by: Justin G.
Ok, so you have a rig and want to get into overlanding. We'll start with the basics, necessities for your adventure, the "rules", then take a look into the fun stuff! Welcome to your basic Overlanding 101 course!
Overlanding is simply a mix of car-camping and backroads exploration. It differs from traditional "off-roading" as it usually doesn't require 4-wheel drive or any specific set-ups (like a lift or large tires) to accomplish.
Travel in a group - For your first outings, I would suggest that you travel with other "seasoned" campers/overlanders to learn from and to get a better understanding of what overlanding is about. This will help you build up skills and teach you what gear you actually need.
Know your route - Bring a map, let people know where you're going, and have an alternate plan. Sometimes trails are blocked by downed trees, rockslides, or other things... be sure to have an alternate route to where you're going. Be warned GPS/cell signals can be weak or non-existent depending on where you're headed!
Check the weather - Always check the weather in your area and prepare accordingly. In hot areas, be prepared with extra water, sunscreen, and have a plan if your vehicle were to leave you stranded. If you're going somewhere cold or rainy, make sure you have stuff to stay warm and dry.
- Just like any other vehicle-related adventure, you need a reliable vehicle. You wouldn't want to make a roadtrip with a car that would potentially break-down; this is no different.
- Vehicle: No special vehicle is needed for overlanding; there are plenty of sedans, vans, trucks, SUVs, and everything in-between out there overlanding.
- Tires: Your vehicle should have good tires that are capable of tackling the terrain; bald or worn out tires are a no-no.
- Somewhere to Sleep: If you're sleeping in your vehicle, then make sure you have blankets or whatever you'll need to stay warm. A tent or camping hammock make great sleeping shelters!
- Food/Water: Be sure to bring more water than necessary- bathing cooking, cleaning, and washing take a lot of water! I prefer to cook food at home so I only have to warm it up on the trail.
- Cooking: Bring a stove/fuel and know hot to use them. Pots/Pans/Utensils are a must to cook & serve meals!
- Basic tools: A set of Hand tools (wrenches, screwdrivers, hammer, etc.) and a working knowledge of your vehicle will go far. I recommend having a shovel too.
- Personal Stuff: toothbrush, medicines, clothes, good shoes, etc.
What you don't need
Everyone wants to look the part, but unless you have an unlimited budget, you don't need to immediately go out and buy all of the stuff you see plastered on other people's vehicle. Rooftop Tents, Hi-lift Jacks, Winch, Traction boards, Electric refrigerators, RotopaX fuel carriers, and the like are definitely not necessities.
- Stay on the Trail - Following paths keeps the damage to the area at a minimum and doesn't compromise animal habitat or damage foliage. DO NOT blaze your own paths or trails, stay on the defined paths.
- Clean-up after yourself - I hate that this has to be said, but don't leave your trash, shell casings, broken gear, beer bottles, cans, etc. behind. I preach and live by the motto of "leave it better than you found it"; I hope that you follow me in cleaning up your trash as well as some that other's have left behind!
The Fun Stuff
Overlanding can be an amazing adventure that can take you to places with amazing views and stories that will last a lifetime.
You'll be taken to places with amazing ocean views, camping down by the river, awesome forest views atop a fire-lookout, and endless sky in a desert expanse.
Take time to plan out your trip with friends that have experience in overlanding, and I guarantee you that you'll have a great time!
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