What is Overlanding? We Help Explain the Off-Road Trend

Nov. 07, 2016 By Jaime Hernandez

Overlanding is one of the fastest growing segments in the off-road industry, but what exactly is overlanding? Ask 10 different people and youíre sure to get a wide range of answers. In short, overlanding is a form of off-roading that involves traveling by land and covering great distances, all while being self-sufficient.  Overland trips can last several days and typically take you to remote places off the grid. Camping, cooking, exploring, and simply enjoying the great outdoors is a big part of overlanding. Itís not so much about conquering a trail, but rather the experience and the journey. 

Overlanding trips donít have to involve axle breaking trails; in fact, many of the routes are planned based on scenery and exploration opportunities along the way.  Itís all about the journey.

There is a lot of cool gear available to outfit your vehicle for overlanding-style off-roading.  Some signature overlanding gear includes the roof top tent (RTT), fridge freezer, racks and storage systems. GPS, maps, Ham radio and knowledge of the area you are exploring are also important to a successful overland trip. While rock crawlers may spend an entire day bashing through a trail that is only a few miles long, overland trips can span several hundred dirt miles and can range from multi-day trips to many years.

Overlanding is family friendly and makes for a great excuse to get out and camp.  What kid wouldnít want to sleep in a tree house on wheels?

Fridge freezers add convenience for storing and keeping your food and drinks cold without the use of ice. All you need is 12v and a spot in your vehicle to lug it around.

Overlanding is very popular in Australia, Africa, and even in Latin America. Itís gaining ground quickly here in North America, with numerous companies outfitting and making product for popular platforms like the Jeep Wrangler JK, Toyota trucks and SUVs, Land Rovers, and even full-size trucks. Overlanding trips also offer a very family-friendly side of off-roading, as these extended off-road trips can serve as extended camping trips.

Itís best to travel in groups, especially when you venture to remote areas away from the closest shopping mall or auto parts store. You never know when you may need a hand, tow or ride to the next stop. Out here itís about survival.
Unlike rock crawlers built for traversing over rocky terrain using extreme suspension articulation and maximizing ground clearance, overland vehicles focus more on reliability and comfort.  The vehicles are built to handle heavy loads and to be functional. Reliability is paramount, and many times a set of high quality off-road shocks, heavier springs, off-road three-ply tires and a sense of adventure is all you need to get going.

Outfitting your vehicle is part of the fun of overlanding. Thereís all kinds of cool gear, from Roof Top Tents (RTT) to solar panels and cargo systems. The options are unlimited.

The Camel Trophy was a vehicle-oriented competition that started in the 80s and was driven by adventure and exploration.  Many give the Camel Trophy credit for the overlanding and expedition craze weíre experiencing today. The main difference between then and now is that instead of competing weíre enjoying the experience with friends and family.
While itís easy to get lost in the host of products flooding the market for overlanding, donít wait until you have all the latest gear before embarking on an adventure. The most important thing is to get out there, because you donít need to be a millionaire to get into the sport.  As you gain more experience, youíll start to figure out what gear makes sense for your lifestyle and what is just extra weight taking up precious storage space on your rig. Start out with a weekend adventure and plan for longer trips in the future. The important part is to get out there, get used to your vehicle, and figure out ways to improve both your rig and your gear and tools.

Get out there, live, and be wild!

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