What is Overlanding (And 5 Reasons to Try It)

Pickup truck with trailer overlanding on a dirt path surrounded by forests.

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You may or may not have heard of the word “overlanding” before. It’s a relatively new term to describe a niche activity and community of explorers that grew in popularity throughout the 2020 pandemic. Adventurers sought out a safe, low-contact way to travel and explore the world during this time, and for many, it stuck. Overlanding originated as a way to survey land and transport livestock “over land” in the “Land Down Under.” So, what is overlanding and why is it so popular?

What is Overlanding, and Why is it So Popular?

Overlanding involves traversing unpaved lands via an off-road vehicle. Part of the appeal is the sense of adventure and self-reliance it evokes, providing the ability to go anywhere.

What is the Difference Between Camping and Overlanding?

Camping and overlanding certainly have their overlaps, but some key differences set them apart. They’re both about covering ground and exploring new places, but how much of that ground can be covered varies by activity. Hiking is about traversing land on foot, usually where a trail has been paved. When overlanding, you’ll cover much more ground and explore more territory since you’ll be in a four-wheeler. You’ll also be traveling through unpaved, uncharted lands instead of trails. There are very few restrictions with where you can overland because there are no trails to follow and few boundaries in the terrains you can navigate.

Why You Should Try Overlanding

Crimson red pickup truck for overlanding with roof rack and cargo

There are many reasons to pick up a new sport, hobby, or activity- that’s where the spice of life is. New experiences stimulate one’s brain and promote flexible thinking, likely helping to keep us young. There are so many benefits to reap from the new experiences of overlanding.

1.      A Sense of Adventure

If you’re someone who frequently and frenetically types into your search bar “travel ideas for couples” and “places to visit in the USA,” you might be an excellent candidate for overlanding. Overlanding practices allow travelers to explore remote destinations and paths untraveled. This includes dried lake beds, muddy bogs, boulders, beaches, and more. Like most great adventures, an overlanding outing requires lots of preparation and equipment. Long-distance off-roaders must equip themselves with essential overlanding gear, like off-road bumpers, communications devices, and winches, to get unstuck from tough areas. With overlanding, the travel is not just a way to get from point A to point B, it’s part of the adventure.

2.      The Benefits of Being in Nature

Overlanding involves trekking through different outdoor locations. This kind of activity allows for stops and visits to any destination you can get to, whether it’s the beautiful canyons of Moab, Utah, or the sunset along the beachs of the Outer Banks. You can experience the outdoors during these stops, but if you ride open-air style with a Bimini top, you can embrace the outdoors all throughout your travels. There are so many benefits to reap from being in nature, including mood elevation, decreased blood pressure, and positive effects on cardiovascular health, to name a few. With an overlanding tent or trailer, you can do more than just pass through. Instead, you can camp out and experience what it’s like to live among these breathtaking environments. The physical and mental effects of time spent outdoors are powerful. When pondering ‘what is overlanding and why is it so popular?’, nature is a key part of the answer.

3.      The Achievement of Overcoming Obstacles

Like climbers who scale Mount Everest or take on the world’s hardest hikes, overlanding is a challenge. It takes a great deal of preparation, thought, and planning to organize an overlanding trip. There are many situations you need to be prepared for in the wild, distant from civilization. Many of the skills needed to navigate and overcome physical obstacles require the proper know-how, the ability to operate overlanding gear, and problem-solving abilities. Overlanding isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes some grit to get out there and do it, so when you do, it’s no small feat! The sense of achievement you feel after doing something difficult is a satisfying, prideful moment you’ll remember forever. These types of novel experiences can also give you a new perspective and change the way you think. The great thing about the challenge of outdoor pursuits like overlanding is that they break up our everyday routines and put things into perspective. If you can get your four-ton vehicle out of a 6-foot deep ditch of mud and sludge, your morning commute down the highway won’t seem so hard. Gaining a new set of skills is a great way to build confidence and invest in one’s self, especially when it’s as badass as overlanding!

4.      Opportunities to See New Places

Of course one of the main reasons to hop in a Jeep and drive miles into barren, rocky desert is to see new sights! Of all the travel ideas to consider, overlanding allows you to go anywhere. Many overlanding travel spots are, by no coincidence, places you can only get to by overlanding. They’re often remote and far removed, devoid of any roads or trails. In these remote spots, you’ll observe breathtaking views and largely undisturbed natural habitats, priming you for spectacular wildlife sightings. Overlanding unlocks rare opportunities and novel experiences to treasure for years to come. (You might acquire some pretty cool stories to tell after your first outing!)

