If you’re like me, you probably found out about Overlanding and immediately became fascinated with it. The combination of off-road travel and camping in remote locations really peaked my interest. Like you, I was also curious if the cost of Overlanding was worth it.
How much does Overlanding Cost? If you have a capable vehicle and a set of camping gear you can get started overlanding for $0. For most people starting out you can get a tent and camping gear for under $500. If you need a vehicle and camping gear expect to spend around $10,000 (includes vehicle) to get started.
If you’re ready to get started Overlanding, but still not sure the cost is worth it we’ve got you covered. In this article we’ll cover some of the equipment needed. Keep in mind, not all of it is required. Continue reading and a whole new realm of travel and exploration await you!
Table of Contents
- Benefits of Overlanding
- How Much Does Overlanding Cost?
- Rooftop Tents
- Recovery Gear
- Stoves and Grills
- Water Purification
- Portable Generator
- First Aid Kit
Benefits of Overlanding
Using your vehicle for camping isn’t a new thing. Since Ford rolled his Model-T off the lines, people have adapted the automobile for camping and leisure. The major difference with Overlanding is the enjoyment of the journey as opposed to the destination.
Overlanding vehicles, which come in all sizes and shapes, are outfitted with a few amenities like:
- Roof Top Tents
- Portable Toilets
- Camp Kitchens
Overland trips are unique in a way. For some, they are trips that can be made in an afternoon. For others, it’s weeks, months, or years long. Taking back roads and trail riding around the countryside is a huge part of the Overlanding experience. All the side missions and little adventures that make a road trip fun are clustered together to create a vacation that can be as much work as it is fun.
At the heart of Overlanding is a combination of a few outdoor activities. Combine them and you’re ready for fun adventure. If you were to break it down into two main activities you would be looking at:
However, there are other activities that lend themselves to Overlanding. Here’s a short list of activities that can be part of your overlanding adventure.
- Mountain Biking
Once you have all the gear you need and a destination in mind the sky’s the limit! An Overland adventure gives you the opportunity to find a hidden waterfall while camping out under the stars miles away from civilization. Overlanding is about the pioneering spirit. It gives people a glimpse of what it was like for the settlers to travel and discover their homelands.
How Much Does Overlanding Cost?
Is Overlanding expensive? When you start to look for an exact price when it comes to starting on your work-ation, you run into several speed bumps. The precise amount of money needed to have all that you would need for an overland adventure depends on several factors, like:
- Quality of gear
- Length of trip
- Supplies per person
- Repairs budget
When you begin to compile these numbers, it can become more than you would imagine. When you’re ready to start your overlanding adventures, a few items are essential. They are:
- Water purifier
- Portable generator
- Recovery Gear
- Fuel storage
- First-Aid kit
Below we’ll get into some of the details from the list above. This isn’t going to be an exhaustive list, but it will get you started.
As much as you are going to be on and off-road with your vehicle, you should get something that is up for the task. A rugged, reliable truck that can function in any environment is essential for a life of Overlanding. Also, you should find something with enough space for all the living you will be doing.
A few popular choices for Overlanding vehicles are:
The Toyota Tacoma is the go-to truck for Overlanding. Toyota has embraced the Overland feel with all the accessories and gadgets that are provided by aftermarket dealers. There are enough aftermarket accessories and parts available to rival Jeeps.
It’s a mid-sized truck that can handle the tightest trails. The smaller frame of the Tacoma could be a detriment to some, but building a shelf system in the bed with sleeping capabilities solves many of those problems.
This is every bit a rugged and dependable truck the Tundra, Toyota makes a quality product. An excellent used Tacoma can be found for around $10,000.
If the Toyota Tacoma is the go-to Truck for Overlanding, then the Toyota 4Runner is the go-to SUV for Overlanding. It’s built on the same frame as the Tacoma. You’ll find that it has all the aftermarket accessories you need to build out an awesome Overlanding rig. It can handle the tight twisting trails with ease and is known for it’s reliability.
Long lasting and rugged, you can find a great used 4Runner for about $10,000.
Jeep has a well known global reputation for making quality vehicles that will get you anywhere on the map. An investment of around $1000 – $20,000 will buy an excellent base for you to build off of. With several older options that are much cheaper and readily available.
