5 Overland Camping Necessities for the Off-Road Enthusiast


For the passionate off-road enthusiast, overland camping necessities prevent incidents that could arise should you not be prepared. These excursions, or livelihood for some folks like @simplylesa, offer an unparalleled adventure that combines the thrill of off-roading with the freedom of camping in the great outdoors, and sometimes without any public utilities for comfort (a.k.a. boondocking). To make the most of your overlanding experience, it's essential to be prepared with the right gear and the following overland camping necessities. In this article, we will explore the key items that every off-road enthusiast should consider when venturing into the wild and concerned about overland camping necessities.

Geo Tracker with overland camping necessities Jerry Can, Farm Jack, Roof Rack

For the record, overland camping, or overlanding, does not mean you need to have a tent over top of your vehicle. That setup does not work for me. When I need to drive away from my camp on errands or for exploration, I do not want to pack up everything on my roof and go. Then I would have to set it all back up again when I return. In my situations, a roof top tent (RTT) is poor planning. I'm not knocking it. An RTT might work for some folks, but I'm too mobile and impatient for constant set up and tear down.

Top 5 Overland Camping Necessities

This top five list is a very quick overview. For extrapolation, read on after this list.

  1. Reliable Off-Road Vehicle: The foundation of a successful overland camping trip is a reliable and capable off-road vehicle.
  2. Essential Camping Gear: When it comes to camping, having the right gear is crucial.
  3. Reliable Communication Equipment: Communication is vital for directions and emergencies.
  4. Well-Stocked Camping Kitchen: You need to stay hydrated and transport food and keep it fresh, prepare and cook those items, and eat. Consider the minimal cooking utensils, pots and pans, a cooler or fridge, and essential food and water supplies.
  5. Recovery and Safety Gear: Prepare for unexpected traction or clearing challenges and break downs by carrying recovery and safety gear and some tools (maybe spare parts). Know how to use it all.

Reliable Off-Road Capable Vehicle

The foundation of successful overland camping necessitates some off-road travel, even if only venturing off the road to access a suitable site. For this, and the obstacle encounters of the unknown, a reliable and capable on and off-road vehicle is paramount. Choose a vehicle that is designed to handle off-roading and can handle the rugged terrains, and customize it, because one never knows what lies ahead and what will be encountered. Ensure that the offroad vehicle is properly maintained, equipped with suitable tires, and has the necessary modifications to enhance its off-road capabilities and camping, maybe even survival. A sturdy and dependable vehicle is your gateway to remote camping destinations. It doesn't have to be a recent or new model. It does minimally need to be rugged and durable, and provide ground clearance and traction, and it should be road worthy also (street legal).

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Essential Camp Gear

Maybe you can be comfy sleeping in your actual overlanding truck, but for most of us minitruck owners, the second most important consideration is essential camp gear other than the truck or car. Overland camping necessities might include either a canopy (straight or 270 degree), that may or may not have side wall attachments; a tent, (ground or RTT); or an off road capable trailer. Traveling light and compact, I recommend a high-quality tent that is durable, weatherproof, and it would help for you to get one that is easy to set up (maybe in the dark). Consider the size and outdoor experience of your party and choose: a sleeping situation that accommodates everyone and their minimalistic indoor gear comfortably; sleeping bags qualified for the temperatures in which you expect to sleep; sleeping pads thick enough to protect against rocks and roots; paracord for crap you will likely have to tie down; a hatchet, axe, knife, or machete might be handy for fire wood or vehicle extractions; personal care and toiletries i.e. TP for bungholio. Knowing one's limits and tolerances will determine if insect repellent and sun protection items are among the other essentials that will make your camping experience comfortable and enjoyable. Don't omit any medications that you or fellow travelers in your party will need while away.

Communication System

When exploring remote areas, communication is vital for directions, safety and peace of mind. Invest in a reliable communication device, such as a satellite phone or a two-way radio, to stay connected in areas with limited or no cell phone coverage. You'll probably need longer range than walkie talkies, FRS or GMRS radios, and a cell phone booster will not suffice if there isn't a cell tower to boost. Ensure that you can reach out for help in case of emergencies or stay in touch with your fellow travelers, if traveling in a caravan or raid.

Some folks consider the conveyance of their travel story as communication too, so don't forget to pack the least amount of equipment you use to tell your stories. I have my celly, my lappy, a digital video cam, a GoPro, various GoPro attachment brackets, a tripod, a smelfie stick. All of that, except the laptop, goes into a shoebox sized cam box (like Tupperware). I use a small Jackery for charging and I re-up it whenever it accompanies me to any semblance of civilization. If and when I run it and all rechargeables dry, I'm okay with that. I would like to document the experience, so I would make a trip into civilization to charge at least the cellphone if it came to that, and that is all I had time for.

Some overland camping necessities! Hey, I work online, so...

Kitchen Supplies

Preparing gourmet meals isn't necessary for sustenance, but good food while camping is part of the joy. For meal preparation, you'll be happier if you have an aptly-stocked camp kitchen that minimally includes a means of cooking, whether you'll lay a grate over a fire, ignite a burner, or fire up a camp stove, and your eating utensils, a paring knife, a pot, a cooler or fridge, and essential food supplies. Opt for durable and compact cooking equipment that is light weight, easy to clean and pack conservatively. It's when you start adding many little things that do not take any space, that you suddenly see you have wasted a lot of space. Don't forget to carry ample water for cooking, drinking, and cleaning purposes, especially if you're venturing into areas with limited clean water sources. Don't trust outdoor water supplies, you'll have to boil and sometimes treat found water.

Wrangler tailgate cooking setup
@hydroheep Wrangler tailgate cooking - boondocking setup

Recovery and Safety Gear

Off-roading can sometimes come with unexpected obstacles and challenges. Prepare for such situations by carrying recovery and safety gear. Include a reliable winch or come-along (farm jack), recovery straps, tire repair kit, a bottle jack, and your axe or a shovel to handle potential vehicle recovery situations. Additionally, pack a reserve container of fuel, comprehensive first aid kit (I hope you never need it), a fire extinguisher, a flashlight, and extra batteries. Familiarize yourself with basic off-road recovery techniques and safety protocols to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

boondocking with overland camping necessities at Big Bend Park, TX

Off-road enthusiasts embarking on an overland camping adventure can enjoy an extraordinary experience, or survive a disaster. Minimalism depends upon a balance of how much you can carry, and what you'll actually need to cover the fun that's in store. By equipping yourself with the right gear and overland camping necessities, you'll be prepared to explore remote destinations and create unforgettable memories in the great outdoors. Please be prepared for the adventure with a capable off-road vehicle and the situations that might rise up against that vehicle, and pack your essential survival stuff.

Happy travels, and DO NOT LITTER!

What have I left out?

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