Top 5 Qualities of the Best Overland Vehicles

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what is overlanding?

First things first, let’s define “overlanding” for the purpose of this write up. By our account, overlanding is the ability to drive through nearly any terrain and live out of a vehicle off-grid for extended periods of time. By this account overlanding can prove to be rather challenging for many, but as those who pour their hearts and minds into the lifestyle know, it is in finding the balance of capable and comfortable that we unlock true overlanding excellence. Below we share the top five things you need to find balance in your vehicle and live the life you’ve always dreamed of.

  1. Off-road capable & On-road comfortable
  2. Big enough to live in, small enough to get you there
  3. Easy to repair & find parts
  4. Ability to remain independent & off-grid
  5. Fun-ability

 

1. Offroad Capable & On-Road Comfortable

Many overlanders overlook one tiny detail. 95% of their travel is spent choogling down the backs of blacktop snakes as they weave their way through the world. So, it’s no understatement to say that if you want to enjoy your offroad travels, making sure you can enjoy your on-road travels is pretty important.

4x4 Platform & Self-Recovery

Whether your 6 miles or 600 miles from town, being able to get over, out, and on with it is about as important as it gets. We only recommend 4×4 platforms that are outfitted aftermarket suspension and body reinforcements matched with a heavy-duty winch and over-built recovery points for extended overland travel. 

Reduced Vibration & Road Noise

Vibration and road noise add up quickly when your spending hours driving a rig outfitted with aggressive tires and additional weight and drag. We recommend taking this into account when you’re planning your overland vehicle and invest in sound-deadening insulation. 

Easy To Drive

Keeping your tire size within reason and minimizing your suspension lift are straightforward practices to ensure good drivability. Ensuring your suspension is carefully tuned to balance your vehicles loaded and unloaded weights is also key in making your vehicle easy to drive. If your suspension is too soft or too stiff, it can cause unnecessary wear on steering and other parts while effecting cornering and off-axis performance. Balance is key with suspension.

 

2. Big Enough To Live In, Small Enough To Get You There

Finding balance between big enough to allow comfortable living, while small enough to navigate city streets and narrow canyons is on of the greatest challenge us overlanders face. Keeping a purpose-built mentality will help ensure you find the balance of simplicity and performance.

Livability

There is no one-size-fits-all here, but we can tell you is that if you want to make sure you have room to cook, bathe and relieve yourself in comfort and safety, while also getting a good nights sleep. There’s no denying mother-nature’s call, and there’s no telling where you will be when she rings. Frozen tundra or sketchy backroad. Being able to do your business behind the safety and comfort of a locked door is imperative for long-term and global overlanding. Sleeping well is the only way to stay healthy and happy. Ensuring there’s room for you and your partner or company is obvious, but ensuring the space is comfortable and built to last long-term is often overlooked. Beds take a lot of abuse. Ensure yours is built right and truly comfortable.

Size & Turn Radius

When it comes to size, bigger is often not better. Being able to easily navigate crowded streets and parking lots is an inevitable task for any overlander. Not to mention, if you want to go international, being short and narrow enough to fit in a shipping container is imperative. Also, no one wants to wait for you to do a 20-point turn at every switchback. Keep this in mind and find a vehicle that balances size with usability. 

3. Easy To Repair & Find Parts

Something is going to break. Could be tomorrow, could be in 20 years. You want to make sure your platform will be serviceable no matter where you are now or in the future. 

Easy To Repair

Having a vehicle with common sizes of parts and hardware is a huge benefit that is very easily overlooked in the sea of shiny objects. When you’re broke down on a trail, the more common your vehicle the more likely the next person you see will be able to help you. Vintage, import, and niche models are attractive for obvious reason, just make sure you know where to get parts, and stock up on common failures before you leave.

Easy To Find Parts

Where’s the nearest parts supplier? Ask yourself this when you’re thinking about trips you’d like to go on. If you’re building on a niche platform, you may be waiting weeks or months on parts to arrive from the other side of the globe. Keep this in mind. Spending extra weeks in next to a shipping yard in the sweltering African sun is about as fun as it sounds. 

4. Ability To Remain Independent & Off-Grid

If you want to get away and remain there, you must be self-sufficient. Generating and storing electricity, filtering water from natural sources, and using a single fuel source are key in your ability to remain fully independent and off-grid for as long as possible.

Power Generation & Storage

Electricity is a must. Generating that electrical power is straightforward with the use of solar panels and/or tying into your alternator. However, storing that power is a different beast. Do some careful calculations on how much amperage your devices and accessories require and how that compares to your battery storage. 

PRO TIP: When picking your batteries, remember there is always a minimum battery capacity for certain chemistries. For example lithium batteries require you to maintain around 20% charge and AGM around 40-50%. If you deplete them more than that you can start to cause damage and limit the batteries lifespan. 

Water Filtration

You can find many forms of hand-held water filtrations systems, but it would take ages to fill a 60-gallon tank using one. Consider your vehicle’s ability to process its own water from natural sources. Having an on-board pump and filtration system is a great idea for extended overland travel. 

Single Fuel Source

It’s easy to overlook how important your fuel source is. It’s common for many new-commers to look towards propane powered cooking, cooling, and heating solutions. This is a recipe for wasting very valuable space. Propane tanks are massive, and you can’t find it everywhere. Consider this when you’re planning your vehicle and use solutions that run off the same fuel that powers your vehicle. 

Refrigeration & Food Storage

For many trips, a cooler-sized refrigeration solution may be sufficient but keep in mind the more food you can carry cooled, the longer you’ll be self-sufficient. Ensuring your electrical systems can supply and manage your refrigeration device is also imperative. A large part of your build should focus on food storage if your ideal journey is weeks to years long.

5. Plain, Simple, FUN

At the end of the day, if you’re not focusing on the good stuff all around you and instead are worrying about ruining excessive gear, or running low on supplies, or just plain uncomfortable in your climate, you’re cheating yourself and the others around you. Yes, pitfalls are impossible to avoid, but setting yourself up in the beginning for long term fun and enjoyment should be your #1 goal. Precise planning, thoughtful approaches, and creative solutions will ensure your time is spent having as much fun as possible.