As we mentioned in our previous blog post, “Intro to Overlanding – Vehicle-Based Travel Overview”, we will now take a deeper dive into each of the individual subjects that we briefly touched on. In this segment, we are focusing on Vehicle platforms and expanding on choosing the best platform for your adventures!
The best kind of Overland vehicle is the one that fits your budget and will also serve your needs for as long as possible. Vehicles are one of the most significant investments that a person can make, so it is wise to make sure that you purchase a vehicle platform that best serves you and your family’s needs along with your Overland adventures. Vehicle Platforms come in many different shapes and sizes and more often than not, we choose a personal preference of platform based on our past experiences with vehicles. Try not to get too caught up in what’s trendy or cool! Find a vehicle that will satisfy all of your basic needs for your traveling plans!
There are a few essential questions that you should ask yourself when choosing a vehicle platform:
- What is my budget?
- How often do I travel?
- How far and long will I be traveling?
- What kind of terrain will I encounter on my journey?
- How many people and how much gear will I carry?
Once you have these questions answered for yourself, you will be better able to pair down which Overland vehicle platform best fits your needs.
– 4X4 SUV –
Many of the popular options on the market today are Jeep, Toyota, Land Rover, Ford, Chevrolet, and Nissan to include a few of the bigger manufacturers. The vast majority of the Overland Community owns some form of a 4×4 SUV. For 1-2 people, an SUV can not only be used for cargo capacity but it can also be used as sleeping quarters if the vehicle is big enough and the rear seats fold down with enough space for bedding. If you have a family of more than 2, a Roof Top Tent like a Front Runner Roof Top Tent may be a better option for additional sleeping space. A rooftop tent will also free up additional cargo and/or sleeping space in the vehicle as well.
When choosing your 4×4 SUV and you’ve answered the question of what size tires you plan on running, this will then allow you to choose which size lift you will need. The tire size of your choosing will also determine if you will then need to regear the vehicle to compensate for the larger tires. Another thing to consider is additional weight that you may add to the vehicle, such as additional passengers, cargo/gear, rooftop tent, heavy-duty bumpers, etc., which should all be considered when regearing your vehicle. A regear will not only give your vehicle the additional power back that it lost from turning larger tires, but it will also improve your fuel economy to make the vehicle more efficient for long-distance travel. Fewer fuel stops mean less anxiety about fuel range and more time for adventuring and fun! We will talk more about regearing your vehicle in our next addition to our blog, where we dive into Vehicle Modifications for Overlanding.
In case you haven’t heard, Summit 4×4 Co. has a brand new venture called Summit 4×4 Off-Road Auto Sales. We have a great selection of vehicles that we are adding to every day that may help you find the right vehicle to fit your needs! If you have any questions or would like us to find the right vehicle for you, you can contact Ashley at (928)442-7222.
– Van or 4X4 Van –
If you’re looking for more interior living space in a more compact package than an RV or Camper, a Van or 4×4 Van may be of more interest to you. While having a 4wd vehicle isn’t required for Overland travel, it certainly does help you get further down a trail or deeper into the backcountry. One of the more popular 4×4 Van options includes the Mercedes Sprinter Platform, which are converted into full-time campers by many different companies throughout the US. 7 that convert Ford Econoline and Transit Vans to 4wd, as well as outfit them for Overlanding. Vans that have been converted for full-time living or Overlanding usually contain many of the amenities that RV’s have, such as a full-size bed, kitchen(sink/stove/running water), an onboard shower system as well as a toilet all wrapped in a compact package. While a 4×4 Van tends to be longer and wider than your traditional 4×4 SUV, remember that you will sacrifice off-road capability/maneuverability for more interior living space and comfort.
– Pickup Truck –
A pickup truck is a great option for someone that needs utility during the week, as well as on the weekends or on Overland adventures! The bed of a pickup can be utilized in a few different ways, the simplest being to throw an air mattress in the bed for under-the-stars camping! If you need a bit more shelter, you can add a bed cap for more protection from the elements. If both utility and camping are a priority, you could consider either adding a rooftop tent like the Vagabond XL Roof Top Tent atop your bed cap, or add a bed rack to support a rooftop tent while still retaining the storage capacity of the pickup bed. If you have a 3/4ton or 1ton pickup, you may also be able to utilize a slide-in bed camper, as there are many options on the market from lightweight and compact, to more full-size campers with more interior living space that may even be able to support full-time living.
– Off-Road Trailer –
An off-road trailer is a great option for people that may own an SUV or Pickup that they use as a daily driver and simply want to hook up to their off-road/overland trailer at the end of a long work week to head out on an adventure! This allows you to keep your towing vehicle relatively unmodified while still having a comfortable place to sleep in the trailer. This not only retains the cargo capacity of your vehicle for gear but also keeps the weight of your camping gear off of your tow rig for better handling and performance. There are generally two types of off-road trailers available, to include teardrop trailers(which have an interior sleeping space) as well as Expedition Trailers, which have plenty of storage and amenities such as a kitchen and on-board shower systems, but require mounting of a rooftop tent for sleeping quarters.
– Off-Road RV/Camper –
If you’re the kind of person that requires the kind of amenities that a home provides with plenty of interior space, then an Off-Road RV or Camper may be the best application for your Overland traveling needs. While RV’s/Campers tend to be larger, longer, wider and less maneuverable than a 4×4 SUV or Pickup, this may inhibit some backcountry travel when the terrain starts to get rough. If your RV or Camper is rated for it, you may also be able to tow a 4×4 SUV behind it as an option for more backcountry exploring. There are companies that build off-road capable RV’s, such as Earthroamer or Earthcruiser for those with a larger budget. These are some of the most high-end quality Off-Road RV/Campers on the market today that come equipped with larger tires and heavy-duty suspension to be able to tackle terrain that an otherwise normal Camper or RV cannot.
Even though there are a few other ways to get around when overland traveling, in this article we are going to refer to only the 4-wheel based ones.