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Everything you need to have an overland adventure with the vehicle you (probably) already have

You don't need a rooftop tent, a winch, and 35-inch tires to start overlanding right now. Just start small

Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack  - Toyota 4Runner (4th Gen)
Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack
Best roof rack/storage system for overlanding
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Rux 70L Essentials Set
Rux 70L Essentials Set
Best storage for overlanding
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Renogy Portable Power Station 1000
Renogy Portable Power Station 1000
Best solar generator for overlanding
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Isle 20L Gateway Waterproof Dry Bag
Isle Gateway Dry Bag
Best dry bag for overlanding
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Canyon Coolers Outfitter 55 Rotomolded Cooler
Canyon Coolers Outfitter 35-Quart Cooler
Best cooler for overlanding
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Goal Zero Skylight Portable Area Light
Goal Zero Skylight Portable Area Light
Best overall light for overlanding
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Columbia Men's Landroamer Parka
Columbia Men's Landroamer Parka
Best jacket for overlanding
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Klymit Ridgeline Short Camping Chair
Klymit Ridgeline Short Camping Chair
Best camping chair for overlanding
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Milestar Patagonia M/T-02 LT315/70R17 D/8PLY BSW Tire
Milestar Patagonia M/T-02 Tires
Best tires for overlanding
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MORRFlate Air Compressor FiveSix PSI Pro With Auto Shut Off Mode | Portable Single Cylinder 5.6 CFM 12V Offroad Air Compressor
MORRFlate FiveSix Portable 12v Off-Road Air Compressor
Best air compressor for overlanding
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Escapism has been a hot topic over the last few years, fueled in no small part by the pandemic. So it’s no surprise that car/SUV camping, RVing, and hardcore road-tripping have exploded in popularity. But if you want to really get away — far, far from pavement and civilization — your best option is overlanding. If you’re reading this, chances are, you’re already looking for ways to explore well beyond where traditional campgrounds and interstates can take you. There’s also a good chance that you’re relatively new to overlanding. The good news is that you can (probably) start overlanding with the vehicle and the gear you already have.

Before we dive into the gear that can help make your overlanding dreams a reality, let’s start by reviewing the gear you don’t need. In short, most of the popular overlanding pics and videos on social media show lifted, ultra-rugged 4-by-4 rigs decked out with rooftop tents, high-power winches, massive tires, and light bars with enough candlepower to illuminate a NASA runway. All of this is great gear to have, but it’s by no means necessary, especially for anyone just getting started with overlanding.

At a bare minimum, you need a well-maintained truck or SUV (some off-road-capable cars, like Subarus, can work, too) with high or high-ish clearance and a decent set of tires. If you’re in the early stages of earning your Overlander’s Badge, start here and evolve your loadout with the gear below to make your journey more comfortable. There’s honestly no need to spend thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars upfront. Plus, starting small will help you learn what’s needed for your particular style of overlanding so you don’t wind up buying gear you just don’t need.

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s dive into some of the best camping overlanding gear that can make your overland trips a whole lot more fun.

Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack
Front Runner

Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack

Best roof rack/storage system for overlanding

There’s no getting around the fact that overlanding typically requires a decent amount of gear. That usually includes everything you might need for a weekend camping trip and then some. The biggest favor you can do for yourself, especially if you’re just getting started with overlanding, is to get your storage system squared away first.

A well-organized rig makes any overlanding trip infinitely more enjoyable. By forgoing a rooftop tent, you open up that space for storage, and there’s no better way to wrangle all your stuff than with a Front Runner rack like the Slimline II. It’s durable, versatile, and easily among the best roof racks we’ve ever tested.

Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack  - Toyota 4Runner (4th Gen)
Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack
Best roof rack/storage system for overlanding
Studio shot of the RUX 70L Essentials Set gear hauler tote.
RUX

Rux 70L Essentials Set

Best storage for overlanding

Of course, interior organization is just as important. We love RUX’s Essentials Set, which includes a 70-liter gear hauler plus a separate internal bag and pocket to keep your clothing, food, vehicle recovery gear, and other essentials sorted. It’s hands-down the most versatile storage solution for car camping and overlanding. The design is weatherproof, field repairable, and guaranteed for life. Plus, it carries like a tote, a backpack, or a standard box, then packs down flat when not in use.

Rux 70L Essentials Set
Rux 70L Essentials Set
Best storage for overlanding
Renogy Portable Power Station 1000 isolated on a plain white background.
Renogy

Renogy Portable Power Station 1000

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. Renogy’s Portable Power Station 1000 is a perfectly sized option, especially if you’re just getting started. It’s plenty capable with a 998wH capacity and the option to run two generators in parallel for a total of nearly 2,000wH.

With 12 outlets, including standard AC, USB, and 12V, it’s beefy enough to run almost any standard, mid-sized household device. That means you can tote everything from TVs and electric grills to fans and mini coolers along on your next overlanding trip. Add a couple of Renogy’s portable solar panels to the mix, and you can stay powered up while venturing off-grid almost indefinitely.

Renogy Portable Power Station 1000
Renogy Portable Power Station 1000
Best solar generator for overlanding
Isle Gateway Waterproof Dry Bag isolated on a plain white background
Isle

Isle Gateway Dry Bag

Best dry bag for overlanding

A good dry bag is invaluable. It’s one of the most versatile pieces of outdoor adventure gear, so much so that we recommend bringing a couple along no matter what you’re planning. Isle’s Gateway 20L Dry Bag is one of the best dry bags we’ve used, thanks to a dead simple design.

