12 Essential Overlanding Gear Items You Need for Your Next Adventure
Overlanding is a type of self-sufficient adventure travel that involves traveling to remote locations, often by four-wheel drive vehicle. It allows you to explore the world in a way that is far removed from the beaten path, and can be an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience. However, it is important to be properly prepared for your overlanding trip, and having the right gear is a crucial part of this preparation. In this article, we will discuss 10 essential overlanding gear items that you should make sure to bring on your next adventure. Whether you are a seasoned overlander or just starting out, these items will help ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable trip.
These are the Top 10 Overlanding Gear Items you'll be happy you have for the next trip out into the wilderness.
One of the most essential pieces of gear for any overlanding trip is a good tent. Not only will it provide you with a place to sleep at night, but it can also serve as a base of operations for your journey. When choosing a tent, there are a few key factors to consider. First and foremost, you want to make sure that it is of a suitable size for your needs. If you are traveling solo, a one-person tent will suffice. However, if you are with a partner or a group, you will want to make sure that you have a tent that is large enough to accommodate everyone comfortably. Additionally, you will want to consider the weight of the tent, as it will need to be transported in your vehicle. Finally, you will want to ensure that the tent is durable and able to withstand the rigors of the road. Look for one with a solid frame and sturdy fabric to ensure that it will last for multiple trips.
Quality of Tents
Good quality tents are typically made from materials that are strong, lightweight, and waterproof. The main components of a tent include the rainfly (the outer layer that protects against rain), the tent body (the inner layer where you sleep), and the poles (which provide structure and support).
The rainfly is typically made from a waterproof and durable fabric, such as nylon or polyester, with a coating or treatment to make it water-resistant. The tent body is also usually made from a similar fabric, but may be more breathable to allow for better ventilation.
The poles are typically made from aluminum or carbon fiber, as these materials are lightweight and strong. Some tents also use a combination of both materials, with aluminum poles for the main structure and carbon fiber poles for additional support.
Overall, the quality of a tent is largely determined by the materials and construction. Look for tents with sturdy frames, durable fabrics, and reliable waterproofing to ensure that you have a comfortable and safe place to sleep on your overlanding trip.
Poor quality tents may be made from lower-grade materials that are not as durable or reliable as those used in higher-quality tents. These materials may include:
Thin or low-quality fabric: The tent body and rainfly may be made from thin, flimsy fabric that is prone to tearing or puncturing.
Weak or brittle poles: The tent's frame may be made from poles that are prone to breaking or bending under the weight of the tent and its contents.
Lack of waterproofing: The tent may not have a sufficient waterproof coating or treatment, resulting in water leakage in wet conditions.
Overall, poor quality tents may not be able to withstand the rigors of overlanding, and may not provide a comfortable or safe place to sleep. It is generally worth investing in a higher-quality tent that will last for multiple trips and provide reliable shelter on the road.
Tip: For a ground tent, I have a Big Agnes Copper Spur and for the rooftop version, I'd be all over grabbing this example from Rough Country. It has built-in 12v and LED! What!?
11. Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Pad
A good sleeping bag and pad are essential for any overlanding trip. The sleeping bag will keep you warm and comfortable at night, while the pad will provide insulation and cushioning between you and the ground. When choosing a sleeping bag, it is important to consider the temperature rating. This will determine the range of temperatures in which the sleeping bag will keep you warm. If you are planning a trip to a colder climate, you will want to choose a sleeping bag with a lower temperature rating. On the other hand, if you are traveling to a warmer region, a sleeping bag with a higher temperature rating will be sufficient.
In addition to the temperature rating, you should also consider the shape and size of the sleeping bag. If you are tall, you may want to choose a longer sleeping bag to ensure that your feet have enough room. Some sleeping bags are also available in wider sizes to provide more space for people with larger builds.
The sleeping pad is another important factor in getting a good night's sleep while overlanding. A good pad will provide insulation and cushioning, which can help to make your sleeping setup more comfortable. There are several types of sleeping pads to choose from, including air pads, self-inflating pads, and closed-cell foam pads. Consider the weight, packability, and durability of the pad when making your decision.
Overall, a good sleeping bag and pad will help to ensure that you get a comfortable and restful night's sleep while overlanding, so that you can fully enjoy your adventures on the road.
Tip: My Kelty Tuck 0ºF Bag is absolutely great for the money. If you have a bit extra in the budget, this North Face mummy bag is awesome, too. I highly recommend getting a sleeping pad as well. They don't take up much room and make ALL of the difference in the world with your rest while out on the trail.
