What Is Overlanding and How Do I Do It Right?
Let's get off-grid ASAP.
The world is sorta a mess most days, and the allure of the great outdoors remains one that tugs at many people’s heartstrings. One way of escaping the constant existential dread is to head out into the wild and experience it first hand. That said, hiking sucks and cars exist, which is why humans invented overlanding.
Although most people are familiar, even tangentially, with camping, not as many people truly understand what overlanding, camping’s cousin, fully is. We’re not in that group, but a set of passionate overlanders ourselves, so follow along as Car Bibles’ editors take you into the woods to breathe in the fresh mountain air.
What Is Overlanding?
Overlanding is the act of using your vehicle to access remote campsites that would be otherwise inaccessible without trekking many miles through the backwoods of the country’s national and state parks. You’ll also use your vehicle for camping, either by installing a roof-top tent or using the side of it as a wind-break and lean-to.
How Does One Overland?
Get a pickup, SUV, CUV, or very impressively modified Miata, and when the pavement ends, keep going!
Just kidding, but not really.
Where Can You Overland?
Overlanding isn’t legal everywhere in the country. You can’t just roll up to El Capitan and park yourself at the top waiting for Alex Honnold. You’ll want to research your route to determine where it is legal and where it isn’t.
Some national and state parks, for instance, have specific areas where it is allowed. Others have more lax rules and regulations. You can, however, get from one side of the country to the other without using a single paved road. It’s known as the Trans America Trail.
What Do You Need To Overland?
You’ll want all the camping essentials, here’s a short list.
- Rooftop/Regular Tent
You can sleep in your car, truck, or SUV, but that’s boring. If you can access the great outdoors, the starry nights, and sounds of nature with a tent, then why not sleep outside?
- Emergency Supplies and Kit
You’re heading off into the wilderness. There ain’t no doctors, clinics, or moms to kiss your boo-boo and make it better. Bring more emergency supplies than what you think you may need. Bring extra water, scissors, band-aids, and anything else you’d need to treat a wound in the bush. Pre-assembled first aid kits are great places to start.
- Cooking Utensils
You’re gonna need a pot, maybe a pan, forks, spoons, knives, and a camping stove, along with the propane to fuel it, to cook your meals.
- Food and Water
Seems pretty self-explanatory, right? Bring more than just a few Cliff bars.
- Extra Fuel
You’re going off-grid, and there aren’t fuel stations off-grid. Purchase a few jerry cans and fill them up so you aren’t stuck in the middle of Wyoming backcountry with nothing but a butane lighter to keep you warm.
- National Park Passes
If you’re going to be overlanding in specific national parks that allow the practice, you’ll need to purchase passes to both overland and camp.
The Car Bibles Glossary of Overlanding Terms
Welcome to Bible School!
- Off-Road Tires
These tires are specifically designed to conquer whatever terrain you encounter.
An extra external fuel tank designed in Germany before WWII for easy transportation.
GVWR stands for gross vehicle weight rating and refers to how much weight a vehicle can be loaded with, in addition to its gross weight, before parts fail.
- Payload Rating
Payload rating refers to the amount of weight a vehicle can put into its trunk or bed before parts begin to fail.
- Low-Range Gearbox
A low-range gearbox is a type of gearbox that works in conjunction with your standard gearbox and allows a crossover or SUV to traverse difficult or slippery terrain with ease.
The Overlanding Questionnaire
Car Bibles answers all your burning questions!
Q: What Is the Best Vehicle For Overlanding?
A: Preferably one with all- or four-wheel drive and enough room for sleeping.
Q: Is Overlanding Dangerous?
A: It’s about as dangerous as camping, in general. Take that as you will.
Q: Is It Illegal to Overland?
A: In certain areas, yes! You’ll want to research your route before you head off into the great unknown.
The Overlanding Video Tutorial
Car Bibles’ editors understand that not everyone is a text-based learner. For those kinesthetic people out there, we have your back with a video showing you exactly how to overland. We pulled it from one of our favorite, and most trusted, sources and it’s a great additional resource.
Car Bible’s Favorite Overlanding Related Products
You can buy tools to aid in your overlanding adventures at almost every auto parts and home improvement store. As well as online stores like Amazon. You have a sea of options to select from. But why not save yourself some hassle and just listen to us! You may get stuck, so you’ll need an off-road jack. Here’s our favorite.
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