Overlanding Explained

Crossing a swollen creek whilst overlanding
| January 13, 2019
Categories: Assorted Ramblings

What is Overlanding?

Overlanding (verb): self-reliant travel, usually utilizing motorized vehicles to where the journey is the principal goal.


Many people are familiar with the concept of Overlanding, even if that is not necessarily the term they use to describe it. I have been doing it for years, sometimes calling it exploring, journeying, or simply just camping.

The term is relatively old (think within the last few years) within the US and is gaining traction as the preferred term. The term and idea were imported to the US from the friends down-under and started with horse-back journeys to get across the Outback and evolved over the years into motorized crossings and then people doing it for fun. But it’s not just happening here and in the Outback; the idea has spread and can be found on every continent.

I’ve been overlanding in various means for nearly two decades. I’m all about the exploring, the journey, and the adventure that goes with life in the outdoors. And my parents raised us to be self-reliant as anyone. In relation to overlanding, being self-reliant means to make sure you can take care of yourself in whatever situation that might occur. This can be a simple weekend trip or weeks to a months-long excursion.

Getting into Overlanding doesn’t have to be some crazy, over the top delve into becoming a hardcore enthusiast. All you really need (with “need” being a subjective term here) is a rig, some gear, and a destination. Literally that easy. Just so we are all on the same page, I’ll break it down to the basics to get you an idea of what should be on hand on a trip.

The Basics

Obviously, to go on an overlanding trip, you may use a vehicle. While I’m not really too much of a snob when it comes to this, but a reliable one is a must, for very perspicuous reasons. It doesn’t need to be some jacked up 4×4 Jeep on steroids. But if you plan on doing anything off the beaten path (or with no path at all), then a nice high clearance 4×4 is imperative. Hell, even a good motorcycle can do the trick. If that’s not your current ride, stick to the more defined paths. Simple as that, right? You’d be surprised…

Dirty tires from overlanding

On that rig of choice, you should really have good tires. Now, I prefer some knob (I mean who doesn’t from time to time) to my tires but not so much that it feels like you’re riding a jackrabbit high on crack. You get the picture. Good tires provide good traction, and good traction makes sure your ass can get back to civilization at the end of your journey. Oh, and let’s not forget about the recovery gear if the need should present itself. Things like tow straps, or if you’re over to the top: traction boards and a winch. Personally, I have all of those in my rig on any outing.

We all like to eat, so food, kitchen gear, and utensils are a given. Simple things like a stove or heat source to cook your meals (unless you like to eat raw things all the time, no judgment) and a way to keep your food safe (like a fridge or cooler) are also notable additions to the gear. Utensils to cook and eat with round out items you may want to have on your overlanding trip.

Color-coded Infinity Tableset from GSI Outdoors

As for creature comforts, things like tents, sleeping bags, and cots/air mattresses should be included as well. For those of you with a truck, it can be an air mattress in the bed under the stars at night. Another option is to bivy sack out in the wilderness and you don’t need to worry about the tent.

It all boils down to what level of adventure you want to subscribe to when you’re out and about. In future articles, I’ll be cover more topics in much more detail so make sure you check back. In the meantime, head over to the Overlanding Gear Reloaded piece that where I go through upgrading some of my gear. Or check out Sara’s trip to the Overland West Expo.

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1 Comment

  1. William Marshal

    I believe that overloading is a specific kind of overlanding…


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