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When you’re planning an overlanding trip, there are dozens and dozens of things you need to bring with you.
And while it’s important not to overpack, you still need to ensure you have everything you need for the trip – and for situations in which you find yourself stuck, hurt, or otherwise in need of assistance.
So this begs the question, what overlanding products are absolutely essential? Additionally, which items require that you spend good money to get a good product?
Let’s find out!
Must-Have Overlanding Products: First Aid
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The last thing you want is to be in a situation in which you or someone you’re with is injured and all you have is the $5 first aid kit you bought when you were checking out at the gas station…
If anything in your overlanding kit should be robust and well-funded, it’s your first aid kit. It can literally mean the difference between life and death.
So, build a good first aid kit that has all the essentials you need to address cuts, scrapes, headaches, and more serious injuries like punctures and broken bones. The American Red Cross offers excellent advice for building the ideal first aid kit.
You Need a Reliable Power System as Well
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When you’re off-grid for days on end, you need a power system that gives you the juice you need, when you need it.
And this isn’t just for comfort…
Sure, it’s nice to plug in a space heater to warm up the ol’ rooftop tent, but more importantly, having a reliable power system ensures that you have power to charge your mobile phone, sat phone, and other devices, and that you don’t drain your vehicle’s battery when running things like your fridge and camp lights.
So, what does a reliable power system look like? It includes a lot of overlanding products…
For starters, have a battery management system in place. As I outline in this article, this means having several components:
- A battery manager
- A solar power system
So, my setup includes a REDARC Manager30 battery management system that takes all the work out of keeping my batteries charged.
Basically, the Manager30 takes power from my Jeep’s battery and from my solar panels. Then, it maintains my auxiliary batteries at the optimal level, that way I never drain my vehicle battery.
Additionally, the Manager30 gives me a readout of what the power situation is between the Jeep’s alternator and the auxiliary batteries, so I can see at a moment’s notice how much juice I have, where the power is going, and how much of it is coming from the alternator without having to worry about managing the power myself. See how to set this bad boy up in the video below:
The Manager30 is also ultra-durable, having been designed and tested in Australia, where you can find some of the harshest environments for overlanding on the planet.
Best of all, the Manager30 works with AGM, lead acid, and lithium batteries (or a combination thereof), so you can mix and match as needed and still have the benefits of a battery management system.
Speaking of batteries, they are overlanding products you don’t want to skimp on.
Like the Manager30, these new lithium batteries aren’t what I would call cheap, but you definitely get what you pay for.
In this instance, the Briter Products batteries have a far greater depth of discharge than the AGM batteries I currently have. Lithium can be discharged to about 80-90 percent where AGMs can only be discharged to about 50 percent.
What’s more, lithium batteries offer an incredible lifespan. The Briter Products batteries I am having installed have a 5,000-cycle lifespan and they are fully serviceable too.
Lithium batteries offer other advantages as well, including being smaller and lighter than AGMs or lead acid batteries and they can be run down to nothing and fully recharge in just a couple of hours.
And like the Manager30, these batteries have a reputation for being ultra-durable thanks to their steel-cased construction. They come with a five-year warranty as well.
As I noted earlier, I have solar panels that put out 160-watts of power. The panel came with my trailer and included the two AGM batteries I mentioned before as well as an inverter.
The panel is small and easily maneuverable so I can get it set up quickly and easily when I make camp. Many overlanding enthusiasts opt for this kind of setup, though many also prefer having a solar mat to give their batteries a boost.
The point here is that there are lots of ways to go about designing and building your power system. But doing it cheaply is not one of them! Invest in quality components so that you have a reliable power system whether you’re off-grid for a couple of nights or a couple of months.
Overlanding Products You Need: A Comprehensive Toolkit
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When you’re overlanding, you need to have the right tools to address common (and some uncommon) problems you might encounter.
Of course, like the rest of your overlanding gear, there are tons of possibilities of tools you might take with you. As outlined in this article on 4WD tools, there are some things you absolutely need:
- Tire tools, including a bottle jack
- Mechanical tools, like a socket set and allen keys
- Electrical tools, like wire strippers and a multimeter
- Superglue, epoxy putty, duct tape, and electrical tape
You also need recovery and safety items, as outlined here.
By and large, the items you need in your toolkit aren’t exactly expensive. But you need a lot of them, so the price can really add up.
However, it’s better to be prepared and have the tools you need to address a breakdown or being stuck rather than being cheap about it and not having the needed tools!
Upgrade Your Suspension and Tires
With regards to the suspension, you might need an upgrade to improve the ride and/or the off-road capabilities of your rig.
While you shouldn’t jack your truck up too high, focusing on improving suspension components can make a huge difference in the abilities of your vehicle (not to mention improved durability of components that you upgrade).
A better suspension is especially important if you have a lot of added weight on your vehicle. Upgrading the shocks and springs will be well worth it if you have a rack, rooftop tent, a light bar, winch, and so forth.
The tires you have is a hugely important consideration as well. For example, the tires that came on my Jeep Gladiator weren’t made for off-road use, so I upgraded to 35-inch Nitto Trail Grapplers for improved off-road performance. Not only are these tires ready to go for all sorts of terrain, but they are also bigger and more resistant to punctures than the factory tires.
Were these tires cheap? No. But, again, you get what you pay for. I’d rather spend more on a good set of tires for my truck (I bought a spare, two tires for my trailer, and a spare for the trailer as well) that I know have the performance and durability that overlanding demands.
There are plenty of other products and accessories you can – and should – invest in for your overlanding rig. But at the top of the list should be these components. Don’t go cheap on these items, and you’ll have a good start on your durable, reliable, and well-prepared overlanding setup.