Oregon Adventure Trucks Promotes Good Land Stewardship In The PNW

The high desert city of Bend, Oregon is a hot spot for adventure sports, camping, and the ever-growing overlanding scene. There are hundreds, if not thousands of miles of trails linking various spots in the state’s vast juniper-lined landscape. With all this outdoor activity comes outfitters who can help get people and their rigs prepped for off-road adventures. And while most shops will sell you the products you want and need, Bend’s Oregon Adventure Trucks, aka, Oregon AT, will also teach you how to use the gear. This Bend, Oregon shop will also show people how to become stewards of the land and help to keep the trails and public lands open no matter where they are.

Who Is Oregon AT?

Aaron Wirth and Brent Baker own Oregon AT. The duo met at Overland Expo West in 2016, and ran into each other at other industry shows regularly. It wasn’t until 2019 that they realized they were neighbors in Bend!

Aaron Wirth from Oregon Adventure Trucks

Aaron Wirth, co-owner of Oregon AT. – Article photos supplied by Oregon AT

Wirth and Baker are experienced off-roaders and adventurers. They’ve traveled extensively internationally, around the U.S., and throughout central Oregon both on- and off-pavement. Baker was going to start selling AT Overland Campers but knew he couldn’t do it alone.  “When I spoke to AT Overland about opening a new business to represent their products in the Pacific Northwest, and knowing I couldn’t do it alone, Aaron was a perfect partner to help grow Oregon Adventure Trucks into what it is today,” says Baker.

Brent Baker, co-owner of Oregon AT showing how to fix a tire.

Brent Baker, co-owner of Oregon AT.

Wirth and Baker are the only full-time employees at this Bend, Oregon shop, but they have a couple of other passionate part-timers as well. Baker alluded to the fact that to work at the shop, you must be serious about the job, be into trucks, adventure, and overlanding.

What Do They Sell?

The 1,800-square-foot shop is now the top seller of AT Overland campers in the nation, and people from all over the Pacific Northwest come to buy the brand’s popular setups. If you’re not familiar with AT Overland, the company is based in Prescott, Arizona, and sells truck toppers, campers, storage solutions, roof tents, heating, cooling, refrigeration, and cooking accessories. It’s been a staple of the U.S. overlanding market for years, and continues to be the backbone of what Oregon AT sells.

The Oregon AT showroom in Bend, Oregon

While the AT Overland products are a mainstay, Wirth and Baker knew they couldn’t just put all their eggs in one basket with one product line. So, they became the exclusive USA dealer for Egoé Nest Box camp setups. These Czech-made modular camping units fit in the back of a variety of vehicles and provide a stove, on-board water, a fridge, storage, and a sleeping platform with a mattress. Plus, they’re removable so buyers can use their rigs to haul cargo and people, avoiding the need to hard-mount a permanent build-out.

Oregon AT’s Own Brand of Bags

The Bend, Oregon shop stocks a variety of camping supplies and equipment. It also has its own line of OAT storage solutions. These bags create modular storage on any carpeted surface. The pouch bottoms are gusseted which increases storage capacity for bulky items. They’re made with optically clear, reinforced vinyl, have a 1000 denier Cordura base with backing plate, and heavy-duty YKK zippers. These are readily available on their website or in their tidy showroom in Bend.

Oregon AT's own lline of storage bags.

And yes, Oregon AT installs many of the things they sell. But what sets Oregon AT apart from many other shops is its robust educational component. The store offers classes designed to educate and inform customers (and non-customers) about how to be prepared for off-grid travel, no matter the conditions.

The Oregon AT Education Connection

Selling parts and outfitting vehicles takes a specific skill set. But being able to do this and teach people how to use the gear they purchased is another ballgame. Yet Oregon AT has taken on this task.

A class at Oregon AT in Bend, Oregon.

“Our passion is to help others experience the decompression that comes from being outdoors with vehicle-supported travels,” Baker says. “Selling campers and gear was how we started, but we knew it was only one piece of the puzzle.” Baker and Wirth said they think it is crucial to help increase people’s skillsets when it comes to traveling the backcountry confidently. They believe education is something they need to do for the greater good.

