“It’s not about the destination, but rather the journey” — or something like that — is the age-old maxim. If that’s true, and if you’re a gearhead, really there’s no more satisfying way to journey than via expedition-ready overland rig. And as manufacturers continue to offer up off-road-ready vehicles straight from the factory, the call of the overland trip grows louder, and adventure arrives more easily.
If you’re ready to answer the call, there are a few things you should put on your shopping list. Aside from your basic camping gear, survival tools and your standard vehicle maintenance essentials, you’ll want an array of gear that will keep you high and dry (in a good way) and your truck or SUV from getting stranded. The list quickly becomes expensive, but it’s better to invest now than be stuck later.
This basic guide to overlanding gear isn't comprehensive, of course. Part of the fun of the hobby is the continuous refinement of one's kit: adding new gadgets and piece of equipment; swapping out entry-level gear for items designed for more experienced users as you gain confidence; finding better, higher-quality versions of supplies than you started out with. Still, the products here and the categories below should serve as an excellent starting point, giving you a chance to dip your toe (or heck, even your whole foot) into the overlanding pool.
Tents for Overlanding, Rooftop or Otherwise
With a closed height of just 8.5 inches, the Low-Pro is, as far as rooftop tents are concerned, low profile. That helps you save on gas while minimizing the lift-off effect a rooftop tent can have on a small car rolling down the interstate. Tepui’s tent is relatively light, at 105 pounds, and uses the same mechanism to transform its clamshell design into a fully deployed shelter — you pry it open by using the telescoping ladder.
The ultra-clever trick the Condor pulls is how it unfolds its “wings.” Like most hardshell designs, it pops up, but the lid forms one wall (very much like the iKamper Skycamp Mini). From that position, the tent unfurls like a soft clamshell design. This makes the Condor and Condor XL absolutely huge inside — over seven feet across when open.
Interior height is also maxed-out at 50 inches, and the weight is reasonable too: 135 pounds for the smaller unit, and 160 pounds for the XL. There’s also a zip-open skylight for stargazing. Another bonus is a hardshell lid that lets you rack other gear on top, like kayaks, bikes, or skis.
At just 101 pounds, the two-person Yakima Skyrise HD is light for this breed and is the most “tentlike” of rooftop units in this guide — by which we mean, it has a domed shape that allows you to sit up comfortably once inside.
The clever opening system — you use the ladder as a giant pry bar to unfurl the unit and get it set up — is the same as several other clamshell designs in this guide. It’s a slight chore to anchor the rainfly, but ultimately not that challenging. However, if you want to use the tent’s top window for stargazing or to stand up through it (which is handy for getting dressed), you’ll have to remove the rainfly and gamble that no thunderheads roll in overnight.
One of the best parts of overlanding is that, unlike hiking or mountain biking, you're completely protected from the elements — which means winter is just another season to hit the nonexistent road. Of course, you'll need to sleep sometime — and when you do, a good four-season tent like this two-person model from MSR is the perfect place to lay your head.
The Best Tires for Overlanding
The BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2 makes for one hell of a winter tire, but its off-road accolades are not to be forgotten. The BFG All-Terrain tire was the original all-terrain tire and has remained a favorite since its debut in late ’70s. The latest generation combines both on-road manners and off-road capability with a sturdy sidewall construction and long-lasting tread.
These Yokohama tires aren't going to be your number one choice for hard-edged-rock work. But they deliver the strong all-around performance, durability, and quietness of the bigger name competitors, while costing a bit less.
These tires balance all-terrain traction with on road performance, and claim to last 35 percent longer than the competition on gravel.
Off-Road Accessories for an Overlanding Adventure
The value of a good winch is immeasurable, and WARN has been making some of the finest recreational off-road winches since 1959. The M8000 has become a mainstay in the off-road community for decades for its value, effectiveness and simplicity. WARN suggests you pick a winch with 1.5 times the pulling capacity as your vehicle’s GVWR, so while the M8000 is great for smaller off-roaders like the Jeep Wrangler or Nissan Xterra, if you’re driving something a bit more burly you should consider jumping up in capacity.
