Converting your truck into an overlanding beast requires a lot of thought, research, and hard work.
However, the benefit is that once you’re done turning your rig into the best truck for overlanding, you’ll have a capable, reliable vehicle to take you on weekend trips to nearby mountains, across the country to explore new areas, and points in between.
I will say up front that this article does not go over every possible thing you can do to build the best truck for overlanding. That would be a really long article!
Instead, I’ve gotten tons of questions from folks about what I’ve done to my truck to make it purpose-built for overlanding. With that in mind, I’ve selected eight modifications that I’ve made to my truck (four interior mods and four exterior mods) that have turned my 2020 Jeep Gladiator into the best truck for overlanding.
Without further ado, let’s get to it!
Table of Contents
- How to Build the Best Truck for Overlanding – Interior Modifications
- A Functional Mod – A Dash-Mounted Rail System
- A Safety Mod – Keep Essentials Nearby
- A Mod for the Backseat – Keep Your Co-Pilot Entertained
- How to Build the Best Truck for Overlanding – Exterior Modifications
- A Recovery Mod – Get a Good Winch
- A “Just in Case Mod” – Spare Fuel Storage
- A Mod to Keep You Grounded – A Good Set of All-Terrain Tires
- A Mod With a Lot of Bang for Your Buck – A Good Recovery Kit
How to Build the Best Truck for Overlanding – Interior Modifications
My overlanding rig includes a Turtleback Expedition Trailer, so I use my truck for towing purposes – not for sleeping or storing food or meal prep.
But, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of things that I needed to do to my truck to make it a more comfortable and functional space for my overlanding adventures.
Below are explanations of four of my favorite interior mods.
A Functional Mod – A Dash-Mounted Rail System
As you can see above, this rail is super small with an ultra-low profile. That’s just what you want in order to maintain a clear view out of the windshield. And a clear view is what you need when building the best truck for overlanding!
But don’t think that its small size means that it’s not mighty. You can actually attach up to SEVEN accessories to this thing! You can use mounting points, device holders, and arms to your heart’s content, and get all your vital accessories up in your field of vision without blocking your view of the road or trail ahead.
I particularly love the 67 Designs Phone mount because my phone is vitally important. I run two businesses and am constantly fielding calls, getting texts, and needing to check emails.
Having the phone mounted on the dash allows me to quickly see notifications, and if something major comes up, I can pull over and take care of business without fumbling around for my phone.
If you’re in the same boat and need your phone in plain view, or if you use your phone for navigation, having it on your dash with a rail system and device holder like I have will make your life so much easier!
Best Truck for Overlanding: A Safety Mod – Keep Essentials Nearby
As I discuss in the video above, having items within arm’s reach is enormously important when you’re overlanding.
In particular, you want your radio and first aid kit easily accessible in the event that you need to quickly call for help or attend to an injury in your vehicle or another vehicle.
I have my Wouxun KG-100G GMRS Two-Way Radio and a first-aid kit mounted on the headliner of my Jeep. You can’t get much easier access than that!
Mounting these items on the roof between the two front seats means that I can easily reach them, but the front passenger can also easily reach them.
If you watch the video above, you can see that the radio is mounted to a metal plate on the roof while the first aid kit is attached to a molle panel on the same metal plate. This gives these items a secure place to live while maintaining ease of access.
Best Truck for Overlanding: A Mod for the Backseat – Keep Your Co-Pilot Entertained
When I go on my overlanding trips, I often bring my son, Caleb, with me.
While we’re on the road, he likes to watch videos on his iPad, just like any other kid. But when he holds the iPad in his hands, he has to crane his neck downward to see the screen. This causes two problems…
First, he ends up complaining of a neck ache, and second, he’s more likely to get carsick.
So, I installed a rail system in the backseat specifically to mount his iPad in front of him at eye level. I did this with the 67 Designs Series 55 Rail System Rear Seat Pack.
As with all of the 67 Designs gear I have in my truck, this item is well-designed, beautifully built, and easy to install.
This particular pack comes with a rail, a mounting pack, and a nano arm, so you can give your rear passengers the ability to be entertained without investing a ton of time and energy to make it happen!
Best Truck for Overlanding: A Storage Mod – Add a Gear Plate
Now, I don’t have this particular mod in my truck, but it’s such an ingenious product that I had to add it to this list.
