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Overlanding Mecca: 2012 Overland Expo in Flagstaff, AZ

This post was originally posted by me on a different blog on May 21, 2012:

My wife and I took a road trip from San Francisco to visit the Overland Expo in Flagstaff, AZ this past weekend. The best way for me to describe it is a mecca for overlanders with copious amounts of offroad vehicle porn. If you’re at all serious about overlanding, it’s a can’t-miss event.

We’ve been considering a slide-in pop-top camper (like the one Tom & Janet put on a Nissan Titan in this article), so we went primarily to learn more about slide-in pop-top camper vendors. Here’s a review of what we learned, and what we experienced at the event.

About the Overland Expo:

This is a three day event in its third year. It’s a mix of exhibitors and attendees who participate in overlanding, or want to get into it. Overlanding is a somewhat new term to describe self-reliant overland travel where the journey is the goal – what one might’ve called “traveling the world” before. Although we’re interested in taking a boat around the world at some point, interestingly there is almost no overlap between overlanders and those who travel by sea, despite the vast similarities. The closest we came to seeing a crossover is the Turtle V vehicle created by Gary & Monika Wescott, who have been traveling the world in various vehicles for over 30 years. I took a video of Monika describing how they used marine-grade equipment in their Turtle V vehicle because the typical RV gear isn’t strong enough for extended overland travel.

Cook's Knives

On Tynan

There are a couple key things to look for in your cutlery. First is the construction of the blade. The two types of blades are forged blades and stamped blades. Stamped blades are machine cut from thin pieces of metal and then ground into a knife. Forged knives are hand shaped from a thicker steel blank and then ground into a knife. It's easy to tell which is which by holding a knife. Forged knives are heavier, while stamped knives are flimsy. Forged knives also hold their edge much longer - always buy them.

It's also important to have a full tang blade. The tang is the part of the knife that extends into the handle. Full tang means that it extends throughout the whole handle, while other types of tangs extend only an inch or two in. Having a full tang means that the knife will be weighted better and that there's less of a chance of the knife breaking. All high quality knives are full tang.

Weighting and balancing are also important. When held properly, you want for the knife to be evenly balanced so that no effort is required to keep it straight. This seems like a minor consideration, but cutting herbs with a handle-heavy knife will get annoying very fast because you can't use the knife's weight to your advantage.

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