Jobs fill your pockets, but adventure fills your soul. And when it comes to adventurous journeys, there’s nothing as thrilling as overlanding. A rather new concept for the Indian masses, overlanding is a one of a kind experience that can make you explore places like never before. If you are looking to expand your road trip experience, here is everything you need to know about overlanding.
What is Overlanding?
Overlanding refers to the activity of exploring new places, in a self-reliant fashion, generally on a mechanized off-road capable transport ranging from cycles to trucks. In an overlanding journey, the typical mode of lodging is a self-reliant camp that involves extended lengths of time and multiple destinations spanning across state and even country boundaries. Unlike a typical off-roading cruise, overlanding is a combination of not only off-roading but also camping and remote travelling. It involves making the most of your vehicle’s capabilities in a quest to unravel the unknown and indulge in the beauty the world has to offer.
What differentiates overlanding from a camping trip is the fact that an overlanding trip involves venturing out and living in unknown territories for days, weeks, months and even years at times. This is appealing for those that love travelling and living in the great outdoors. Even though it is a new concept, there is a growing interest in overlanding with many travel agencies and enthusiast groups coming up to go on overlanding exploration trips. However, unlike regular road trip, overlanding requires in depth planning and packing that will last you through the journey. This is because overlanding requires you to be equipped with specialized gear that comprises food, toiletries, backpacks, sleeping bags and other essentials.
What Cars are Suited for Overlanding
Since overlanding involves exploring new destinations for a long duration of time spanning over weeks, months and even years, it is crucial that your vehicle is ready for the journey you are about to take. At first glance, it would seem that would require a modified 4×4 SUV that features tents and fuel canisters bolted on. In reality, however, you can start overlanding with the car you have now.
Even if you have a regular SUV, crossover or even an MUV, overlanding can be achieved without any additional rigs or mods. However, there are a few things that you would definitely need. These include tyres in good condition of the correct size and make, a thoroughly serviced vehicle, a first aid kit onboard, and a fire extinguisher in case things go south. Additionally there is a whole list of things you would need when overlanding, but we will talk about that later.
With that said, for the best overlanding experience, a 4×4 drivetrain becomes an essential feature to have in your car. A 4×4 drivetrain can substantially expand your overlanding experiences allowing you to explore difficult terrain to reach even more remote places. Additionally, vehicles equipped with features such as traction control, ESP, high ground clearance, rugged construction, and differential locks will help keep you safe and comfortable on your overlanding journey.
The compact SUVs seem like they are perfectly suited for overlanding. They offer high ground clearance and some models even provide additional terrain modes to handle some light off-road routes. For a more unrestricted experience, 4×4 and AWD SUVs like the Jeep Compass and Mahindra XUV700 provide all the necessary off-roading features as well as the space to make overlanding comfortable. Nonetheless, everyone can experience the thrill of overlanding on their vehicle, the only thing you need is correct planning, and homework before embarking upon your journey.
How to Start Overlanding
Starting your overlanding journey is rather simple. All you need is proper planning, preparation and the right mentality to tackle the challenges on your journey and reap the fruits of your long journey.
The long duration of travel as well as venturing into difficult terrain involved in overlanding requires the right mindset. Since the key to this journey is self-reliance, be prepared to delve into full-on survival mode, and to handle everything that life might throw at you. From harsh weather conditions, to sudden repairs an overlanding journey can have its own ups and downs. If you think you will be greeted with shiny food joints here and there, think again. Because that’s not overlanding, that’s just a regular outing. Now that you’ve got the mindset, prepare for the journey.
Start by carefully planning out the destination based on the distance you desire to travel, days you would like to spend on the journey, weather conditions of the destination and other related criteria. Pick destinations based on your own comfort, and also as per your vehicle’s capabilities. If you’ve got a rugged off-roader in your garage you can be assured of a smooth journey even in the face of rain, rocky terrain, unexpected water bodies etc. With an off-roader by your side, the only thing to worry about is weather conditions and unexpected challenges.
On the other hand, if you are planning to travel in a vehicle that does not possess 4WD or off-roading capabilities, then pick destinations that do not have rocky/bumpy terrain on the way. Additionally, since vehicles that do not possess features like 4WD, differential locks etc. tend to get stuck on swampy roads, plan your journey at a time when there is no scope of rain.
Once the destination is decided, move on to double checking weather conditions, and once you are done, move on to planning your route. Make a list of all the petrol stations on the way, along with a list of stores from where you can buy essentials in case things go south. If possible, use a physical map to mark these locations to reduce dependence on your smartphone. Once the route is sorted, start by packing essentials that will make your journey comfortable. These 3 steps will help you become prepared for your overlanding journey.