Your winch won’t do you much good if you don’t have the right accessories. This kit from WARN comes with everything you need: D-shackles, a tree protector, a 30-foot tow strap, a snatch block, gloves and a heavyweight bag with room for more winching accessories you amass over the years.
It’s likely you’ll encounter rock or sand at some points on your overland excursions. For maximum traction you’ll want to let out air from your tires. This deflator from ARB will remove the valve core from the tire for quick deflation.
Because you won’t want to run on deflated tires for the entirety of your journey, you’ll want to add an air compressor to your shopping list as well. This unit (also from ARB) is light, compact and can be easily installed under the hood of your truck or SUV
Though rare, vehicle fires do happen, and be they caused by fuel or electronics, you want to be covered for both. H3R makes some of the best extinguishers for vehicles of all types and are rated for “Class B” (liquids) and “Class C” fires (electrical).
If you need to tackle terrain at night, you’ll want as much visibility as you can get. KC has long been a go-to for off-roaders in need of a little more light, and their LED option should not disappoint — they’ll give you the extra visibility you need to see upcoming obstacles without drawing much power from your vehicle.
We’ll let Expedition Portal explain at great length why the Hi-Lift Jack is one of the most important pieces of equipment to have on an overland trip, but it boils down to this: in addition to being used as a jack, it can be used as a heavy-duty clamp, as well as a “come-along” for winching your vehicle out of trouble in case your winch is out of commission.
There’s an old trick that you can use some old carpet or your car’s floor mats to get unstuck in the snow and ice. The MaxTrax uses the same principle of temporary traction but is more durable in case you get stuck in something more harrowing than a little snow and ice.
A good jerry can (or two) is a necessity for increasing your range out in the middle of nowhere. This modern take on the classic metal jerry can retains the solid build quality of the original but is also EPA and CARB compliant.
Aside from basic fire-building duties at camp, a good hatchet will be useful for clearing any fallen trees and excessive vines on the trail. This option from Husqvarna is compact, lightweight and is made from hand-forged steel and a hickory handle. In a pinch, the flat side of the head can be used as a hammer.
Navigation & Communication Equipment for Overlanding
Magellan has been in the GPS game for 30 years, but the TRX7 is the brand’s first foray into hardcore 4×4 navigation. It comes preloaded with maps, over 44,000 off-road trails from National Parks and public lands as well as other points of interest. In addition, it allows you to record your own trails and data (which Magellan also uses to improve its maps) and see ratings of trails from other explorers, who can log information like incline difficulties and the depths of water crossings.
Getting to the campsite is only half the adventure. Hiking, mountain biking and kayaking all await once you get there, but when you leave your base camp, it’s always a good idea to have a line of communication open. The Midland Midland MXT115 2-Way Radio keeps a line open with the walkies you brought and even has NOAA weather channels with alert and weather scan to keep you informed and ready.
While it’s a good idea to have your overland rig outfitted with a HAM Radio, as a backup or last resort, a personal locator beacon (PLB) is a no-brainer. While it lacks the messaging service of higher-cost PLB devices, the McMurdo Fast Find is simple, and will alert a search-and-rescue team via COSPAS-SARSAT of your location within minutes of activating.
Editor's Picks: Best Deals Today
$29 OFF (37%)
The Nike Blazer is a sneaker icon. Pare it back and make it a low top and it has instantly become the best shoe you can wear this spring and summer. It will go with anything and is durable for daily wear.
$80 OFF (21%)
These Bose headphones are some of Gear Patrol's favorite noise-cancelling headphones of the past year, owing to excellent design and top-notch sound quality. Don't like this color? The black and white colorways are both on sale for $330.
$46 OFF (20%)
Otterbox's Venture cooler features integrated injection-molding and high-grade cooling technologies, anti-slip rubber feet and interior separators for wet and dry goods. Don't sleep on this, cookouts are coming.
