Safety Tips for Overlanding: Be Prepared on the Trail

1. Safety Tips for Overlanding: Stay Prepared on the Trail

Overlanding is becoming extremely popular, not just because it’s fun. Overlanding takes you off the beaten path, deep inside beautiful nature. 

What was once a necessity now became one of the most exciting hobbies for off-road vehicle owners. As the adventure takes place in more or less remote locations, it’s important to be fully prepared for the trip.

One of the most underrated aspects of overlanding is safety, and even if accidents aren’t very common during overlanding, you need to be prepared, just in case.

In this article, we’ll be sharing some safety tips for overlanding. We’ll touch on what you need to have on your overland camping gear list, and much more.

2. Plan Your Route

Plan Your Route
  • Mark gas stations, shops, and other important locations
  • Find good camping sites and mark a few checkpoints
  • Consider your vehicle’s capability and the difficulty of the trail
  • Do a thorough research on the area

The first thing you need to do before going on an overlanding journey is to plan your route. This should be as detailed as possible with locations of gas stations, shops, and other important locations nearest to your planned route.

Planning a route includes much more than just going from point A to point B. An overlanding camping trip usually includes finding a place to spend the night, and various checkpoints. The checkpoints and planned camping sites will help you regroup with the other vehicles and people you’re overlanding with. This step will likely take some time as it requires some research.

While planning the route, keep in mind what kind of path your vehicle is capable of overcoming. Some overlanding trails are more difficult than others, and more capable vehicles are required to conquer those trails. 

Considering the difficulty of a trail is one of the most important things in planning your route. This will directly affect your overland packing list, but it will also help you determine whether a trail is good for overlanding camping or not.

One of the best ways to research a specific trail is to get local insights. You can do this by joining certain overlanding clubs and forums, but also reaching out to people who visited a specific trail you want to visit.

Once you’ve made a plan, make sure to stick to it during your trip. Hard shell roof top tents might be a better choice for one trail option, but not necessary on the other.

3. Stay Alert

  • Always drive fully rested
  • Make frequent stops
  • Keep your eyes open at all times
  • Never drive faster than you’re comfortable
  • Watch your step
Stay Alert

Overlanding, at least in most cases, doesn’t include high-speed driving, but it requires precision and caution. Because of this, it’s extremely important to get enough sleep every time you stop for overlanding camping. If you’re tired, it’s better to cover less ground, or even remain in the same spot a little longer.

Bad weather will also make it more difficult to cover a lot of ground. The rain will make the terrain significantly more slippery, which can negatively affect your vehicle’s handling and capability. 

Even if you come across a stretch of straight road in the trail, keep your speed in check. Remember that overlanding trails aren’t used every day, so a fallen tree, rocks, and other obstacles might come up at any time. Travelling at higher speed will reduce the chance of evading these obstacles, and increases the chance of damaging your vehicle. 

Depending on how remote the trail is, it’s likely that you’ll come across wildlife during your overlanding journey. Sometimes, these critters won’t be so friendly, which is exactly why you need to stay alert at all times. 

Lastly, always watch your step. Overlanding trails are beautiful, however, there are places where you or anyone from your group can get injured. It’s also the reason why a first-aid kit should always be somewhere close to reach.

4. Check the Weather

Check the Weather
  • Check the weather forecast before the trip
  • Have a reliable weather app on your phone
  • Pack accordingly

Weather can be your greatest ally or biggest enemy during an overlanding adventure. Checking the weather forecast and staying updated on current weather conditions is essential for keeping your journey safe and enjoyable.

Having updated information on the weather conditions can significantly change your plans for the trip. If colder weather is expected, or you find out that the period is about to be windy, you should install hard shell roof top tents for better protection and comfort. 

Different weather conditions also affect the overland packing list, especially if rain or snow is expected. Not only will you need to bring more recovery gear, but you’ll also likely cover less ground. The weather, no matter how insignificant it might sound, has a big effect on the entire overlanding camping trip.