Important Tips for Overlanding
If you are all set to become an overlanding explorer. Here are a few tips that will help the adventurer in you:
- Thoroughly prepare your vehicle: Needless to say, your vehicle will be your only partner in your overlanding journey. Thus, it is supremely crucial to thoroughly prepare your vehicle for the journey. This can be done by scheduling a comprehensive service including brakes, electronic components, engine, transmission and any other important components. Make sure your tyres have ample amount of life left, and that it is free from punctures and excessive wear and tear. Also make sure functions like headlights, wipers, door locks etc. are all working.
- Pack all the essentials: Probably one of the most important tips to remember, packing all the essentials is a crucial thing to do before embarking upon your overlanding journey. These include stuff like:
- Reliable GPS Navigation System: Since overlanding is all about exploring new places, a GPS onboard is a must. While many newer cars come with navigation systems installed, you can also use Google Maps on your smartphone. Make sure the navigation maps on your car are updated to the latest maps available and also make sure you download the map of your route on your phone as an added backup.
- A Camping Tent: Well, overlanding is all about spending your trip in the lap of nature. To make the most of your time outdoors, you will definitely need a camping tent onboard, so that you can spend the days/night without worrying about finding the right tree to sleep under.
- A Portable Cylinder and Stove: While instant snacks and packaged food will help you in the short run, you will always need some good cooked solid food if you truly need to enjoy an overlanding experience. This is why having a portable cylinder and stove is a must.
- Fuel Canisters and Fire Extinguisher: When you are deep amidst your exploration, fuel canisters will surely help you go the distance. Thus make sure to keep at least 3 fuel canisters fully filled for emergencies. Along with the canisters, also keep a fire extinguisher handy in case of fire. Only carry extra fuel canisters if you are travelling to a very remote area that is far from any kind of civilization.
- First Aid Kit: Needless to say, the first aid kit is a must have. Make sure your first aid kit includes plenty of bandages, disinfectants, general medicines and any other specific medications that you require.
- Other Important Stuff: While 5 of the most important things are mentioned above, other items like backpacks, water bottles, water filter, matchsticks, knives, extra batteries, umbrellas etc. are all equally important to have onboard.
- Keep your Route Handy: While starting your overlanding journey, it is quite helpful to have your planned route handy, preferably in a written form. This way you can be assured of going the right direction even if any GPS, Phone or Electronics fail. A physical map can be a very useful tool in this case, so make sure you are familiar with how to use a map as well as your route on the map.
- Do not go overboard: While exploration is fun, it is important to be within your capabilities. Do not go overboard and indulge in risks that you and your vehicle aren’t ready to take. Know your vehicle’s boundaries and do not attempt to do things you or your vehicle aren’t built to do. In case of emergencies, keep emergency numbers handy, tell your family members before going overlanding, and send them a copy of your planned route beforehand.
Overlanding is an interesting new travelling phenomenon that we recommend everyone should try at least once. It brings you closer to the companions you take along with you while also building a closer bond with your car. You will gain a greater appreciation for the destination and the journey, especially in India, which has hidden gems spread all over the country. Make your preparations and head out on your overlanding journey.
FAQ about Overlanding
Is Overlanding the same as Off-Roading?
Unlike simple off-roading, overlanding involves a combination of off-roading, camping, and remote travelling. A typical overlanding trip is planned for an extended period of time, ranging between a few days to a few months.
Can I indulge in overlanding with any vehicle?
Yes, overlanding is possible with any vehicle as long as your vehicle is capable of tackling the terrain of your journey. If your journey features regular stretches of rough terrain, you will need a specialized 4x4 vehicle.
What do I need for an overlanding journey?
Probably one of the most important tips to remember, packing all the essentials is a crucial thing to do before embarking upon your overlanding journey. These include stuff like: A strong GPS Navigation System A Camping Tent A Portable Cylinder and Stove: While instant snacks and packaged food will help you in the short run, you will always need some good cooked solid food if you truly need to enjoy an overlanding experience. This is why having a portable cylinder and stove is a must. Fuel Canisters and Fire Extinguisher First Aid Kit Other important items like backpacks, water bottles, water filters, matchsticks, knives, extra batteries, umbrellas etc. are all equally important to have onboard.
Can anyone indulge in overlanding?
Yes, anyone can indulge in overlanding. All you need to do is appropriately prepare for your journey with proper planning as well as maintenance of your car.
What cars are best suited for overlanding?
SUVs and MUVs are best suited as they offer the space and capability for an extended overlanding trip. 4x4 SUVs are especially suited as they have the added capability of a 4x4 system to tackle off-road challenges.
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