OB07: Camping Gear

Once you’ve made a selection on the vehicle, it’s time to start assembling the camping gear you will need to sustain yourself while out. This is where a history of camping experience can come in handy. You should have a good idea of what to pack and what you will need based on time spent backpacking, hiking, and car camping. The gear loadout is very much the same. However, with overlanding, you have the ability to pack more amenities that you might find at home.

You might already have enough gear to throw into a bin and move out with. As you make more and more trips though, you’ll be able to refine that bin down to what is really needed. If you are transitioning from camping out of a travel trailer to overlanding, then most of what you might have may not be necessary. Full-size cooking utensils can be swapped out for something smaller and more travel-friendly.

The Basics

At a minimum, you will need some gear to get you by. Most of the stuff you will need is basic camping gear: something to keep food cool, something to sleep in, something to cook on, something to sit on, etc. These are items you would take with you if you went to any campground for the weekend.

Overlanding at its basic does not stretch much beyond what a weekend camper already has. You could go out with nothing but where is the fun in that? Below are the things you should have at a minimum when venturing out. Some of these basic items are broken down further in other articles in this series.


Shelter is important. It keeps you out of and away from bad weather (if there is any). While some people might enjoy sleeping under the stars, some probably don’t. A tent or hammock will suffice for most people and can be had at a relatively inexpensive starting price.

Sleeping Gear

Unless you are making a sleeping surface with whatever brush you can find, you’ll probably want something to sleep on. A sleeping pad and sleeping bag will work in most conditions, granted they are rated for those conditions.

Cooking Gear

You’re going to get hungry after running routes all day. Having a good stove and cook set is essential. Fire cooking is also a good, but still requires pots and pans to cook with. If you don’t want to carry a stove, do the research on getting a cook set that holds up well to cooking over a fire.


Lanterns, headlamps, and flashlights. Anyone of these is a good choice. In fact, one of each is a good idea because batteries fail and having a back-up is a good idea. Headlamps are good for doing tasks at night like cooking or setting up camp.

First Aid Kit

Probably one of the most important things you should be carrying is a first aid kit. And not just one first aid kit, multiple first aid kits. They don’t have to be large, but big enough to cover the majority of injuries that will happen when camping.

You Don’t Need Everything

While the appeal of having additional room for more gear might be tempting, that doesn’t mean you need it all. You will probably find that if you pack everything, you won’t need it.

Pack too much and you’ll find you don’t need it.

Most of the extra stuff will probably also be in the way of getting to what you actually need. You want to have redundancy in certain items so if you lose something you’re not dead in the water.

Prepacked and Ready To Go

The best thing you can do to make a quick exit from home or work to get out into the woods is to have prepacked bins ready to go. In fact, we would recommend having two different sets: the first for solo weekends and the second for multi-person weekends. This can easily be accomplished by simply figuring out what is needed for both types of getaways and packing this gear into one storage container. The rest of the gear can be packed into other containers that can be marked and can be easily grabbed.

A good way to do this is to break things down into smaller packed kits. This means having four or five small kits that feed into the larger overall camping gear kit. For example having a kitchen kit, first aid kit, toiletries kit, and survival kit that go along with the larger items like a tent and sleeping bag. These items make up the larger camping kit. Pack each smaller kit into ready to go bags or containers, so they are easy to recognize and store.

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