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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Jeep Overlanding Tips for Beginners

Photo by Nicolas Cool on Unsplash (license)

Heading out on a Jeep overlanding adventure with a Wrangler can be one of the most fun and rewarding experiences on wheels. The thrill of exploring uncharted territory, the freedom of the open road, and the connection with nature make overlanding an increasingly popular activity.

However, for beginners, the prospect of setting up a Jeep for overlanding can seem daunting. With proper preparation and knowledge, though, you can have a safe, enjoyable, and memorable journey.

With that, let’s get to a few essential tips to get you started with Jeep overlanding!

Table of Contents

Choosing the Right Jeep Wrangler for Overlanding

jeep wrangler hard top guide

Photo by Abed Ismail on Unsplash (license)

Jeeps are world-renowned for their off-road capabilities. But they aren’t just tough off-roaders. Their capabilities and reliability as adventure vehicles make them a prime target if you want to hit the road for an extended period of time.

So, which Jeep should you get, and what features should it have?

Jeep Overlanding Model Selection

When it comes to overlanding, not all Jeep Wranglers are created equal…

The most popular models for overlanding include the JK and JL series, both offering excellent off-road capabilities and customization options. The JK model, produced from 2007 to 2018, is known for its durability and ease of modification.

The newer JL model, introduced in 2018, comes with modern features and improved performance, making it an excellent choice if you want a Jeep with a few more bells and whistles.

Essential Features

jeep wrangler hard top on 2-door

Photo by cody lannom on Unsplash (license)

Key features to look for in a Jeep Wrangler for overlanding include the following:

  • Good ground clearance
  • All-terrain tires
  • A sturdy suspension system
  • Added storage options (e.g., a hitch-mounted storage rack or a roof rack)

Many overlanders will tell you that 2012-present models with the 3.6-liter Pentastar engine are the way to go, given the improved performance and reliability of that engine. Furthermore, a four-door Jeep Wrangler is advantageous given the added interior space for storage and/or sleeping.

Used vs. New

Deciding between a used or new Jeep Wrangler depends on your budget and preference. A new Wrangler comes with the latest features and a warranty, offering peace of mind.

However, a used Wrangler can be more budget-friendly and might already have some modifications, saving you time and money. Either way, check the vehicle’s history and condition before making a purchase.

Jeep Overlanding: Essential Modifications and Gear

Jeep Camping Jeep at blue hour

Photo by Thomas Tucker on Unsplash (license)

So, now that you have a Jeep Wrangler for your overlanding adventure, it’s time to make a few essential modifications and invest in some critical gear (assuming the Wrangler you bought isn’t already outfitted, of course).

There are a lot of modifications you can make to a Wrangler, which is certainly part of the allure of this vehicle as an overlanding rig. But when you’re just starting out, you can prioritize just a few things that will give you the most bang for your buck for Jeep Overlanding.

Vehicle Modifications

jeep overlanding vehicle modifications

Photo by LOGAN WEAVER | @LGNWVR on Unsplash (license)

Turning a stock Jeep Wrangler into an overlanding machine involves several key modifications…

Start with upgrading the suspension system to handle rough terrain. The suspension needs to be upgraded to handle the heavier load of all your gear, too. All-terrain tires are a must as well – these tires offer good traction and durability in various conditions and terrain, and offer a better (and quieter) ride than mud-terrain tires.

Installing a winch can be a lifesaver in tricky situations where you might need to pull your Jeep out of mud, sand, or snow, or it can help you recover another vehicle. Skid plates are a good idea, too. They protect the undercarriage from rocks and debris, ensuring your Wrangler stays in good condition.

Camping Gear

jeep overlanding camping gear

Photo by Blake Carpenter on Unsplash (license)

Overlanding is all about self-sufficiency, so having the right camping gear is essential. Here are just a few items you should prioritize purchasing if you haven’t already:

  • A tent and all the sleeping gear, including a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and pillow.
  • A portable kitchen setup, including a stove, cookware, and a portable refrigerator or cooler, plus cookery, cutlery, and dishware.
  • A reliable power source, such as a portable solar power station, keeps your devices charged without the mess and noise of a traditional gas-powered generator.

Storage Solutions

Efficient storage solutions are vital for organizing your gear and maximizing space. Cargo racks and roof racks are excellent for carrying extra equipment, such as fuel cans, water containers, and recovery gear. Drawer systems and cargo organizers inside the Jeep help keep smaller items in order and easily accessible, too.

Consider using heavy-duty storage boxes to protect your gear from the elements as well. These boxes are especially beneficial if you have a hitch-mounted storage rack or a roof rack where your gear is exposed to the elements.

Make It Easy on Yourself to Remove the Top

hard top buddy 1

Alongside the Jeep Wrangler’s functionality and capability as an off-road and overlanding vehicle, one of its best features is the removable top. There’s nothing better than exploring epic landscapes with an unobstructed view of the surroundings!

