Overlanding is all about self-sufficiency. When you see an overland vehicle passing you on a dirt road, it is hard not to feel like you are a bit unprepared. The good news is that you don’t need to buy an entirely new camping vehicle to fit everything on our overland gear list.
You will, however, need to add overlanding essentials to make sure you can help yourself out of a jam if needed.
Overlanding is defined as “a form of self-reliant adventure travel in which the journey is prioritized over the destination.”
In other words, overland adventure is more about challenging yourself to live comfortably in an unconventional manner than it is about where you decide to drive and camp along the way. We hope this overland gear list helps you succeed in your adventures!()
What is Overland Gear?
As you can imagine, any essential piece of gear that makes you feel more self-sufficient on your camping travels can be considered ‘overland gear’. Everything you need for this type of travel, however, must fit in your vehicle of choice.
So the equipment that you use for this type of adventure travel must be relatively compact, durable, and (in an ideal world) be multi-purpose in nature.
Our Overland Gear List
The best way to share the top picks on our overland gear list is to break them up into categories according to their use. So, without further adieu, here is a useful overland gear checklist for your next overland trip!
Recovery is an essential part of your overland gear list if you’re planning on tackling tough trails. You could encounter mud or sand on your way. Here are our top picks for recovery gear for your overland rig.
- Power Winch
- A Lift Jack
- A Matching Spare Tire
- A Jerry Can for Extra Fuel
- Air Compressor
You never know when you will need to pull yourself out of a sticky situation. Also, you can never anticipate when life will give you a chance to help with the recovery of another overland traveler when he or she is stuck.
That is why you almost never see a true overlander without a winch attached to their front or rear bumper. The front bumper is the more common spot for this tool because it won't be in the way of the rest of your essential equipment in the rear of your vehicle.
The reality of overlanding is that tires can go flat and other mechanical equipment can break down on the road. Because of the nature of this style of travel, reliable mechanics and/or recovery services can often be a long way away if you have an issue on a remote road.
A lift jack will give you the ability to more easily change a tire or service other critical components to get your vehicle back on the road. Many overlanders also use lift jacks for recovery and navigation on especially rough and rocky stretches of dirt road.
Hi-Lift is one of the most trusted brands in the jack industry. Their products are made of stainless steel components and include a winch connector clamp at the top for an easier winch setup as well.
Most of us don't think about our spare tire selection until it is too late. For your overland gear list, it is essential that all of your heavy-duty tires match, including the spare. While you may get away with a spare that doesn't match for a short stretch, it isn't the best choice for the health of the other three.
When you are driving your overland truck on regular roads, this isn't an issue. But when you have to go several hundred miles before you can reach the nearest tire shop, riding on an unmatching set can cause uneven wear on the remaining three. In the worst case, this can also result in alignment issues down the line.
We love these All Terrain Tires by BF Goodrich.
Many overlanders specifically choose to explore new regions that allow them to experience new places and new cultures. While this is one of the best parts about overland adventure, it also means that gas stations can sometimes be few and far between.
That is why all responsible overlanders carry a jerry can as part of their overland gear list with at least five gallons of backup fuel at all times (of course, you will also need a jerry can holder if your vehicle isn't already equipped with one). This can be the difference between hiking for several hours to reach the nearest gas station and being able to pull in comfortably in the driver's seat of your truck.
Traveling on backcountry roads can take a toll on your vehicle. It also requires that you inflate or deflate your tires depending on the conditions you are presented with. Airing down can be especially useful when you are traveling on especially soft and sandy roads.
But when you get back to harder dirt, gravel, or paved road, driving with low tire air pressure is extremely inefficient. So you will need a heavy-duty air compressor that hooks up to the cigarette lighter or directly to the battery in your truck for easier refills.
Communication and Navigation Equipment
Being far off-grid and away from everyone else in your overland vehicle is one of the best things about going off-the-beaten-path. However, you’ll still need a way to communicate if something goes awry and to navigate through rough roads. Here are some ideas of communication and nav equipment to add to your overland gear list.
- Garmin inReach Mini
When going off-roading or to remote boondocking locations, a satellite communicator is a must-have. The Garmin inReach Mini satellite communicator allows you to send texts and emergency SOS calls. You can even turn on a tracker so friends and family can keep an eye on you. We've heard one too many tragedies from people who haven't had a Garmin InReach, including a couple who recently punctured two tires in Death Valley. The two tried to walk to safety, but one perished. A tragedy that could have been avoided with a Garmin or other type of satellite communicator.
