Overlanding: What it is and Why it Should Be Part of Your New Years Resolution

by Keeli Parkey

There are many ways to get outside and enjoy all nature has to offer in 2021. Overlanding is the latest craze that has American outdoor enthusiasts excited. But, it’s not your everyday camping trip.

So what is overlanding? To sum it up briefly, it “usually involves long-distance travel to remote locations that are under-documented and where little prior exploration has occurred,” according to AutomobileMag.com. You also need a sense of adventure, a willingness to live off-grid for days, weeks or even months at a time, and be ready to survive on your own.

Overlanding can take you to places where you will be faced with obstacles you never anticipated. There could be a mountain to climb or a vehicle malfunction. It can push you to your limits and teach you things about yourself you wouldn’t have learned had you not taken the journey.

A chance to escape from the hustle and bustle of American life and connect with nature is one factor that is making overlanding popular. It also offers you a chance to see the world like you never have before. Overlanding takes you out of your comfort zone and offers you the opportunity to grow and change.

History of Overlanding

Overlanding is fairly new to the United States. It has been popular elsewhere on the globe for decades.

It has its origins in Australia around 1900. Around that time, residents began building roads that would allow them to travel across the continent. The routes they established were used for trade and transporting livestock. Horses were the first mode of transportation used; then came rail and, eventually, automobiles.

In the 1940s, the roads were being used for recreational purposes thanks to Leonard “Len” Beadell. Beadell was road builder and surveyor. His roads “became a rite of passage for many four-wheel-drive enthusiasts.”

What You Need

If you’re going to be living off-grid, hundreds of miles away from civilization you are going to need the right gear. Most importantly, you need a vehicle that will do the job. AutomobileMag.com, reports that there are many types of vehicles that can be outfitted for overlanding.

SUVs, vans, motorcycles, trucks and crossovers are all options. Makes and models recommended include a Jeep Cherokee, Honda Passport, Land Rover Defender, Toyota Land Cruiser or Toyota Tacoma. OnAllCylinders.com, also recommends the Nissan Xterra and Chevy Colorado for overlanding. The vehicle should be able to travel reliably for miles in remote areas over varying terrain.

In addition to the right vehicle, you will need many other things when planning to go overlanding. A few items include tools, roof racks, a tent, a mattress, cargo storage, food storage, food preparation items, fluid transport, off-road vehicle equipment, a first aid kit, a generator, a bike rack, a portable shower system and a GPS unit. Most likely, you will need more than the items listed, but this is a place to start.

Finding the right gear for your vehicle and your overland journey can take time and research. You also need to take time to choose your destination and plan your route. But, all the work will be worth it when you have your first adventure.

What Else You Need to Know

In addition to having the right vehicle and equipment for your overlanding adventure, you also need something else – the right attitude. Overlanding is about the journey, not the destination.

Overland Journal may sum it up best: “The goal is to see and learn about our world, whether on a weekend trip 100 miles from home or a 10,000-mile expedition across another continent. The vehicle and equipment can be simple or extravagant – they, too, are simply means to an end. History, wildlife, culture, scenery, self-sufficiency – these are the rewards of overlanding.”

You have to be tough if you are going to commit to an overland adventure. As AutomobileMag.com puts it: “Self-reliance is the key to overlanding success, and mindset is everything. You have to be prepared to go full-survival mode and to handle repair needs that arise during your journey.”

Looking for more tips about overlanding? There are many videos available online, such as the one posted below.

If overlanding sounds a little too extreme for you, there are many other ways to experience the outdoors in 2021. You could camp in your backyard, camp in bear country, or take up fly fishing. Outsider.com has a variety of articles to help you find the outdoor adventure that is right for you.