Ever wanted to travel to a remote destination by car where you can be lost in nature? Overlanding has been my go-to outdoors hobby. Whether you are looking for a camping trip to last a weekend or even a never-ending camping trip across the country of your choice, overlanding is what I believe to be the best way to experience nature. There are, however, many more things to be accounted for when overlanding compared to normal camping. I want to share with you, my pointers and advice for overlanding because not everyone has been immersed in the outdoors by their parents like I was. Follow along this article if you are wondering how to get started on what to bring along with you on your trips.
My first topic is going to be general camping gear. There are plenty of options from many great companies out there so don’t worry too much about brand names. First you need to have somewhere to sleep, whether it happens to be a normal tent, a roof top tent or even a sleeping platform inside your car be sure that it is comfortable. Overlanding trips tend to be long so you will need a place to get plenty of undisturbed rest. I started out using an REI brand tent for my sleeping, then I changed to a Poler roof top tent which was very nice and now I have built my own storage and sleeping platform in my 4Runner. Start out with what you have, if you have a tent then great! If you are just throwing some padding in your car and are planning on sleeping inside I have some more tips to come in this article. Bringing normal gear such as chairs, a table, toiletries and always bug spray is a must.
Cooking items are next! You can’t forget the comforts of having a healthy meal with plenty of nutrients. I don’t know about you but I can’t stand eating food that doesn’t supply me enough energy to go for a sunrise jog or hike when I’m in nature. Bringing more than enough food is going to be a very important thing to practice but of course there will be a point where there is too much. Bringing along an organized tub or drawer of food will help minimize food getting misplaced and going bad. Also bringing along proper cooking supplies will help you cook your food properly and thoroughly. I have a two-burner stove that I purchased at Walmart that serves me well whenever I use it. Fuel for your stove or wood for your fire will make it possible to actually use your method of cooking. I bring a five-pound propane bottle so that I am sure I won’t be running out of fuel. If you are taking small propane bottles make sure you grab a couple extra, if you happen to not use them just save them for next time, it never hurts to have extra.
Recovery gear and tools are a big part of overlanding. Overlanding is basically extreme car camping, so yes, overlanding is just another word for car camping. Some people take the off-road part to different extremes. Some enjoy just a dirt road while others take the difficult route when wheeling. Taking the more difficult route will often have you replacing parts when things break, this means recovery gear, tools and common parts to break on your vehicle. There will always be the one person you come across on the trail that didn’t bring any tools or recovery gear. I always have a recovery strap, multiple d-rings or shackles, my bottle jack and a box full of tools for any part that may fail on a trail. I also bring fluids for my car, a quart of oil, gallon of coolant and plenty of water for drinking that can double as water to mix with the coolant. Also, be sure to check out online forums about your car, check and see what commonly fails or needs replaced and bring a spare part whatever that weak link may be. Double check everything that could need replaced if you wheel too hard so that you have every tool for the job, ratchet, sockets, wrenches, a hammer and a breaker bar. You may also want to throw in some zip ties and duck-tape in your tool bag, you never know when you’ll need them.
Throwing all of this gear in your car is going to weigh it down pretty good. Bring only what you need and some things just in case, if you are in the middle of summer it may be safe to say you won’t need your down jacket. Be smart with what you pack as it adds up in weight especially if you plan on being out for a while, load things accordingly inside the car as well. You may want your cooler close by so that you can grab a drink while driving, you also want most of the weight of the vehicle ahead of the rear axle or above it. Throwing the heavy gear in the very back will most likely cause your rig to “sag” in the rear which just means that it will sit lower and potentially cause more wear on suspension pieces and tires. Buy supplies closer to your destination, if you are taking a trip for example from Southern California to Colorado and don’t plan on stopping to camp along the way then don’t buy all of your food, water and fire wood in California. Wait until you are closer to your destination to purchase those goods, often times you aren’t supposed to bring foreign wood into forests anyways.
Checking my car before an overlanding trip has saved my butt multiple times. Having a failure that could have been preventative when you are out overlanding can be devastating. I highly suggest bringing a HAM radio along with you so that in case you have an emergency you can call 911. But checking the car over before the trip should be one of your biggest priorities, having just a blowout while driving on the highway could mean you not completing your trip or getting in a bad wreck. Always remember to tighten down aftermarket parts or parts that have been recently put on, rough dirt roads can vibrate things loose which can also be a bad accident if left unnoticed. Check your car every time you get out, just walk around and check the tires and look under the car to make sure nothing is leaking or cracked. Oil pans are a common one to be leaking as well as leaking brakes and axles. It also doesn’t hurt to check your coolant level midway during the trip to be sure you don’t get stuck overheating while going slower off-road.
I want everyone to experience my favorite style of enjoying the outdoors. I feel blessed being able to bring my passion to everyone, the outdoors has a special connection to us humans. Let me know if you have other recommendations about what you bring overlanding! I will be doing a more detailed writeup about recovery gear as well as some others encasing other topics I discussed in this article!