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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Expert Tips for Overlanding

Photo by arinahabich via iStock

On the surface, overlanding might seem like little more than driving a long way on roads that, at times, might be questionable.

But the reality is far different…

In some instances, you’ll need to cross deep streams and rivers. In other instances, you might need hard-core off-road driving skills. There could be steep climbs, mud, sand, and other challenges on your trip as well.

With that in mind, here are a few expert tips for overlanding that will help make your trip a success.

Learn How to Drive With Trail Vision

Overlanding 4x4s in the desert

Photo by Onfokus via iStock

When you’re on an overlanding trip, you will want to gaze out the windows to see the scenery as it passes by.

And while admiring the scenery is important, so too is paying attention to where you’re going. This is called trail vision. 

Developing trail vision requires that you scan the trail ahead for as far as you can see. In other words, you simply need to pay attention to the road, where it goes, and what’s on it.

Doing so enables you to anticipate changes in road conditions and make adjustments like engaging hill assist on a steep grade.

Don’t just look immediately in front of your vehicle, either. By keeping your attention well ahead of you, you can more easily navigate obstacles and prepare yourself for making the adjustments needed for a smooth and safe driving experience.

Pro Tip: Sit tall in the driver’s seat. This helps you maintain trail vision and will also be more comfortable for you because it will support your lower back and legs better than if you slouch.

Expert Tips for Overlanding: Understand When It’s Time to Turn Around

Tires in the mud

Photo by nuwatphoto via iStock

On a related note, overlanding will sometimes get you into situations that give you a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach. It’s important that you listen to that feeling!

If things are getting dicey and you’re uncomfortable, don’t keep pressing forward just for the sake of sparing yourself “failure.” Turning around when you don’t feel safe is not failure – it’s smart overlanding.

Whether the terrain is getting too rough or you’re simply too tired (or one of a myriad of other reasons), know your limits and the limits of your rig, and recognize when you’re about to reach those limits!

Learn More:

Know How to Make Basic Repairs

4x4 up on a jack to change a tire

Photo by luckyraccoon via iStock

When you’re on an overlanding journey, there will be times when you’re hours away from civilization. This means you’ll need to have some measure of skills for attending to basic repairs on your rig. Of course, knowing how to make basic repairs requires that you have the right tools and spare parts, too.

Apart from knowing how to change a flat tire, you should also understand some basic recovery techniques and have the right gear as well. This includes having traction boards to get out of a bog and a hi-lift jack to lift your rig off of a rock. You should also know how to get unstuck from mud, sand, and snow.

Having an understanding of basic first aid is also important. From knicks and cuts to burns and bruises to even more serious injuries, having the right accessories and knowing how to address injuries while you’re out on the trail is crucial.

Pro Tip: You should also be familiar with how your vehicle’s 4×4 system works, if it’s equipped as such. Unlike an AWD vehicle, in a 4×4 you’ll need to shift from 2WD to 4-High or 4-Low depending on the situation. Using 4-High is good for snow, gravel, slush, and sand. If you’ve slowed down to about 15 MPH or less, 4-Low is where it’s at.

Expert Tips for Overlanding: Do Your Due Diligence

Bird's eye view of an overlanding 4x4

Photo by Marco_Piunti via iStock

I’m all for a spontaneous afternoon drive with no plans regarding where I’m going. But when it’s an overlanding trip – whether it’s a few days or a few months – you can bet that I spend a lot of time planning and preparing for the journey. You should too!

There are so many details that need to be worked out:

  • What gear will you need?
  • How much food and water do you need, and how will you store it?
  • What roads and trails do you intend to follow? Can you download maps or do you have printed maps you can bring?
  • When will you leave and when do you plan to return?
  • How will you communicate with others on your journey when there’s no cell service?
  • What does the forecast look like?

There are a myriad of other questions to consider in your planning as well, but these are some of the most common and critical ones to answer.

With a little time spent planning and preparing for your trip, you can avoid a lot of mistakes and instead enjoy more time out on the trail!


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