It’s made to carry like a traditional tote or over the shoulder with the included strap, and integrated lash points provide tie-down options for securing to a kayak, a paddleboard, or even the roof of a vehicle. Plus, the $50 price tag makes this affordable enough to buy more than one.

Isle 20L Gateway Waterproof Dry Bag
Isle Gateway Dry Bag
Best dry bag for overlanding
Canyon Coolers Outfitter 35 Quart Cooler isolated on a white studio background.
Canyon Coolers

Canyon Coolers Outfitter 35-Quart Cooler

Best cooler for overlanding

Technically, you don’t need a cooler. But if you’re going to spend any more than a few days off-grid, having cold food and beverages can turn a barebones overlanding trip into one that feels almost luxurious. Yeti and Pelican might have all the brand-name cache in the world of pricey, ultra-premium coolers. But, for our money, we love Canyon Coolers. Its Outfitter 35 Quart Cooler is a great entry-level model with plenty of room for a long weekend away.

Canyon Coolers Outfitter 55 Rotomolded Cooler
Canyon Coolers Outfitter 35-Quart Cooler
Best cooler for overlanding
Goal Zero Skylight Portable Area Light isolated on a plain white background.
Goal Zero

Goal Zero Skylight Portable Area Light

Best overall light for overlanding

One thing you learn very quickly about overlanding is that you can never have enough light. Good camping lanterns and outdoor-friendly lights certainly help. But there’s no substitute for a purpose-built task light. Goal Zero’s skylight is like a portable street lamp for your base camp.

It packs down ridiculously small, then extends up to 12 feet for serious illumination. The 6,000-lumen power casts usable light with a maximum 300-foot radius. Plus, with a 3,250k light temperature, it’s warm, more inviting, and more livable than hard-white camping lanterns. It’s one camp light to rule them all.

Goal Zero Skylight Portable Area Light
Goal Zero Skylight Portable Area Light
Best overall light for overlanding
Model wearing a Columbia Landroamer Parka on a plain studio background.
Columbia

Columbia Men's Landroamer Parka

Best jacket for overlanding

If you’re planning to overland in any of the 40-ish states in the U.S. where it regularly snows, you need one coat that’s warm, rugged, and weatherproof. Columbia’s Landroamer Parka checks all three boxes. The fabric is completely waterproof, and it’s the company’s warmest design, packed with 200 grams of synthetic insulation to keep you seriously toasty, even in the dead of winter. There’s also tons of pocket space, adjustable sleeve cuffs, and an oversized hood. The best part? It’s less than half the price of most comparable parkas.

Columbia Men's Landroamer Parka
Columbia Men's Landroamer Parka
Best jacket for overlanding
Klymit Ridgeline Short Camping Chair on a white background.
Klymit

Klymit Ridgeline Short Camping Chair

Best camping chair for overlanding

Overlanding is all about spending as much time outdoors as possible. That means looking for ways to get out of your truck often, whether to take a hike, make dinner, or relax around the campfire. For the latter, you need a go-to camp chair.

Klymit’s Ridgeline Short is a simple, collapsible option that’s lightweight and portable enough to be a backpacker-friendly option, but rugged enough to stand up to hardcore use. The construction blends a sturdy aluminum frame with a durable mesh seat that’s thick, comfortable, and easy to clean. Plus, it packs down small into the included carry case for easy transport.

Klymit Ridgeline Short Camping Chair
Klymit Ridgeline Short Camping Chair
Best camping chair for overlanding
Milestar Patagonia M/T-02 tire on a plain white background.
Milestar

Milestar Patagonia M/T-02 Tires

Best tires for overlanding

The one thing above all else you need to overland safely is a decent set of tires. Shopping for tires isn’t as sexy or fun as anything else on this list, but consider that they’re the only part of your vehicle that actually touches the ground when you’re out exploring. In short: You want a good, reliable set of off-road-ready tires that doesn’t cost a fortune.

For that, we love Milestar. If you’ve never heard of it before, you will, as it's making serious waves in the overlanding and off-roading community. No matter what type of rig you’re running, start with a set of Milestar Patagonia M/T-02. Bonus: They’re typically less than half the price of most brand-name off-road rubber.

Milestar Patagonia M/T-02 LT315/70R17 D/8PLY BSW Tire
Milestar Patagonia M/T-02 Tires
Best tires for overlanding
MORRFlate Air Compressor FiveSix PSI Pro isolated on a plain white background.
MORRFlate

MORRFlate FiveSix Portable 12v Off-Road Air Compressor

Best air compressor for overlanding

Lastly, in addition to having a good set of tires is maintaining the right air pressure while you’re out exploring off the pavement. Moorflate’s FiveSix Portable 12v Off-Road Air Compressor is purpose built for doing just that. Forget having to deflate and inflate one tire at a time by hand. This compressor is truly a set-it-and-forget-it affair. Just hook it up to two (or even four) tires at a time, dial in your preferred pressure, and it takes care of the rest.

MORRFlate Air Compressor FiveSix PSI Pro With Auto Shut Off Mode | Portable Single Cylinder 5.6 CFM 12V Offroad Air Compressor
MORRFlate FiveSix Portable 12v Off-Road Air Compressor
Best air compressor for overlanding

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.

Editors' Recommendations

Mike Richard

Mike Richard has traveled the world since 2008. He's kayaked in Antarctica, tracked endangered African wild dogs in South Africa, and survived a near-miss great white shark attack in Mexico. His travel advice has appeared on the websites of industry-leading publications for Forbes, Travel + Leisure, CNET, National Geographic, and Vagabondish. He loves the great outdoors and good bourbon, and (usually) calls Massachusetts home. Mike also enjoys speaking in the third person.

Send all editorial inquiries HERE.

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