03 February 2023
Where should all overlanders go at least once before they die? According to our editor, Patrick Cruywagen, it has to be the annual Abenteur & Allrad show, held in the Bavarian town of Bad Kissingen
If you ask me to describe the annual Abenteur & Allrad show held in Bavaria in just four German words, it have would be, ‘Ja, das ist gut’. That is also the sum total of my command of the German language. It roughly translates to: ‘Yes, it’s good’.
For as long as I’ve been going to far-flung places in Land Rovers, I have always wanted to attend this massive annual event for overlanders held in Bad Kissingen. For some or other reason, it just never happened.
Enter into the fray Johnny Nel, the man who recently improved Front Runners’ sales and aftermarket service in the UK. His plan was simple: drive a convoy of three Land Rovers from the UK to the show. The only requirement was that the Land Rovers had to have loads of Front Runner gear on. For those that don’t know, Front Runner specialises in making accessories for 4x4s and vans such as roof racks, jerry can holders, rooftop tents and hundreds of other similar products.
For our German adventure I jump in with Johnny in his Discovery 4. In the other two Land Rovers are Harry Shipton and Chloe Strudwick in a Defender 110, and Stan Scrooby in his no-expense spared Defender 90.
The show normally opens to the public on a Thursday, but there is a press day on the Wednesday, so we leave at 5.00am on Tuesday. It’s just over 500 miles from door to show campsite, but we decide to break up the journey with an overnight stay in some lovely chalets on the edge of the Eifel National Park.
We are up and away before sunrise so that we can arrive at the show when the gates open for the press at 10.00am. The show is held on top of a hill on the outskirts of the town, which all sounds lovely but there’s no parking for the thousands of attendees from around the world. Everyone has to take a bus or taxi to the show. For the next few days Bad Kissingen is literally overrun by thousands of overland vehicles of every description. From a humble Series Land Rover or Range Rover Classic to a big MAN truck or outlandish camper.
I brace myself as we make our way through the entrance gates, but nothing could have prepared me for what I’m about to experience. For starters there are around 350 traders selling anything and everything related to overlanding and off-roading.
This is not the kind of show you can visit in a day. You are probably going to miss something very important or impressive. I say give yourself a minimum of two days just to have an in-depth browse around all of the trade stands. It is just bloody enormous.
Land Rover Germany created what it called Defender Island, where attendees can go to take a passenger ride in a new Defender. By now you have probably seen the viral video where one of them slips off some elevated iron tracks and gets stuck. After several attempts it is snatched free with the aid of a tow rope.
As my mate Stan Scrooby has never been in a new Defender I go with him in a D300 110. Luckily our Land Rover Experience instructor takes it around the course without any dramas.
To say that I am blown away is an understatement. I never knew that Land Rovers were so big in Germany. Please read on for a summary of my favourite trade stands, best Land Rovers, top pieces of equipment, general tips for first time attendees and, most importantly, how to get there if you plan on attending in 2023 – I urge you to make the trip.
Top 5 Land Rovers at the show
Sunnyside Defender 110: This very well-travelled Defender 110 on the Front Runner stand belongs to Phil and Karo who run the YouTube channel The Sunnyside. Their self-built camper was certainly attracting lots of attention. This lovely couple have travelled extensively in the Americas. How do they finance their travels? They own a business called Camplight, who make fairy and solo hanging lights for camping – see it amongst my favourite overland products from the show here).
Team SolarCar Defender 110: I spent a fascinating half hour chatting to the students of the Bochum University of Applied Sciences about their solar-powered Defender 110. The batteries for this unique looking Defender are topped up via a rather large foldable solar panel mounted on the roof rack. These intrepid young scientists plan on driving this fully electric Defender to 31 European countries covering 10,000 miles while using only the solar panels to charge it. See bosolarcar.de.