5. Invest in First Aid and Survival Training

Invest in First Aid and Survival Training
  • Buy a high-quality first-aid kit
  • First-aid and survival training are essential
  • Always stay calm

Although overlanding is considered very safe, it’s a great idea to invest in first aid and survival training. The entire point of overlanding is being self-sufficient. Although it’s not common, it’s possible to experience dangerous situations where a quick reaction can save someone’s life. 

Also, you might come across different situations where a small accident can leave you without vital overlanding equipment, which is where survival training can come in handy. 

Both first aid and survival skills can be very helpful in specific scenarios you might experience. Where others might cave in due to pressure, you’ll be confident in your decisions and remain calm when others start to panic. 

6. Have Emergency Contact Numbers on Hand

  • Local emergency services
  • Local park or trail rangers
  • Legal representative
  • Other emergency contacts

Even with all the first aid and survival training, external help can be a safer and much more convenient option in case of an emergency. Having emergency contact numbers at the tip of your fingertips at all times can significantly reduce the arrival times of emergency services or any other type of help. 

When it comes to emergency contacts, it’s best to share these with the entire group you’re traveling with. This way you’ll shorten the response time if any emergency occurs. When it comes to emergency contacts, you should include local emergency services, par or reserve authorities, roadside assistance, and medical assistance. 

7. Have Legal Representation

Have Legal Representation

Having legal representation is probably one of the least thought-of aspects of overlanding. While this hobby is related to camping and enjoying nature, and its finest, there are aspects of overlanding where legal representation may save you from unnecessary trouble.

Different states and countries have different laws regarding off-road driving and overlanding, and a good legal representative will help you navigate these laws and regulations more easily. 

Even if you plan out your overlanding expedition to the smallest detail, there’s always a possibility of experiencing an accident that would be handled much better by a legal representative. These can usually be handled by a quick phone call.

Having someone who can quickly and easily resolve any legal issues will also give you peace of mind during your trip.

8. Pack Enough Food, Stock

  • Choose the right type of food you bring
  • Have enough canned food for an emergency
  • Bring proper storage
  • Plan daily rations
  • Bring enough trash bags
Pack Enough Food, Stock

One of the biggest mistakes beginners make in overlanding camping is bringing too much food that can spoil quickly. A good overland packing list can include food that can spoil such as meat, but the overland camping gear list must include adequate storage to keep the ingredients fresh.

Another thing to keep in mind is how much food you’ll bring. You need to know exactly how many people are going, what are their eating habits, and plan rations for each day. Aside from this, you should also pack up enough canned food for a while, just in case something unpredictable happens.

Another thing to think about is where you’ll put away the leftovers. Make sure you have enough trash bags that can be fully closed. Leaving trash will quickly destroy the natural beauty of the overlanding trail, but it will also attract local wildlife. Seeing bears or any other animals wandering around your overlanding camping site can not just be uncomfortable, but also dangerous.

9. Extra Water and Water Filters

Out of all the things in your overland packing list, water and water filters should be the most important thing. Although food is important for your safety, water is essential, and having enough of it should be your primary concern.

SPEEDFX High Quality Water Storage

Unfortunately, water can get easily contaminated, and drinking contaminated water can cause serious health issues. This is why water filters play such an important role in overlanding camping. Even if you’re in a deeply remote location, you can source water, and filter it to make it clean and safe for consumption.

10. Make sure your vehicle is capable | Vehicle Upgrade

  • Use adequate all-terrain tires
  • Upgrade the suspension components
  • Install recovery equipment 

Your vehicle is your main companion during an overlanding trip, and its off-road capabilities directly affect your safety. Before embarking on an overlanding adventure, it’s essential to make sure your vehicle will be capable of overcoming all the obstacles you might come across. 

If required, you should do some basic vehicle upgrades to make sure you won’t have issues along the way. Some of the most common overlanding vehicle upgrades include fitting all-terrain tires, installing a high-quality winch, and replacing stock suspension with off-road suspension components. 

