Overlanding has seen a meteoric rise in popularity over the past five years. This once small community has ballooned into everyone having their own overlanding thing. Jump on Facebook or Instagram and do a search for overlanding and you’ll end up with hundreds of pages, each with their own unique spin. While each has their own uniqueness, the underlying principle and mindset remains the same. The overlanding basics series is your starting point if you are new to overlanding. If you’re coming from rock crawling or a car camper that wants to expand into something new, this series will help you understand what overlanding is all about.
What Is Overlanding?
One part off-roading and one part camping, overlanding is self-reliant travel to remote destinations where the journey is the goal. If you have a capable four wheel drive vehicle available, you can jump right into this lifestyle. It doesn’t take a purpose built overlanding rig to get to remote destinations.
Historically, overlanding is defined as the movement of livestock over long distances. Modern overlanding as we know it no longer involves moving livestock. Rather, it’s the wheeled pursuit of adventure that rose to prominence in the 1940s. Self-reliance, long distance travel, and the journey overall define what we know as modern overlanding tend to be these days.
As stated, overlanding is generally accomplished using four-wheel drive vehicles capable of traveling over moderate to difficult terrain. Camping plays a vital role in the overland experience as it is the primary form of lodging when the day has reached its end. Although four-wheel drive vehicles tend to define the modern definition of overlanding, there are many different alternatives to consider when thinking about overlanding.
Where To Start
If you’re interested in getting into this, dare we say, hobby, then YouTube is the best place. It offers a wealth of videos from all around the world of people out overlanding in all types of conditions. This can give you an idea of the types of terrain you might encounter, some of the gear you might need, and the different types of vehicle options available.
Joining an overlanding related forum such as Expedition Portal or Overland Bound can be a good platform for asking questions, whether as a newbie or a seasoned veteran. Both communities are populated by thousands of people who enjoy overlanding in some capacity and can provide information as requested.
At a minimum, you really only need a few things to get out and start exploring. You’ll learn as you get out more and more what type of items you can do without and what items you need.
What’s Covered In This Series
We tried to cover most of the major topics involved with overlanding in each article. This is by no means a comprehensive series that covers everything. It’s a baseline for where to start with overlanding and it’s up to you to grow from there using lessons learned as you get out and adventure. Below is a quick synopsis of what’s covered in each included chapter. Click the header title to jump to an article.
Having a plan to get things done is always a good idea. The first article in this series will lay out the groundwork for creating that plan. It breaks down the overall big picture into easier to manage and execute smaller pieces.
If you’re brand new to overlanding vehicle selection is going to be one of the first things you get into. Understanding stock limitations, what certain things mean, and understanding how and what you want to use your vehicle for can make the decision easier.
Much like vehicle selection, the modifications you make can help or hinder the overall experience. We provide some detail on the first modifications that should be done as well as some more advanced changes to your rig that can be done later on.
Overland driving is can be very different than driving on regular roads. Understanding the situations you may face and how to tackle them prepares you for getting out onto the trail.
While you could drive into the woods by yourself we don’t really recommend it. This section covers some basics on convoy driving on and off road.
Don’t go out into the woods without this stuff.
Basic loadout ideas for packing for the right conditions and environments.
A good camp kitchen can go a long way in providing a great meal at the end of a long day of trails.
A first aid kit is an essential item to keep in your rig at all times, not just when you’re heading into the woods.
GPS, paper maps, tablet, phone. There are several different ways to navigate when traveling and everyone has a preferred method. We break down the positives and negatives of each and offer some advice on what might be the best for you.
You don’t just want to drive into the woods without a basic plan. We lay the groundwork for establishing a baseline plan of attack for heading into remote areas that can be expanded upon as you begin to travel more and more.
Your rig probably pulls double duty as an overlander and daily driver. Keeping up on regular checks and maintenance ensures you are riding around in the best possible condition and not worried about breaking down on the trail or on the side of the road.
Open lines of communication between rigs and the outside world is important for safety. Like navigation, there are several forms of communication available to you when traveling. Knowing the license restrictions and what can and can’t be done with each is important.
Everyone has experienced getting stuck at some point, whether in the snow at home or in the mud on the trail. Knowing the gear to carry, what to do in certain situations, and how to use recovery equipment is one of the first skills to learn.
Gourmet cooking or just hot dogs over the campfire, everyone has a preference on camp food. We provide some insight into cooking gear, methods, and how to keep things fresh while out and about.
Staying safe from the elements and having a comfy place to sleep can make a world of difference when travers Click here to jump to this article.ing rough terrain. Everything from roughing it to sleeping on a queen sized bed is covered here.
There are hundreds of different methods to keep things organized in your rig. Don’t let your stuff just fly everywhere; keep it neat, organized, and safe in the event of an accident.
You never know what’s going to happen when you’re out. Being prepared and trained for the worst can literally mean the difference between life and death.
Whether you’re traveling locally or out of country, understanding rules and laws of where you are can keep you safe.
Sitting by a fire is nice, but having some other things to do can be just as entertaining. Trips can be planned entirely around other activities that you enjoy doing or want to get in to.
The story that can be told from an overlanding adventure is a memory worth having. Documenting that adventure can be just as rewarding and provides long lasting details that may escape memory.
Understanding the principles to keep the outdoors in pristine condition should be the first thing you understand as an avid outdoors person. We breakdown the Leave No Trace principles, apply them to overlanding, and offer advice on minimizing the impact we have to the environment.
This Is Not Gospel
We tried to capture as much information as possible in each part of this series without it being too much. Some articles are longer than others and some are pretty short. This is not meant to be a comprehensive guide with detailed information. Everything is pulled from research that was done for articles that have either appeared, are going to appear, or were scrapped for the Michigan Overland website. The idea with this guide is to pull that information into one document and use it as a baseline to grow from. Take what you read as a high level look at overlanding and run with the topics that interest you. Dive deeper into new things and learn about those low level things we don’t cover here.
Feedback is always welcome so feel free to send us an email, find us on social media, or leave a comment. If there is something you would like to see added or expanded upon, do not hesitate to contact us.