Highland Expedition OutfittersYour East Coast American Made Source
Hunkered down in my Mountain Hardware Trango II expedition rated ground tent, I pondered how peacefully fellow BOLD Overland team member Tommy Clapp was sleeping in the luxuriously rugged Highland Expedition Outfitters (HEO) T3 Rig. It wasn’t for lack of confidence in my setup, having proved the Trango II during a Mount Aconcagua summit push in the volatile Andes Mountains of Argentina. However, as the precipitation continued to build, I couldn’t help but wonder when the lower sidewalls of the ground tent would succumb to saturation. Consequently, in the early morning hours of the second night at Taylor Ranch, I reluctantly received the data I so inquisitively desired; my 8,000-meter peak tent gave way to the river forming underneath my gypsy camp setup.
Throughout the monsoon like conditions at Overland Expo East in 2015, I had the opportunity to check out several expedition trailers and roof top tent (RTT) options. Amongst the major players, I gravitated towards HEO, Turtleback, Adventure, and X-Venture Trailers. Regarding RTT’s, I noticed that ARB, James Baroud, CVT, and Tepui, had a strong presence not only amongst the vendor crowd, but amongst the general overlanding populist as well. That said, my curiosity to start conducting deeper research for the platform, which would fit my expedition desires, was sparked. Upon retrograde from Expo East, I had the opportunity to pull a Highland Expedition Outfitters T3 across the mountains of North Carolina and into the East Tennessee valley. Unsurprisingly, I was instantaneously amazed how light the T3 felt behind my 2015 TRD Pro Toyota 4Runner.
Upon reaching fellow team member Tommy Clapp’s southern farm, I was disappointed to un-couple and drop the T3 in Tommy’s rustic barn; after all, having the T3 hooked up to my TRD Pro T4R simply felt like the right fit and what I was looking for regarding my expedition rig desires. Unbeknownst at the time, the Pro would have the pleasant opportunity of being rigged up with the HEO T3 for many future overland endeavors. More specifically, as the concept of BOLD Overland morphed into reality, Team BOLD’s relationship with Highland Expedition Outfitters pleasantly gained momentum. That said; nestled amongst the outskirts of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is where you’ll find Highland Expedition Outfitters base camp, owned by Jeff and Kate Oliver. Jeff’s passion for the outdoors started as a young Scout, where he earned enough money to buy his first pup tent. Interestingly enough, shortly thereafter Jeff was rarely seen indoors by his parents and was often found camping out back and sustaining independently by cooking over a campfire.
Continuing with experience; having worked for Airstream for several years, Jeff Oliver is no stranger in the craft of designing and building lightweight proven campers. Being an engineer by trade, Jeff wanted to continue to practice his craft in an endeavor to build American made expedition campers that were extremely tough, lightweight, and affordable; a practice that wasn’t being accomplished on the East Coast. After some heavy-duty research and development, accompanied by minor trials and tribulations along the way, HEO’s visionary T3 camper was unveiled. The T3 is HEO’s lightest and smallest expedition trailer, which weighs in at an impressively trim 550 pounds. However, don’t be fooled by the size, the T3 can handle a significant amount of expedition gear stowed in the cargo area and nose box of the trailer. Moreover, the T3 possesses the ability to be outfitted with a myriad of overlanding accessories ranging from propane tanks to kayak holders.
Moving on into the realm of where HEO equipment feels at home in its natural environment, the field. Fortunately, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of field-testing several of HEO’s products but mostly the coveted T3 expedition trailer. First and foremost, the T3 weighs in at an amazingly light 550 pounds and feels extremely light and efficient behind my TRD Pro T4R. Moreover, the lightweight nature of the trailer affords me the availability of using all electronic options including A-TRAC, Crawl Control, and Multi-Terrain selections as prescribed. The aluminum and ACM board utilized in the design is extremely lightweight, yet rugged and tough on the trail. The American Rockwell axles paired with the robust and geometrically sound frame yield excellent tracking characteristics and durability on tough terrain. Additionally, the Lock-N-Roll coupler utilized on the T3 articulates on a 360-degree axis to handle tough approach/departure angles and off camber obstacles. Ultimately, HEO’s T3 is a beast on the trail that can tackle dynamic and challenging problems with relative ease.
Final thoughts; a solid expedition trailer such as those hand crafted and built by Highland Expedition Outfitters, opens up a myriad of logistical options within the overlanding sphere. Having the availability to drop a trailer at basecamp is a luxurious option, one BOLD Overland employs quite frequently when out and doing it. Moreover, the space and organizational aspects gained by HEO’s expedition camper continues to prove paramount in expedition travel endeavors. In addition to multiple trailer options, HEO offers several designs and sizes of RTT’s and awnings as well as accessories such as Trasharoo bags and RotoPax containers. Altogether, the craftsmanship and attention to detail found at HEO is of the highest degree complimented by strong customer service. Therefore, Highland Expedition Outfitters is your East Coast American Made source for your overlanding needs