10. First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is an essential piece of gear for any overlanding trip, as it can help to provide basic medical care in case of injury or illness. There are many different types of first aid kits available, ranging from small, basic kits to larger, more comprehensive kits. When choosing a first aid kit, consider the size and weight of the kit, as well as the specific needs of your trip.
Some basic items that should be included in any first aid kit include:
Band-aids and gauze: These can be used to cover and protect wounds.
Antiseptic wipes and ointment: These can help to prevent infection and promote healing.
Pain medication: Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
Allergy medication: Benadryl or other allergy medication can help to relieve symptoms of allergies.
Tweezers and scissors: These can be used to remove splinters or other small foreign objects.
Splint: A splint can be used to stabilize a broken bone or sprained joint.
For longer trips or more remote locations, you may want to consider adding additional items to your first aid kit, such as a snake bite kit, wound closure strips, and a suture kit. It is also a good idea to include a first aid manual or reference guide, so that you know how to properly use the items in your kit.
Overall, a first aid kit is an important piece of gear that can help to provide basic medical care in case of injury or illness while overlanding. Make sure to bring one on your trip, and be sure to keep it well-stocked and organized.
Tip: I can't recommend enough getting a WATERPROOF First Aid Kit. These are incredibly important supplies and they need to be dry. It sometimes rains, and sometimes things get dropped into puddles. Don't ask me how I know... Here is a good option with molle straps as well as a more compact example.
Trauma Kit Info
In addition to the basic items listed above, it may also be a good idea to include a trauma kit in your first aid kit for overlanding trips. A trauma kit is a collection of supplies and equipment that is specifically designed to treat serious injuries, such as wounds, fractures, and shock. It is generally more comprehensive than a standard first aid kit, and may include items such as:
Hemostatic agents: These are substances that can help to stop bleeding by promoting blood clotting.
Tourniquets: These can be used to apply pressure to a wound and help to stop bleeding.
QuikClot gauze: This is a specialized type of gauze that is impregnated with a substance that promotes blood clotting.
Chest seals: These are used to cover and protect wounds on the chest or abdomen.
Nasopharyngeal airway: This is a small, flexible tube that can be inserted into the nostril to help with breathing.
Trauma shears: These are specialized scissors that are designed to easily cut through clothing and other materials.
Splints: These can be used to stabilize broken bones or sprained joints.
While a trauma kit is not typically needed for basic first aid care, it can be an important resource to have on hand in case of a serious injury. Consider including one in your first aid kit for longer or more remote overlanding trips.
9. Navigation Tools
Having reliable navigation tools is essential for any overlanding trip, as it will help you to find your way to your destination and back. There are several types of navigation tools that you can bring on your trip, including maps, compasses, and GPS devices.
Maps are a physical representation of an area, showing features such as roads, trails, bodies of water, and landmarks. They are a useful tool for planning your route and orienting yourself in unfamiliar territory. Make sure to bring a map of the area you will be traveling through, as well as a map of the entire region for reference. You may also want to bring a topographic map, which shows the elevation and relief of the terrain.
A physical compass is another essential navigation tool. It uses the Earth's magnetic field to help you determine your direction, and can be a useful backup if you lose your GPS signal or your device fails.
GPS devices, such as smartphones or standalone GPS units, use satellite technology to determine your location and provide directions to your destination. They can be a useful tool for navigating unfamiliar areas, but it is important to have a backup plan in case your device fails or you lose your signal.
Overall, having a combination of maps, a compass, and a GPS device will help to ensure that you have reliable navigation tools for your overlanding trip. Make sure to bring these items with you and to familiarize yourself with their use before embarking on your journey.
Tip: I have the Garmin Overlander and absolutely LOVE it. This unit shows both regular highway maps as well as off-road maps! Stay in touch with the 2-1 Garmin InReach+. It's a GPS/satellite communicator, so more bang for the buck. With emergency SOS as well, the InReach is necessary for the backcountry in case you get into some messes.
Effective communication is essential for any overlanding trip, as it will allow you to stay in touch with your group and with the outside world. There are several ways to communicate while overlanding, including using handheld radios, satellite phones, and smartphones.
Handheld radios, also known as walkie-talkies, are portable, battery-powered devices that use radio waves to transmit and receive communication. They are a good option for staying in touch with your group while on the road, as they have a range of several miles and can be used even when there is no cell phone coverage.
Satellite phones are another option for communication while overlanding. These devices use a network of satellites to transmit and receive calls, and can be used in areas where there is no cell phone coverage. They are a good choice for longer or more remote trips, but can be expensive to use and may require a special plan.