The most significant upside to Jeep is the aftermarket parts industry. Any of the other pieces you might need to complete your overland package could be made by Jeep parts makers across the planet. The bad things about Jeeps are the limited storage and payload size. A small payload means that you might not be able to carry all the things you need for your trip.
Toyota Land Cruiser
The Land Cruiser is a full-sized beast of a truck that is an excellent base for an Overlanding home away from home. A bright spot about the Land Cruiser is that no matter where you are in the world, you will be able to find an aftermarket parts maker that will get you fixed up and back on the trail.
The Land Cruiser is best known for its ease moving through rough territory, the Land Cruiser is as equally infamous for having terrible gas mileage.
You can find a solid Land Cruiser to use for Overlanding for about $12,000.
Overall the Tundra is an excellent choice if you have several people or need to haul gear. It is a full-size truck, which means you can tow a trailer if required. This also means that you have an option for a canvas or hardshell top on the truck bed. It is popular in the Overlanding circle to have a canvas cover to allow for a more natural camping environment. A downside to the Tundra is the size. It is so large that it might not fit down some trails, and its weight means that it burns more fuel than average.
Dodge RAM 4×4
If you’re looking for a beast of a full sized truck for Overlanding then the Dodge Ram is your vehicle. The most popular Overlanding option in the Dodge Ram would be the RAM 2500 Power Wagon. Although they don’t make them any more, if you can find a diesel version you’ll be set.
They have a rugged look and plenty of aftermarket parts available for Overlanding. They won’t be as nimble on the trail as a Tacoma, but they more than make up for it with power and their large tire size. You can find a great used Dodge Ram for around $20,000.
One of the main things to remember when planning a trip is the dangerous parts of your trek. A great tool to have in your vehicle is a reliable GPS with satellite connection.
Built for every part of the journey, Overlander is a rugged, all-terrain navigator that can easily switch from turn-by-turn directions for on-road navigation to topography maps for off-grid guidance in North and South America.
The Garmin Overlander is the best the industry has to offer. It comes with maps of every 4×4 trail in the Americas and pre-planned routes with scenic views and locations as well.
It has a pretty steep price point, and that won’t cover for the satellite hook-up fee, which can vary on location. If you want the top-of-the-line this is your GPS.
Having a satellite option is one of the most critical emergency options available to the Overlanding crowd. It allows you to send a message if there is trouble and also allows your family to follow your journey in real-time.
The primary appeal to Overlanding is sleeping out under the stars or inside the cozy confines of your vehicle. When you are out in the elements, it is best to have something over your head to protect you from. The most popular choice for Overlanders is a roof top tent. For a quality Roof Top Tent expect to pay anywhere from $800-$3000 depending on the size and company.
Be warned, the most expensive part of an Overlanders gear, after the vehicle, comes in the tents. A few great picks for Roof Top Tents are:
Smittybilt Overland Roof Top Tent
- Standard size tent (sleeps 2-3) with high-density 92" x 55" foam double/full mattress and 661 lb. max load
- 600D heavy-duty waterproof top and rain fly; sunroof; side windows with mosquito netting; anodized aluminum tent frame poles; telescopic ladder; interior LED strips
- Easy to set up and take down; heavy duty PVC cover keeps tent dry and free from UV rays when not in use
- Smittybilt Tent Annex with removeable floor can be attached with heavy duty zippers for privacy
- Mounting brackets included
The Smittybilt Overland Roof Top Tent is great if you are looking for a solid Roof Top Tent on a budget. Smittybilt is a well know brand in the offroad and overlanding community and they make a quality product at a great price.
The Smittybilt Overland Roof Top Tent sleeps 2-3 people and has a 600D heavy-duty waterproof top. It also includes a rainfly for those trips when you know you’ll be expecting rain overnight.
Front Runner Roof Top Tent
One of the most significant drawbacks of having a heavy box placed on top of your car or truck is the fall-off in gas mileage. The Front Runner Roof Top Tent is one of the lightest options of the litter.
