Home Overlanding Overlanding Checklist: 5 Things to Have or Do Before Hitting the Road

Overlanding Checklist: 5 Things to Have or Do Before Hitting the Road

Essential Van Camping Accessories

Photo by photoschmidt via iStock

Spring has sprung here in the northern hemisphere, so it’s time to start thinking about the adventures awaiting us in the coming months. And that means planning and preparing for those trips with an overlanding checklist.

Overlanding requires a lot of gear, and it’s easy to overlook something if you don’t have a checklist to consult. That’s where this guide comes in!

Below you’ll find a few tips and tricks for planning your trip and things to address before you head out. Let’s get to it!

Table of Contents

Overlanding Checklist: Planning the Trip

Person with a map

Photo by Image Source via iStock

First and foremost, you need to put in some groundwork in terms of planning the trip. This includes answering questions like:

  • When do I want to go?
  • Where do I want to go?
  • How do I get there?
  • How much time do I have?
  • What activities do I want to do along the way?
  • Who’s coming with me, and what can they bring?
  • Do I need permits or passes of some sort?
  • What will the weather likely be?

Obviously, these are pretty high-level questions and a lot of nuts and bolts type of things need to be considered for your overlanding checklist (like the next few sections of this article). But, pondering these and other high-level questions allows you to get the creative juices flowing and start formulating a specific plan.




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Check Your Vehicle & Trailer Systems

Man fixing a camper battery

Photo by photoschmidt via iStock

Next on our overlanding checklist is the all-important task of checking your vehicle and trailer systems before heading out.

This might include tasks like:

  • Checking headlights, marker lights, tail lights, etc., to ensure they’re operational
  • Replacing windshield wipers and topping off windshield wiper fluid
  • Changing the oil and topping off fluids
  • Rotating tires and ensuring the spare is aired up and ready for action
  • Having the brakes on your vehicle and trailer checked and replaced as needed
  • Testing the water pump in your trailer and inspecting plumbing for leaks
  • Testing the electrical system in your trailer

Again, this is a fairly high-level overlanding checklist, and not everyone will need to do the same checks and replacements, but it’s a good place to start.

ultimatron lithium battery review

I’d also add to this the need to consider any upgrades that could prove valuable for your journey.

A great example of this is checking your batteries and replacing them if needed. My Turtleback Expedition trailer came with AGM batteries, which were fine, but I wanted something with more capacity and a greater depth of discharge, so I upgraded to two 100AH lithium-ion batteries from Ultimatron. It was a fantastic upgrade!

ultimatron lithium battery

This type of upgrade is especially helpful if you intend to be off-grid for an extended period of time. As I noted above, these Ultimatron batteries have a greater depth of discharge and better capacity than similar AGM batteries.

Moreover, lithium-ion batteries have a vastly superior life to AGMs – you can expect around 1,000 life cycles from a typical AGM but four or five times that with lithium-ion batteries like mine.

But, if you’re like me and do some wintertime overlanding, be sure you add lithium-ion batteries with a built-in heater like my Ultimatron batteries to your overlanding checklist. As I explain in the video above, the heater enables these batteries to work flawlessly, even when the temperature gets really frosty.

These batteries also have features like a built-in battery management system and the ability to monitor them via Bluetooth. They’re convenient, long-lasting, and reliable. What more could you want?


Other upgrades you might consider include:

  • Adding solar panels and a battery management system
  • Upgrading the lighting in your trailer to LEDs
  • Adding a supplemental water tank
  • Getting the same wheels and tires for your vehicle and trailer (so your spare tires can work on either rig)
  • Investing in storage and organization systems (like a drawer slide system for the cargo area of your SUV or truck)

Check out my video above for even more ideas about mods and gear to invest in for your overlanding adventures!

Overlanding Checklist: Basic Necessities to Pack

Overlanding Packing Hacks Have A Packing List

Photo by Onfokus via iStock

Now that you’ve planned the trip, checked out your vehicle and trailer, and considered what needs to be fixed, replaced, or upgraded, it’s time to think about the bare essentials you’ll need for your trip. This list includes items like:

  • Plenty of water (figure 1-2 gallons per day, per person, depending on where you’re going)
  • Enough food for the duration of the trip
  • Appropriate clothing for the time of year, the environment, and the activities you plan to undertake (e.g., take a good pair of hiking boots and wool socks if you intend to hike)
  • Shelter of some sort, be that a rooftop tent, a trailer, a ground tent, etc.
  • Comfortable bedding for your sleeping quarters
  • Camp kitchen items like a stove and fuel, cooking utensils, dishes and cutlery, etc.
  • Camp chairs, tables, lanterns, and other comfort items

Also ensure you have a high-quality first aid kit on your overlanding checklist, as well as an appropriate toolkit for your vehicle and a recovery kit with items like recovery straps, shackles, traction boards, and so forth.

