What is Overlanding?

Written by: 

Ben Rosamond

The age of pioneers has long been over and the chance that you could go on an expedition in the pursuit of science is only a possibility if you are an expert in that area of study. Luckily, people have found a way to pursue this without having to have a doctrines degree or having to be born during the Oregon trail to the west. This type of caravan related adventure travel is called overlanding.

Group of friends caravaning and camping in phoenix, arizona.

It’s more than just mobile camping

Glancing over this activity it is pretty much mobile camping. At the heart of the hobby this is an activity that fuels itself on being self-reliant, adventurous, and vehicle based. This type of adventure travel typically involves itself in extended travel to destinations that are not as documented as others. It is not uncommon for people that involve themselves in this niche to go without showering, cell phone service, and even lack of food. Going without those may make people feel a bit uncomfortable, however for overlanders this is all part of the sport. Overlanders love their hobby because it allows them to make their own adventure up with their friends; going to places on the map that are mostly not known about incites a desire for more adventure. In other words the journey to these destinations are the main emphasis of this hobby

How can one get started?

You need to think about a couple of things before you go on your first adventure. For one, you need to think about a vehicle that can withstand the stress of long road trips and unstable roads. If you already have a vehicle that you are comfortable with there are other perks you can give your vehicle that can improve your trip. Getting tires that are good enough for off roading is never a bad idea and the rest is up to how involved you are into the sport.

It’s like backpacking but you can bring more!

For backpacking it is normal to limit the stuff you bring with you to reduce weight. Overlanding is a bit more forgiving in the way that your backpack is as big as your car. If it's your first trip and you do not want to invest too heavily it may be a good idea to buy an inflatable travel mattress for your bed. A lot of the pictures you see of overlanding show trucks and jeeps with tents attached to them. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to start off small and slowly build up your perks at the same time that your interest in overlanding grows. Other things to think about bringing would be to bring cookware, a water purifier, a GPS, and a way to charge your phones. Now, it may sound comical, but it is never a bad idea to pack more socks than you actually need.

First Expedition

So let’s fast-forward to where you decide that you want to give overlanding a try. The first question you are going to ask is where to go first. Well here are a couple of places to think about.

Beautiful view of the Valley of the Gods trail in South East Utah.

The first trip is the Valley of the Gods trail that is located in southeastern Utah. This is an easy drive, but good for beginners. This hidden gem is skeptical that is hard to pass up.

Gorgeous view from the Smoky Mountain Highway in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah.

One more place to consider would be the Smoky Mountain Highway in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah. This road is about 78 miles long, but it is also a very remote place. Given that it is a very remote trip you need to do more research on this trip and go prepared.

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