So why not make it easy on yourself to take the hard top off?

Hard Top Buddy is just the ticket for that…

hard top buddy 3

As you can see in the images above and below, Hard Top Buddy mounts to your Jeep’s hitch receiver and does all the heavy lifting to lift the hard top up and off the Jeep. Then, using the Hard Top Buddy, you can safely and securely swing the hard top away from your rig and rest it gently on the ground.

The process couldn’t be any simpler, right?!

Then, once your Wrangler is topless, you can explore the area around camp and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. When you get back to camp, you can just as easily use Hard Top Buddy to put the hard top back on your Jeep. Nice!

hard top buddy 5

However, Hard Top Buddy has a secret skill…

You can also use it as a mount for a hanging chair. So, when you get back to camp, simply put Hard Top Buddy back into the hitch receiver on your Jeep, hang your favorite camp chair from the boom, and you’re ready to go with a comfortable, floating chair to enjoy at camp.

Perhaps best of all, Hard Top Buddy isn’t big or heavy, so it doesn’t take up a lot of the precious storage space inside your Jeep. That means you get something that’s multifunctional, makes your life easier, and is easy to store and transport. What more could you want?!

Jeep Overlanding: Camping and Outdoor Living

jeep overlanding camping and outdoor living

Photo by Thomas Tucker on Unsplash (license)

Getting a Jeep and outfitting it for overlanding is just part of the equation, here. You also need to have a few tricks up your sleeve for improving the overlanding lifestyle and enjoying camp life…

Setting Up Camp

Choosing the right campsite is key to a comfortable overlanding experience. Look for flat, level ground away from potential hazards like falling branches or areas prone to flooding. Set up your rooftop tent or ground tent, ensuring it’s secure and stable. Organize your campsite with a designated cooking area and a safe place for a campfire if allowed.

Cooking and Food Storage

Preparing meals on the trail can be enjoyable with the right setup. Plan your meals in advance and pack non-perishable items to minimize the need for refrigeration. A portable stove and lightweight cookware are ideal for cooking outdoors. Store food securely to prevent attracting wildlife. Bear-proof containers are recommended in areas with large predators.

Make Camp More Comfortable

jeep overlanding make camp more comfortable

Photo by Reuben on Unsplash (license)

You don’t have to bring just utilitarian items with you on your Jeep overlanding adventures. There’s nothing wrong with making your campsite more like a home away from home! Below are a few comfort-related items you might consider bringing along:

  • Comfortable camp chairs
  • Outdoor blankets
  • Outdoor lighting, like solar string lights or lanterns
  • A portable fire pit
  • A screened-in shelter (for those areas full of bugs)
  • A portable toilet and toilet room
  • A solar shower

Again, there are hundreds of items you could bring with you; these are just a few recommendations. Of course, you only have so much room in a Jeep Wrangler for your gear, so you’ll have to take some time to figure out what you can and can’t bring based on the available space and the cargo capacity of your Wrangler.

Planning and Preparation for Jeep Overlanding

jeep overlanding planning your route

Photo by Thomas Tucker on Unsplash (license)

Of course, before you hit the road in your newly-outfitted Wrangler, you need to spend some time figuring out where you’re going, how you’re getting there, and how long you’ll be gone. Making packing lists and considering safety factors should be part of the planning process, too.

Route Planning

Planning your route is a crucial step in overlanding. Research potential routes and trails, paying attention to the difficulty level and terrain. Use GPS devices and topographic maps to plot your course and identify points of interest. Make sure to check weather conditions and road closures, which can significantly affect your journey. It’s also a good idea to have a backup route in case of unforeseen circumstances, like a road washout due to recent rains.

Packing Essentials

jeep overlanding pack the essentials

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash (license)

Packing the right gear can make or break your overlanding adventure. Start with the basics:

  • Recovery gear such as tow straps, a high-lift jack, and a shovel. These are essential for getting out of sticky situations.
  • Tools and spare parts, including tire repair kits, spare fuses, and fluids. These ensure you’re prepared for minor repairs on the road.
  • A comprehensive first aid kit is a must-have for any trip.
  • Pack enough food, water, and fuel to last the duration of your journey, plus a little extra in case of emergencies.

Safety Considerations

Safety should always be a top priority when overlanding. Before setting out, inform someone of your travel plans and expected return date. Carry a satellite phone or a two-way radio for communication, too, so you have a way to stay in touch in areas without cell service.

Familiarize yourself with basic first aid and vehicle repair techniques as well. Not all medical emergencies and vehicle breakdowns occur in a populated area (or an area with cell service), so having at least a basic understanding of how to tend to issues you encounter is a smart move.

Of course, there is a lot more to overlanding, but the tips outlined above should be a good start. As always, do a lot of research, take your time to invest in the appropriate gear, and make the necessary upgrades to your Wrangler so you have everything you need to enjoy your Jeep overlanding experience.

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