What Do You Need to Go Overlanding?
Make a list before you hit the trail, and check out the latest episode of Dirt Every Day for some overlanding action.
The art of overlanding can be as simple or complex as you make it. In episode 105 of Dirt Every Day, Fred Williams and Dave Chappelle go overlanding in Utah in an unconventional overlander—a Kaiser Jeep M715. After tagging along on their adventure, we see that what you need to go overlanding broadly fits into a few categories: a vehicle; spares, tools, and recovery gear for your vehicle; camping gear; food; and a camera.
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The real art of overlanding is the packing finesse and creativity that it takes to fit all that stuff into one rig.
What Is the Best Vehicle for Overlanding?
To go overlanding, you need a vehicle. Duh, but it's essential. This vehicle is preferably a reliable, well-maintained off-road vehicle that's mechanically sound—or you're mechanically inclined and know your hooptie well enough to fix it. This is your mode of transportation and your passport to remote areas, so off-road add-ons like lighting, bumpers, suspension, and tires are helpful (and make the journey more comfortable).
The thing that differentiates overlanding from basic camping is the element of off-roading. Since you'll be in remote areas, you and your vehicle need to be self-sufficient. Ideally, your vehicle is four-wheel-drive and able to hold stuff—because overlanding is all about off-grid adventuring and camping out of your rig in isolated spots.
Essential Overlanding Gear
You'll need plentiful spares, tools, and recovery gear for your vehicle. Since you'll be traversing desolate areas, there's no guarantee as to what the terrain will be like. Remember, even if you're familiar with your route, off-road terrain changes and there's no assurance it'll be in the same condition as the last time you were there. You have to be prepared against calamity caused by rocks, water, sand, mud, hills, ledges, and such. Pack spares parts, basic and specific tools, and recovery gear accordingly, because if you break down or get stuck, there's no tow service to rescue you. Even a few miles of off-roading can take its toll on your vehicle.
Since most overlanding trips are overnighters, not day trips, you'll need all the camping gear you can muster up: overnight shelter, sleeping bags, camping chairs, provisions to stay warm or cool, protection against bugs and sun, products to stay clean (enough), portable tables, headlamps, firewood, and all the other camping paraphernalia that's out there. You'll be living out of your rig for days.
Life involves food. All that meandering in the wilderness is bound to give you an appetite. Food has to stay cold and then has to be cooked, so the gear associated with keeping food cold—and then hot—is a big part of overlanding. The overlanding market for refrigerators, stoves, and lightweight pots, pans, and utensils is quite robust for a good reason—food is a big part of overlanding.
Don't Forget the Camera
Lastly, overlanding involves a passion for the process and a desire to make memories. That means you'll need a camera (and a way to keep it charged) to document the journey and internet so you can tell the world how off-griddy you are (see the irony there?). Overlanding's all about the 'Gram.
Maybe, just maybe, you'll have a few minutes after cooking, eating, and tinkering with your overland camping setup to enjoy a good book, explore nature, or take a well-deserved nap.