$116 OFF (29%)
A set of Adirondack chairs is a timeless pairing for any backyard, patio or balcony. These are made from faux wood, giving them exceptional durability and weather-resistance.
$5 OFF (25%)
If you want a mask with more protection and versatility than a simple cloth mask, check out this one from Outdoor Research. It has adjustable straps to keep your fit dialed and comes with three replaceable filters that block out 95 percent of particles.
$40 OFF (29%)
These runners from New Balance look great and crush on light trails. Made from New Balance's Fresh Foam, they are supremely comfortable and durable enough to take a beating.
$320 OFF (71%)
This is an outrageous deal on an excellent Bluetooth speaker. It features eight hours of battery life, has integrated Siri and Google Now and looks good in any room, to boot.
$101 OFF (58%)
Here you go, the perfect boot for spring. Todd Snyder always brings it when it comes to collaborations and this is no exception; this silhouette comes straight from the Sebago archives.
$30 OFF (17%)
These water- and sweat-proof earbuds are our pick for the best workout earbuds. They have 6-hour battery life and are MIL-STD 810G certified, which means they have passed repeated shock, vibrations, drop, and crush tests as well as extended exposure to tropical humidity, hurricane-force water and desert sandstorm conditions.
$39 OFF (30%)
Patagonia's Black Hole Duffel is one of the best packs around, so whenever it is on sale, we jump at the chance to snag one, even if it is purple. The 40L iteration is a versatile size ready for a weekend getaway or an extended trip.
$100 OFF (40%)
For three years running, we’ve awarded the top slot to Mountain Hardwear’s Super/DS StretchDown jacket, and right now, at arguably the best time to buy a jacket, it’s on sale for 40 percent off. If you don't like the orange, there are other colors on sale at a lesser discount, as well.
$48 OFF (20%)
Flint and Tinder's bestselling jacket almost never goes on sale — usually only once a year, if you're lucky. Immensely warm and tough-as-nails, this is a heritage piece that you'll have forever. Now is the time to pick up this weather-resistant jacket for the cheapest price you'll ever see it.
$65 OFF (33%)
Filson has been making some of the best gear to come out of the Pacific Northwest, and probably the whole country, for years. This tote is tough-as-hell and water-resistant — perfect for weekend trips to the farmers' market.
$104 OFF (42%)
This is a perfect layer for spring. Just about everything NYC-based Todd Snyder makes is quality and damn good looking, but this definitely takes it up a notch. If you want to use it as a liner underneath a topcoat, it is an excellent choice, but it also pairs exceptionally well with a sweater or t-shirt.
$34 OFF (37%)
Originally a tennis shoe in the 80s, the Killshot 2 has become one of Nike's most coveted kicks. After years of only being available through J.Crew, they are now available in multiple colorways directly from Nike. They sell out almost every time they go on sale, so act fast to get yourself a pair.
$41 OFF (20%)
Spring is coming and we're thinking hard about our next trips out into the wilderness. When it comes to backpacking gear, a good sleeping pad is one of the more important pieces you can have in your pack, so it is best to opt for quality. This insulated pad keeps you warm and cozy when the ground gets cold.
$50 OFF (20%)
Apple's premium AirPods have been hovering around $200 for a while now, which is a great deal. Competition is now fierce in this headphone category, but the quick pairing and native integration with Apple devices still makes the AirPods Pro tough to beat.
$6 OFF (26%)
When looking back on life and thinking hard about every travel mug and thermos you've seen, odds are high that most of them are made by Stanley. This classic brand has made some of the best insulated mugs for years, so picking one up is a no-brainer.
$57 OFF (30%)
Huckberry and Timex threw it back to the 70s and 80s with this collaboration. Starting with a blank slate, the brands led with the iconic cola colorway, added a military-inspired dial and finished it off with a woven stainless steel bracelet and aluminum timing bezel.