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Packing Strategy For A Family Overlanding Trip

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

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Adventuring as a family has been one of our highest priorities since having kids. Our boys have grown up camping, hiking, fishing and overlanding. Recently, our family of four embarked on a 7 day journey in our compact, yet durable Jeep Gladiator. All of our equipment, food and other gear had to fit in the bed of the truck. You might be asking, how is that even possible? Join me as I dive into all the details of what we brought and how we squeezed it all in!

The first week in October our family set out on an adventure of a lifetime – the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route (the WABDR). A nearly 600 mile route from the Oregon border to the Canadian border, on a variety of terrain. The Cascade mountains come to life on this six section route. The landscape and wildlife changes with every section, so there’s no getting bored on this road trip.

We spent months planning this trip. Much needed upgrades that we had been putting off required purchasing, despite the sticker shock some items caused. Our recommendation? Go to the Overland Expo! Not only will you find things you never knew you needed, but the companies offer a show discount. If you plan well like we did, you can even avoid sales tax by going to the Oregon show!

Once we had the right storage solutions, it was time to get to work. The foundation of our system began with Decked drawers. I can say with confidence that this piece of equipment was a huge contributing factor in our organizational success. Despite the high price tag, these drawers are invaluable. The 2 drawer system is where we stored our food, utensils and Jetboil stove. Typically we will use one of the drawers for our clothing, but this longer trip called for a shakeup.

The next challenge was coming up with a storage space for our clothes. We removed the foam from a double rifle gun case and found that it fit all of our clothes perfectly. The gun case was narrow enough to stand up on top of the Decked drawers, wedged against our Yakima rack. It may sound unconventional, but overlanding is all about thinking outside of the box, right?

Another investment piece was our Dometic fridge. We went back and forth on which size fridge to buy, but eventually committed to the CFX3 45 model. Luckily, it was the right size! Anything bigger would’ve been overkill. We purchased the Overland Vehicle System Refrigerator Tray to hold the fridge and installed it on top of our Decked drawers. The tray slides out and tips down, making easy access to the contents of the fridge.

With the Decked drawers pushing everything in the bed up one foot, we had to get creative with the little items. One of our favorite items is the Highroad Adventure Gear Woodgaiter. This wood storage solution is highly durable and keeps our wood dry. We also had a couple Plano Storage Trunks that housed some of our sleeping bags and a few random items.

So where do we sleep? The most pricey upgrade, by far, was our iKamper rooftop tent. We’ve used multiple soft-sided rooftop tents in the past and were tired of the strenuous set up and take down. The Overland Expo show special made the price a little more palatable, so we took a chance and bought the Skycamp 2.0. The tent has excellent ventilation, fits our family perfectly and boasts a picture of world map on the wall (it’s all about the little details). We can store 2 down sleeping bags and 2 small pillows in the tent, but the additional sleeping bags had to go in a Plano Storage Trunk in the bed of the truck. The iKamper team helped us install the tent on our Yakima adjustable truck rack.

That sums up our storage solutions for a 7 day overlanding trip! We’ve listed all the gear mentioned above, so you can check it all out. There are always more upgrades on the wish list, but this list got our family through a solid week in the backcountry in total comfort.

Let us know if you have any questions about our truck set up!

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