The Aluminess Trail 2023

Wondering where we'll be this year?

This year we plan on attending the following events:

  • Adventure Van Expo | April 29-30 | San Juan Capistrano, CA
  • Overland Expo WEST | May 19-21 | Flagstaff, AZ
  • Adventure Van Expo | Sept 16-17 | Palisades Tahoe, CA
  • Adventure Van Expo | Oct 14-15 | Big Bear, CA

Adventurer Spotlight: Adam Hockey

Adventurer Spotlight: Adam Hockey & "Eve" AKA Next Level Revel

Could you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into overlanding?

Hi! My name is Adam Hockey. I’m originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico – but I’ve lived most of my life in the Seattle, Washington area.  However, for the last three+ years I’ve been living on the road pursuing, and immersing in, the VanLife / Overlanding experience. Prior to my 100% commitment to the nomadic lifestyle, I spent 27+ years working as a product developer, designer, researcher and backcountry guide for a large outdoor-industry retailer.

Overland has held an appeal to me since a very young age. For a good number of years, in my mid 20s, I trucked around in a JEEP CJ7; then bicycling and hiking took over as my favorite outdoor pursuits. The desire to access trail systems deeper and deeper into backcountry eventually led to a passion for adventure motorcycling; and, most recently, taking to the backroads in an exceedingly backcountry capable Mercedes Sprinter van. 

What inspired you to start overlanding and what kind of vehicle do you use for your adventures?

I feel I was most inspired towards overlanding as a means to effectively (and safely) get deeper into the backcountry, have big fun doing it and be completely self-supported once I arrived to camp! Currently I use a 2020 Winnebago Revel 44E, built on a 2019 Sprinter VS30 4×4 chassis.

Image Credit: Adam Hockey

How did you hear about Aluminess?

Prior to embarking full-throttle into the overlanding experience, I spent the better part of two years researching van upgrades and accessories. During this research effort I came across Aluminess through both internet explorations and visiting the Aluminess booth at Overland Expo NW, back in 2018.

What modifications have you made to your vehicle to make it suitable for overlanding and travel in general?

Oh goodness, where to begin?!…

Of course, first and foremost, were my initial Aluminess additions!: Within two months of acquiring my Revel I upgraded to a custom roof rack, side ladder, Slimline Rear Bumper and two Deluxe Boxes (including rails and bike mounts). More recently has seen the addition of the Baja Front Bumper.

Additional Exterior Mods: I’ve upgraded the suspension, added forward & rear lighting, increased solar-panel capacity, additional rooftop storage and a system for improved cellular signal.

Interior Enhancements: My living space has been altered considerably, mostly through functional accessories and decorations designed by myself. Additional cabinetry, organizational solutions, shelving add ons, bed customization and aesthetic upgrades to make the van as functional and homey as possible. Overall a deep expression of my character. 

Image Credit: Adam Hockey

What are some of your favorite off-the-beaten-path destinations that you’ve discovered while travel?

There are SO many! Since I endeavor to spend the bulk of my travels off-the-grid and backcountry, new terrain and discoveries occur almost daily.

Hands down Death Valley is probably my favorite destination, and the nine+ return trips I’ve made there (and over 20 different backcountry, van based, campsites) reveal this passion. But I certainly have favorites all over the country – with my most recent preferred exploits taking place in north and central Nevada. The ‘undiscovered country’ of overlanding trails, in my humble opinion.

The The Four Corners states and Pacific Northwest also remain near-and-dear to my adventurous heart.       

Image Credit: Dylan Harris / SOD Studios

What have been some of the most memorable experiences or encounters you’ve had while adventuring?

I feel this best divided into three separate categories…

  • People: While my primary goal is usually solitude in wide open spaces, I do value occasional deep dives into social settings – and within this culture those opportunities abound. My favorite aspect of this is the melting-pot that exists within both the Overland and VanLife communities. People from all walks of life and across the political spectrum gravitate to this lifestyle and find common ground in their outdoor adventure passions and pursuits. Through this lifestyle I’ve been able to establish healthy relationships with a very broad array of mindsets – expanding my perspective and understanding of what collective can really be. United Rigs of Overland!  ;-D
  • Places: The most amazing hidden gem during my van voyages was unquestionably Congaree National Park, South Carolina. Had no idea it even existed, but while making my way to North Carolina I happened upon this secluded, lightly traveled, largest intact expanse of old growth hardwood forest remaining in the United States. Enjoyed the most amazing kayaking journey through groves of unbelievably giant cypress trees.
  • Critters: My favorite companions of all, seeking the fellowship of wild animal friends is among my happiest pursuits. Possibly the most notable encounter, among so many, was the very up-close-and-personal company of a mother moose and it’s young, at a small remote lake in Montana. I was kayaking back to my campsite when I found mom and young grazing through lily pads – directly between me and my van, parked on the nearby shoreline. After determining the situation was safe, we spent better than an hour slowly meandering around each other. The little also stretched its legs running up and down the shore while mom continued grazing and keeping a watchful eye on me. Felt SO honored in their presence and blessed to have had the opportunity. 

How do you balance the need for self-sufficiency and preparedness with the desire for spontaneity and flexibility in your travels?

