One things wheelers like is the travel aspect of our sport. Of course it’s great if you live in the woods or on top of a mountain and can wheel every day, but most of us don’t have that luxury. For us, it’s hitting the road for a destination that promises to get our 4x4 juices flowing, to places like Moab, Badlands, Rubicon, and Rausch Creek, or just your favorite private place in the dirt. But along the way the new sport of overlanding has crept into our recreational wheeling side—and we think that’s a good thing.
What is overlanding? Some people think that if you drive a Lexus or Land Rover you go overlanding, while those of us with a beat-up Chevy, Jeep, or Ford go truck camping. But more than rooftop tents and expensive gear instead of a pile of wood and a Coleman sleeping bag separates and defines the two. It’s the thought that we wheel for the obstacles, while overlanders wheel to get somewhere; the destination as opposed to the trip. I tend to disagree on both those counts, as I believe it’s one and the same in the end, just a matter of how you do it.
That’s one reason we decided to make this issue about overlanding, as we have been doing it for way longer than the term has been around, and in many far-flung places around the globe. In this issue alone we show you what’s available and a few great overlanding/camping adventures.
My latest overland trip happened the other day when I decided to drive from Las Vegas to Los Angeles on dirt, by myself. While we never suggest you go alone, I often do, as I never have time to plan—I just go. Along the way I found myself on the old Mojave Road, still in use and somewhat protected by 4-wheelers and adventurers even though it legally goes through wilderness and desert preserves. All I had was my Moab edition Jeep Wrangler, a box of water and drinks, enough jerky for a week, and my bedroll. A few survival and fix-it tools were previously packed, and I had a bag of dirty clothes from a week at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. I was stylin’ in high cotton.
About the second day of my sojourn I noticed some dustrails (as opposed to contrails) off in the distance, and decided that if it was a group or club sprouting them from the dusty desert floor I’d head out before them to beat the Sunday rush towards home. I’d already explored numerous mines, abandoned town sites, and relics and had even found historical artifacts like Beatles cassette tapes and common coffee cups strewn among the detritus of desert civilization, so I figured it was time to start heading back. But somehow the group leapfrogged me while I was exploring a side road, and I suddenly encountered six wheeling rigs, all on an overland journey on the same road, and some were sporting rooftop tents! It turns out they were readers of this magazine and, like me, were just camping and wheeling for a few days with friends for fun and on a backcountry trip, never thinking about the term overlanding or the reason for doing it. So thanks, Bryce, Dave, Dennis, F-250 Dave, Todd, and Steven. It’s great to see real people out wheeling for fun, regardless of what it’s called.