What Exactly is An Overland Vehicle?

What Exactly is An Overland Vehicle?

More often than not, the guy talking about his next overlanding vehicle is just building a really capable UTV that can go anywhere. What makes a vehicle a "true" overlanding vehicle can be murky but in general, you can comfortably live out of it for long lengths of time.
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Just as confused as most people are when a buddy mentions they're building a UTV overland vehicle? Don't worry, you're not alone, and we can sympathize. The offroad market is evolving each year (sometimes each month), and we want to keep you up to date on trends, changes, and concepts, to make sure you know what you're talking about the next time someone mentions an offroad topic. In a nutshell, that's what The Source was built for, a place for all enthusiasts to get to the core of popular, trending offroad conversations. 

SO, WHAT IS OVERLANDING?

Overlanding is self-reliant overland travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal. Typically, but not exclusively, it is accomplished with mechanized off-road-capable transport (UTV) where the principal form of lodging is camping, often lasting for extended lengths of time (months to years) and spanning international boundaries.

So... let's address the elephant in the room here. The next time someone mentions their "overland vehicle", the term overland or overlanding is a spectrum, and can mean literally anything as long as the vehicle serves as basecamp for an extended outdoor adventure. 

offroad overland utv build draco

We'll never know the individual that started all of this hype referred to as overlanding. Someone, somewhere along the way had enough of everyone's BS, packed their outdoor gear and headed to the remote to get away from it all. They were the original OG outdoor introvert. The essence of "I hate everyone". They didn't have fancy gizmos for keeping coolers cold and weren't packing for the weekend. These folks packed everything they owned/needed and just ...left. Not for a vacation, or for a couple weeks of living the simple life. This was a choice, a decision to go off the grid in search of the most remote parts of our planet where little to no one had ever been. 

Those of us unlucky enough to have landed a desk job would give our left leg for that kind of freedom. The open wild. The crisp morning chill, with no email chimes or Teams meetings to log into. The original pioneers referred to this lifestyle as being simply "outdoorsy". Americans much later on the timeline, rubber stamped a special name behind this style of "leave me alone". We now refer to these extreme outdoor evangelicals as "Overlanders".

Do you have an Overland Rated UTV?

Wondering if your vehicle makes the cut for being "overland"? We boiled down the entire culture into a few simple questions to ask yourself below.

  • Do you have more recovery gear than ever necessary, and you know exactly how to use all of it? Yes? Good. Pat yourself on the back.
  • Are your UTV tires rated for longevity instead of looks? There are exceptions when a tire has both but it's unlikely. Pick longevity as well as a high puncture resistance. Want to learn more about the markings on your tires? 
  • Do you have an on-board or portable compressor to air down/up your tires when needed? If not, sorry Charlie, you're just a weekend warrior. 
  • Do you have GPS Navigation? This isn't a deal breaker, but ask any true Overlander and they'll tell you knowing where you're going and how to get there is absolutely essential. You can use a paper map, but what happens if you cross state/country lines and your paper map becomes toilet paper? 
  • Do you have a rooftop tent? Trick question. If you have a rooftop tent you are the exact opposite of Overlanding and may God have mercy on your soul. Go take it off your poor UTV right now and go buy a normal tent and a really expensive sleeping pad. Save yourself literally hundreds of pounds in exchange for what normal people have been doing for centuries. If sleeping on the ground is too "rough", maybe Overlanding isn't for you.
  • Do you have adjustable spot lighting? Mounting a couple of light bars and high powered static pods on your UTV is plenty for most, but the Overlanding lot need a little different setup. Lighting needs to be adjustable and plentiful in 360 degrees of coverage. 
  • Do you know what a sanitation trowel is? No? Stop telling people you have an overland vehicle immediately. No only is this a quintessential tool (or a normal shovel) for extended long stays in most of the US, more and more locations require that you pack out everything you packed in. It's nasty business but LNT is a lifestyle not a choice. If you're wondering what Leave No Trace (LNT) is or you've never heard of Tread Lightly! (TL!), go research and immediately adapt the core principles into your camping/offroad mentality. 

what is overlanding on a utv offroad vehuicle

Recommended Packing List

  • Spare tire(s)
  • Tire plugs
  • Shovel 
  • Recovery bag 
  • Portable (on-board) compressor 
  • GPS device or app(s)
  • Quality cooler
  • Portable battery
  • Solar panels (100% Off-Grid)
  • Water filter
  • Water storage 
  • Two-burner camp stove (pots/pans/utensils)
  • Refillable propane tank 
  • Tent with sleep set up
  • Tire table 
  • Camp chair(s)
  • Sanitation tools (Port-a-loo, trowel/shovel, etc)
  • Layers for all elements (see our winter list here)
  • Portable speaker

winter offroad utv overlanding

Are you actually a dirtbag?

The climbing world also has a name for this type of chosen lifestyle, and it's affectionately referred to as being a dirtbag. These folks search high and low for coded lines in rocks, looking for the perfect pitch to hang their life from. They have highly technical gear, but mostly it's the creature comforts of a soft camp chair and warm coffee that add enough of life's zest to get the day going. And... yes that was in fact a 1995 Toyota Corolla you recently saw on a black rated offroad trail with a dirtbag living in it..... so settle down with the 37" of clearance on your $90K lifted Pro R on portals. Overlook the climbing gear and the scabby palms, and are we really that different?

Aren't we all just searching for a little slice of quiet?

What is a dirtbag climbing living in van

All builds shown on this post are from the amazing guys over at @Draco_UTV

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The Source is your destination for applicable and useful posts, how-tos and recommendations to keep you and your passengers safe and prepared. Have a topic you'd like to know more about? Search the site using top navigation. Have a topic we haven't covered yet? Shoot us an email using our contact form.

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