These to me are not mutually exclusive. Having all the necessary equipment to deal with almost any unexpected situation, and always being well stocked with consumables, directly empowers spontaneity and flexibility.

Because of thoughtful procurement of recovery gear, spare parts and medical supplies – along with a consistent habit of keeping all my personal food and fun needs well inventoried, I know I can pivot at any moment towards the most rewarding opportunities.

Image Credit: Adam Hockey

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out and considering an overland van?

Oooo, this is another question deserving of so many insights. But, if I distill it down to two things, I’d say…

  1. Expand external storage as much as possible: Everything one can do to get as much of your gear & supplies (both necessary and fun) outside of your living space will greatly enhance the comfort factor of living in a van. The more space on the inside for YOU, the better. Consider a quality roof rack and roof storage, along with rear cases and gear mounting systems.
  2. Have air down capable wheels/tires and on-board air: Driving a large heavy van on aggressive backroads can be a jarring experience. Between washboard, deep ruts, rocks, soft road conditions (sand, mud, snow, etc.) and all the goodies rattling around inside a van – air down capability is absolutely invaluable to ease the impact and greatly improve traction. But also have the ability to air-up when returning to the pavement – without having to rely on others. A compressor is a must.

In my humble opinion, these two quality investments are worth every single penny! But do spring for the absolute best quality you can find. I’ve found you really do get what you pay for in the overlanding industry.  

Where can our readers follow along with your adventures?

This is an easy one…  Instagram:  @nextlevelrevel  &  @adhoc62

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your overlanding and travel experience?

As a passionate adventurer, traveler and backcountry guide most of my life (with a inclination towards places of solitude) – I’ve developed a very specific process to find high-quality, remote, dispersed campsites that are both legal and, most-often, completely free (focusing on our public land resources). This process is predominantly independent of digital locator apps with pre-defined options – as I feel one is well served being able to navigate free of recommendations and truly explore and discover on one’s own. This modality deeply expands the visceral nature of the overlanding experience. Now that’s not to say that good recommendations aren’t wonderful; but, I do recommend breaking free of that as often as possible.

"Travel safe, leave no trace, and HAVE AN EPIC FUN TIME out there!"
- Adam Hockey

Image Credit: Dylan Harris / SOD Studios

Aluminum VS Steel

Aluminum vs Steel

In general, aluminum is often considered a better material for making bumpers than steel for several reasons. First, aluminum is much lighter than steel, which can help reduce the overall weight of a vehicle and improve its fuel efficiency. This can be especially important for overland vehicles, which may need to be able to travel long distances on rough terrain and benefit from a lower weight.

Second, aluminum is more corrosion resistant than steel, so bumpers made from this material are less likely to rust or degrade over time. This can be important for overland vehicles, which are exposed to harsh environmental conditions and need to be able to withstand rough treatment.

Third, aluminum is also more flexible than steel, so bumpers made from this material are less likely to crack or break under impact. This can provide better protection for a vehicle and its occupants in the event of a collision or other accident.

Overall, while steel may be a more traditional material for making bumpers, aluminum offers several advantages that make it a better choice for many applications, particularly for overland vehicles.

What is Overlanding?

Overlanding is a type of self-reliant travel that involves exploring remote and off-road areas using a vehicle that is equipped for camping and living on the road. The goal of overlanding is to experience adventure, explore the natural beauty of the world, and immerse oneself in the culture of the places visited.

Overlanding can be done in any type of vehicle, from a rugged 4×4 to a modified van or even a motorcycle. What sets overlanding apart from other types of travel is the emphasis on self-sufficiency and self-reliance. Overlanders are typically prepared to handle a range of challenges, from mechanical breakdowns to inclement weather and unexpected obstacles on the road.

One of the key benefits of overlanding is the freedom it provides. Overlanders are not bound by schedules or itineraries and can adjust their plans as they go. This flexibility allows them to explore areas that are off the beaten path and to take their time enjoying the journey.

Overlanding is also an excellent way to connect with nature. Overlanders can camp in remote locations and experience the peace and solitude of being in the wilderness. They can also enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching.

Another benefit of overlanding is the opportunity to connect with people from different cultures. Overlanders often travel to remote areas where they can interact with locals and learn about their way of life. This can be a transformative experience that broadens one’s perspective and deepens their understanding of the world.

Of course, overlanding also comes with its own set of challenges. One of the biggest challenges is ensuring that the vehicle is properly equipped for the journey. This can involve installing modifications such as off-road tires, a winch, and a roof rack to carry gear. Overlanders also need to be prepared for emergencies and have the necessary tools and supplies on hand to handle unexpected situations.

Overlanding also requires a certain level of self-sufficiency. Overlanders need to be able to cook, clean, and maintain their vehicle on their own. They also need to be able to navigate using maps and GPS, and to communicate in areas with limited cell service.

In conclusion, overlanding is a unique and rewarding way to travel that offers the opportunity for adventure, connection with nature, and immersion in different cultures. It requires a certain level of preparation and self-sufficiency, but the freedom and flexibility it provides make it well worth the effort. For those looking to escape the beaten path and explore the world on their own terms, overlanding is an excellent choice.