10 Best Practices for a Successful Overlanding Experience

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With overlanding more popular than ever, Atlantic British, the largest independent supplier of parts for Land Rover and other iconic SUVs, is expanding its offerings for overlanding, enabling devotees to customize their experience. The company, celebrating its 50th anniversary, has developed the 10 best practices for a successful overlanding experience. Overlanding takes a bit more preparation than the typical road trip. It also requires a skill set that goes beyond just knowing how to drive a vehicle off-road. However, with proper preparation, it can be an immensely rewarding way to travel and see things that most people do not see.


A Well-Maintained, Capable Vehicle

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  • Maintenance: It is essential to keep up maintenance schedules.

  • Fluids: Check all fluids including the differentials, transmission, and transfer case, if they are equipped to be user-serviceable. Check for both fluid level and cleanliness and, if there is a pending oil change, change it preemptively before the trip.

  • Engine: A truck’s engine must be in tune; and warning lights and codes identified and cleared using vehicle diagnostic tools. 

  • Steering/Suspension: Look underneath trucks and make sure that the steering and suspension links are all correctly tightened, and not worn out. Make sure brakes are operating safely, and pads are in good shape. 

  • Proper Tires: Make sure tires are not worn and are an appropriate tread pattern for the intended destination. An all-terrain tire is a good compromise for daily use and overlanding, while a mud tire has benefits in some regions for a more trail-focused vehicle.


Spare Parts and Tools

  • The Proper Parts/Tools: Have tools and the know-how to use them, including special tools that can make life easier. 

  • Jacks: Make sure jacks work, and that the lug nut wrench is functional and present. Users should always be able to remove lug nuts with hand tools on the trail. 

Recovery and Emergency Equipment

  • Recovery Straps: Never venture onto the trail without, at minimum, a recovery strap and a safe way to affix it to both the vehicle and the recovering vehicle. 

  • Winching: If winching is an option, consider using a tree strap to protect both the tree and the line – it has extra padding that will protect the strap from chafing on the bark.

  • Recovering Points: Always pull with securely affixed recovery points, using equipment with a working load limit that is safe for the weight of the vehicle being recovered. 

  • Relevant YouTube Videos: Before using winches, read the directions carefully, and view relevant YouTube videos on safe operation. 

  • Winch Care/Use: Winches must be treated with care. Make sure rope or cable is well maintained, and only attach the winch to another vehicle on a secure, safe recovery point. Never step over the winch line when it is under load. When winching, everyone should be well clear of the cable’s range in case it snaps and ricochets away. 

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First Aid Gear

  • Basics: A basic first aid kit is essential. 

  • Prescriptions: Pack prescription medication. 

  • Nearest Hospitals: Plot out where the nearest hospitals are along the trail ahead of time.

Refrigerator and Water

  • The Proper Cooler: A standard cooler is a good option assuming that you can replenish the ice.  Consider an injection molded cooler as they perform better, keeping ice and food cooler, longer.

  • Refrigerators: Consider a 12-volt fridge for carrying more food in the same space since the compartment isn’t taken up with ice. An off-road focused refrigerator can take the abuse of the jolts and vibrations of the trail that an RV-style model cannot. Consider mounting to an easy-to-use fridge slide, which pulls the frig out and then down for quick access. 

  • Water A Must: Water is critical and should be carried in a heavy duty container. For travel in a desert, rule of thumb is one gallon per person – carry extra.

  • Reusable Water Bottles: Utilize reusable water bottles and fill them every few hours to stay hydrated and healthy.

Truck Armor

  • Armor: Armor is good to add to beef up weak points. 

  • Guards: Differential guards can keep a stray rock from puncturing a differential casing. 

  • Skid Plates: Skid plates protect vital organs underneath and enable drivers to grind over them if needed. Heavy-duty steering rods keep wheels straight. 

  • Slides/Protectors: Rock sliders and sill protectors keep the body straight and doors closing correctly.

  • Bumpers: Heavy-duty steel bumpers can be one of the best upgrades. It will protect a vehicle, but it may turn a fender bender into a total write-off for the other party in a crash. The winch bumper carries the extra responsibility to drive a little more carefully.

Cargo Storage

  • Roof Racks: Use with care as roof racks change the center of gravity of a vehicle and will impact fuel economy; don’t put valuables there. 

  • Proper Storage: Heavy items should be secured via straps or behind a guard of some sort. 

Fuel

  • Carry Extra: Consider carrying extra fuel in durable, steel Jerry Cans for longer trails in the western United States, or remote parts of Maine and Canada. Do the math and see how far the built-in fuel tank will last; always have a contingency.  

Maps and Guidebooks

  • Arsenal of Maps: Bring an arsenal of maps, both high-tech and low-tech; Avenza Maps is a  popular choice when it comes to apps. 

  • GPS: A standalone GPS receiver is an option.

  • Paper Backups: Always good to have a paper backup.

  • Guides: Topographical maps of national parks and other popular destinations are available from mapmakers like National Geographic;The U.S. Forest Service maintains Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM) for all U.S. National forests; and Consider off-road guidebooks as well, especially in the western United States. 

A Community

Travel in Groups: It’s also significantly safer to go out on the trail in groups, especially for beginner off-roaders. Look at 4x4 clubs or North American Land Rover clubs. Clubs are also a great way to elevate your experience level by taking part in trainings, seminars, or on-trail education by other, more experienced overlanders.