If you’re anything like us, you’re stuck at home during the necessary ‘stay home, stay healthy’ lockdowns and you’re finding yourself with an abundance of free time.
Don’t waste your days staring longingly out the kitchen window at your idle overland rig. Rather, use this time to be proactive and get something done.
This free time that’s been forced into our laps is the perfect excuse to do a season’s — or year’s — worth of overland planning and preparation.
To aid you in this all-important task, we have compiled a list of our favorite online and offline planning tools that you can utilize for planning your next great overland adventure.
Mapping Sites & Apps
Gaia GPS started off as a hiking maps tool. Over the years, it’s grown into much more. Now users can use Gaia for hiking, camping, skiing, and exploring backroads.
We like Gaia for its seemingly endless list of optional map layers, from satellite topographic maps to weather forecast overlays.
One incredibly useful development from Gaia GPS is its app’s compatibility with Apple CarPlay. That means you can use Gaia from your rig’s in-dash infotainment screen, rather than relying on an auxiliary mobile device or tablet.
Like Gaia GPS, onX was originally developed for another purpose, but has been adapted for overlanding. The first onX app was designed as a tool for hunters. After receiving feedback from off-roaders and overlanders, the app’s developers quickly spun off an off-road-focused variant.
onX Offroad is a great tool for finding open roads and trails as well as tracking your trip. Curious if a road you’re looking at is wide enough for your rig? onX has that data. It’ll also show closures and locked gates that might throw a wrench into your trip — among a ton of other features.
It’s also great for its land-ownership map overlay. Since it was originally created to ensure hunters didn’t accidentally stray onto private property, it’s an awesome tool for overlanders keen to ensure they are traveling on public lands.
In late March, onX announced that its Offroad maps are now available on desktop. This makes trip planning, especially from the comfort of your home laptop or desktop, much easier.
Forums and Community Tools
All three of these forums — American Adventurist, Expedition Portal, and Overland Bound — include a trip planning/preparation section. In addition to its trip prep section, the American Adventurist magazine portion of its website has articles about rigs, gear, and other overlanding-related topics. In fact, as this is written, the site is running a story about the brand’s take on the novel coronavirus outbreak.
With just over 185,000 forum members, Expedition Portal is one of the largest community resources for overlanders on the web. Accordingly, it has some of the most active engagement. Just a quick glimpse at the North American Overland Adventure Planning section of the form reveals a very active user group, with dozens of posts and responses each day. Areas from Alaska to Michigan to Texas are covered.
Overland Bound’s forums offer a wealth of community generated knowledge in all things overlanding, all at no cost to you. They also create how-to’s, YouTube tutorials, overland specific articles and product reviews, and provide downloadable trip maps. Overland Bound also offers the Rally Point software which is handy as a trip planning software and also as a Member community.
Old-School Paper Maps & Books
For those planning trips through Arizona, Utah, Colorado, or California, FunTreks has guidebooks that will add an important hardcopy element to your adventure. The books not only map trails, they also color code them from easy to moderate to difficult. That way, you don’t accidentally find your way on a trail more technical than you bargained for. In addition to its renowned printed and hefty-bound guidebooks, FunTreks also offers digital versions of its maps on GPS data cards.
Butler knows that not every trip or trail that’s right for an overlander in a full-size SUV 4×4 will be as enjoyable for an adventure motorcyclist. So, the Butler team has put together maps crafted specifically for motorcyclists. These range from Arizona to the Ozarks and beyond. From map bundles to individual maps to custom maps, Butler Motorcycle Maps has the adventure moto overlanders covered.
The DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer Paper Maps have been an invaluable resource for overlanders since 1976. Garmin purchased the fabled print-map brand in 2016. Thankfully the digital navigation company decided to keep the printing side of the business going. Not only are they incredibly detailed and intricate, DeLorme Atlas maps are a great tool for planning any overlanding trip, the gazetteers add another layer of information. If you don’t already, consider having one of these maps open on your table while you plan your next adventure online and use the two to fill in gaps the other might have missed.
Header photo credit: Chris Scott