The Complete Guide to Overlanding

“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters and teach us more than we can ever learn from schoolbooks”

-John Lubbock.

The desire to break out of the daily grind and escape from the monotonous hustle and bustle is innate in most of us. As a result, traveling, seeing new places, and exploring what the rest of the world has to offer have always been avenues for relaxation. For avid travelers who happen to be enthusiasts, however, traditional travel may seem a little lacking.

These are the individuals who crave adventure and who wish to inject something more into their intrepid exploits. For that reason, they crave alternative means of getting outside and exploring nature.

Over the years, outdoor exploration and adventures have become increasingly popular. One such activity is dubbed overlanding. To the uninitiated, overlanding means to travel a long distance over land in lieu of other means of traditional travel such as by plane or boat. In essence, overlanding is also what most would consider as slow travel in which individuals can are free to explore a locale and its surrounding area without being limited by time. So, if you have never heard of overlanding or have heard of it but have never tried it, this article will help you get started.

OVERLANDING VS OFF-ROADING

Although easily confused for one or the other, there is a marked difference between overlanding and off-roading. Unfortunately, these two terms are often used interchangeably or are mistaken for one or the other when they should not be. It is valuable to know that overlanding always includes off-roading, while off-roading does not always have to include overlanding.

Any driving activity on uneven or natural terrain or unsurfaced roads is generally considered off-roading. On the other hand, overlanding can technically be considered off-roading as you almost always need to drive over unsurfaced roads to reach your destination. However, the primary goal of overlanding is to travel long distances and have a vehicle to do this for the duration of the journey. It is also worth noting that overlanding is typically done over multiple days and in various environments. As a result, more equipment is required.

To have the best experience in overlanding, you need a vehicle that can take you from one point to another—even if that means taking dirt and uneven roads. A vehicle that takes you completely off-grid and allows you to be self-sufficient for extended periods of time greatly contributes to the success of your journey.

OVERLANDING GEAR AND EQUIPMENT

Now that you have an idea of what overlanding is let us proceed to the specifics around having the right equipment and proper gear. One thing you need to know about overlanding is that it demands a lot out of your vehicle. The goal is to stay outdoors for extended periods with little to no maintenance. Keep in mind that there is no right way to determine whether a vehicle is ideal for overlanding.

Your vehicle should depend on you as the driver and your personal preferences. You do not need to have your very own SUV or truck just to have a comfortable and successful overlanding experience. However, there are a few key points you need to consider:

a.) Four-wheel drive

The four-wheel drive feature is paramount in any overlanding vehicle. This remains true even if you do not intend to scale boulders. This is an indispensable feature in an overlanding vehicle as you may find yourself driving through uneven terrain. Your vehicle will need that extra traction and power to get through the journey.

b.) Tires

Another non-negotiable feature when it comes to overlanding is the vehicle’s tires. Having a set of reliable tires makes all the difference between an average trip and a great trip. If you are shopping for tires, look for those that specifically mention all-terrain (may be listed as AT or A/T) or off-road. Also, check your tires at least once a month and any time after you return to the highway after an off-road excursion. Check for tears and damage, tread depth, and tire pressure.

c.) Suspension

Lastly, another important factor you should consider in overlanding vehicles is the suspension, which helps maximize your vehicle’s performance. The vehicle’s suspension absorbs bumps for a safer and more comfortable ride. It is also important for weight which would significantly depend on what you want to pack and how long you plan to overland. Keep in mind that even something as simple as a tent topper can already add an extra strain on your vehicle, so be mindful of its maximum limit.

IMPORTANT THINGS TO PACK FOR AN OVERLANDING TRIP

1.) Coolers

If you intend to go overlanding for multiple days, having small collapsible cooler bags can help you preserve space. This can help you pack ice and fresh drinking water that stays cool. However, if you wish to go overlanding longer than a week, consider investing in a small refrigerator that can be connected to your car’s battery.

Shop coolers here: Camp Cover Cooler Traveller RS 48 Khaki

Dometic Patrol Cooler

2.) Camp Stove

To enable you to cook different meals, bring a camp stove with you. However, if you wish to forgo having a stove completely, at least have an iron skillet.

Shop camp stoves here: KOVEA Eagle Stove

3.) Tent or Sleeping Foundation

Pack a tent or sleeping foundation with you for comfort and extra space. This is especially true if you are overlanding in a group. If you have extra space, bring some pillows and blankets as well to make your nights as comfortable as possible.

Shop camping tents here: Alps Mountaineering Acropolis 4 (4 Person Tent)

Kovea Riverside 1 Tent

4.) Maps and Compass

As you may be going to places with limited to no service, it can be useful to go analog and have topographic maps and a compass with you.

5.) First Aid Kit

Lastly, any outdoor trip requires a first aid kit. That said, you should have one that contains all the essentials (band-aids, alcohol swabs, ibuprofen, tweezers, gauze, splints, and wound irrigators).

Shop first aid kits here: Camp Cover Medical First Aid Kit RS Kitted/UnKitted Khaki

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