When you’re overlanding (or in any driving situation, for that matter), it’s important that you keep your hands on the wheel and not on your devices.
Navigating potentially tough tracks, crossing streams, and driving in inclement weather is hard enough without having your phone in your hand, thus the need for hands free devices for overlanding.
Obviously, there’s benefits of having hands free devices aside from being safer on the road. For example, you get a lot of utility with having your communication devices mounted in locations in which they are easily accessible and easily visible.
In today’s article, I’d like to discuss a few ways that I’ve made the comms in my truck more user-friendly by using hands free devices for overlanding and through smart placement of my comms devices in my truck.
Table of Contents
- Setting Up My Cell Phone for Overlanding
- Hands Free Devices for Overlanding – Get Outfitted With Additional Mounts
- What About a Radio?
- Other Hands Free Devices for Overlanding
Setting Up My Cell Phone for Overlanding
Likely the most important piece of communications gear you have in your overlanding rig is your phone – I know that’s the case with me.
Going hands free with my phone is much more than simply having a Bluetooth headset that I can use to place and receive calls.
I also want my phone mounted, that way when the going gets rough, I don’t have to worry about my phone sliding around and ending up on the floor somewhere that I can’t reach it.
So, the first of my hands free devices for overlanding is the 67 Designs Series 55 Rail Mount Base shown above.
What’s great about this base is that it allows you to safely and securely mount multiple devices right on your dashboard, but it does so without being obtrusive or blocking your view out of the windshield – which is obviously very important!
And while this rail has a small form factor and sits discreetly inside the dash, you can mount up to seven devices on it. In my case, I have my phone, iPad, and GoPro mounted to it.
Speaking of my phone…
It’s mounted to the Rail Mount Base using the 67 Designs Universal Device Holder G2.
This holder accommodates a wide range of iOS and Android devices that are between 2.6 and 3.7 inches wide.
Because the holder uses stainless steel springs and pins, it gets a nice, tight grip on your phone to prevent it from working loose on rough roads.
The mount comes with a 20mm ball that offers 360-degrees of rotation for the clamp. This is a great feature in case you need to view your phone in portrait mode for making or receiving calls and in landscape mode for viewing navigation and maps.
Better still, you can mount your phone using just one hand, so you can add and remove your phone to the mount while keeping your other hand on the steering wheel.
As I drive, I have a clear, unobstructed view of the phone’s screen, that way I can see who’s calling or texting, what emails I’ve gotten, and so forth – all without having to take my hands off the wheel.
Hands Free Devices for Overlanding – Get Outfitted With Additional Mounts
As I noted earlier, the rail system on my dash is home to my phone, my GoPro, and my iPad. And while the latter two aren’t used for communication, it’s still nice having them securely mounted where they are easy to reach.
If you’re setting up your overlanding rig, this is the ideal setup for creating an environment for my hands free devices.
For example, with the 67 Designs Series 55 Rail Mount Base, you’re able to add carbon fiber arms, track balls, and other mounts as needed. This means you can add an iPad holder (shown above), a Garmin or other GPS device, a Magnetic Mic radio handset, or CB and ham radio mounts.
Truly, whatever communications devices you have, there’s probably a mount, ball, or arm that you can use to put it front-and-center on a rail mount system on your dash.
And that’s what it’s all about – making sure your devices are either hands free or easily accessible. Placing them on a rail on the dash is the best location for doing just that.
What About a Radio?
I have a Wouxun KG-1000G GMRS two-way radio in my truck, and while it isn’t hands-free, the placement of it on the roof just to the right of me makes it incredibly easy to use without taking my eyes off the road or both hands off the steering wheel.
As I mentioned before, if you have a rail mount system like the one I have from 67 Designs, you can mount the microphone on the rail for quick and easy access.
In my case, the radio is so close that it’s a quick upward action with my hand to grab the mic to communicate with other people in my group.
I prefer GMRS radios because of their excellent transmitting power (this one has 50 watts), the abundance of GMRS channels and repeater channels, and their FM radio and NOAA radio capabilities.
This unit also has two speakers in the main unit and one in the mic, so it’s easy to hear, even if I don’t have the mic in my hand.
Again, this is all about placement. If the radio was mounted below my head somewhere near the console, it would be harder to reach, and I imagine harder to hear. But the way I’ve set it up, it’s as hands free as possible.
Other Hands Free Devices for Overlanding
Image by Leo Malsam via iStock
If you have an old-school rig without modern technologies like built-in hands free phone communications, you can add that functionality with an FM transmitter or Bluetooth car kit that allows you to speak hands free through a microphone and your vehicle’s speaker system.
Likewise, many aftermarket stereos have hands free capabilities that allow you to keep your attention on the road and your hands on the wheel. You can invest in aftermarket hands free navigation systems that are voice controlled as well.
The point is that while we are more plugged in than ever before, it doesn’t mean that we can’t drive safely. Doing so starts with ensuring that the devices you need to use as you drive are hands free, or at the very least, positioned in your vehicle such that you can quickly and easily see and access them.
Overlanding is incredibly fun, but has dangers inherent with it. You can minimize some of those dangers and maximize your safety on the road by using hands free devices for overlanding!
Other Essential Overlanding Gear
- First Aid Kit
- Camp Grill
- GMRS Radio
- Camp Chair
- Camping Lantern
- Waterproof Tarp
- Camping Table
- Small Axe
- Solar Shower
- Camping Cookset