It weighs less than 110lbs, and the tent walls and ceiling are made from a heavy-duty cloth that is water-resistant and windproof. A great thing about this one is how easy it is to take on and off. All you need to do is unlock a few clamps, and it will come right off.
Thule Tepui Ruggedized Autana Roof Top Tent
Thule Tepui Ruggedized Autana is massive. It is the heaviest of the bunch. Installation recommends that it never leaves the top of your car once it is placed. It will kill your gas mileage, but man is it a beautiful tent.
It folds out to make a large sleeping area with enough room for storage. Another big draw of this model is the zip-off canopy. If you are in a more arid environment, you can remove the double-stitched ruggedized walls and replace them with a softer fabric top.
IKamper Skycamp 2.0
The clamshell design of the Skycamp 2.0 is its most prominent attribute. The shell opens to create a decent pitch of a roof. Inside the tent is enough room for a mattress and four people to sleep. The frame is light and easy to latch onto the roof rack. The fabric is a double-stitched water-resistant material that is breezy and stylish.
ARB Simpson III
Better known as a colder climate tent, the ARB Simpson III is quite the choice for your winter excursions. The unit is so easy to install that a person could do it on their own. Once the rain fly is attached, this model is the perfect choice for your ice fishing trip.
Recovery gear is one of those things that you just can’t overlook if you’re going on an overlanding adventure. Inevitably, you will come across some terrain that will challenge you and your vehicle. Take it from experience, you don’t want to get stuck on the way to your destination without some basic recovery gear. Here are the best pieces to get you started.
A tow strap is a critical piece of recovery gear. If you end up stuck on the trail and need someone to pull you out, you’re going to need one of these. Don’t make the mistake of thinking someone else will have one.
The Rhino USA Tow Strap comes in a 3″ x 30ft strap which will give you plenty of strength and length to help get you out of a sticky situation.
If you have a tow strap you’re going to need some D-Rings to connect your strap to your vehicle. Most common is a hitch recovery point attachment. You can get d-rings for recovering the front of your vehicle, but you’ll need to make sure that you have a place to connect them.
Traction boards can get you out of some tricky situations. They great when run into some slick conditions on the trail and you need a little more traction. You can also stack them up and use them to bridge gaps on the trail.
The X-Bull traction boards are a good choice if you’re just starting out. They may not last as long as the MaxTrax Boards but they are about 1/3 the cost. You might not use them on every trip out, but when you need them they sure come in handy
The Bond Mini D Handle Shovel is the perfect sized for off-road or overland use. Designed for efficient moving and lifting with a strong, lightweight fiberglass handle, rust resistant powder coat paint, and a durable heat treated head.
Seems pretty basic, right? There may be times when a little digging is required to get your tire out of some deep mud. Any shovel will work. You can use a shovel that you have at the house, but if you’re looking or something a little more compact the [insert product] is a solid choice for a reasonable price.
Stoves and Grills
You gotta eat right? Making food while on an Overlanding trip is a necessity. While you are on your trek, it would be a shame to have a grill or stove that wasn’t capable of everything you needed it for. Expect to pay anywhere from $80-$250 for a portable grill or stove.
Look for the number of burners or sizes to fulfill your needs. It is best to go with a gas grill. It cools faster and is easier to set up and store. The list that follows is a toe-dip into the world of cooking on an Overland adventure.
Weber Q Series Portable Grill
The Weber Q1200 is made of cast aluminum and has a single burner with stainless steel burner tubes. The 280 square inch cooking surface is enough to fit in all the essentials when preparing food on the trail.
Weber is also an excellent pick due to its relatively lightweight. It comes in at only 42lbs. The domed lid on this model can be seen as a setback. The bulk, which makes for easier cooking, also makes for harder storage.
Coleman Classic Propane Stove
Cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner on a dependable stove that packs up easily with the Coleman Classic Propane Gas Camping Stove. The 2 burners put out 20,000 total BTUs of grilling power and are shielded from the wind by adjustable wind-blocking panels.
Coleman is a standard name in the camping equipment game. This Coleman classic 2 burner propane stove is affordable and doesn’t take up a lot of space. It an exceptional choice for overlanding and camping in general. I have one that’s about 20 years old and still going strong. With the Weber Q1200 grill it makes a great pair.
