Wheels spinning and teeter tottering off the ground, Hallmark RV, Four Wheel Campers, and Phoenix Custom Campers tackle the off-road Land Rover Course at Overland Expo 2013.
It all started Saturday during the Overland Expo. Gordon and I hadn’t seen each other all day. While we’re at RV Shows and Rallies, we tend to split up, one of us is taking pictures, and the other one of us is gathering story leads. This day was no different.
We arrived back at the camper around 2:00pm and talked about what we saw and who we met while on opposite ends of the Expo. That’s when Gordon told me about Mike Siminoff, an Alpenlite truck camper owner who went through the off-road course with Fred Monsees, a Land Rover off-road driving instructor.
During Gordon’s conversation with Fred and Mike, Fred suggested that we could take a few truck campers through the course as part of our Overland Expo coverage. All weekend long we had watched Land Rovers, Range Rovers, and Jeeps tackle the overland course.
When Gordon shared the idea of taking truck campers on the course, I was thrilled. I said, “Why don’t we take a Hallmark, Northstar, Four Wheel Camper, and a Phoenix Custom Camper through? We could really show off the off-road capabilities of pop-up campers.” Gordon enthusiastically agreed.
After lunch, we walked over to the Land Rover Overland Course and met Jim Swett, another Land Rover off-road driving instructor. Jim also extended the invitation and asked us to be at the course with the truck camper rigs at 9:00am the next morning. We thanked Jim for the opportunity and immediately went to ask the attending pop-up companies for permission to borrow their rigs.
Phoenix Custom Campers was very excited. They told us that Larry Wittman, a Phoenix Custom Camper owner, would be tackling part of the course at 8:30am and we could video his experience. Northstar wasn’t able to let us borrow a rig as the units they had on display were all sold.
Hallmark and Four Wheel Campers jumped at the opportunity saying, “Yes” and, “Here are they keys” all the while knowing that I could potentially tear up their rigs. It was really quite astonishing at how they trusted me with their tricked out project campers.
We woke up early on Sunday morning so we could get the rigs and camera gear over to the course. I went over to Four Wheel Campers to get the Toyota Tacoma and Four Wheel Camper Fleet. Gordon went to Hallmark to get the Dodge Power Wagon and Hallmark Milner Extended Cab.
When I showed up, the whole Four Wheel Camper team was at their booth excited about the Tacoma and Fleet going on the course. Tom Hanagan, President of Four Wheel Campers, was taking off the hitch step, washing the windshield, and removing items from the truck that could rattle. Then we were off to the course.
When we got to the starting line, Andy Ward of Hallmark RV, and Gordon were already there with the Hallmark rig, along with a bunch of Truck Camper Magazine readers. An audience! Now I really had to do a good job.
Jim and Fred were there to take us through the course. One would be in the truck with me giving me driving instructions, and the other would be outside as a spotter.
2013 Hallmark Milner Extended Cab and 2012 Dodge Power Wagon
To watch the above video in HD, press play, click on the quality “gear” symbol in the lower right corner, and select 720p or 1080p. HD video takes longer to load and play. Click on the box in the lower right corner to view the video full screen.
Since the Hallmark was parked in front, I was going to drive the first run through the course with the Power Wagon and Milner.
I had to literally jump up into the driver’s seat. For this run, Jim rode in the passenger’s seat and Fred walked the course. The first thing Jim did was make sure that we were in four wheel drive low. Jim said that if we went five miles per hour, we would be going too fast.