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Keys to the Overlanding Lifestyle

photo by jasony00 via iStock

Overlanding is a great activity. It connects us with friends and nature while teaching us how to overcome obstacles and deal with issues that arise.

However, long and remote overland trips are no easy task. They require preparation and gear – especially during winter.

To ensure you get the most out of your trips, let’s go over the keys to the perfect overlanding lifestyle. 

Table of Contents

Storage Makes the Overlanding Lifestyle Much Easier

overlanding-storage-ideas

I’m sure you’re aware of the amount of gear we tend to carry on long or even short overlanding trips. 

Cooking utensils, clothes, sleeping equipment, camping equipment, and much more need to have a home somewhere in your rig.

If all these items are thrown into a vehicle with no order, you’ll most likely have issues making them fit, not to mention the time you’ll spend digging through everything to find the item you need when arriving at camp. That’s definitely not the overlanding lifestyle we’re after…

As mentioned above, preparation is key to the overlanding lifestyle. An organized storage area is crucial.

A great accessory to help with the organization of all your items is the Aiden James Customs gear plate. 

Aiden James Customs Gear Plate 2

As the name suggests, this is a plate that secures to the floor of your SUV’s trunk or truck bed. The plate can be stationary or you can have it on slides to make accessing items even easier.

Either way, there’s multiple mounting spots on which you can secure drawers, fridges, and any other accessory you may need.

best-overlanding-storage-ideas

This is great as it doesn’t just organize your storage area, it also makes it safer. Imagine having heavy drawers and a fridge that aren’t mounted securely to the floor of your vehicle. In the event of an accident or roll-over off-road, all those heavy items will come flying out and can injure you or your passengers. 

The plates are designed for specific vehicles. Current options include plates for select Toyota, Lexus, Ford, and Subaru models.

bed gear plate by Aiden James Customs

The best thing about these plates is that they require no drilling. There’s no removal of carpet or sound deadening in your car, either.

Therefore, these plates offer excellent storage and organization for the overlanding lifestyle without the need to modify your vehicle. That’s great from a time perspective and nice for resale value, too.

I’ve seen these plates firsthand and had the chance to tour the Aiden James facility. To say that these things are built to last with an attention to detail is an understatement. If you get an Aiden James Customs gear plate, it’ll probably outlast the vehicle you put it in!

Overland Navigation Leads to Stunning Trails

GAIA GPS

Let’s face it, without proper navigation, no overland trip can happen. Paper maps are long gone, and Google maps just won’t cut it when it comes to off-road trails – especially for the more remote ones.

So, our next overland lifestyle key is a proper navigation device or a good app. These allow you to plot your off-road or on-road routes beforehand. They also offer downloadable maps that are accessible regardless of phone reception and have pre-recognized off-road trails. Locate hiking trails and landmarks, too. Some of these devices even offer satellite SOS functions just in case things go wrong.

In our opinion the best applications out there are OnXmaps and GAIA GPS.

Both are widely used and share very similar functions but have a different interface. It’s up to you to decide which one of the two offers the most value to your type of adventures.

gaia-gps

If you want to get even deeper into the overlanding lifestyle and are willing to spend more money, we suggest opting for the Garmin Overlander

This device offers everything the applications mentioned above offer, but with an important upgrade – the SOS button. This allows you to contact the International Emergency Coordination Center to request help, which provides great peace of mind when off-road. 

In addition to the above, the Garmin Overlander acts as a proper GPS. You can connect it to your vehicle’s backup camera as well. 

gaia-gps 3

Also included is a pitch and roll screen and many more functions that set it apart from a normal phone application.

Applications provide you with all the overland lifestyle navigation basics. However, the Garmin Overlander takes it to the next level with a variety of off-road, safety, and navigation luxuries.

The Key to the Overlanding Lifestyle: A Good Overland Vehicle Leads to a Comfortable Trip

Toyota 4Runner SR5 2002

Toyota 4Runner SR5 2002” by RL GNZLZ is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0.

A vehicle with great overland lifestyle credentials makes every trip more comfortable and enjoyable.

Don’t worry – we aren’t suggesting a brand-new $80,000 truck for your overlanding lifestyle…

A great overland vehicle needs to meet four guidelines: comfort, storage space, reliability, and capability.

How off-road capable it is solely depends on the types of adventures you’re after. 

1997 Toyota 4Runner

1997 Toyota 4Runner” by Frater Operator is marked with CC PDM 1.0.

A great example of a good and relatively affordable overland vehicle is the 3rd generation 4Runner. It’s cheap enough to buy, has a lot of space, decent off-road capabilities, and is very reliable. 

1999 Jeep Cherokee XJ

1999 Jeep Cherokee XJ” by 555Utsman is marked with CC BY 2.0.

If you want to go even Cheaper, an XJ Jeep Cherokee also meets these guidelines with off-road abilities being its strongest point and storage space its weakest. However, with clever packing and an Aiden James gear plate, an XJ will do!

If you want to get into the overland lifestyle, the best vehicle to do it with is the one you already own. This will help you understand what type of overlanding you enjoy the most. And, if your vehicle isn’t suited for it, you can then upgrade accordingly.  

A Good Night’s Sleep Leads to More Fun on the Trail

smrt sky loft 4runner

Having a comfortable sleeping setup is a crucial factor when it comes to enjoying the overland lifestyle. 

To achieve good sleep on the trail, you first need to decide what kind of sleeping setup suits you the best. 

At first, sleeping in nature can be intimidating; therefore, you may prefer to sleep in a more secure setup such as inside your truck (if it is big enough) or inside a rooftop tent

Relaxin in overland vehicle

photo by sshepard via iStock

Sleeping in an SUV such as a 4Runner is just a matter of building a flat platform on which you can place a mattress. This setup can be much more comfortable than you think, though it will take up precious space inside your rig. 

I personally like having a rooftop tent. I like being up off the cold ground and away from predators. And since I’m a big, tall guy, I’d prefer not to sleep in my Jeep Gladiator!

smrt tent summit suite first impressions

My rooftop tent of choice is the SMRT Summit Suite. It’s big enough for my son and I to sleep comfortably. If you need more space, the SMRT The Softshell accommodates up to four people. If that’s too much space, the SMRT Sky Loft sleeps 1-2 people.

Of course, there are many rooftop tent options as well as ground tents you might consider. What you get depends on your specific needs and wants, the number of people you usually have with you on your adventures, and your budget.

Final Thoughts: The Overlanding Lifestyle is the Best Lifestyle!

Which Truck Camping Accessories Are Right For You

photo by ianmcdonnell via iStock

The beauty of the overland lifestyle is that it can be different for each person. Some may enjoy hitting the tough trails and having a simpler camp setup while others prefer easier trails but a comfortable camp at a scenic location with all the luxuries.

The above list offers the basics. However, the best way to find out what your ideal overland lifestyle looks like is to get out there and do it yourself! This will help you understand what you like and dislike about the activity. 

If you have any further questions regarding the overlanding lifestyle, camping or off-roading, post them in the forum section of the site! 

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