The Cuisinart Petit is easy to use and set up. The legs extend to create a level area for the 140 square inch cooking surface. That’s enough for a family of four each to have two burgers or pieces of chicken.
At just under 14lbs, the Petit measures up to its name. The foldable compact size of the Cuisinart makes it a great addition to any camping gear that has limited space.
It’s most likely that you’ll bring your water with you. If you are looking for options for storage check out our article on water storage for overlanding. However, there is a chance that you will have to source your water. You’ll want to be prepared.
There are several kinds of purifiers, but with Overlanding you need to source large amounts of water. Sure, the occasional drinking straw or bottle purifier could work, but for a long trip, you need something to clean gallons of water.
LifeStraw Flex Gravity Fed Water Filter
The LifeStraw Flex can be used in 5 ways – as a personal straw filter, with the included soft bottle, as an in-line filter with most hydration packs, with a gravity system, or simply attached to most disposable water bottles.
The creators of the LifeStraw make one of the best water filters on the market. The LifeStraw Flex uses gravity to filter pollutants via a tiny straw at the end of a long hose. It cleans water with 99% efficiency; that’s cleaner than the water that comes out of your faucet by a long shot.
What makes the Gravity Bag so unique is that it can be used to clean water in multiple ways. Not only can you hang it and clean your cooking and bathing water, but you can also remove the straw and use it clean with your bottle or directly from the stream.
Platypus GravityWorks 4.0
Platypus GravityWorks water filters make it effortless to get clean water. Fill the reservoir and let gravity filter the water for you. This water filter allows you to collect water from anywhere and produces 1.75 Liters of clean water per minute.
The Platypus GravityWorks 4.0 uses its dual bag system and gravity to clean water at a rate of 1.75L per minute. The operation is simple. All you need to do is fill the dirty water bag and hang it somewhere. Gravity will feed the water into a filter and down into the clean water bag. Once in the new bag, you can use the water for whatever need you may have. When not in use, the packs can be condensed down to a size comparable to a large water bottle.
Survivor Filter Pro
The Survivor Filter PRO model looks like it would be complicated, but it is simple to use and powerful. It cleans in three stages and produces what is called Log 5 water. That means that over 99% of bacteria can be removed. The best buying point for this model is that it can be used to clean water as needed. You can stick the tube directly into a water source and clean water on the spot. That is useful in so many ways in the Overlanding world that it makes the Survivor worth its weight in gold.
A typical generator is used to power a building that has lost its power due to an unexpected event or storm. For the purposes of Overlanding, they are used to power your entire site from cooking to leisure. A smaller, quieter generator will do the job. Below are a few option to choose from.
Jackery Portable Power Station
A versatile outdoor power supply featuring standard PURE SINE WAVE AC outlet this Jackery Explorer 500 portable power station provides stable power to a wide range of AC-relied devices from TVs, projectors to small blenders, a pellet smoker, etc. which rated under 500 watt(surge 1000W).
Jackery is a California company that specializes in green technology geared towards camping and outdoors. Zero emissions and a renewable power source is the way to go. During the day, while you drive the generator charges. At night when you begin to make your dinner, the lights and power are ready to help out. A 500W portable generator is capable of powering everything from TVs to pellet smokers.
A-iPower Ultra Quiet
When it says the A-iPower Ultra Quiet, 58 decibels, it means quiet. The A-iPower comes in a small but powerful package with energy compliance that meets requirements in all the United States. Being less than two feet high and deep, it weighs just under 50 lbs, making it small and portable, an Overlanders dream.
Pulsar 2000w Gas Powered Generator
When it comes to running a generator in tandem, the Pulsar 2000W is one of the best. At only 59 decibels, it is super quiet and weighs only 47lbs. It can produce enough power off of one charge to last for 6 hours of operation. One of its most attractive traits is the fact that Pulsar parts can be attained at almost any parts store in the United States. If you are on an Overland adventure in the States, there isn’t a better part to need than a Pulsar.
First Aid Kit
The remoteness of Overlanding means that you could be in a situation to have to treat an injury by yourself. The most essential items that you need will be available in a kit that is easily found on Amazon or in a local sporting goods store. You should choose a package based on your most common trips.
