Host, Jimmy Lewis, sits down for a conversation with Expedition Overland’s own Tanner Johnson. Tanner joined XO in 2019 with a background in photography and a love of mechanics, truck-building, and overlanding.
Highly talented and versatile, Tanner often runs lead on photography and cinematography while serving as talent on our global expeditions. At our headquarters in Bozeman, Tanner holds the vital role of Shop Manager for all of our XO vehicle builds.
Along with learning more about everything Tanner does for the Expedition Overland team, discover his own backstory, interests and passions beyond the hangar by joining us for this inspiring conversation with a man who has become well-known and loved by XO fans!
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Detailed Episode Summary
Part 1 (1:30-3:55) Intro/Tanner gets ready to go to Iceland! At the time we recorded this episode, Tanner was literally packing his bags to travel to Iceland to meet the XO team for the last phase of Season 5, The Nordic Series. Learn what it feels like to be heading off to join the XO team on expedition as Tanner shares his anticipation, anxiety, and excitement for the trip!
Part 2 (3:55-11:20) Tanner’s work experience at X Overland: How did Tanner get the job at Expedition Overland? What did his job interview look like? Where did Tanner work before he started working for XO? What was his experience like getting started at XO? Tanner shares the details of his first days going from manager at a camera retail business to XO team member.
Part 3 (11:20-16:45) Tanner’s passion and profession as a photographer: Tanner explains his background in photography, including his formal education in photography at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming. Tanner discusses his college experience, how he met his wife, Randi, and the business they started together, Yellow Horse Photography. How Tanner got started as a photographer and what his interests are.
Part 4 (16:45-20:00) How did Tanner learn to become a videographer? Tanner explains his learning curve going from photographer to videographer. Tanner discusses his joy in shooting material and the editing process that turns photographs and captured video into a story.
Part 5 (20:00-24:00) What was Tanner’s first Expedition with X Overland? Tanner shares his experience going on his first expedition with the XO team, discussing the challenges, anxiety, and excitement behind the scenes of XO’s dynamic series, The Great Pursuit. Tanner explains his involvement in our Jeep Gladiator build, “Odin.”
Part 6 (24:00-27:20) Tanner’s shares his role as a father, and his experience building XO’s 1996 3rd Gen 4Runner: Tanner explains the evolution of XO’s master class overland truck build series, Zero to Hero, which documents the build process of a 1996 3rd Gen Toyota 4Runner from a used family SUV into a highly capable overlanding vehicle. This series is now fully launched and available exclusively on Overlander Network.
Part 7 (27:20-32:45) Tanner discusses his first vehicle builds and his evolution from Jeeps to Toyotas: A self-taught mechanic, Tanner shares his very first vehicle builds as a teenager (including his first Jeep!) and his evolution into his own 2014 Toyota 4Runner being in charge of XO’s sophisticated truck builds.
Part 8 (32:45-37:35) Tanner’s personal overland vehicle build, a 2014 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner: Tanner has done all the work on his own progressive build himself. He shares the details of his 4Runner build and its usage, along with why Maxtrax stand out as one of his favorite accessories.
Part 9 (37:35-45:40) Tanner explains his experience in building “Orion,” our new 2022 3rd Gen Tundra in preparation for Season 5, The Nordic Series: Tanner discusses the process of building our 2022 Tundra, Orion, providing key details on how we installed our Alu-Cab Canopy Camper and our Webasto heating system. Tanner shares why the new Tundra was the most complex build to date and the use of the XO shops new welder and its use.
Part 10 (45:40-51:00) What does it mean to be a self-taught mechanic? Tanner explains his evolution as a self-taught mechanic, what he’s learned and all that he wishes to learn. Tanner discusses when you should enlist the help of a professional shop and when you should try to do it yourself along with how to use YouTube as a resource for DIY projects and the benefits of starting out by doing DIY work with a used vehicle.
Part 11 (51:10-53:30) Tanner’s plans and ambitions for the future: Tanner shares his interest in growing his and his wife’s photography business and in seeing the truck building educational component of XO’s content continue to grow. Tanner discusses his role as a father and his goals of being the best dad and husband he can be.
Part 12 (53:30-End) Managing family roles and XO expeditions: Tanner explains the personal challenges involved in managing life at home with the extensive travel that takes place on XO expeditions. Tanner explains the level of work involved when on expedition creating an XO series and what his responsibilities and roles will be with the team in Iceland.
Follow Tanner on Instagram
Tanner’s personal photography business: Yellow Horse Photography
How to use Maxtrax for vehicle recovery
This episode is brought to you by OnX Offroad!
Use the most trusted off-roading app, onX Offroad, to discover nearby trails, plan and track your trips, and get home safely. Get 20% off your subscription with code ‘XOVERLAND’ or by clicking here.