. asked me when I wanted to go on a motorcycle ride across Death Valley.
Donning an all-khaki ensemble, a hat and a beard, J. Brandon could have been pinpointed as an overlander by his appearance alone. But he also had the attitude to match. A true adventurer, Brandon was eager to convey how great this lifestyle is, asking if he could do anything to help us. I made it clear I was there representing Tuffy Security Products, and J. immediately recognized the trusted brand.
“Good, good products,” he said. “And a great brand recognition in the Jeep community.”
Tuffy designs a wide array of security products that help keep valuable items safe, and as Brandon noted, they have a great selection of security equipment for Jeeps as well as a good reputation among law enforcement.
And while J. noted that he had taken the necessary precautions to avoid having his vehicle broken into, he said he understands the importance of security equipment.
“I have traveled with folks in open Jeeps,” Brandon said. “The classic Tuffy audience. And those guys are all about security. I’ve also traveled with guys who are law enforcement officers and they’re armed all the time because it’s their job. So security is 100 percent important for them. You can’t go camping with people you don’t know and have a gun in your car and have it fall into nefarious hands.”
Brandon added that he’s been on trips with a wide array of people, some he only met on the Internet through an online community of travelers and off-roaders. And with that being said, security is all the more important.
“This independent adventure travel is all about being prepared when things don’t go according to plan,” Brandon said. “And so that being prepared means I have the right equipment, I have the right skills and mostly the right mental space… If you miss your plane, the appropriate response is just to go and get a beer. And so that sort of mindset is one of the cultural traits of this community. And those of us – this ain’t our first rodeo – we’re all about helping new folks learn because we want them to be a part of our community.”
J. is from an area near Lake Tahoe in Nevada. He rode his 2005 KLR 650 dual sport bike the nearly 800 miles to be in attendance at the Overland Expo, and what he calls a “very doable trip.”
It’s all about risk assessment when traveling
The Overland Expo saw a wide range of travelers in attendance, from those with multimillion dollar equipment to recently retired couples in campers. And J. said that depending on a person’s level of risk, they need to take the necessary precautions to avoid any disasters.
“It’s a all about risk assessment,” he said. “And good risk assessment skills come with experience – plus I got a little gray hair, that helps…Some people are just more or less risk averse. If I had small children at home, my sense of acceptable risk would be different. My children are grown. I have a wife and dogs who are totally self contained. If I didn’t come home for a month the dogs would get fed and the laundry would get done.”
The point J. is making is that people need to plan accordingly with their level of risk. A Jeep Rubicon owner would benefit from a lockbox since they can’t secure their vehicle in a traditional sense because they have an open top, for example.
“If some guy is carrying firearms in his vehicle, that’s high risk,” Brandon said. “If he’s only got a spare water bottle and some socks, that’s not really high risk. A guy who’s got a Jeep he paid $30,000, plus another $20,000 in modifications, he needs to be concerned about security and his risk assessment is critical.”
Whether it’s equipping a vehicle with a mini safe or taking some other precautions, high risk requires more security, and J. understands just how important Tuffy products are.
“If you follow the guidebook, you can expect to have the guidebook experience,” Brandon said.
instead of following a book and sticking to the road, when your belongings are safe, you can afford to go off the beaten path. And that’s where the experience really starts.