Notes From the Field

I’ve been getting a lot of seat time in 4×4 vehicles this year. My travels have taken me all across the Western United States – from traveling the canyonlands of Utah and Arizona on the Carbon Neutral Expedition to the awe-inspiring Great Divide of Colorado and across the prairies of Texas in assorted Land Rover Defender 110s. Driving overland through these majestic backdrops is inspirational. These great unspoiled places renew my creativity and my energy. The long distances that go along with overlanding provide a chance to reflect on life, the universe and everything (incidentally, the answer actually is 42). During this summer’s session of trans-continental soul searching, I thought back on how much Pangaea Expeditions has changed over the past decade, where it has gone and what lies ahead.

When Tracy and I started Pangaea back in 2001, “overlanding” wasn’t even a part of the North American 4×4 vocabulary, much less the four wheeling “flavor of the week”. In our minds, we weren’t overlanders, we were just a couple of people with a Land Rover Discovery who thought it would be a fun adventure to drive down to Belize. My how things have changed. Now overlanding seems to be the hot buzz word with lots of companies jumping on the bandwagon. At the SEMA show last year, I stopped counting after seeing at least a dozen trucks with roof top tents.

In the last ten years, the technology has changed a lot. In 2001, we were at the beginning stages of GPS use. A slow, monochrome Garmin GPS III sat on the dash of our Land Rover. Without any good basemaps, the display consisted of a black triangle, pointed in a southerly direction in the middle of a big blank screen. We relied mostly on good old fashioned route finding and paper maps. This was a far cry from the satellite view basemap that I was able to pull up on my iPhone while navigating the canyons of the Colorado plateau this summer.

Pangaea Expeditions has gone through a lot of changes in the past decade too. In 2001, I couldn’t have imagined Pangaea having a built-from-recycled-parts, biodiesel-powered Land Rover Defender 110 racking up accolades like “Top 5 Sexy Vehicle” at the SEMA show, the world’s largest automotive aftermarket show.

Pangaea started off selling gear and guiding trips. We’ve evolved into an online informational resource (that still leads a handful of flagship expeditions), but our goal has always been the same–to educate and inspire adventurers to discover the world for themselves. In the past 10 years, we have been lucky enough to guide trips all across the world, we’ve helped build trucks for epic ’round-the-world journeys and we’ve taught neophytes how to use that “other” shift lever on their 4x4s.

I always love hearing the stories from people that I’ve camped with, wheeled with and wrenched with as they come back from their own great adventures. I sincerely hope that Pangaea has helped–even if only a little bit– in inspiring them to go out and do this for themselves.

During all of the driving and soul searching this year, one of the things Tracy and I kept going back to is “What is Pangaea Expeditions?” Sure, we provide industry news, we write product reviews, we publish stories and photos of trips around the world, and in this web 2.0 era, we interact with you on sites like Facebook and Brightkite.

But, what is Pangaea? I couldn’t help but think that in many ways, Pangaea Expeditions is kind of like a paperless magazine. I kind of like that. I have deep roots in the print industry: my mom is a career journalist; I’ve worn many hats at magazines and newspapers in my career as a writer, photographer, marketer, and art director; Tracy went to “J School” as journalism school is affectionately known and now works as a producer on an award-winning media team. I’ve always had a love for the way stories can communicate, inspire, and sometimes even change the world.

Sadly, the writing seems to be on the wall for the print world. While I think few things can match the awe-inspiring sight of an amazing photograph in print and I love the tactile feel of flipping through a coffee table book like The Great Adventure or a magazine like Overland Journal, I also love the reach, the immediacy, and the interaction of the online world.

In today’s digital world, if someone sees a prototype vehicle on the road, you might be able to see spy photos of it from anywhere in the world within minutes, not 4-12 weeks later depending on the editorial and printing cycle of your favorite magazine. With the incredible adoption rate of the iPad, I can envision some great ways to bridge that gap between the print and online experience, while bringing additional features that are just impossible to do on a printed page. We plan on bringing information just like this to you soon.

As we head into Pangaea Expeditions’ 10th year, expect to see some big changes coming, starting with a new website redesign. We’re trying to stay true to the feel that Pangaea has always had, but we will bring some great new features and content to you. Expect more information, more how-to’s, more adventures, in fact, more of everything. We’ve got some big things planned for the upcoming year (our tenth anniversary), so come with us on the journey and together we will discover the world.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or things you’d like to see here, you can always reach me at nathan@pangaea-expeditions.com.

Thanks,

Nathan Hindman

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