Safety and Emergency Essentials
When you’re out in the boondocks, you’re in charge of caring for yourself and others in your group. Here are our top picks for safety and emergency essentials for your overland gear list.
- Fire Extinguisher
- A Bug Out Bag
- Jumper Cables
Most of the gear you pack for overlanding is not 100% fireproof. And your vehicle itself probably isn't too fire-resistant. Plus, it has fuel and oil inside of it that can be extremely flammable if it leaks or spills.
All RVs are equipped with a fire extinguisher so you can protect your investment and save lives in the event of a fire. Because your overlanding expedition will probably take you far away from regional emergency services, a small fire extinguisher is critical to add to your overland gear list if you need to handle an out-of-control fire.
The reality of traveling with your home on your back is that certain situations may require you to abandon your home. Whether it is because you are in a wreck or just find yourself in a situation where you fear for your personal safety, leaving your vehicle behind can be a reality of your expedition.
If you find yourself in this situation, you will want a bug-out bag that allows you to grab and go quickly. You should create a packing list and pack this bag in advance. Proper bug-out bags should include everything you need to survive away from your overlanding vehicle for several days if necessary.
There are several bug-out bags available online, but you can also make your own bug-out bag for your overland gear list!
There is no reason that a dead battery should keep you from continuing down the road. A lack of battery power can be remedied quite easily if you have jumper cables and access to another running vehicle.
If the latter is a problem because you are traveling light and solo, you may also want to carry a jumper box in your set of overland gear. This can just take up a lot of space and usually will need to plug into a wall outlet in order to recharge. Honestly, though, all drivers should have cables somewhere in their vehicle.
Cooking and Drinking Tools
Don’t forget to bring the right cooking and drinking supplies for outdoor adventures far away from civilization. Here are our some of our top recommendations to add to that overland gear list.
- An Insulated Cooler
Keeping perishable foods cold while you are traveling remotely can be tricky. And while some folks choose dehydrated foods for their backcountry camping trips, I am personally a huge fan of fresh vegetables, the occasional sustainably harvested meats, and even good cheese once in a while.
So that's why I upgraded to an RTIC 45-Quart Hard Cooler for keeping all of my perishables cold. Still, that requires that I stop every 2-3 days to pour more ice on top of my perishable food items. This is why many overlanders opt to install one of the best 12-volt refrigerators in their vehicle.
Essentials For Safety, Hygiene, and Miscellaneous Use
Here are yet a few more random items you might want to add to your truck camper, Jeep or 4×4 campervan when you’re heading out on overland adventures.
- A Folding Camp Chair
- Lavender Hand Sanitizer
- A Shower
Overlanding can take a toll on your body. Simply lifting the weight of your gear in and out of your truck every day can be a pain in the butt. So, you should have a set of comfortable chairs to plop that butt into and relax at the end of the day.
I'm a fan of two styles of collapsible camp chairs to add to your overland packing list. For your overland expedition trip, both need to be compact. For sitting around camp and enjoying the flickering light of a fire, I like something like this GCI Outdoor Chair. But for beach days or riverside lounging, I love my ALPS Mountaineering Chair.
Whether it is before and after you use the restroom or prior to prepping food for breakfast or dinner, cleaning your hands is an essential part of backcountry hygiene. Because water conservation is so important on your overland trip, you should add a few bottles of hand sanitizer to your hygiene kit.
It probably doesn't surprise you that I will personally recommend Dr. Bronner's as my go-to sanitizer of choice. I'm partial to the lavender scent because it can also mask some of your overland scents while cleaning your hands at the same time (remember that whole multi-purpose thing I mentioned?).
A lot of expedition-style travel will take you to places where developed showers and restrooms are inaccessible. That is why you need something like the Yakima RoadShower to help you with your backcountry hygiene efforts.
You will also need certain things like biodegradable soap (I'm personally a huge fan of Dr. Bronner's!) and washcloths in your overland shower kit. For periodic face washing on nights that it is too cold for a full shower, also consider the benefits of micellar water and round cotton pads!
Honorable Additions To Our Overland Gear List
These selections didn’t quite make our top 25, but they are gear items that are well worth mentioning!
Conclusion on our Overland Packing List
Everyone always says that overlanding is more about the journey than the destination. But we all know that the journey is much less enjoyable if we aren’t prepared to overland properly. Thankfully, the overland gear list we mentioned above will set you up for success on all of your upcoming trips.
We hope you have found this overland gear list useful as you plan your next overland expedition. Just keep in mind that this is not a 100% complete list and there are other items that might be a higher priority to you depending on your travel style and how much space you are working with!
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