Off The Grid: Checking Out The Inaugural Toyo Tires Trailpass Event

Hood River County in Oregon is an outdoor enthusiasts paradise. Fishing, hiking, windsurfing, cycling, and off-road trails await the adventurous. What better place for Toyo Tires to host the first Trailpass event celebrating those that overland. Humans have a need for adventure, as I heard several times over the event, “Adventure is necessary.”

Overlanding is hardly a new concept. However, as they say, “What’s old is new again.” How old depends on your point of view. Could Moses have been the first to lead an overland expedition? How about we modernize the concept a little to the 1800s with Lewis and Clark? Maybe the wagon trains on the Oregon Trail?

The crowd lined up early for this inaugural event.

The term overlanding comes from Australia. Originally it was about cattle ranchers driving a herd to market or to open new rangelands. In the 1940s Len Beadell established overland routes that opened the Australian Outback. Roads and trails that are still in use to this day.

The Toyo Tires Trailpass is a celebration of this reborn concept. Taking a capable vehicle and outfitting it to be extremely capable over any terrain. More than that this capable vehicle also serves as your home. Often with camping platforms above and attached to the vehicle.

Why would you want to bring a clean truck to an event like this? Wear your mud like a badge! Attendees were able to set up camp and enjoy the event through the night.

Gates opened at 9:00 in the morning to a line of vehicles waiting to take part in this inaugural event. Saturday was packed with demonstrations, seminars, vendors, and raffles. You could come for the day or you could set up your rig and camp out to Sunday.

For this being the first event of its kind the weekend went smoothly. Over 300 attendees were expected. Overland rigs dotted the fairgrounds with impressive tent platforms on all kinds of trucks.

Opportunity Is What You Make Of It

The true emphasis of the weekend was attending any one of the seminars. There were 16 to choose from offered by ten different hosts. You could learn about being safe on the trail and see exciting products from 26 different vendors.

All sorts of seminars went on and visitors could pick and chose what they wanted to learn about. Instructions about the proper use of a Hi-Lift jack to learning about tire safety.

Tire repair, recovery tips, preventative maintenance, photography, lighting and much more awaited eager overlanders. Of the presentations that I attended there wasn’t a dud in the bunch. Knowledgeable people speaking about the hobby they love had an impact on everyone.

Home Is Where The 4X4 Is

As you walked around the displays and campground you could not help but admire the ingenuity of pop up housing. Some had simple tents on platforms. Others had elaborate side rooms or awnings. All of them looked cozy.

There were platform setups of all kinds and the occasional expression of artistic flare.

There was no end to the variety of products on display to make where ever you are home. Solar panels, portable fire pits, shower setups, pop up outhouses, lighting options, full kitchens, Bluetooth speakers, and more.

Some overlanders utilize an all-terrain trailer to build their home base off of (left). There were all sorts of different rigs to see.

In overlanding the term “home” is not overused. Some overlanding expeditions can last weeks, months or even years and span many countries. One gentleman, I was talking to just returned from an eight-state, three thousand mile trip that took a month. He mentioned that less than five hundred of those miles were paved.

Bringing People Together

Several organizations had displays up at Trailpass to bring attention to their mission. One was Women Overlanding The World (WOW). They started as a Facebook group to bring women together who share this love of adventure.

Women Overlanding the World held a very honest and informative seminar with a Q&A session after.

WOW has a mission to encourage women to get out and join their 1,600 active members around the globe. Whether you are a solo adventurer or not everyone is welcome. Their presentation at Trailpass was well attended with real honest discussions about this lifestyle.

Veteran Overland is out to spread the word of veterans getting outdoors. Created by two combat Veterans for Veterans to promote one another and build community and give back to the Veteran community.

Veteran Overland helps Veterans get started as well as supports other veteran charities. Civilians are welcome to help. The Veteran Overland lead vehicle was also set up ready for an overnight stay.

Not officially a non-profit they operate as one. Funds leftover are donated to Veterans charities as voted by the membership. Based in Portland, Oregon their reach is all over the country.

Raffle Prizes And More

The late afternoon brought dark clouds over the area. Organizers checked their weather apps and deduced that thunderstorms would mar the outdoor raffle and movie. They had a plan for that, however, as this is the Pacific Northwest.

A large assortment of raffle prizes went to lucky ticket holders who attended seminars and took advantage of everything this well-executed event had to offer. Attendees were generous with canned goods for the Hood River County Food Bank.

The inflatable screen and the mountain of donated raffle prizes were moved indoors. Raffle tickets were earned by attending seminars or purchasing products. Raffle tickets could be earned by donating to the local food bank as well.

I don’t know if it was the coolest thing of the weekend but Toyo Tire had charging stations available for your cell phone.

The Toyo Tires Trailpass was a tremendous success on all fronts. This was the kind of success Toyo Tires was looking for and the kind of event overlanders need to attract new blood.  If they build this again, they will come.

About the author

John Elkin

In September of '72 I sat with my family and watch the first episode of The Waltons. I was captured by John Boy's passion for writing, I liked to write and I even shared the same name. Fresh out of high school I started photographing off-road races.
Read My Articles

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