To Be a Serious Overlander, You Have to Think Ahead

I am by no means an overlander. I like camping as much as the next guy, but I am extremely fond of my comfortable bed and critter-free home. Spending extended amounts of time in the wilderness is not my cup of tea. However, I do possess one characteristic anyone would need to be a serious overlander: the ability to think ahead.

Overlanders make a point of getting off the beaten track. They thrive on taking their vehicles where RVs and camping trailers cannot go. They relished taking their customized rigs up steep mountain passes and across rugged terrain that would eat an unmodified factory-built car alive. Needless to say, they do not have the luxury of heading down to the nearest Walmart to buy emergency supplies.

When Cell Phones Don’t Work

The thing that sparked my imagination for this post was an article I read on the Overland Expo website. The piece discussed the entire range of new equipment just hitting the market. At the top of the list was a set of handheld radios from a popular brand I will not mention here. As I read the description, I realized I have a set of similar radios stored away in my office.

My wife and I bought the radios when we were planning a move from New York to Florida. We wanted to be able to communicate between our two vehicles without having to fumble with our cell phones. They did the job. That was a decade ago. We haven’t used them since.

Why would overlanders want such a set of radios? Because they often find themselves in places where cell phones don’t work. You are not going to get very good reception at the top of a mountain miles away from Bozeman, Montana. A set of radios is perfect for a multi-vehicle caravan whose drivers want to stay connected during the rugged journey.

Most of Us Don’t Think About Those Things

Now, not having cell reception is something I never would have thought about prior to going on a camping trip. Needless to say, I would not make the same mistake twice. But that first time, I could imagine pulling out my cell phone to call a fellow camper in the next vehicle only to discover I had no bars.

Thinking ahead is why overlanders carry things like spare Rollercam cam straps. They never know when something is going to need to be tied down. It is why they carry spare parts for their vehicles and solar batteries for their electronics. Thinking ahead is why they always have paper maps and a compass on board.

For the overlander, thinking ahead is similar to a boy scout always being prepared. So many things can happen when you are out in the middle of nowhere. Worse yet, driving an overlanding rig across extremely rough terrain can do a number on almost any vehicle.

A Valuable Skill

Thinking ahead is a valuable skill that could help anyone in any walk of life. But for the overlander, it is a survival mechanism. That is no joke. If you have ever been out in the middle of the wilderness, miles from the nearest sign of any kind of civilization, you know how quickly things can go south. If you don’t have the ability to think ahead, you could find yourself in serious trouble in the event of an emergency.

As for me, I think I will continue limiting my need to think ahead to planning when I am going to mow along and trim the shrubs. I’m not afraid to say that overlanding just isn’t my thing.


Rachel Martin: Rachel, an adventure travel blogger, shares her experiences of hiking, climbing, and trekking around the world. Her blog includes detailed guides, safety tips, and inspiring stories to encourage others to embark on their own adventures.