Oregon AT Is Certified To Teach

Baker does the teaching. He is a trained 4×4 recovery instructor, is wilderness first-aid certified, and Tread Lightly! certified. Tread Lightly! is a non-profit organization that leads initiatives to promote responsible use of motor vehicles while recreating outdoors. They aim to balance the off-road and off-highway (OHV) users’ need for adventure with the need to conserve the places they explore.

“Tread Lightly! has an actual certification program where you participate in online learning about their off-road stewardship principles, and how to teach others about them,” said Baker who completed the training in 2021.

Tread Lightly!

In 2003, the non-profit launched its Tread Trainer program. Tread Trainer is a “train-the-trainer” program. Its goal? Develop a nationwide community of volunteers promoting Tread Lightly!’s ethic of responsible, motorized vehicle use.

Baker incorporates these lessons into every one of his courses. Seasoned off-roaders may think everyone knows the ideas behind Tread Lightly!. The fact is, many newcomers to off-roading don’t. And there are more than ever nowadays. Oregon AT wants to educate people on these concepts. This education can help keep trails open, and that’s a good thing for everyone involved in motorized recreation.

Oregon AT’s Classes

The Oregon AT website states it perfectly: All the gear in the world means nothing if you don’t have the skill set required to use it. Baker teaches a host of classes following the principles of the Off-Road Safety Academy, with the most popular being their Introduction to 4×4.

Brent Baker of Oregon AT showing how to use a tire patch kit.

The Introduction to 4×4 is aimed at novice participants and puts them on the path to safe and ecologically minded off-roading. The course is taught as if the person is traveling solo through remote, international locations. The two-day class covers everything from communications and map use to various driving techniques and the proper use of different pieces of recovery gear. Attendees aren’t required to have purchased products from Oregon AT, and if they bring their own gear, it’ll be inspected by Baker before use.

Other classes include the Total Approach to Vehicle Recovery, which is great for seasoned off-roaders. This two-day course covers topics related to getting a vehicle unstuck from a host of scenarios. This includes how to use traction boards, kinetic straps, towing, winching, and more. There’s also a one-day Cold Weather Skills class that goes into the specifics of traveling and four-wheeling during cold and snowy conditions.

Oregon AT teaching a class at the NW Overland Rally in Plain, Washington.

Baker says the average Oregon AT Class size is between 6–10 students with a maximum of 15. Participation requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle with a two-speed transfer case and low-range. Students also get a vehicle inspection by Baker to ensure the rig is up to task for recovery.

In the future, Oregon AT will also conduct guided tours. This will complete the company’s three-pillar approach: selling gear, educating, and guided trips.

Events And Stewardship

Teaching Tread Lightly! principles isn’t where the shop’s stewardship ends. Oregon AT is a co-founder of Public Land Stewards in Bend, Oregon. This organization hosts clean-up events and has recovered more than 400,000 pounds of trash off of public land and taken it to local landfills. The organization also provides further education about public land stewardship. The non-profit organization furthermore connects with the community to keep public lands accessible for all user groups.

Oregon AT at the NW Overland Rally.

In addition to holding classes, the shop travels to multiple events across the Pacific Northwest each year. This includes the NW Overland Rally in Plain, Washington; Overland Expo PNW in Redmond, Oregon; and they even host their own Oregon AT Fall Out Camping Trip. Here, people meet at the Bend, Oregon shop for coffee and pre-trip instructions. Then participants follow along with Baker and Wirth to epic camp spots under the stars. It’s a public event and they encourage people to bring their friends and family. For full event details, visit the Oregon AT events page.

A Complete Philosophy To Off-Road And Adventure Travel

Oregon AT takes a different approach to operating an off-road shop. They believe in being respectful to the world around them and want to bring joy to the community and patrons they serve. Of course, they focus on customer service, but also on their experience.

A dog sits inside the shop at Oregon AT.

They want people to buy only what they need, and want them to use the gear to its full potential. Oregon AT states, “We’re buyers, too, and nothing is worse than spending your hard-earned money on something, then wondering if you made the right choice.”

The Bend, Oregon shop believes in listening to its customers, as each person’s needs are different, and therefore the parts are going to be unique. While the most popular trucks that come in are Toyota Tacomas, Tundras, and Ford F-150s, they work on and customize a host of vehicles. At the end of the day, Oregon AT is all about providing a unique blend of services designed to equip and educate in the high desert of Bend, Oregon.

A group winter outing with Oregon AT.

Article photos supplied by Oregon AT.

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