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July 26, 2022
Overlanding is the ultimate way to experience the great outdoors. It's a type of travel that combines off-road driving with camping, giving you the freedom to explore remote areas and discover new adventures along the way. Whether you're driving across deserts, climbing mountains, or fording rivers, overlanding provides a unique sense of exploration and self-reliance. And because you're carrying all your gear with you, overlanding also allows you to be completely self-sufficient, meaning you can stay out in the wilderness for weeks or even months at a time. If you're looking for a true adventurist lifestyle, overlanding is the way to go.
So, what exactly is overlanding? And what's the difference between overlanding and off-roading? Overlanding is a type of travel that emphasizes exploration and self-reliance, while off-roading generally refers to driving on unpaved surfaces. While both activities can be done in a vehicle, overlanding is usually done in a purpose-built overlanding rig, which is typically a four-wheel drive vehicle outfitted with all the gear and equipment you need for extended off-road travel. This includes things like a rooftop tent, recovery gear, and a fridge or freezer for food storage.
Off-roading, on the other hand, can be done in any type of vehicle, from an ATV to a Jeep Wrangler. And while you can certainly go off-roading without any special equipment, it's generally not recommended for extended travel as you won't have everything you need to be self-sufficient. So if you're planning on doing some serious off-roading, it's best to invest in a dedicated off-roading vehicle and outfitting it with the proper gear.
Now that you know the difference between overlanding and off-roading, let's talk about some of the essential gear you'll need for your overlanding adventure. First and foremost, you'll need a reliable four-wheel drive vehicle. This will be your home on wheels, so make sure to choose one that's comfortable and has enough space to fit all your gear. You'll also want to outfit your vehicle with recovery gear like a winch and tow straps, as well as storage solutions like roof racks and cargo systems.
Toyota Land Cruisers, 4Runners, Tacomas, FJ Cruisers, and their luxury counterparts Lexus GX 460 & 470 are popular choices for overlanding vehicles. Here at Rago, we're clearly Toyota people, but we absolutely appreciate the chops of other 4x4 rides. Jeeps are naturally a good choice since they handle off-road environments so well, particularly the Gladiator, which has much more space than its Wrangler sister. We're excited to see what folks do with the new Bronco, and we even have some parts in the works for it! Many other SUVs and pickup trucks can be geared up for overlanding as long as they are 4WD, have a good suspension system, decent ground clearance and tires, and the storage capabilities you'll need for long journeys that require self-sufficiency. Vans are a popular choice, but finding a 4X4 model can be a little difficult. It's worth the search though, as they offer superior storage/sleeping space and can be true beasts out on the range!
Really, any four-wheel drive vehicle can be outfitted for overlanding. Just make sure to do your research and choose a vehicle that's right for you and your adventure. If you're shopping luxury models, be careful! The more electronic features your have, the harder it will be to fix your rig or find replacement parts in the middle of nowhere.
In addition to a reliable four-wheel drive vehicle, there are a few other pieces of gear you'll need for your overlanding adventure. First, you'll need a quality rooftop tent. This will be your home away from home, so make sure to choose one that's comfortable and spacious enough for you and your travel companions. If not a rooftop tent, then a camper shell or plenty of interior space to comfortably sleep is a must. You wouldn't want to spend weeks waking up with a sore back each day because you skipped out on prioritizing your sleeping setup.
You'll also want to invest in some recovery gear like a winch and tow straps, as well as a few storage solutions like roof racks and cargo systems. These will come in handy when you're trying to pack all your gear into your vehicle, as well as when you need to retrieve something from your vehicle while on the trail. We build a variety of molle storage panels for a number of vehicles (with more models on the way), which were designed with the overlander in mind. It's important to maximize your storage capabilities so you can stow everything you need.
On-board refrigeration is essential, to ensure you have enough food to get you by on long stretches between civilization. ARB is a popular brand of vehicle fridges with many sizes and features to choose between. It's smart to bring limited perishables, and have plenty of dry goods on hand that don't really on staying cold. Our rear window molle panels and shelf system works great in conjunction with a fridge in your rear cargo area. You'll want to find a nice cooking system, and there are many compact options available.
Off-road lighting is another essential component to your build, which you'll need when you find yourself miles from any town in the pitch black of night. Front and rear facing LED lights will help you traverse a trail or to light up your cargo area in the dark. Having some side lights is great for illuminating your campsite while you cook or hang out enjoying the night.
An on-board air system as well as a full sized spare tire & tire repair kit are absolute necessities for an overland build. You'll want to be able to air down your tires when necessary, and having a flat tire in the middle of nowhere is no fun. Many people choose to upgrade their stock tires to a more robust off-road option, which is something you should consider as well. Just make sure whatever wheels/tires you choose are compatible with your vehicle's suspension and drivetrain.
Integrating a fridge, off-road lighting, a winch, and an on-board air system & compressor increases your power consumption. The best solution is to install a secondary battery system to help power all of these features. It's also a great idea to have that second battery as a backup in case your primary battery fails. Most engine compartments can accommodate an additional battery when mounted in a secondary battery box. The are also a number of different power panels that can be mounted on your storage panels to plug in your powered gear. Never leave home without plenty of POWER!
Having a CB or Ham radio installed in your rig is an important communication tool when heading into remote areas. They enable you to communicate with other vehicles travelling with you to warn them of obstacles or dangers ahead. If your vehicle breaks down and there is no cell reception, a radio can be a lifeline in getting ahold of help. Our center console molle panels with bridge, or our dash mounts are perfect for securing a radio. You'll also want to bring plenty of water and a water purification system, the right clothing for the climate, and a well rounded tool kit for any repairs you may need. Don't forget to load up on some good IPAs and bring plenty of beard oil!
If you're new to the world of overlanding, all this gear might seem a bit overwhelming. But don't worry, there are plenty of resources available to help you get started. There are numerous online forums and Facebook groups dedicated to overlanding, where you can ask questions and learn from more experienced travelers. And if you've got the money and need some help, there are several companies that offer comprehensive overlanding courses, which will teach you everything from how to choose the right vehicle to basic off-road driving techniques.
So there you have it! A beginner's guide to overlanding. Now get out there and start planning your adventure! But before you go, make sure to check out our website for all the essential overlanding gear you'll need for your trip. Happy trails!
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