So, you’ve fallen in love with the idea of adventuring out and into the wild. You want to get away from it all, leave the stress of the world behind, and sleep under the stars. You’ve made the decision. You’re going to head out on your first overlanding journey. How exciting!
But now, you may be asking yourself, “where the heck do I start?”
Shortly after we began sharing our journeys via our YouTube channel, many people started reaching out to us asking for advice on how to start your own overlanding adventures. We’ve been asked about the gear we take with us, how we locate and choose our destinations, how far we travel, and how safe we feel when we are out on a trail? Our answers are always very basic, and we recommend starting small and staying withinyour personal comfort zone and then progressing from there. If you start out on trails that are too difficult and that you or your vehicle aren’t prepared for, your first trip could very well be your last trip!
We plan to dive much deeper into each of the below topics in future posts, but for now we want to cover some of the basics.
Essential overlanding gear:
When it comes to overlanding gear, you probably already own most of the things you will need for your first trip. Sure, you can go out and buy all the latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos, but we are going to assume you want to see if you like adventuring out before you spend an arm and a leg on your gear. Trust us, we now find ourselves going down the money pit rabbit hole, but we already know that overlanding is something we really love doing. We spent very little money on our first few trips, and we “camped” more than we “overlanded”.
To keep it simple, you absolutely need the basics, food, shelter, and water. Food can be as simple as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or as complex as surf and turf. It’s all up to you. Again, we assume you have a lot of the basics already in your garage and kitchen, including pots and pans, cooking/eating utensils, and some old mugs. So go ahead and pack those up, use them before you decide to purchase dedicated overlanding specific kitchen gear.
For us, coffee is a morning ritual that cannot and will not be skipped. If you are like us and you can’t imagine starting the day without a warm cup of Joe, then we do recommend picking up a simple camping stove. If space is an issue, a single burner stove. While there are many other brands on the market and you can spend much more money, we recommend Coleman because they are well known, have been building these stoves for decades, and their fuel canisters are very easy to find. You can pick them up at just about any general hardware or camping store.
The next thing you will need is a basic cooler. All you need is a simple cooler and some ice to keep your drinks chilled and cold food cold.
For sleeping, again we recommend using blankets and sleeping bags you may already have.
We started our overlanding trips using a truck bed tent and it was a great option. Note: Napier makes a tent for your specific truck bed size. Ours was for a short bed Tacoma. This tent was perfect for starting out and was super comfortable, used along with a truck bed mattress.
To round things out, here is a list of other items that we consider essential for your first trip: flashlights and or camping lanterns, headlamps, sunscreen, bug spray, camp chairs, survival knife, axe/shovel/saw, solar phone charger, mallet, matches/fire-starter, water storage, and biodegradable soap (if out for longer trip).
Choosing your destination:
Earlier we said we “camped” more than we “overlanded” on our first few trips. What we mean is that we stayed in a campground for what we would consider our first trip and for our second trip we “overlanded” to an area we were familiar with. At our first campsite, we were able to visit the campground’s general store for all the necessities we forgot, like a fire-starter and bug spray. We also had access to freshwater and we had a toilet and showers within walking distance. For our second trip we found a dispersed campsite that forced us to be completely self-sufficient, but we were only about four miles from the nearest services. We chose this location because we knew we’d be close enough to head into town for anything we may have forgotten. For each trip there after we’ve ventured further and further away from civilization. With each trip our skills, comfort level, and feeling of peace has grown tremendously!
For choosing your first trip we highly recommend that you do your research on your area. If you’re looking for ideas on the West Coast, leave a comment below, we are definitely willing to share our experiences. If you’re in another part of the world, we've found YouTube to be a great source of information.
How safe do you feel when out on a trail?
We’ve always felt very safe everywhere we’ve been. But personal safety and security is just that; personal. We are both relatively comfortable defending ourselves if needed and we both realize we are more likely to have a confrontation in a grocery store parking lot than we are in a remote location. With that said, we are always aware of our surroundings and prepared for any type of confrontation. For further ease of mind, we also travel with a Garmin inReach, a satellite-based communicator. This device allows us to have emergency communication, two-way messing, tracking, and navigation capabilities.
Whenever you travel it is always important to practice common sense, and if you decide to travel alone always notify someone as to your travel plans and location.
Don't let fear of the unknown be something that holds you back.