5.      Making Memories with Your Favorite People (Or New People!)

Let’s revisit our initial question. What is overlanding, and why is it so popular? One of the main reasons that really draws people into the activity is the human element. Overlanding can be a fun, memorable trip with the whole family or your closest friends. The shared experiences of discovery, overcoming challenges, and exhilarating adventures can bring people closer together than ever. When you’re out in the wilderness, there are very few distractions in the form of phones, television, and other electronics. This type of environment fosters bonding and strengthens human connections. Even if you’re traveling solo, you might come across other travelers with the same travel ideas as you. A greater amount of people in the community can be found venturing to those highly sought-after overlanding hot spots. Because they share the same wanderlust and admiration for nature, you might meet some pretty cool people on the rocks. You never know who could turn into life-long travel buddies or fond memories!

Ready to Take The Leap? Overlanding Gear Starter Kit:

If you still find yourself wondering, “What is overlanding, and why is it so popular?” read forward to find out more. There are so many places to visit in the USA, and overlanding is one of the best ways to do it. If you’re ready to take the leap, there are a few things every vehicle will need to get started. This overlanding gear starter kit is for beginners who want to try overlanding but aren’t necessarily going to invest in the highest-end gear for life-long overlanding. Instead, this starter kit aims to balance affordability with quality where it matters, to provide safety.

A Reliable Winch

Part of overlanding involves the challenge of being self-reliant. This means being equipped for self-recovery when you inevitably get stuck between a rock and a hard place. (It’s all part of the sport!) Winches are easily the most vital piece of overlanding gear you can acquire.

Two-Way Communication Device

Rugged radio two-way radio for overlanding

While it’s satisfying to connect, having an emergency communication device provides peace of mind. When miles away from civilization, a two-way radio can be a lifesaver (literally).

Cell Phone Booster for Trucks, Jeeps, & SUVs

A good cell phone booster would be highly useful for overlanders and outdoor explorers of any kind. The best cell phone boosters for rural areas allow for communication with loved ones back home, or with travel buddies while you’re apart. These nifty and compact little gadgets are a godsend out in the wild, especially on longer expeditions.

A Tire Deflator with A Sealing Kit

These helpful devices let the air out of your tires quickly for a better ability to traverse sandy or muddy grounds. Many products contain a sealing kit for sealing punctures in a pinch. 

A Trusted Air Compressor

Having an air compressor on hand far out in the wilderness will allow you to inflate your tires if the need arises. When crawling over jagged rocks and tree remnants, a tire can easily get roughed up.

Recovery Jack

With a recovery jack, you can lift and lower your vehicle safely if it gets stuck. This crucial piece of overlanding gear can aid you in setting up your winch to recover from challenging situations.

First Aid Kit Essentials

Performance tool handyman first aid kit for camping and overlanding

Injuries and accidents can happen during travel. If you’re in a remote place, you’ll need to equip your vehicle with a First Aid Kit to prepare and stay safe.

The Best Portable Power Station for Camping & Overlanding

Woman sitting down enjoying electronics in nature using a portable power station while overlanding

When going overlanding or “car camping,” you’ll need to bring many necessities, like the ones listed above. You may also want to bring some luxuries, like a portable fridge/freezer, speakers, or portable grills. All of these appliances and gadgets require power to run, so a portable power station is something every serious overlander needs.

Rooftop Tent

Crimson red pickup truck with rooftop tent for overlanding in the woods.

If your 4×4 isn’t tricked out with DIY custom sleeping quarters, worry not! Rooftop tents are all the rage in the world of overlanding. With a lightweight build and an easy setup, you can enjoy a comfortable slumber anywhere you decide. There’s nothing like an amazing night’s sleep to fuel tomorrow’s adventure.

Portable Folding Chairs

Lippert outdoor portable camping table and chair set

Even though some call it “car camping,” the last thing you’ll want to do in these lush outdoor sites is stay in the car all day. Enjoy time sitting in the sunlight and breathing in fresh air with ultra comfortable and portable camp chairs! With this collapsible table and chair set, you can relax during a meal and bask in the glory of the great outdoors.

Start Your Overlanding Journey

“What is overlanding and why is it so popular?” you ask. It’s easy to see why overlanding is so popular these days. Enjoy the flexibility and independence of self-reliant solo travel, or experience the adventure of a lifetime with loved ones. Gain new experiences that will turn into old, cherished memories. Overlanding offers something for everyone, so assemble your starter kit and get ready to roll! 

Level Up Your Vehicle!

At Omni Garage, we make it our mission to level up your vehicle to its highest potential at the lowest price. Whether traveling to a job or traversing terrain, we’re all about getting you where you need to go.