Are you planning to get off the grid and take an Overland camping journey? Whether you’re going for a short or long time, there’s a lot to know to be fully prepared for the adventure of a lifetime. We’ve got some popular Overlanding vehicles, the best Overland camping gear, and a packing list to help you prepare for a memorable experience.
What is Overlanding?
If you love road-tripping and camping, Overlanding might be just for you. Overlanding is adventuring by vehicle often to remote destinations. The goals are usually to explore unknown places, potentially meet new people, and experience new activities. Ultimately, it’s an alternative form of traveling or living for some.
As opposed to standard car camping, your Overlanding vehicle is your campsite. A lot of time is spent in your vehicle during Overlanding. You drive to new destinations, you sleep, and you eat.
As we mentioned, Overlanding is different from car camping so you need a specific kind of vehicle. When choosing a vehicle, you may want one that can go off-road, navigate well in various conditions, and one that you can comfortably spend a lot of time in.
Some people completely gut and customize a vehicle to create one that’s just right for them. However, there are plenty of Overlanding vehicles that work as-is for a comfortable and exciting adventure.
Some things to consider when purchasing your Overlanding vehicle include:
- How much time will you be spending in it
- The amount of off-roading you’ll be doing
- If highway driving is more your style
- What your budget is
- Gas mileage
- Do you need an extended fuel tank for going remote
- How much stuff you’ll be putting into your vehicle
- Overlanding vehicles may include cars, SUVs, or trucks. Let’s check out several popular options.
Toyota Sequoia 4WD
For a reliable vehicle that has good traction and off-roading abilities, the Toyota Sequoia 4WD is an ideal Overlander SUV. It also has ample interior space and is known to last much longer than many other vehicles. It also has heavy towing capabilities if needed.
Ford Transit Trail
A Ford Transit Trail is a van-style overlander. It’s spacious and can also come with a double cab for extra room if needed. It also offers off-roading features including an all-wheel-drive system, skid plates, large wheels, and high horsepower.
Not only is the Toyota 4Runner SUV known for its dependability, but it’s also one of the more affordable Overlanding vehicles made for off-roading. It’s been given a lot of credit for lowkey maintenance and it has an appealing gas mileage. It offers comfortable driving with supportive and adjustable seats along with interior technology.
Similar to the 4Runner, the Nissan Pathfinder is a comfortable ride for long drives with heated, cooled, and adjustable seats. It has prime traction control and 4WD locking features. The newer model Pathfinder is the go-to Overlanding vehicle. It has suitable upgrades and the old CVT transmission wasn’t known to be the most reliable.
Land Rover Defender
The Land Rover Defender is an SUV with adventure written all over it with capabilities for long driving in various terrain. It’s reliable and offers an abundance of off-roading features including its powerful drive system. Add-on options for Overlanding are also available such as tow ropes and an exterior ladder for simple access to the roof.
Jeep Gladiator Rubicon
For more of a pickup truck style overlander, the Jeep Gladiator fits the bill. This one was actually built for Overlanding. It features a comfortable interior, pleasing exterior look, and performs well off-road. The upgraded version has a suspension lift, wear-resistant wheels and tires, and extra storage.
For a one-of-a-kind reliable pickup truck for Overlanding, the Toyota Tacoma is the way to go. It’s best for one or two travelers given its size. The truck is ideal to set up a sleeping area in the bed and the vehicle can be easily customized to work for your needs.
Keep in mind that these vehicles come in different models and specific features depend on their year and add-ons.
Once you have your ideal vehicle, it’s time to get your Overland camping gear ready for a well-equipped trip. You want to make sure you have the necessities for a comfortable, exciting, and safe adventure.
Keep in mind that Overlanding trips often mean being off the grid and an inability to access essential items. With that said, it can make it more difficult to drive something that’s carrying a lot of weight. So, consider the weight of your items and don’t bring things you don’t need.
When you’re Overlanding, you’re typically staying in your vehicle. When it comes to your tent, you’ll need to decide if you want a roof-top tent or one that goes on the ground. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
Depending on your journey, you may choose a standard tent to set up on the ground. This is great if you plan to backpack or if you have a larger group of people. Ground tents can offer more space than a roof-top. If you don’t plan to travel full-time, a ground tent is easier to store when you’re not adventuring.
Many people avoid ground tents because they’re not always as comfortable as a roof-top tent and you have to find flat ground for them. You also have to make room inside of your vehicle for your ground tent when it’s not in use.
A roof-top tent is mounted on the top of your Overlander. Usually, they have a built-in bed and they can be put down and remain on top while you drive. The benefits of roof-top tents are that you don’t have to find a spot to set them up as you do with a ground tent, they keep you off of the ground, and set up/take down is fairly convenient.
A downside to roof-top tents is that they don’t offer too much space for multiple people. However, you can get ground-level add-ons to accommodate more people.