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If you have a smaller overloading vehicle, like a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited or a Gladiator, it might be wise to invest in a storage solution that maximizes interior storage space so you can keep the gear you pack safe, secure, and organized. For my money, Cargo Dog is the best option to do just that.

Cargo Dog is simple – it’s an in-floor storage solution that takes the place of all or part of the backseat in your Wrangler Unlimited or Gladiator. Cargo Dog offers locking, illuminated storage areas that are hidden from view, that way, would-be thieves won’t even know that your expensive gear is inside.

cargo dog 1

Additionally, Cargo Dog is super easy to install – it takes just a few minutes – and you can remove it as needed and put the backseats back into your Jeep when you need to haul human cargo instead of more gear.

As we all know, overlanding is all about having the right gear. It’s also about having a place to store it all! Whether you need a place for recovery gear, weapons, camping gear, or something else, Cargo Dog is the ideal solution for keeping it safe under lock and key in an easy-to-access location!

Visit Cargo Dog today and get 10 percent off using our 4WD10 coupon code!




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Pantry Items

two cup of cocoa or hot chocolate and skewers of roasted marshmallows over campfire

Photo by ivandzyuba via iStock

The items you put on your overlanding checklist will be specific to your needs and wants, but generally speaking, your pantry should have plenty of goods that will last you for the duration of your trip and provide you with a wide selection of flavors and meal options. This might include:

  • Dry pasta and canned pasta sauce
  • Canned soups
  • Canned beans and salsa
  • Canned vegetables and fruit
  • Cereal and oatmeal
  • Dried fruits
  • Trail mix
  • Energy bars
  • Chips, crackers, and other snacks
  • Peanut butter
  • Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate
  • Spices, such as salt, pepper, paprika, garlic salt, and other frequently used spices
  • Cooking oils and sauces, like olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and steak sauce

Don’t forget supplies for S’mores, too!

Overlanding Checklist: Gear

forrest tool 1

Last, but not least, you want to have an overlanding checklist for the various gear you need to bring on your trip.

Again, the gear you need is determined by where you’re going and when, your specific needs and wants, and the number of people you’ll have with you. The list below is a good starting point for gathering up the essentials (in addition to the few items listed earlier):

fridge-freezer combination Dometic CFX3

You can invest in pricier gear that makes your overlanding journey all the better, too.

For example, a fridge-freezer combination like the Dometic CFX3 shown above and below  is an ideal addition to your vehicle or trailer. Having the means to keep fresh foods, well, fresh, is a game-changer, especially for longer overlanding trips.

For under $1,000, you can add this Dometic unit to your overlanding checklist and have 46 liters of space for food and beverages. This fridge-freezer can reach temperatures of -7 degrees Fahrenheit and has a companion smart app that enables temperature control via Bluetooth or WiFi.

fridge-freezer combination Dometic CFX3 open

Additionally, this unit is built like a tank using heavy-duty construction that makes it a durable option for your overlanding adventures.

Best of all, Dometic has included a three-stage battery protection system that prevents the fridge from drawing too much power and draining your vehicle’s battery. The system also enables the fridge to draw deep from a dual-battery setup.

Sure, gear like this means your bank account will take a hit, but when you’re talking about traveling for days or weeks at a time, it’s imperative that you have tools like this that keep your food fresh, even when you’re way off grid.

Besides, you can get fridges like this from top-notch businesses like BTR Outfitters, who offer a wide selection of gear at great prices. Additionally, BTR Outfitters offers excellent service before, during, and after the sale and will help you get outfitted for everything you need for your trips!

What Does Your Overlanding Checklist Look Like?

Mature person is sitting on bed and packing big rucksack for hiking

Photo by invizbk via iStock

As I’ve said throughout this article, everyone will have different overlanding checklists for their adventures. The point of putting this list together is to give you some basic ideas of what you need to think about when crafting your own checklist.

As you go on more and more overlanding adventures, you’ll figure out pretty quickly what you do and don’t need – especially if you make a point of noting what you brought that you never used and what you forgot to bring that you really needed!

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