For rugged outdoor adventurers, overlanding is the new black or the new, new black, depending on who you talk to. It’s fun, it’s wild, and it’s the antidote for anyone who loves to camp but wants to up the ante by exploring the world far, far off-grid. But, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to outfit your own rig.
Our advice is to start small. Skip the expensive gear you think you need, like a rooftop tent, a portable fridge, and pricey oversized all-terrain tires. Those are great, and someday you might want them. But, for now, focus on getting out there with some basic gear, experience living off-grid for days or weeks at a time, and zero in on the equipment you personally need as you go.
Technically, any reliable vehicle outfitted with decent tires and a few essential pieces of camping gear (a sleeping bag, proper camp cookware, and a simple storage solution for wrangling your gear) is enough to get started. If you’re the adventurous sort who takes semi-regular camp trips, there’s a good chance you already have most of what you need. To kickstart your journey, we’ve gathered some of the best overlanding gear we’ve field-tested and can personally recommend. Are you ready to get out there?
- Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack
- Goat Box Hub 50 System
- Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro Portable Power Station
- DuroMax XP2300iH Dual Fuel Generator
- MoonShade Portable Vehicle Awning
- Eureka Tagalong Shelter
- Exped Dura 5R Duo Sleeping Pad
- Acebeam X50 Multipurpose Searchlight
- LifeSaver Cube Water Purifier
- Decked x Uncharted D-Bag Emergency Kit
- ARB Tred Traction Pads
- Netgear Nighthawk M5 5G WiFi 6 Mobile Router
- Midland MXT115 Two-way Radio
- Helinox Chair Zero High-Back Camp Chair
Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack
Best Roofrack / Storage System for Overlanding
If you’re just getting started with overlanding, forgoing a rooftop tent is a great way to save money. But, we’d recommend not skimping on a solid roof rack setup. Front Runner is the best name in the game, and the Slimline II is a damn-near-perfect setup. It’s sleek, durable, easy to install, and relatively lightweight compared to comparable racks. But, the most significant selling point is Front Runner’s massive ecosystem of compatible products that “plug and play” with its roof racks. Everything from waterproof storage boxes to outdoor kitchen tables to extra fuel canisters to ax mounts to kayak racks is available for easy mounting. It’s a dream for overlanders who like switching out their gear between trips.
Goat Box Hub 50 System
Best Cooler for Overlanding
Yeti and Pelican get all the plaudits as the “world’s best coolers.” But, lesser-known Goat Box Co. is the way to go for overlanders looking for serious cold storage. At the heart of the brand’s unique Hub 50 System is an ultra-durable, rotomolded cooler that rivals anything made by the big boys. What sets it apart is the clever built-in storage system that uses four corner canisters to organize everything from food and cooking supplies to hunting and first aid gear.
Jackery Explorer 2000 Pro Portable Power Station
Best Solar Generator for Overlanding
With most of us toting plenty of tech into the backcountry these days, solar generators are a must for overlanding. Jackery's all-new Explorer 2000 Pro is a rock-solid portable power station with a serious, 2,160Wh capacity. Out of the box, it’s ready to handle up to 2,200 watts (4,400 peak watts) of output. That’s more than enough to run 99% of home appliances and whatever electronics you pack for your overlanding expeditions. It's also the fastest-charging portable solar generator of its kind with a rapid-charge time of of just two hours via a standard AC wall outlet or 2.5 hours with the maximum six-panel solar array.
DuroMax XP2300iH Dual Fuel Generator
Best Traditional Generator for Overlanding
Portable power stations and solar panels are all the rage in the overlanding community, and with good reason. But, traditional gas-powered generators still have their place. They’re reliable, easy to “reload” at any gas station, and the initial investment is far less than solar alternatives. DuroMax’s XP2300iH is a dual fuel solution that runs on gasoline or propane for maximum flexibility. With a 2,300-watt power capacity, it’s capable of running everything from electric griddles and portable refrigerators to power tools and even small air conditioners, in case you like your overlanding on the luxurious side. Bonus: With the option to connect two units for double the power, it’s great for home power backups.
MoonShade Portable Vehicle Awning
Best Vehicle Awning
Overlanders spend most of their waking hours outdoors. So, when the weather doesn’t cooperate, having reliable cover is essential. MoonShade’s Portable Vehicle Awning is a simple, near-perfect solution. It weighs just eight pounds and attaches to virtually any vehicle or sturdy structure via a clever anchoring system. When you’re ready to make camp, it unfurls in less than a minute to provide 63 square feet of coverage from sun, rain, locust swarms, or whatever the backcountry throws at you.
