- Rugged Destinations
How To Start Overlanding
Updated: Feb 12
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In a time where social distancing has never been more popular, overlanding has gained a lot of attention.
Overlanding provides the freedom to travel to remote destinations with some of our favorite creature comforts. Whether you're looking to explore a hot desert or adventure in the frigid Arctic Circle, the market has the perfect products for your overland build.
The most common question we're asked is, "Where do I start?" It can be overwhelming trying to build a rig with so many products available, ranging greatly in price.
Our advise? Start simple! No matter what your budget is, there are a few simple things that can get you started overlanding.
The first thing you need for any form of camping is a shelter. First, identify what vehicle you plan on using for your adventures. Second, assess how many people you will need to fit in your shelter. Third, establish your budget.
The quintessential camping shelter is the traditional ground tent. Overlanding ground tents should be compact, easy to set up & take down, and waterproof. Our family started camping in a 4 person ground tent, but upgraded to a 6 person tent to provide more interior space. Before making a decision on a tent, be sure to read as many reviews as possible.
For 1-2 people, check out the
For 2-4 people, check out the
For 4-6 people, check out the
For 6+ people, check out the
We've run rooftop tents on our overland rigs for the past 5 years and can't imagine adventuring any other way. We started in a soft-sided rooftop tent and eventually made the switch to a hard-sided tent due to the faster set up and break down. Rooftop tents mount to a roof rack system on the top of your vehicle. We run this Yakima Bed Rack system with the Yakima Crossbars so we can mount our tent over the bed of our Gladiator.
2 Person Soft Sided Rooftop Tents
4 Person Soft Sided Rooftop Tents
2 Person Hard Sided Rooftop Tents
4 Person Hard Sided Rooftop Tents
A compromise between the humble tent and a pricey camper is the off-road trailer. A compact, yet durable home on wheels that allows you to bring some creature comforts into the backcountry. Most trailers are designed to sleep 2 people, so you may need to install a rooftop tent on your vehicle or trailer to sleep the additional campers. Be sure to check what tow rating your vehicle has prior to researching trailers.
Truck campers are the most efficient shelter option available. There is little to no set up and take down, you don't have to tow anything, and you maximize living space. The size of truck and payload capacity will determine which campers will fit your truck. You need to plan on your payload rating being at least 20% higher than the weight of the camper.
When it comes to tires, size isn't the only thing that matters (although those 37's look pretty damn good). Like everything else with your overland build, there are many aspects to consider. What benefits or disadvantages will there be in upgrading the tires? How often do you plan on overlanding? Will the vehicle act as a daily commuter? What terrain will you be most frequently driving on?
Additionally, you will need to determine your vehicle's Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). Now compare that number to the to Load Rating of the tires you're considering purchasing.
Wondering if the upgrade is worth the cost? OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturing) tires lack in traction and are more prone to failure on rugged terrain. Although punctures can happen with any tires, you're far more likely to experience one with OEM tires.
There are two overland worthy tires - All Terrain (A/T) and Mud Terrain (M/T).
A hybrid between highway and mud terrains, the all terrain tire is designed to perform on and off road. This style of tire will provide traction in wet, dry and lightly snowy conditions. All terrains may aid in driving in icy conditions, compared to mud terrains, due to increased contact between the tire and the ground. The all terrain will also improve fuel economy over the heavier mud terrain tire. All terrains are a great option for anyone using their overland vehicle as a daily commuter.
We run mud terrains on our Jeep Gladiator due to the rugged terrain we drive on almost every week. These tires provide peak performance in low traction situations. However, there are many down sides to running this aggressive of a tire. Road noise and reduced fuel economy are the most noticeable. When traveling to remote places alone, mud terrain tires are the best choice.
3. Recovery Gear
Recovery gear is your number one friend if you get stuck 30 miles in the backcountry. Having a form of self recovery is vital when traveling to remote locations. The best self recovery option is a winch and the required accessories.
When adding a winch to your vehicle, first verify that a winch can safely be mounted to a safe, solid location. Bumper options vary based on the vehicle, ranging greatly in price. Steel and alloy are the two materials you should choose between for your bumper. Although some vehicle models have less options, the industry continues to expand bumper selection due to overlanding's increased popularity. That means prices are more competitive!
Compare your vehicle's load rating to the winch options available in your budget. Best practice is using a winch with a rating 1.5x your vehicles scale weight. Our Jeep Gladiator weighs 6,000 lbs when loaded for an expedition, so our 12,000 lb winch is more than enough.
There are a few accessories to pair with the bumper mounted winch. Kits like this are available that include everything needed. It's best to have a winch extension rope for when a solid point to the winch is farther than your winch line can reach. A tree saver strap is required to prevent damage to trees or other hard points you winch to. Snatch blocks and a pulley can be a great tool to maximize pulling force of your winch. When a pulley is utilized it doubles the pulling force of a winch. Shackles are required to connect the winch line to other lines or other vehicles. Lastly, a thick pair of gloves is best practice when handling a winch line or accessories.
Overland rallies and expos happen every year and provide courses on using recovery gear. We highly recommend you attend one of these events and learn from the professionals. An added bonus is the discounted show prices on all of the gear we've listed above.
Recovery Gear Kits
If you have any questions about the products we use on our Jeep Gladiator, please leave us a comment below!