Planning an overlanding route and doing proper research is crucial because you’ll realize what kind of terrain you’ll be covering. By learning about the trail, you’ll become aware of whether your vehicle requires some upgrades or not.

11. Invest in Quality Navigation | Communication and Directional Aids

Invest in Quality Navigation | Communication and Directional Aids
  • Precise GPS navigation device
  • Radio communication device
  • Paper maps of the area

Regarding safety, aside from the obvious first-aid kit, quality navigation, communication, and directional aids are among the most important gear. 

Even beginner trails can take you to remote locations, and being able to navigate back towards paved roads will help you avoid unnecessary stress. 

Communication and directional aids are also a crucial part of an overland camping gear list as you can get detached from your group during the ride from one checkpoint to another. Having a reliable communication device will help you regroup easier, but also contact authorities in case of an emergency.

Paper maps should also be a part of your overland packing list. Knowing how to read these maps and navigate without electronic devices is also a must in case you end up without a power source to power those devices.

12. Shelter for Sleep

  • Floor tents
  • Hard shell roof top tents
  • Soft shell roof top tents
  • Sleeping in the vehicle

Shelter for sleep is a crucial part of any overlanding journey. There are a few options to choose from depending on your personal preferences and how much you’re willing to invest. You can pick between soft shell roof top tents, hard shell roof top tents, or sleeping inside your vehicle if you have enough room.

Sleeping in your vehicle isn’t the best option if you plan on staying more than a couple of days, as you’ll reduce the storage space significantly. A far better option would be to invest in a high-quality rooftop tent. This way, you’ll get to enjoy overlanding camping without having to think about storage and reducing your overland packing list to the bare minimum.

Both soft and hard shell roof top tents have their advantages and disadvantages. The prices are different, too. When it comes to making the right choice, it mostly comes down to personal preferences and your overlanding needs. Hard shell rooftop tents are more durable, however, they have less interior space than softshell rooftop tents, and they’re bulkier when folded.

Having a proper sleeping shelter will keep you safe from numerous critters and wild animals that might be roaming around your campsite. These tents are elevated and mounted on top of a vehicle, which not only provides safety but also an impressive view if you find the right spot to park your vehicle.

13. Tools and Spare Parts

  • Basic vehicle repair tools
  • Off-road jack stands
  • Full-sized spare tire
  • Replacement suspension parts
  • Recovery tools

Tools and spare parts are always nice to have around. Having the possibility of doing your own repairs if necessary can help you avoid cutting your trip short due to an unexpected part failure.

Even if you do all the required checks before heading out to your overlanding adventure, there’s a chance something will go wrong, especially if you’re driving over difficult off-road terrain. 

If you decide to take the road less traveled and visit more remote locations during your trip, tools and spare parts are extremely important for safety. Depending on how deep you go into the wilderness, you may not find immediate help in case your vehicle breaks down or you experience an accident. 

You shouldn’t worry too much about bringing too many tools or spare parts if you’re not going to drive into deeply remote locations. You’ll need to bring just the essential tools and a few spare parts that are likely to cause trouble. Having a full-size spare tire is recommended either way.

On the other hand, if the trail you picked goes through remote locations, it’s best to have a few more tools in case something goes wrong. Aside from basic repair tools, you should include off-road jack stands, and recovery tools. 

14. Fire Safety Equipment

  • Fire extinguisher
  • Fire blanket
  • Fireproof gloves
  • Bucket

Last, but certainly not the least important, is fire safety equipment. A proper fire extinguisher should always be within reach, but there are a few other items you should include in your overland camping gear list.

Aside from a fire extinguisher, you should also have a fire blanket, fireproof gloves, and at least one bucket you can use to contain a fire. Having proper training in using fire safety equipment is also recommended as any type of fire can be catastrophic, especially if it happens in a remote location.