If you are seeking a more permanent solution, it would be better to build one yourself as needed. A few choices for an excellent first aid kit are below.
Surviveware Small First Aid Kit
The Surviveware Small First Aid Kit is made of a double woven polyester that can hold up to almost any situation. The zippers have been extremely well tested and can go for more than 1000 zips, and there is even a built-in seam that cuts down on zipper sticking. The inner pockets are excellent for organization and storage, and there is also a spot for your own medications and remedies.
Everlit 250 Piece IFAK Survival Kit
Customized by U.S military veterans and tested by EX- Army Sergent. Designed to have you well-prepared in an emergency situation. The kit combines 241 PCS First Aid Supply with Survival Gear into an EDC emergency kit
An IFAK is an item that every soldier in a combat zone knows. It is a tiny pouch filled with things that are essential in a casualty environment. As with most things that are used by the military, it has its roots in camping. The Everlit IFAK 250 has all the items you need for a trauma or emergency situation. The small pack is made of nylon and weighs less than two pounds fully packed.
Bratpacker Mini First Aid Kit
If you’re looking for simplicity the Bratpacker Mini First Aid Kit is what you’re looking for. The items contained in each pack are labeled right on the outside of the bag in huge readable letters. The people at Bratpacker pride themselves on knowing what it takes to travel extensively. When it comes to Overlanding, you need a road-tested kit, and Bratpacker delivers.
Everlit Survival Trauma Kit
An upgraded version of the IFAK, the Everlit Survival Trauma Kit comes with more medicine and a handy winding tourniquet. Along with all those other additions, there are several splints and a gigantic book that can help in most emergency situations. Enclosed is also a bandage that can be applied to a sucking chest wound. This pack has all the little bells and whistles that you might need.
You would think that all this other stuff would have you ready to tear out on your Overland adventure, but you would be wrong. One of the most often overlooked parts of any camping set up is the communications. These range from handheld radios all the way to satellite phones that can receive a call from anywhere on the planet.
Two Way Radio(GMRS)
We have all seen the standard handheld walkie-talkie. The popular comms device was at one time, the cutting edge of communications. What you have are two, sometimes up to ten, tiny handheld comms devices that can be tuned to the same frequency.
These have a short-range, but are great is you have someone guiding you over or around an obstacle on the trail. Another thing that you should look for is a rechargeable set. Having batteries fail in an emergency situation is the thing of Overlanding nightmares.
CB radios are still a big part of travel communications and emergency signaling. If you need more range than a standard set of walkies, CB is the way to go. It is easy to install and gets a signal from land-based towers across the country.
What makes a CB such a viable option is the stability of the signal. As long as you have a stable platform and long enough antenna, you should be able to get a message out to anyone in the vicinity.
HAM radio requires a bit more training and preparation than any of the other options. You must be certified to operate a Ham radio. For the most part you’ll be able to get a way with a CB Radio, but there are some groups that like to ride with HAMs.
With ham radio, you have more opportunities for communication for help or with your group. Their power and bandwidth will give you better signal reach that CB’s or GMRS.
BaoFeng BF-F8HP has a great range and feature set. You'll get a solid batter life as well. It's important to keep in mind that you'll need a valid HAM radio license if you want to use this.
The satellite messenger industry is just getting off the ground, but they have some improvements that will make you stop and look. A sat messenger connects to the same satellites as sat phones and gives you the option to send and receive text messages. You could communicate with your family and friends in real-time as you continue on your journey.
Small, rugged, lightweight satellite communicator enables two way text messaging using the 100 percentage global Iridium network. You'll need a satellite subscription, but it's one of those things if you need it, then you really need it.
Is Overlanding Worth the Price? The most rewarding benefit of Overlanding is the savings. While gathering the equipment you need for a full-on safari of the Americas seems like a lot of money, the gear you buy can last a lifetime and most come from renewable resources.
Once you have a place to sleep all you need is money for fuel and food. If you want to live off the land that is also an option. And there are numerous campgrounds that are close proximity to all sorts of adventures like hiking, biking, and fishing.