Smartphones are a convenient and widely available option for communication while overlanding. Most smartphones have a built-in GPS, and can be used to make calls, send texts, and access the internet. However, they may not work in areas with no cell phone coverage or poor reception.
Overall, effective communication is essential for any overlanding trip. Choose the communication tools that best meet your needs and budget, and make sure to have a backup plan in case your primary method of communication fails.
Tip: The Garmin InReach Mini is satellite-based, has pre-programmed messages and can also pair via Bluetooth to a mobile device to type out text messages easier. With SOS, this is also a great safety feature be carrying along with you. Radios are necessary for spotting over tricky obstacles as well as being able to radio for help, if necessary. Midland GMRS radios make great options for this. I have these Midland radios and can attest to the range they have. I once chatted with a buddy of mine who was about 30mi away!
7. Recovery Gear
ecovery gear is an important piece of equipment to have on an overlanding trip, as it can help you to get unstuck and back on the road if you encounter an obstacle or become stuck in mud or sand. Some essential recovery gear items to bring on your trip include:
Shovel: A shovel can be used to dig out your tires if you become stuck in sand or mud, or to clear debris from the road.
Tow strap: A tow strap can be used to tow your vehicle out of a difficult situation, or to help another vehicle that is stuck.
Hi-Lift jack: A Hi-Lift jack is a versatile tool that can be used to lift your vehicle, change a tire, or as a winch in a pinch.
Recovery tracks: These are portable ramps that can be used to provide traction and help your vehicle get out of a slippery situation.
Snatch block: A snatch block is a pulley that can be used to increase the pulling power of a winch or tow strap.
Tree saver strap: This is a heavy-duty strap that can be used to attach your vehicle to a tree or other solid anchor point for recovery purposes.
D-ring shackles: These are small, sturdy metal rings that can be used to connect recovery straps or chains.
Overall, recovery gear is an important part of any overlanding kit, as it can help you to get out of difficult situations and back on the road. Make sure to bring a selection of these items with you on your trip, and be sure to use them safely and responsibly.
Tip: I have Rhino USA equipment on my 2001 Toyota 4Runner SR5 and have peace of mind that I can get out of situations either by myself or with the help of a friend.
6. Power / Solar Power
Small portable solar power units, such as those made by Goal Zero, can be a useful piece of equipment for overlanding trips. These units use solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity, which can then be used to charge electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
There are several benefits to using small portable solar power units while overlanding:
They are a clean, renewable source of energy: Solar power units do not produce any emissions, and do not rely on fossil fuels. This makes them a more environmentally friendly choice for powering your devices.
They are portable: Small portable solar power units are lightweight and compact, and can easily be transported in your vehicle or backpack.
They can be used in areas with no access to power: If you are traveling in an area with no access to electrical outlets, a solar power unit can be a convenient way to charge your devices.
They can save you money: Depending on your usage, using a solar power unit can help to reduce your reliance on expensive gas-powered generators or public charging stations.
Overall, small portable solar power units can be a useful piece of equipment for overlanding trips. They are a clean, renewable source of energy that can be used to charge your devices, and can be a convenient and money-saving option in areas with no access to power.
Tip: I have Goal Zero product since they are so easy to use, portable, can be moved from vehicle to the tent, etc. The Boulder solar panels are easy to transport, the 500X and the 200X are great units to satisfy some power needs around camp, like lighting, charging phones/walkie talkies, or keeping a fridge maintained overnight. With their optional 12v charger, you can either charge these from the house wall outlet or the 12v outlet in your rig as you drive! Options!
5. Water Storage and Filtration
Having a reliable source of clean water is essential for any overlanding trip, as it is necessary for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene. There are several ways to ensure that you have enough water on your trip, including carrying it with you, finding natural sources, and purifying water from other sources.
One way to carry water with you is to use water containers or jugs. These can be filled up at a reliable source and stored in your vehicle or campsite. Look for containers that are durable, leak-proof, and easy to clean. It is a good idea to bring a few different sizes of containers, so that you can easily transport and store the water that you need.
If you are traveling in an area with natural water sources, such as rivers, streams, or lakes, you may be able to obtain water from these sources. However, it is important to ensure that the water is safe to drink. If in doubt, you can use a water filter or purification tablets to treat the water and remove any impurities.
There are several types of water filters and purification methods available, including straw filters, pump filters, and tablets. Consider the size, weight, and effectiveness of the different options when choosing one for your trip.
Overall, having a reliable source of clean water is essential for any overlanding trip. Make sure to bring enough water with you or have a plan for obtaining and purifying water as needed.
