OB03: Selecting the Right Vehicle

Selecting the right vehicle is an important part of the overlanding experience. You don’t need to buy the most expensive, tricked out off-roader though. Really all you need is a mechanically reliable four-wheel drive that can get you to where you want to go.

If you’re just getting into overlanding, then one of the first decisions to be made is what type of vehicle do you get for your overlanding rig. There are plenty of options to choose from that should not only fulfill the role of an overlanding rig but also as a daily driver.

Used Versus New

There are two ways you can go when considering what to buy, used or new. These two categories could probably be broken down even further into buy stock or buy fully built. As the overlanding vehicle market starts to gain traction, more and more options become available, and it becomes easier to make this decision. Dealerships are beginning to offer overlanding related upgrades, and seasoned veterans are selling their fully kitted rigs to move on to the next build.

Buying a brand new vehicle has its advantages in that it should be worry free for at least the first few years. If you’re considering modifying a brand new stock vehicle, then make sure you understand what happens to your warranty if you do. A used vehicle comes with no guarantee, but if building from the ground up and learning the ins and outs of your rig is what you want, then a used option may be best.

What Do You Want to Do

The decision on what to buy should be based on functionality and what works best for you. For example, if you have a family to think about then going with a tricked out vehicle with no space may not be the best option. There are other factors to consider (along with functionality for yourself and/or family) to consider as well, such as capability, capacity, durability, reliability, and payload all of which are explained below. There are two types of overlanding to think about when making vehicle selection, soft and hard.

Soft Overlanding

Starting out, this may be what most people will experience firsthand. Soft overlanding allows people to get their feet wet by traveling fire roads and sand or dirt trails that may be partially groomed. The likely hood of damage to a vehicle is low (other than some possible pinstriping), and the terrain is not overall technical in nature.

Hard Overlanding

By comparison, hard overlanding finds you traveling trails that are more likely to be more technical and cause potential problems. It may also be that going to purpose-built off-road parks plays into the need to test the waters with hard overlanding.

Factors to Consider and Some Rough Guidelines

There are probably hundreds of things to consider when deciding to buy a vehicle and modify it for overland use. Below are some baseline items to consider before you begin the process of converting a stock vehicle into an overlanding monster.


Vehicle capability is what the vehicle can do whether in stock form. What this comes down to is whether or not your vehicle can handle what you want it put it through off-road with no modifications having been made. Any upgrades, for example, should not deter from the vehicle’s ability to travel normal roads as well as off-road.


You want your vehicle to be able to handle the potential tortures of driving off-road without breaking down every time you hit the trail. This is where some research comes in. Search the web and figure out what vehicles come bone stock and are capable of running trails on a consistent basis. Durability may be a good baseline to use for where to start with your vehicle.


Much like durability, you don’t want to continue having a failure of parts when out on the trail. Research what overlanding vehicles are the most reliable mechanically before adding in the modifications you want to have.


Payload, or gross vehicle weight rating, determines what your vehicle is capable of carrying stock. Factor in who is traveling with you and what you will need to carry.

What Works For You

The main thing is to make a selection based on personal factors and what type of overlanding you want to do. Plan out what you want to do, where you want to travel, and what sort of modifications you think you might do. From there, make a list of four or five vehicles you think you might want. Research each one to see what has the best and most support for aftermarket parts.


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