OB02: Building the Overall Picture

This part of the Overlanding Basics series deals with building the overall picture of what you want to do. Overlanding can easily turn into a money pit. Looking at rigs and gear the price tag begins to increase and increase the further down the rabbit hole you go. This doesn’t have to be the case though. You can break down the overall picture into small, easier to manage pieces to a larger puzzle.

Vehicle and Location Planning

Knowing where you want to go and what it will be like can help the decision making when selecting a vehicle. Sections 2 and 3 will provide some detail on selecting a vehicle and modifying it for overland use. You might already have a vehicle in mind, and even if you don’t, you should start planning out what you want to do. Some questions to ask are:

  • Where do I want to travel with my rig?
  • What sort of terrain am I going to be facing?
  • What sort of weather am I going to be overlanding in?
  • How long do I plan to be out? Weekends? Weeks? Months?
  • What do I need to be done to my vehicle to survive for this timeframe?
  • Am I going to travel outside of the United States?
  • What documentation do I need to travel within the United States?
  • What documentation do I need to travel outside of the United States?
  • How many people do I plan to travel with?
  • Should I consider a trailer?
  • Do I need training and what sort of training?

Asking similar questions to those above and filling in the answers can help the planning process overall, but also gives you an idea of how to outfit your rig and determine what gear you might need. Once you have an idea on these things, you can start planning modifications and generate gear lists.

The Master Kits List

Once you’ve worked out a plan of attack for your vehicle and travels, you should focus on the gear you need or already have. The baseline should start with the ten top level kits listed below. Each top-level kit can be broken down further into sub-kits to make management of gear easier.

  • Recovery Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Camp Kit
  • Navigation Kit
  • Tool Kit
  • Kitchen Kit
  • Toiletries Kit
  • Clothing Kit
  • Documentation Kit
  • Communications Kit

This list is just a starting point and should be expanded or reduced based on your particular needs. Once you have an idea of what kits you will need, you can start planning out sub-pieces of each kit. For example, a kitchen kit could be further broken down into cooking items, eating utensils, and clean-up items. This breakdown would look something like this:

  • Kitchen Kit
    • Cooking Items
      • Small Pot
      • Medium Pot
      • Large Pan
    • Eating Utensils
      • Fork
      • Spoon
      • Knife
      • Spork
    • Clean-Up Kit
      • Wash Rag
      • Paper Towels
      • Collapsible Sink

Breaking down your top level kits into smaller sub-kits stored in their own container makes performing an inventory check and locating things much easier than digging through a bin full of stuff.


Checklists are a great way to get you started with what you will need in terms of gear. These can be used as a baseline for planning what you will need. You should supplement items based on how you will be traveling and how many people might be traveling with you. In order to ease the pain of trying to remember everything, we highly recommend using checklists of some sort. This makes doing inventory much easier. Keep a checklist with the kit you have put together as well as separate, so you have two points of reference.


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