Overlanding can be a scenic, thrilling time with your friends and family. But it can also be a potentially dangerous nightmare if you’re unprepared. Having the right gear is the first step toward avoiding unpleasant situations and keeping things fun for everyone. So what should you make sure to bring on your next overlanding trip? Read on to learn more about the must-have essentials for your overland gear list.

What Is Overlanding?

Overlanding refers to the process of adventure travel on off-road routes. As opposed to simply traveling to a destination, the rough roads and rugged scenery are part of the point, providing a trip where the journey is the destination. 

People typically overland in an off-road capable, high-clearance vehicle that can navigate overland trails in ways that ordinary cars and trucks can’t. Trips generally span multiple days, with overlanders sleeping in their vehicle or a tent they carry with them. 

Check out Be Old Later’s Overland Gear Setup

This once-niche hobby has seen consistently growing popularity in recent years for several reasons. Overlanding combines hiking’s ability to explore remote, beautiful scenery with the thrills of off-road driving and self-reliant living. In the meantime, camping enthusiasts can explore some of the more remote and unusual spots throughout the world that average travelers never get a chance to see!

Where Do You Buy Overlanding Gear?

Depending on how specific the item is to overlanding, you’ll likely be able to find the items on your overland gear list in many places. There are a growing number of stores geared solely toward overlanders, stocking nearly everything you’d need for your trip.

You can also find many useful items at general outdoors retailers like REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and others. For the most general supplies and gear, you can always try big box stores like Walmart or online retailers like Amazon.

man sitting on roof of overland vehicle

7 Essentials to Put on Your Overland Gear List

So, what should be on your overland gear list if you’re planning your first trip? Don’t leave home without these must-haves. 

#1 First-Aid Kit

Accidents can happen anywhere, but they’re especially bad news when you’re far from medical care. That’s why it’s crucial to bring a suitable first-aid kit on all of your overlanding adventures — and know how to use it. Not only will you be able to treat minor maladies in the field, but you’ll also be able to provide temporary care for more serious injuries, buying you time to get back to civilization. 

#2 Deflator Kit

While most drivers are concerned about having enough pressure in their tires, while overlanding, it’s sometimes beneficial to actually decrease your tire PSI.

Deflator kits offer a simple way to decrease your tire pressure by a certain amount while ensuring you also don’t lose too much air. This can help you get better traction, provide a softer ride, or even prevent tire damage in some situations, so make sure this is part of your overland gear list.

→ Head off the beaten path with overland veterans Ironhorse Overland!

#3 Mess Kit and Stove

Sure, you can survive on beef jerky, energy bars, and other cold foods. But there’s nothing like the feeling of a hot meal after a long day of adventuring. A simple mess kit and stove can go a long way toward providing this. You don’t have to opt for anything expansive or fancy, as your recipes will likely be pretty simple during your trip. 

couple eating dinner around campfire with cooking gear

#4 Air Compressor

We mentioned the deflator kit above, but you’ll also surely want the flip side of that item: a portable air compressor. In addition to helping keep your tires properly inflated, air compressors can help inflate air mattresses and also accomplish several other small jobs around the campsite. They can run on batteries or plug directly into your vehicle’s 12V port. 

#5 Spare Parts 

There’s no running to the auto parts store if something breaks in the middle of a multi-day overlanding adventure. Be prepared for anything the road can throw at you with some common spare parts. Put together a kit with some nuts and bolts, filters, engine belts, wheel nuts, and various hoses. All of these items are relatively compact and affordable. And they can make a huge difference if things go wrong unexpectedly. 

#6 Shovel

A shovel is one of the most useful, simple items you can have on your overland gear list. Shovels can help on the road with clearing items like snow or dirt or helping add gravel or other traction material if you’re stuck. Around the campsite, your trusty shovel will help dig a quick firepit or latrine, as well as fill them in when you pack up. A sturdy, properly sized shovel will last for years and be one of the most reliable pieces of your kit. 

#7 Recovery Treads or Traction Boards

By its nature, overlanding will take you through some rough and often difficult-to-traverse roads. Whether it’s mud, sand, snow, or something else, it’s a certainty that you’ll get stuck at one point.

Recovery treads or traction boards are your keys to getting out. You can wedge these compact items under your tires to provide a surface they can grip. This lets you get out of the stickiest of situations. When not in use, they lie relatively flat, taking up next to no space. Still, you’ll be thankful they’re there when you need them. 

The bright orange things strapped to the roof of this overland truck camper are critical to any off-road gear list.

Which Overlanding Gear Could Be Helpful?

While these seven items make up a great list of basics, they’re by no means all you might need for a fun and safe overlanding adventure. A winch is another crucial piece of equipment. Many overlanders find winches to be the easiest and safest way to free a stuck vehicle. They also help you get over or around an obstacle. 

An off-roading jack is also valuable. They typically use the power of hydraulics to easily lift your vehicle for tire changes or other repairs. Off-roading lights provide better vision on the track and help light up your campsite for additional convenience. 

Finally, having a reliable power source to recharge electronics like communication devices and power air compressors and tools. Check out how to build a reliable overland battery setup to power your adventure.

Start Overlanding With the Basics 

Overlanding can seem a bit intimidating to beginners, but there’s no reason to fret. With the right vehicle, common sense, and this overland gear list, you’ll have a great time exploring the great outdoors. Just remember — never leave home without the essentials in your overland tool kit!

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