Dometic Outdoor Defender 130: This Defender 130 from the Dometic HQ was my bed for the three nights at the show. It had every Front Runner and Dometic accessory fitted, so I was able to cook food, charge my mobile phone and keep the drinks cold. I think a Defender 130 double cab is the ultimate overland vehicle.
Matzker Land Rover: Every so often you get a Land Rover dealership that just gets what the brand is all about. These chaps most certainly do and they had an interesting display of Land Rovers (and a Grenadier) on their stand. An early Series I, a Defender 90 Tdi rag top which they have built for a client, and then a Land Rover Trophy Defender V8, one of only 25 ever produced. For more see matzker.de.
Deutscher Land Rover Club: They only had two Defenders on their stand but more importantly they were warm and welcoming to anyone who wanted to chat about Land Rovers. Thanks to Simon Steinbusch for giving me 10 minutes of his precious time to chat about our favourite subject. I later found more club members in the general campsite. Definitely worth contacting them if you are planning a trip to Germany (dlrc.org).
Top 5 Trade Stands
Genesis Import: The company stocks various quality brands such as Lazer Lamps, Ironman 4x4, T-Max and Snomaster, but one of its biggest sellers has to be the South African Alu-Cab, which make some of the best canopies, awnings and rooftop tents in the world. Alu-Cab launched a few new products at the show, including a slimline rooftop tent, smaller awnings and loads of cool accessories for rooftop tents such as a coffee table and mattress with a backrest option. For more details go to: genesis-import.de
Offroad 4u: Swiss founder Stefan Wermelskirchen really impressed me with the canopy he built on the back of his Defender 130 pick-up. The detail and quality of his work were out of this world. I love how his fridge and table slide out from the canopy. For more see offroad4u.ch
Offroad Monkeys: Fabian Muller is the founder of this super-cool Bavarian Defender accessories maker. His fast-growing business currently employs 20 people and they remind me a bit of UK’s Optimill. The company’s high-strength aluminium products include door hinges, bonnet hinges, adjustable mirror arms and many more. Definitely worth checking them out. For more visit offroad-monkeys.de.
Rolling Space: Rolling Space claims it makes the most flexible and slimmest roof rack system in the world. I love the fact that its rack uses a modular system and you can easily move the panels to where you need them. Its hammock stand, which can also be fastened to the rack, got loads of attention. Point your browser at: rolling-space.de.
Rough Parts: Founder Markus Rauh was not happy with the quality and workmanship of some of the Defender accessory suppliers, so he started his own company called Rough Parts. Markus is an engineer on a Formula 1 team and he has taken those skills and created some top-quality products for Defenders. I love the fact that the window on his rear door flips up for easy access into the back. That was just one of the many great products he makes for Defenders. Go to rough-parts.com for further details.
Thinking of going in 2023?
Getting there is easy. Pop the town Bad Kissingen into your GPS or Google Maps and off you go. If coming from England you have the options of the ferry or Euro Tunnel. The drive from my house near Milton Keynes to Bad Kissingen is about 550 miles. You could easily do it in a day but we opted for a stop about halfway. I didn’t drive back and instead flew from Frankfurt Airport to London Heathrow for £100. 2022 prices were €20 for day entrance tickets, and there’s a four-day entrance ticket for €40. Camping for Land Rovers is €25 per night. See abenteuer-allrad.de/en.
Tips for first-time visitors
• Arrive at the campsite (there are three to choose from) when it opens on Wednesday and get yourself a spot with shade that is not near the entrance or tracks, or else you’ll eat dust all weekend.
• Study the list of exhibitors before the show and make a note of those you must see and more importantly where they can be found.
• Take a water bottle, sunblock and sunnies. It is the middle of summer and you’ll be doing lots of walking.
• Take cash, because for some strange reason not everyone takes a credit or debit card.
• Brace yourself for poor mobile reception at the show.
• I know this is not a Land Rover show, but believe me there are loads about.
• Do take a stroll around the three massive campsites – you’ll be blown away by the variety of overland vehicles.
• Take along wood and ice as you won’t find any at the shops near the campsite.
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