Top 5 Takeaways from The MOORE Expo 2022
In early April 2022, I visited the third Midwest Overlanding and Off-Road Expo (known as the MOORE Expo) in Springfield, Missouri. This is not an overlanding magazine, but teardrops and squaredrops can be used overlanding, so we will cover overlanding topics if they are relevant.
The expo was huge! There were over 177,000 square feet (16443 square meters) of indoor and outdoor space filled with vendors with gear and accessories for off-road vehicles. There were at least ten times more Jeep Gladiators and Wranglers in the parking lot than I’ve seen at our local Jeep car dealership. It appears that the Midwest is more Jeep country than Toyota country. And there were enough roof top tents in the parking lot and inside the Expo to sleep a few thousand people.
Like many expos, the MOORE featured live demonstrations and educational seminars related to navigation, camp cooking, vehicle recovery, and safety.
Top 5 takeaways from the MOORE Expo
Rooftop Tents are Cool, but Trailers are In!
While rooftop tents (RTTs) are very popular, teardrops and squaredrops that are overlanding capable are coming into their own. There were definitely some barebones, but expensive, metal trailers with every possible gadget attached to the outside that had a RTT on top. They’re lightweight and can be pulled by about anything. But the teardrop and squaredrop trailers are gaining momentum in the overlanding industry. I don’t blame them! I’d much rather sleep in a comfortable bed with extra creature comforts than in a tent.
One reason why teardrop and squaredrop trailers are gaining in popularity in the overlanding community is because of their ability to be towed to a location and then unhitched. This allows an overlander to be able to have a “home base” while on a trip so they are free to explore anytime without having to break down camp (i.e., repack their RTT) every time they want to hit the trails.
There were several manufacturers or dealers at the Expo showing off their trailers. Not every trailer at the Expo qualifies as a tiny camper that Cool Tears would cover, but here are some of those that we do. XGrid Campers, Expedition Trailers, and Outback RV of Texas are dealerships that sell or rent several different models. Here are some of the teardrops or squaredrops they offer: AOR - Australian Off Road, Boreas Campers, Mission Overland, TAXA Outdoors, Vorsheer XOC, and Xpedition Trailers. These teardrop or squaredrop manufacturers were also at the show with some of their best products: TC Teardrops with a double axle teardrop that will haul a motorcycle on the front; CAMPINAWE which is a relative newcomer to the trailer industry has been designing Learjet interiors for decades, so they know how to be creative in small spaces; instead of being inspired by air travel, Roc Trailers is a Georgia based company inspired by fine yacht building; SniperX Expedition Campers has a 9 foot long squaredrop with a pullout kitchen on the side instead of a rear galley, since the entrance is through the back; Off Grid Trailers has several models to choose from and they offer military and first responder discounts; Cedar Ridge Campers, based in Kentucky, manufacture an off road teardrop that weighs less than 1000 pounds (picture opposite, left); Rustic Mountain Overlanding makes a squaredrop that is ready for anything you can throw at it; Open Range Overland, based in Texas, makes a squaredrop off-road kit for the DIYer; BADAC Adventure Company makes a squaredrop with a more traditional teardrop style galley; and lastly, popular manufacturer Hiker Trailers showcased a few models at the Expo. The front cover of the magazine is a BADAC Adventure Company trailer (also pictured below). It was not at the Expo. Jeff (from BADAC) told me that this trailer was custom made for a storm chaser and the wrap is from the doppler radar of a tornado that hit their area in 1999.
Refrigeration, Refrigeration, Refrigeration!
Did you get that? Twelve volt refrigeration is quickly overtaking having the best cooler that you can make or buy. Some of the most popular names in 12-volt refrigeration are Truma, Dometic, ARB, ICECO, and Alpicool. They come in various sizes and some even offer dual zone cooling so one side can be used as a refrigerator while the other side is a freezer. Yes, it’s possible to have that evening cocktail without sticking your hand in a bag of half thawed ice for the duration of your trip. The ICECO GO20 is a small dual zone refrigerator/freezer with a 20 liter capacity. It is roughly the size of a 35 liter Yeti cooler and because there is no need to carry ice to keep the food cold, this 20 liter fridge can hold as much food as the 35 liter Yeti cooler. Note that any of these refrigerators will need to be strapped down to prevent them from bouncing around.
