Must-Have Overlanding Gear for Your Next Adventure

Overlanding Gear Essentials

What gear do I need to go overlanding?

Overlanding blends off-road driving with camping, allowing adventurers to explore remote areas while being self-sufficient. Proper gear ensures safety, comfort, and an unforgettable experience. Whether you are a seasoned overlander or a newcomer, this guide covers the essential gear you need for your next overlanding adventure.

1. Reliable Vehicle

Your vehicle is the heart of your overlanding journey. Choosing the right one can make or break your trip. Ideal vehicles for overlanding include models like the Toyota Land Cruiser, Jeep Wrangler, and Land Rover Defender. Key features to consider:

  • High Ground Clearance: A minimum of 8 inches is ideal to navigate rough terrains without damaging the undercarriage.
  • Four-Wheel Drive: Essential for traction on unpaved roads, ensuring you can tackle mud, sand, and rocky paths.
  • Rugged Tires: All-terrain or mud-terrain tires provide the necessary grip and durability. Brands like BFGoodrich and Goodyear offer excellent options.

Regular maintenance and pre-trip inspections are crucial. Check fluid levels, tire pressure, and ensure all parts are in working order to avoid breakdowns in remote areas.

2. Roof Top Tent

A roof top tent provides a comfortable and elevated sleeping area, keeping you away from ground moisture and critters. Key features include:

  • Quick Setup: Models like the Tepui Kukenam and ARB Simpson can be deployed and packed up in minutes.
  • Durability: Look for weather-resistant materials like ripstop nylon and a sturdy aluminum frame.
  • Comfort: Ensure adequate space and a comfortable mattress. Many tents come with built-in mattresses that provide excellent support.

A roof top tent not only saves space inside your vehicle but also offers a better vantage point for viewing your surroundings.

3. Recovery Gear

Getting stuck is part of the adventure. Recovery gear ensures you can get out of tricky situations. Key items include:

  • Winch: A powerful winch like the Warn Zeon can pull your vehicle out of deep mud or sand. Ensure it has a capacity of at least 1.5 times the vehicle's gross weight.
  • Recovery Straps: Strong straps like the ARB Recovery Strap are essential for towing or pulling.
  • Traction Boards: Maxtrax or TRED Pro boards provide grip on slippery surfaces, helping you get unstuck from sand, mud, or snow.
  • Shovel: A small but sturdy shovel can be a quick fix to get your vehicle out of snow, sand, or mud.
  • Portable Air Compressor: Deflating your tires with the ability to reinflate them can go a long ways to preventing having to use your recovery gear, and you should start here. Check out our article on some popular portable air compressors.

Additionally, consider carrying a high-lift jack, a shovel, and a tire repair kit. These tools can be lifesavers in challenging conditions.

4. Navigation Tools

Staying on course in remote areas requires reliable navigation tools:

  • GPS Device: Rugged and reliable GPS units designed for off-road use, like the Garmin Overlander, offer detailed maps and waypoint marking.
  • Maps: Topographic maps as a backup, such as those from National Geographic, can be invaluable if electronic devices fail.
  • Compass: An old-school but reliable navigation tool like the Suunto MC-2 ensures you can find your way even without modern tech.

Combine digital and analog navigation tools to ensure you’re never lost.

5. Portable Fridge/Freezer

Keeping your food and drinks fresh is crucial. A portable fridge/freezer is more efficient than a cooler. Key features include:

  • Energy Efficiency: Models like the Dometic CFX3 use minimal power, running on your vehicle’s 12V system.
  • Durability: Able to withstand rough terrains, with shock-proof construction.
  • Capacity: Ensure enough space for your needs. A 50-liter capacity is usually sufficient for a week-long trip for two people.

A portable fridge/freezer can be a game-changer, allowing you to enjoy fresh food and cold drinks throughout your journey.

6. Cooking Gear

Enjoying a warm meal after a day of adventure is essential. Invest in quality cooking gear:

  • Portable Stove: Compact and easy to use, the Jetboil Genesis Basecamp Stove is a popular choice among overlanders.
  • Cookware: Lightweight and durable pots, pans, and utensils from brands like GSI Outdoors.
  • Food Storage: Airtight containers to keep food fresh and prevent wildlife from being attracted to your campsite.

Additionally, consider bringing a portable grill, a set of sharp knives, and a cutting board. Don’t forget spices and condiments to enhance your meals.

7. Water Filtration System

Access to clean water is vital. A good water filtration system ensures you have safe drinking water:

  • Portable Filter: The LifeStraw or Katadyn BeFree are excellent choices for removing bacteria and protozoa.
  • Water Containers: Collapsible or rigid containers like those from Scepter or Reliance for storage.

Carrying a mix of large water jugs and personal hydration systems like CamelBak reservoirs can help you manage water for cooking, cleaning, and drinking.

8. Lighting

Adequate lighting improves visibility and safety around your campsite:

  • LED Light Bars: Attach to your vehicle for bright, widespread illumination. Brands like Rigid Industries offer reliable options.
  • Headlamps: Hands-free lighting for tasks around the campsite. Petzl and Black Diamond offer robust, long-lasting models.
  • Lanterns: Provide ambient light for larger areas. Look for rechargeable options like the Goal Zero Lighthouse 400.

Solar-powered options can help conserve battery life and ensure you have light even when you’re far from civilization.

9. First Aid Kit

A well-stocked first aid kit is essential for any overlanding trip:

  • Comprehensive Kit: Includes bandages, antiseptics, pain relievers, and emergency supplies. Adventure Medical Kits offers excellent pre-packaged options.
  • Training: Basic first aid training to handle potential injuries. Knowing how to use your kit effectively is just as important as having one.

Add personal medications and any specific medical supplies you might need based on your health conditions.

10. Tool Kit and Spare Parts

Be prepared for vehicle repairs with a well-equipped tool kit:

  • Basic Tools: Wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, and a jack. The ARB Compact Recovery Kit is a great all-in-one solution.
  • Spare Parts: Extra fuses, belts, hoses, and fluids tailored to your vehicle’s requirements.

Carrying duct tape, zip ties, and a multi-tool can also be incredibly useful for on-the-spot repairs.

11. Communication Devices

Stay connected and safe with reliable communication devices:

  • Satellite Phone: Essential in areas without cell service. The Iridium 9555 is a trusted model.
  • Two-Way Radios: For communication with your group. Midland or Baofeng radios are reliable choices.
  • Emergency Beacon: A must-have for signaling for help. The Garmin inReach Mini provides satellite communication for emergencies.

Always inform someone of your travel plans and expected return times for added safety.

12. Clothing and Personal Gear

Dress appropriately for changing weather conditions:

  • Layered Clothing: Moisture-wicking base layers, insulating mid-layers, and waterproof outer layers from brands like Patagonia or The North Face.
  • Sturdy Footwear: Waterproof and durable boots from companies like Salomon or Merrell.
  • Sun Protection: Hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect against harsh sun exposure.

Packing additional items like gloves, a beanie, and extra socks can help you stay comfortable in varying climates.


Equipping yourself with the right gear enhances your overlanding experience, ensuring safety, comfort, and preparedness for any situation. Invest in quality equipment, and always double-check your gear before heading out. Happy overlanding!