Eureka Tagalong Shelter
Best Freestanding Awning
Eureka’s all-new Tagalong Shelter is a freestanding awning alternative perfect for anyone looking for even more covered outdoor space. The shelter is lightweight, durable, and sets up in minutes with the included stakes, guy lines, and sand anchors. When you’re ready to move on, it packs down neatly into the included backpack-style carry sack.
Exped Dura 5R Duo Sleeping Pad
Best Sleeping Mat for Overlanding
One of the joys of overlanding is being able to pack a little more than when you’re, say, backpacking. If you’re going to pack a few indulgent items, there’s no better place to “splurge” than on your sleep setup. Exped’s new Dura 5R Duo is one of the best sleeping pads we’ve tested that balances weight, comfort, and durability for car camping. With an R-value of 4.8, it’s ideal for year-round warmth. As the name implies, it’s roomy enough for couples or solo campers who appreciate a little extra room to spread out.
Acebeam X50 Multipurpose Searchlight
Best Flashlight for Overlanding
The backcountry can be a dark — very dark — place. Headlamps are invaluable for doing just about everything, including pitching a tent, making a midnight bathroom run, or cooking dinner, after the sun goes down. But, there are times when you need more serious light. Acebeam’s X50 Multipurpose Searchlight is one of the world’s brightest handheld flashlights, with a whopping 40,000 lumens of max output. By comparison, many of the brightest headlamps top out around 1,000-2,000 lumens.
LifeSaver Cube Water Purifier
Best Water Purification/Storage for Overlanding
Clean drinking water is the most vital thing for campers and overlanders. LifeSaver tackles purification and storage with its clever Cube Water Purifier. The design is simple: Fill the five-liter chamber with virtually any water, pump it through the built-in filtering system, and drink. The included filter removes 99.99% or more of bacteria and viruses. Plus, the activated carbon filter helps to remove bad tastes and odors, so your on-the-go water tastes as clean as your home tap.
Decked x Uncharted D-Bag Emergency Kit
Best Survival Kit for Overlanding
Preparing for emergencies is the least sexy part of overlanding. But, it’s also the most necessary. Decked partnered with Uncharted Supply Co. on the all-in-one D-Bag to eliminate the legwork of putting together your own emergency kit. It’s a one-bag solution for all your survival and first aid kit needs with the necessary gear to keep two people alive for the first 72 hours of an emergency. It’s so comprehensive and essential that it’s the kind of kit to toss in your vehicle and forget about until the unthinkable happens. Bonus: It doubles as the perfect bugout bag!
ARB Tred Traction Pads
Best Recovery Boards for Overlanding
Recovery gear, especially things like winches and onboard air compressors, can get expensive. For our money, traction boards are one of the best investments you can make for your new overlanding adventures. ARB’s Tred Traction Pads are durable, user-friendly, and easily mount to compatible roof racks (like the above-mentioned Slimline II). If you get snagged in mud, snow, or some unforeseen trail mishap, they make “unstucking” yourself a snap.
Netgear Nighthawk M5 5G WiFi 6 Mobile Router
Best Portable WiFi for Overlanding
Most of us overland to detox, at least a little bit, from technology. But, for digital nomads or anyone looking to round out their backup plan, having a reliable mobile Wi-Fi connection is essential. Netgear’s new Nighthawk M5 is a next-gen mobile router with the latest WiFi 6 and 5G technologies baked in. It’s dead simple to use, even for tech newbies. Just add your own SIM card, power it on, wait for a cellular connection, and you’re ready to stay connected throughout much of the country.
Midland MXT115 Two-way Radio
Best Communication System for Overlanding
When cellular communications fail, analog is the best way to go. Paired with a solid two-way radio, Midland’s MXT115 vehicle-mounted radio system is a great solution for keeping tabs on everyone in your party. The system boasts 15 watts of power and works with handheld two-way radios like, with a nearly 40-mile range. It’s the perfect setup for daily communication and in case of an emergency when one person might need to seek help while the rest stay behind.
Helinox Chair Zero High-Back Camp Chair
Best Portable Camp Chair for Overlanding
Helinox is the original and still the best maker of the packable camp chair. The brand’s OG Chair Zero gets an upgrade this month with the Chair Zero High-Back edition. At 1.5 pounds, it’s one of the lightest portable camp chairs, now with a taller profile that provides better back support and neck comfort. The 7000 series aluminum frame is lightweight and durable with a maximum 265-pound capacity — the perfect fit for hardcore overlanding. Yet, it collapses into the included carry case with a packed length of just 16 inches.
Of course, it’s easy to go broke buying thousands, even tens of thousands, of dollars worth of overlanding gear. If you’re just getting started, don’t overcomplicate things. When you’re ready to expand your setup, check out our guides to the best rooftop tents and the best luxury camping gear.
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