If you use an SUV for your overlanding adventures, you probably have the issue of your gear getting completely disorganized the longer you’re on the road.
But a great way to combat that is to install a storage system that gives you a neat and tidy (and easily accessible!) place to organize your gear.
Aiden James Customs makes a gear plate that installs in the back of your SUV.
What makes this gear plate an item you need for making the best truck for overlanding is that it has multiple mounting points for adding all kinds of gear.
Want to add a fridge? Go for it! A kitchen? You can do that too. Do you want slide-out drawers? That can be done as well.
In addition to plenty of mounting points, these plates have tie-down points for securing loads. The plates can be mounted in a way that they are stationary in the back of your SUV or slide out for easier access.
From an organization standpoint, there’s just nothing better than adding one of these bad boys to your overlanding rig.
How to Build the Best Truck for Overlanding – Exterior Modifications
As far as exterior modifications go, building the best truck for overlanding can go in all sorts of different directions.
In fact, there are probably more exterior changes you can make than interior changes, so the list of possibilities is quite long.
I have made plenty of mods to my Jeep, but the four I discuss below are toward the top of the list in terms of usability and functionality for my trips.
A Recovery Mod – Get a Good Winch
Having a winch is a must if you do any off-road travel at all. I suppose it could be a must for on-road travel, too, depending on the condition of said road.
I wanted the best winch I could afford, so that meant outfitting my rig with the Warn Zeon 10.
This winch has tons of features:
- 216:1 gear reduction ratio
- 10,000-pound max line pull
- 4.8 feet per second line speed
- Free spooling
- Standard 3/8-inch steel line (80 ft)
- Standard roller type fairlead
- Automatic operation with handheld remote switch
Clearly, the 10,000-pound max line pull is a bit much for my Jeep, but, hey, better to overshoot than not, right?!
I did an extensive review of this winch a while back, so I won’t repeat everything I spoke about in that article. But just know that it has proven to be a rock-solid choice for my rig, and if you want to build the best truck for overlanding, it’s an ideal option.
A “Just in Case Mod” – Spare Fuel Storage
When overlanding, you might find yourself in locations in which stopping for fuel at a gas station simply isn’t possible.
That being the case, you’ll want to bring spare fuel with you, and for my money, there’s nothing better than Rotopax to do so.
These fuel canisters come in various sizes (like 1-gallon, 2-gallon, and 4-gallon) and easily mount to your overlanding rig’s roof rack, truck rails, or to your camper trailer.
While a spare gallon or two of fuel won’t get you hundreds of miles, it could very well mean the difference between finding the next fuel station and sitting on the side of the road waiting for rescue!
A Mod to Keep You Grounded – A Good Set of All-Terrain Tires
A good set of all-terrain tires is amust to make your truck the best truck for overlanding. What’s great about all-terrains is that they give you great performance both on and off-road.
All-terrain tires have aggressive tread that’s good for slinging mud, but it’s not so aggressive that you sacrifice comfort when you’re on pavement.
All-terrain tires also offer the benefit of having thicker sidewalls than typical road tires, so you get the benefit of added resistance to punctures when you venture off-road.
Really, the only problem with getting all-terrain tires is sifting through all the possibilities and getting the ones that are the best fit for your needs and your particular vehicle.
Our list of the best all-terrain tires of 2022 will help you figure out which tires will give you the best truck for overlanding. Spoiler alert – our editors love BF Goodrich KO2 tires!
A Mod With a Lot of Bang for Your Buck – A Good Recovery Kit
Last, but certainly not least, to build the best truck for overlanding, you want to have a good recovery kit with some basic pieces and parts for the inevitable time that you or a buddy get stuck.
While there are many, many different items that you could have in your kit, some of the most important include:
- Recovery Straps
- Recovery Boards
- Shackle Hitch Receiver
- Hi-Lift Jack
- Tire Inflator/Deflator
- Emergency Shovel
With that, you have a few suggestions for gear you need to make the best truck for overlanding.
Obviously, you can add all the mods you want to your truck, but nothing is a guarantee. Even with all these mods, you might still find yourself in a sticky situation. That’s why it’s so important to not just rely on upgrades and mods, and instead have the knowledge and skills to get yourself out of adverse conditions while you’re overlanding.