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More than just a motorhead

Outlaw Partners

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By Tyler Allen Explore Big Sky Associate Editor
BOZEMAN – During a 9,000-mile, 50-day adventure in Alaska and the Yukon in
Canada, the Bozeman-based crew of Expedition Overland stopped at a gas station
and was so fatigued they forgot to fuel their rigs. By the time they realized it 100
miles down the road, they had to buy gas at nearly twice the cost. It was a $300
mistake.
Overlanding is long-distance, self-sustained motorized travel to remote destinations,
where the practitioners spend weeks, months or even years completing the journey.
Expedition Overland is bringing that journey, with all the hardship, technical
challenges and rewards, to the armchair adventurer. The company launched the
first of 12, half-hour webisodes documenting its Alaska/Yukon adventure on Oct. 30,
with the finale planned for March.
The show was born in January 2010 when cinematographer Clay Croft returned from
shooting a documentary in Africa and saw five months of work disappear to the
economic recession in two weeks.
Facing nearly half a year of unemployment, he walked into his garage one night and
saw the 2001 Toyota Tacoma he’d built up to film and explore Montana’s
backcountry, and his stock 2000 Land Cruiser.
“Hey, we could start a show on overlanding,” Croft remembers thinking. “I’ve got
two of the top vehicles [for overlanding] sitting in my garage.”
With four of his best friends – and a few credit cards – they funded their first trip to
Moab, Utah, as a test piece, followed by excursions to Montana’s Boulder River and
Pryor Mountains. Their first half-hour video debuted to a live audience of 100 at the
Overland Rally in Hollister, Calif., and launched online the following night.
The first two episodes had such a strong response, Croft said, that they decided to
boost it up a notch by selling sponsorships for the next four. After numerous cold
calls to outdoor companies, ExOfficio came in as a presenting sponsor.
“They really saved our bacon,” Croft said of ExOfficio’s investment. “They truly
believe in authentic adventure.”
Expedition Overland re-incorporated the first season of “trips” into the footage for
this year’s series and episode one had 26,000 views in the first month.
“Last year it would take all month to hit 5,000 views,” Croft said. “This year, episode
one hit 5,000 views in the first day.”The adventure film company strives to tell a compelling story without the
manufactured drama of most “reality” shows, and believes that good content will
rise to the top because of the challenges faced on such long expeditions, Croft said.
Those challenges include driving their vehicles through rivers that surge over the
headlights, deadfall-ridden trails that require chainsaws to pass and driving through
knee-deep snow.
“Getting in trouble is the fun part,” according to Croft, but the greatest challenges
faced on such a long trip rarely involve the terrain itself, he says.
“Fuel, food, the distance traveled, weather, asset maintenance – vehicles, batteries
for hard drives, maintenance of the tents [are some of the difficulties],” Croft said.
“You have to manage yourself, team morale, and have to rest your body because
we’re going hard. Also, making sure we’re producing a show at the same time.”
Episode four was released on Dec. 18 and opens with emotional dialogue from Scott
and Rhonda Cahill as they describe Scott’s 2013 decision to leave Oracle in
Bozeman and embark on Expedition Overland full time with Croft.
“I saw a piece of him kind of die,” Rhonda says of Scott’s eight-year stint as a web
programmer. “I’m OK if we have another year of hotdogs and macaroni just to get
by.” The episode ends with Rhonda explaining that every part of her husband she
witnessed die at his desk has come back to life.
“I made the leap of faith,” Scott said. “This is what I really wanted to do.”
Efficiency is one of the most important aspects of long-distance vehicle travel. The
trucks can’t be loaded too heavily in order to use fuel efficiently and to keep the
team safe.
“A true overlander is a very unique way of seeing the world just outside your
window,” Croft says. “Being able to interact with the environment, people and
culture where you are…the off-the-beaten-path areas of the world. That is why the
vehicles are built the way they are.”
Those builds include a long range fuel tank upgrade – 10 gallons overstock – a 2
½-inch lift, front and rear armor, 33-inch all-terrain tires, Baja Rack roof racks, and
the addition of an ExVenture trailer to help haul the extra gear. The team did most
of the additions themselves in Bozeman with at least 1,000 combined man hours,
which cut down on the cost.
“It boils down to having an understanding of the cost either way,” Croft explains in
episode four. “At the end of the day your perspective on life is what will grade the
quality of it.”
Episode five will air on Jan. 18 and previous episodes can be viewed at
xoverland.com or subscribe to youtube.com/expeditionoverland.

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