Tip: The Waterport is AWESOME. It can be pressurized off of a regular garden hose, an air compressor (to 50psi), or by an accessory cap/pump! Rinse off your muddy hands or wash some dishes easily. The Rotopax water storage container is slim and can be mounted to racks with mounting hardware, if needed. Don't forget to purify the water with either some tablets, and if you're into traveling light, the Sawyer filter comes with a collapsible water bladder or can screw onto the top of a Smart Water water bottle! Rad!
4. Kitchen Gear
Having the right kitchen gear is essential for any overlanding trip, as it will allow you to prepare and cook meals while on the road. Some key items to bring on your trip include:
Stove: A portable stove is an essential piece of kitchen gear for overlanding, as it will allow you to cook meals while on the road. There are several types of stoves to choose from, including propane stoves, wood-burning stoves, and alcohol stoves. Consider the fuel availability, weight, and size of the stove when making your decision.
Cookware and utensils: Bring a selection of pots, pans, and utensils that will allow you to prepare a variety of meals. Look for lightweight, durable options that are easy to clean.
Cooler: A cooler is an essential piece of kitchen gear for overlanding, as it will allow you to keep perishable food items fresh and cool. There are several types of coolers to choose from, including hard-sided coolers and soft-sided coolers. Consider the size, insulation, and durability of the cooler when making your decision.
Other items: Depending on your cooking preferences and needs, you may also want to bring other kitchen gear items, such as a coffee maker, griddle, or Dutch oven.
Tip: I'm a fan of GSI products. They're fantastic value, look and work great, and have some features that make it all pack down super small since space is at a premium. Don't forget to pick up some lighters or ways to start fire, either to cook on a campfire, light your stove, or get a firepit started to keep warm.
Refrigerators Make Life Easy
In addition to the items mentioned above, a portable Dometic refrigerator is another useful piece of kitchen gear for overlanding trips. A Dometic refrigerator is a compact, portable fridge that runs on electricity or propane. It is designed specifically for use in vehicles, and can be a convenient way to store and keep food fresh while on the road.
Some features to consider when choosing a Dometic refrigerator include:
Size: Choose a size that will meet your needs and fit in your vehicle.
Fuel type: Consider whether you want an electric or propane-powered refrigerator.
Insulation: Look for a refrigerator with good insulation, as this will help to keep your food and drinks cold for longer.
Ease of use: Choose a refrigerator that is easy to operate and has convenient features, such as a built-in freezer compartment.
Durability: Look for a refrigerator that is built to withstand the rigors of the road, with sturdy construction and reliable components.
Overall, having the right kitchen gear will help to ensure that you can prepare and enjoy a variety of meals while overlanding. Make sure to bring the items that you need, and consider the size, weight, and durability of your gear when making your choices.
Tip: While you don't need a fridge, they make life so EASY. No more messing around with ice, soggy sandwiches, and noisy sloshing around. I absolutely LOVE my Dometic fridge. It can refrigerate OR freeze. Awesome!
Tip: But if you need a cooler, YETI is the way to go. Yeah, they're pricey, but they'll last ya for a super long time and work fantastic. I love my Yeti Roadie 24 and have taken it on cross-country road trips. It held ice for DAYS.
3. Food and Snacks
When overlanding, it is important to have a selection of easily prepared foods that can be cooked and eaten without a lot of fuss. These types of foods can be especially useful when you are on the road and don't have access to a fully equipped kitchen. Some good options for easily prepared foods while camping include:
Instant meals: Instant soup, ramen noodles, and other types of instant meals are quick and easy to prepare, and require only hot water to cook. They are a good choice for a quick, filling meal on the go.
Dehydrated meals: Dehydrated meals, such as those made by companies like Mountain House or Backpacker's Pantry, are another convenient option for camping. They are lightweight, easy to pack, and require only hot water to rehydrate and cook.
Canned goods: Canned foods, such as beans, vegetables, and meats, are another easy option for camping. They can be eaten as is or used as ingredients in more elaborate meals.
Snacks: Bring a selection of snack foods, such as nuts, trail mix, jerky, and granola bars, to have on hand for quick energy boosts or to tide you over between meals.
Foods that can be cooked over a campfire or stove: Consider bringing foods that can be easily cooked over a campfire or stove, such as hot dogs, burgers, and vegetables. These can be a fun and satisfying way to eat while camping.
Overall, having a selection of easily prepared foods can make your overlanding trip more convenient and enjoyable. Choose foods that are easy to pack, store, and prepare, and that meet your dietary needs and preferences.
