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Overland Kings: The ‘king’ of road trips nurtures outdoor lifestyle with running images of adventure

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Joel Conrad Pedro,39, exudes a childlike delight in the outdoors, he constantly “invites” people to step into the outdoor lifestyle through camp outs his company organizes, and the many cars he’s outfitted for adventure with nature.


Those who go on road trips and camp out for the night know him as the man behind Overland Kings, a company that has transformed many vehicles – sedans, pickup trucks, SUVs, vans – from showroom classic to bold adventurer.

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JOEL CONRAD PEDRO taking a break during a program in the OK Camp Out.


You must have seen the various cool faces of adventure created by Overland Kings rolling along highways – usually during weekends. No one can miss the bold looking vehicles with roof top tents, awnings, LED lights, offroad terrain tires.


And should you see them parked somewhere, perhaps you will notice the neat cargo area with custom-built drawers holding the many comforts of home – a kitchen and even a bath shower, satellite internet connection gadget, extra power source – and whatever the owner thinks he will need outdoors.


Those who espy Joel’s convoy in a camping site will likely not leave without meeting him. Joel is the friendly camper who mingles, engages in conversation, and spreads the delight of just being in the midst of nature. In an hour, or an evening with Joel, many of those who started as just-curious-campers will turn into serious weekend adventurers.

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Joel’s romance with the outdoors started with the car. He calls himself a car geek who would drive out on long road trips, because “the journey is the destination,” go hiking in a mountain along the way, and seek shelter for the night under a tent.


“There was no term for people like me then. There were no special gear too. We just drove out of the city, stuffed things we needed for shelter and food in the car,” he said.

So he shopped to get the proper gear. He is amused to say he would buy used camping gear online.

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When he visited an outdoors gear shop in Australia years ago, he ordered so much stuff they had to be shipped via container van to the Philippines.


“The seller said shipping would cost the same if the container van was full or half empty. So I purchased more units of the items I had chosen. When those arrived in Manila, the things sold out fast only among my friends,” Joel related on how he stumbled into the business of setting up overlanding gear.


And Overland Kings was born.


In 2022, when Covid restrictions were being eased, people hungry to get out of the “stay-at-home” situation naturally shifted to driving out to a safe place called nature – and purchased camping gear.


Then, an awning was the first gear people attached to their cars to become outdoors-ready. Joel recalls that an awning attachment was so foreign five years ago that friends asked him what that contraption was. Today, there are thousands of awnings “running around” attached onto sedans, pickup trucks, SUVS and vans. It’s become like a badge that says – I am a camper!

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On road trips, he let initiative and function create his gear. His first car camping vehicle was a Ford E-150, which he stuffed with dome tents and camping stuff that took hours to set up a proper camp – and longer to break camp afterwards. Then came the Trooper 4×2 with skyroof whose odometer rolled to 250,000 km “with a lot of good memories.” His first 4×4, a Suzuki Jimny, took his heart on a ride over offroad terrain.


In an interview literally under a million stars at the Isuzu D-Max and MuX OK (Overland Kings) Camp Out at River Ranch in Tanay, Rizal, which Joel’s team had set up, Joel told many stories.


“I’ve camped once and it was in our garden,” he said. He was not even a Boy Scout who could have been exposed to camping. “I was just a car geek who saved for my first car, a BMW Z3, and I read magazine sections on car specs.”


Joel can without hesitation, recite a car part number, odometer reading of his vehicle, and the date of its last oil change. Truly, his mind is literally for the outdoors, in a business where he said he’s just having fun and he’s “not there for the money” but to build on a person’s dream of an outdoor lifestyle.


“We do not just sell camping gear. I ask the customer what he plans to do outdoors with his car. Then I suggest the rig he will need.”

Experience tells him, though, that most of his customers already know what they want when they visit his shop.

OK Camp Out


If the custom-built rigs fail to attract the interest of beginners in car camping, Joel’s latest product can fan that interest to become a passion. He calls it the OK Camp Out where the OK team sets up a whole camp with SUVs and pickup trucks, roof top tents unfolding into sleeping quarters; awnings jutting out of the vehicle sides to become a family area. A kitchen trailer stands beside a kitchen tent where a chef prepares freshly-cooked comfort food. Large open tents over various camping chairs and tables – for having conversation, and a cocktail before dinner. And a WV Kombi serving fresh coffee.

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It’s a picture-pretty campsite you’ve seen in a movie, or read in a book – and the hundreds of fairy lights defining the edges of tent borders sprinkle the magic dust of awesome.

“A classic and elegant camp adventure was set up for the launching of a wine brand in the Philippines. The biggest OK Camp Out was early this year in Crystal Beach, Zambales, where we invited our customers and 80 fully-outfitted vehicles accepted my invitation to join us at camp.”

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The OK Camp Out has been the venue for various events, among them the Isuzu D-Max and MuX camping event to test drive the vehicles. (Joel’s team prepared the test drive route with six river crossings and some rock crawling.).

The price of outdoor comfort


How much can a custom-made rig cost? Well, the numbers can blow a beginner away. The cheapest roof top tent costs about ₱40,000 and the top-of-the-line is priced up to ₱300,000, coming with attachments that one can call “home” like another “bedroom” on the ground level, a 270-degree awning, and some other cool stuff.

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Surprisingly, the top-of-the-line gear are the most popular buys. Joel explained that people who buy think of durability, of having dependable shelter outdoors for the next five years. And of course, those attachments are better just left attached on the vehicles, he recommends. So, if the adventure stuff stays attached to the vehicle, then likely that becomes the camping vehicle.

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He said the car owner has to decide if he wants an outdoor rig that he can also take to the mall. “My Lexus, for example, can be driven to the mall parking which has up to 2.2 meter ceiling height. But attaching a roof top tent needs more space, so it’s better parked at home.”


But parking that at home will be one less car on the road that would be attracting more people to enjoy nature – and meet people – by camping out.

(Joel is married and has five children – all of them campers. During the pandemic, they camped for six weeks in the mountains.)

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Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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