These 12-volt refrigerators work with a compressor, just like the fridge in your house. They keep your food and drinks at the right temperature on the hottest of days and are rugged enough to keep in either your tow vehicle or trailer. Many companies make custom, heavy duty drawer slides specifically made for carrying these
or other items. They often have straps to attach the refrigerator to the drawer slides too. These refrigerators have a low amp draw and you should be able to last all weekend with no issues with a 100 Ah deep cycle battery. If you have the ability to top up your battery via solar panel, then you can likely stay off grid with no issues as long as you’d like.
Stay tuned to our July/August issue when we compare two popular brands: ICECO and Dometic.
Off-grid Battery Powered Air Conditioning
Is that really possible? It depends, seems to be the consensus. Air conditioning can improve the camping experience on those hot, muggy nights when the exhaust fan isn’t enough, but most compressor style air conditioners need to be used when you have shore power. And a lot of teardrop and squaredrop owners don’t want a house, window air conditioner sticking out of their trailer which ruins the look and feel of the tiny camper.
The company Zero Breeze seems to have cornered the market on portable, battery powered air conditioners that fit into small spaces. The jury is still out, but many of the teardrop and squaredrop trailers on display at The MOORE had these as an option. A few manufacturers would prepare the trailer for this A/C, but it was up to the customer to purchase on their own. Some of the manufacturers said that they worked well and a few said they helped, but it wasn’t enough. It’s important to note that we all have a different definition of what’s comfortable and what’s not and there are different air conditioning needs. If you only need to cool off the cabin before hopping in bed, then it may do the trick if the night temperatures eventually cool off. But if you need to keep something running all night long, then this likely isn’t going to work unless you have the option of plugging into shore power. We will try to get our hands on a unit to do some testing in the future. If you'd like to try your own Zero Breeze Battery Operated Portable Air Conditioner, click this link. Use discount code "wandertears" for $80 off.
Just a few quick words on this topic. While some of the overlanding videos you see on YouTube may look like a lot of fun, it’s important to be safe, know what you’re doing, and be prepared. This can take many forms depending on your camping style. If you’ll be out of cellular range for any length of time, then maybe a satellite communicator, like this Garmin, or walkie talkies (if you’re out with friends) are best.
This Expo was filled with self recovery gear everywhere you turned. From shovels, to winches, recovery boards, and communication gear there was something for everyone. GoTreads are an easily packable form of recovery boards to help if you’ve gotten your vehicle stuck. It was great seeing the owner and inventor live at the Expo. He stood out because “Inventor” was printed on the back of his shirt. GoTreads are definitely a unique piece of gear and I learned while at the Expo, that they are multi purpose as well. In their folded up state, they can be used as trailer levelers! We are big fans of their size and love that we don’t need to strap or secure anything to our roof racks. While we have yet needed them to get our tow vehicle unstuck, we have used them to get a Bobcat® Skid-Steer Loader out of muck when we buried the wheels halfway and had no traction.
Campers love to eat! But not all campers love to cook. Two companies stood out with great tools for making camp cooking not only easier, but also more enjoyable. Omnia and Tembo Tusk make it easier to make about anything that you normally would at home out camping. Check out more about the Omnia Stove Top Oven in
this article. Stay tuned to later issues this year. Cool Tears is teaming up with Omnia again for a free giveaway! Details to be announced at a later date.
There were also camp cooking classes intended to help you find your inner chef! They included food packing tips and tricks; how to modify meals for dietary restrictions; and demonstrated fast, easy, and tasty meal options.
There are RV shows, camping expos, and overlanding expos throughout most countries during their camping seasons. These shows or expos are the perfect place to see products that you may be interested in first hand. You can touch them, pick them up and see if that's really what you’re looking for. You have the ability to meet like minded people who share your interests and it’s also a chance to learn new skills through the educational seminars.
In North America, Overland Expo holds four different events around the country. Overland West is in Flagstaff, Arizona May 20 - 22; Overland PNW is in Bend, Oregon July 8 - 10; Overland Mountain West is in Loveland, Colorado August 26 28; and Overland East is in Arrington, Virginia October 7 - 9. All dates in 2022.
While the above are four of the most popular Expos, be sure to do a google search for overlanding or camping expos and find something that is in your area. Attending an expo is a great way to see and try out new products and to meet people that share your love for the outdoors and tiny camping!