Tip: Mountain House seems to be my go-to for quick meals. Boil some water, dump it into the bag and let it hydrate the food and it's off to the races! Tasty stuff and don't let anybody tell you otherwise! If you're like me, buy in bulk. You'll always have it, whether for camping or just general preparedness. Peak Refuel has some tasty options, too!
2. Clothing and Footwear
Packing the right clothing and footwear for your overlanding trip is essential for staying comfortable and safe on the road. Some key things to consider when choosing clothing and footwear for your trip include the climate and weather of the area you will be traveling in, the type of activities you will be doing, and the space and weight limitations of your vehicle.
Some essential clothing items to bring on your trip include:
Base layers: These are the layers of clothing that are worn next to your skin, and include items such as undershirts, long underwear, and socks. Look for moisture-wicking and quick-drying materials to help keep you comfortable.
Mid layers: These are the layers of clothing that provide insulation and warmth, and include items such as fleece jackets, sweater, and pants. Choose layers that can be easily added or removed to adjust to changing temperatures.
Outer layers: These are the layers of clothing that protect you from the elements, and include items such as rain jackets, windbreakers, and ponchos. Look for waterproof and windproof materials to help keep you dry and warm.
When it comes to footwear, it is important to choose shoes or boots that are comfortable, supportive, and durable. Consider the type of terrain you will be traveling on, and choose shoes or boots that provide good traction and support. It is also a good idea to bring a few pairs of socks, as well as a pair of sandals or flip-flops for warmer weather.
Overall, having the right clothing and footwear is essential for staying comfortable and safe on your overlanding trip. Make sure to pack a variety of items that are suitable for the climate and activities you will be doing, and consider the weight and space limitations of your vehicle.
Tip: Your mileage may vary on what items you need to bring with you, based on climate, temperature, and general weather conditions. Obviously, dress warm if it is cold, bring a few extra pairs of things like socks to keep feet dry, but absolutely have a pair of waterproof boots with you along with some wool-based layers:
1. Repair and Maintenance Tools
Having a selection of repair and maintenance tools is essential for any overlanding trip, as it will allow you to make necessary repairs or perform routine maintenance on your vehicle. Some key tools to bring on your trip include:
Wrench set: A set of wrenches is essential for tightening or loosening bolts and nuts. Look for a set that includes a range of sizes, as well as both standard and metric sizes.
Pliers: Pliers are a versatile tool that can be used for gripping, bending, and cutting. A pair of needle-nose pliers and a pair of adjustable pliers are both useful to have on hand.
Screwdriver set: A set of screwdrivers is essential for tightening or loosening screws. Look for a set that includes a range of sizes and types, such as Phillips and flat-head.
Socket set: A socket set is a useful tool for working on your vehicle's engine or other mechanical components. It includes a range of sockets that can be used with a ratchet or other turning tool.
Multitool: A multitool is a compact, portable tool that includes a variety of functions, such as pliers, scissors, screwdrivers, and a knife. It can be a useful tool to have on hand for quick repairs or maintenance tasks.
Jack and jack stands: A jack and jack stands are essential for lifting and supporting your vehicle when changing a tire or performing maintenance. Make sure to choose a jack that is rated for the weight of your vehicle.
Flashlight / Headlamps: You HAVE to see in the dark, right? This is non-negotiable and absolutely a necessity. From making trail repairs to midnight runs when nature calls, you need to see what you're doing.
Air Compressor: Not only will you have to air up and air down, but you may get a flat and have to patch a tire. You'll need this 12v air compressor to get the job done.
Overall, having a selection of repair and maintenance tools is essential for any overlanding trip. Make sure to bring the tools that you need, and consider the size and weight of your gear when making your choices.
Tip: Bring Tools because you'll need them. That is all.
BONUS: Honorable Mentions
Tip: You need a place to sit and enjoy your meals or a beverage, right? Well, how about these great options you're going to absolutely want and need after a long day of trails, hiking, biking, or exploring. These are must-have. I absolutely love my ENO chair and this small table and the light sets the mood! It's where I eat dinner and watch the sun go down over the mountains.
In conclusion, overlanding is a thrilling and adventurous way to explore the world. Whether you are planning a short trip or a longer expedition, having the right gear is essential for a successful and enjoyable journey. Some essential pieces of overlanding gear include a tent, sleeping bag and pad, first aid kit, navigation tools, recovery gear, water storage and filtration, kitchen gear, clothing and footwear, and repair and maintenance tools.
By carefully selecting and packing the right gear for your trip, you can ensure that you are prepared for any situation that may arise. With the right gear, you can fully enjoy the beauty and adventure of overlanding, and create memories that will last a lifetime.