Overlanding: An overview of what it is and what makes it cool

A trend known as overlanding that has gained a lot of traction in the last few years has been sweeping across Europe. Outdoor and bushcraft enthusiasts have especially gravitated to this vehicle-based exploration in recent years. And the popularity of overlanding has not gone overlooked by the market, either. An entire industry has been created by brands and automakers with overlanding-focused products and services. But what exactly is overlanding and what gear is necessary? That’s what we will attempt to explain in this post.

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What is overlanding?

As was already mentioned, overlanding is typically vehicle-based exploration, but for more complete definition, we can refer to Wikipedia, which sums it up pretty well:

“Overlanding is self-reliant overland travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal. Typically, but not exclusively, it is accomplished with mechanized off-road capable transport (from bicycles to trucks) where the principal form of lodging is camping, often lasting for extended lengths of time (months to years) and spanning international boundaries.”

A Brief History of Overlanding

According to Motortrend, the origins of overlanding date back to the early 1900s in Australia when the country first began to establish routes for long-distance travelling on the continent.

Overlanding in those days was far from considered a pastime activity, as it is thought of today. It was primarily an activity related to work. Farmers and ranchers used the newly created routes for trading, often walking livestock to the nearest market for trading. It wasn’t until decades later in the 1940s that it became an outdoor recreation activity, inspired by Leonard Beadell, a road builder, explorer and surveyor.

How does overlanding differ from camping?

If we were to describe overlanding in only a few words, we’d say it is a combination of remote travel, off-roading and camping. Some might say that it sounds like an extended camping trip or road trip, but the real difference is that the destination is not necessarily the goal. The goal is the adventure along the way. There may not even be a destination. Additionally, the trip may go on for an indefinite amount of time, up to years in some cases. For those that are a bit tired of living in the digital age, an indefinite amount of time to live off-the-grid and go on an adventure can be an enticing prospect.

Another area in which overlanding differs from a camping trip or off-roading is that it tends to involve travelling to remote areas of the world, which are not well documented and have been sparsely explored previously. Some other characteristics that apply to overlanding are self-reliance, adventure, survival, and discovery.

Overlanding Vehicles and Gear

Even if a weekend trip overcoming difficult hiking trails and camping alone in the woods can be considered a daunting and rigorous activity, overlanding goes far beyond that. To truly undertake overlanding, one must take themselves off the grid and march into the unknown, doing so for weeks, months or even years in some cases. It can be thought of as a quest in search of something greater, something similar to the Australian Aboriginal rite of passage known as the walkabout.

Having said that, there are any number of vehicle types that one could choose from to use for overlanding. Sport utility vehicles, trucks, vans and motorcycles are just a few typical vehicles. Of course, the vehicle is simply a means to an end. It is the tool that helps you reach your destination, even if you don’t actually know where that destination will end up. It is the conduit that allows you to bring yourself closer to the wilderness.

In addition to your vehicle, one must be properly equipped during an overlanding trip. One must pack plenty of water, first aid materials, food, tools, spare tires, automotive repair tools, and much more. As far as the camping portion goes, we have a checklist of camping and road trip essential gear that you can check out. Given that one of the central themes related to overlanding is survival, hunting is a likely related activity. We also have a good checklist for hunting you should browse if you are interested in overlanding.


As you may be able to glean from the above, overlanding is not for the faint of heart. This is the real deal. One will need to have proper training and knowhow in many areas as well as the proper gear to be able to survive in the middle of nowhere.

One item to consider having handy is a headlamp or a hand-held torch. It can get quite dark out there away from the bright lights of the city and there are any number of scenarios where a headlamp or torch can come in handy. One of the classics is the bathroom trip at night. Out in the wilderness there are no toilets, thus you’ll have to venture out into the dark of night, fumbling and bumbling about. This is when a headlamp or a flashlight can especially come in handy. Peli has a number of different headlamp and torch options, so check them out before you go out on your next outdoor adventure empty handed.

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Additionally, small personal items may need some kind of protection. It can get wet, dirty, dusty and possibly even snowy out there in the great outdoors, thus your best bet to keep all of these personal items protected is an IP68 rated Peli Ruck Case.

The RUCK case is the ultimate personal utility case for your personal gear that is crushproof, dustproof, watertight and adventure proof. These ultimate personal utility cases are an innovative and strategic storage solution designed by Peli's engineering team to help the user protect their small electronics, phones, wallets, keys and tools from external elements with total peace-of-mind while on outdoor trips, working under extreme conditions or simply during poor weather conditions.

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