When you’re Overlanding, you can use a water tank to store your water. You’ll need enough water for drinking, cooking, and hygiene. Generally, you want to have one gallon of water for one person each day. When camping, you can use apps like iOverlander to find access to potable water to refill.
It’s also a good idea to have a water filter with you to ensure that you’re cleaning possible contaminants and sediment.
Here are some ways you can filter your water:
- Filter straw to use when drinking water
- Filter water bottle to put your drinking water in
- Water filter pump to filter all of your water
To keep your devices working while Overlanding, you want to have some sort of power setup. You can run a generator or get energy from the sun using a solar panel system.
If you go the generator route, you can find compact size options for Overlanding. Keep in mind that generators can be loud and depending on where you’re camping and could be bothersome to other people.
A solar system is often the more preferred route. It requires sunlight and powers your devices from stored energy. You can either use a portable option that requires no installation like the DuraLite 100-Watt Solar Panel.
If you’re going for a few days, pairing a portable power station, like the new DuraCUBE-500 with a solar panel will allow you to stay off-grid longer. Finding a portable power station with features like a built-in vehicle trickle charger can also be helpful if your starter battery dies in the bush.
For overnight trips where just looking at keeping phones charged, having a pocket-sized portable battery pack is helpful to stay connected off the beaten path.
For longer trips, or if you want to run things like a coffee maker or electric cooler for extended periods, you can you can install a solar panel kit on top of your vehicle and use an inverter and battery combo.
Whatever your power needs, there are a few key things to consider when determining the size of your power system:
- What you’ll need to power, and how often
- How much energy your devices or appliances need
- What your budget is
- How long you plan to Overland for
- What the weather will be like
- You can also use an online energy calculator to determine how much solar you’ll need.
When Overlanding, a butane or propane camp stove is the most straightforward and space-saving option for cooking. There are single or dual burner stoves. There are also all-in-one outdoor kitchens that fold out for a mini portable cooking option.
Of course, you’ll want to have cooking necessities including pots, pans, dishes, and bins for washing dishes, etc. There are many options for camping cooking gear that’s made especially for portability and saving space.
Although Overlanding means less room to store items, making room for necessary toiletries is a must for most. Pack items including toilet paper, environmentally friendly soap, wet wipes (these really come in handy while conserving water), toothbrush, and deodorant. For keeping clean hair without a shower, dry shampoo really comes in handy, too.
Be prepared for potential mishaps during your Overlanding trip with a supplied First Aid Kit. At the minimum, have a basic first aid kit with items needed for scrapes and cuts and medicine. Make sure it’s organized and you know what’s in it. Keep your first aid kit easily accessible and make sure everyone on your adventure knows where it is.
A part of enjoying your journey is being efficient and organized. With a small space, having a home for each item is key. There are options for interior and exterior organization. But, keep in mind that the less weight your vehicle is carrying, the easier and safer to drive.
A roof-rack system can be useful, but you want to be really mindful of having too much weight on top of your vehicle. And, it’ll be worth it to spend the extra money on high-quality crossbars to steer clear from something that’s not sturdy on top of your vehicle. If you have a large roof-rack system, you won’t be able to have the roof-top tent. However, there are options for small roof-rack organization solutions that still make room for your tent.
As for storage inside of your vehicle, creating a permanent or semi-permanent drawer system helps you organize and easily find items. Many people choose plastic containers that require unstacking to find things, which can become inconvenient.
For trucks or vehicles with extra empty space, cargo cases or boxes can work well and they’re portable. They come in different shapes or sizes to fit together nicely. They’re great for truck beds because they’re weatherproof especially if you purchase well-made ones.
Overland Packing Checklist
While everyone will want and need different items, here is a standard overland packing checklist. Plan your packing accordingly depending on how long you’ll be off-grid, where you’re going to be, and how many people are going.
Remember to compare the weight of different items to go with lighter-weight options when you can. It can be difficult and sometimes dangerous to drive with too much weight. Most items can be found especially for camping and their lightweight, portable, and space-saving.
- Air mattress or sleeping pad
- Sleeping bag
- Jumper cables
- Tire repair kit
- Tire gauge
- Duct tape
For Cooking and Eating
- Stove and fuel
- Fridge or cooler
- Pots and pans
- Coffee maker
- Eating utensils
- Serving utensils
- Food storage containers
- Dish soap and sponge
- Bins for washing dishes
- Food and drinks
For Bathroom Needs
- Travel shower
- Dry shampoo
- Toilet paper
- Plastic bags
- Collapsible bucket
- Towels (microfiber towels are ideal for space and quick drying)
- Electric system
- Storage solution
- Camp chairs
- Foldable table
- Bug spray
- Folding table
- Hand warmers
- Charging equipment
- First aid kit
- Trash bags
- Rain gear
Your Overland camping gear and essentials can make or break your adventure. With so many neat camping items available, it’s easy to have everything you need including comforts while living in your vehicle and in nature!