You just bought your dream overlanding rig, but it’s bone stock and not quite ready to tackle that alt-terrain as safely and efficiently as you’d like. Getting your truck prepped and outfitted to conquer less-traveled roads can be intimidating. All those gizmos and modifications are tough to weed through when choosing overlanding gear that’ll work best for you and your rig. Plus, add-ons can require varying degrees of mechanical or technical know-how to install—upping the pre-departure fear factor.
Good thing is most overlanding gear can be easily attached to your vehicle with minimal time or skill. Sure, it’s a good idea to have some general mechanical and electrical knowledge before heading too far off the grid. But the following key add-ons—from vital communication systems and lifesaver LED lighting to modular roof racks and handy portable pantries—are simple game-changers that will serve you very well off the beaten track.
Get Your Rig Up to Speed With This Rugged Overlanding Gear
Just ask your local tire shop—one of the quickest and easiest overlanding gear upgrades is replacing those stock rims with some burly bruisers. Our choice: the Armory from Black Rhino. Inspired by military trucks, these alloy off-road wheels have a solid design with bolted accents that’ll butch up your ride and perform well in the dirt, mud, and sand—adorned with an extra deep lip for securing oversized tires. Sizes come in 16×8, 17×9.5, 18×9.5, 20×9.5, and 20×12. A pair of cool colors choices keeps it simple: Gunblack or Desert Sand.
[From $262; blackrhinowheels.com]
You’ve got your new off-road wheels picked out. Now it’s time to match them with just the right grippy rubber. You can go all out and buy some super knobby mud terrain tires, but unless you’re a professional overlander they’re going to be loud on paved roads and will crater your gas mileage. These Toyo Open Country A/T III’s are the perfect dual-terrain answer. They get you serious trail performance with milder on-road manners. The new compound and tread design were specifically designed to give you better off-road handling—including reliable snow and rain performance—while reducing noise. The tread blocks are smartly spaced in the middle and staggered on the edges for increased traction on the trail.
[From $139; toyotires.com]
Who knows when a daylight jaunt could turn into a night’s rescue mission in tough, pitch-black terrain? That’s where bolting on some super-bright LED lights becomes essential. Bombing down backwoods trails in late hours with your convenient off-road pals lighting the way is always an illuminating option—which is why legendary 4×4 light mavens KC HiLites just released their Flex Era 4 2-Light System. Featuring a durable die-cast housing, machined orange bezel, these four powerful CREE LED bulbs push out almost 8,000 raw lumens per light in combo or spot configuration and will reliably brighten any off-road adventure.
Rugged roof racks run the gamut while serving the same basic function—to haul the overlanding gear that won’t fit anywhere else. None that we’ve seen offers quite the level of versatility and volume of add-ons as the Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack System. The South African-designed modular system lets you add or subtract crossbars depending on ever-changing needs—from a full rack to half to popping on side rails for extra cargo room. Setting it up and adjusting the system as you go is about as intimidating as playing with Legos. It’s that easy and (actually) enjoyable to use and modify. What can you store up here? Water, fuel, tents, tools, tires, propane tanks and virtually anything else your adventurous mind can dream up.
[From $695; frontrunneroutfitters.com]
Off-roading trips in a new rig will always require some heavy-duty extra storage solutions. Food, first-aid supplies, bulky clothing, etc … Finding a durable box that will hold all this stuff while withstanding the weather is a must. Pelican’s newest release—its bomber roto-molded Cargo Case—fits the bill. With eight models, from a small cube-like BX50 (1.22 cu ft) to the massive BX255 (6.92 cu ft), there’s a size for your rig, whether you want to store them inside the cabin, outside on a rack or back in the truck bed. An optional mounting kit makes it a snap to attach to almost any configuration—and the quick-release design allows you to pop it back off just like that when need it at camp or for home storage.
[From $250; pelican.com]
Dedicated overlanders and obsessively organized types will wonder what life would’ve been like without the Decked Drawer System. Topped with a waterproof deck that can shoulder an actual ton (yes, 2000 lbs) of weight over its two slide-out, bed-length drawers, the clever design is segmented for lots of thrilling organizational options with custom-fit dividers and boxes. Security of stowed goods is guaranteed when the tailgate is locked and closed. Proudly made in the U.S., the Decked system is easy to assemble at home and ships free.
[From $1,350; decked.com]
Sitting around a campfire at night while enjoying the kind of luxurious meal that noodle-slurping backpackers can only dream about—that’s an essential part of the whole rugged-but-rich overlanding experience. An ingenious way to transport, organize, and prepare your happy meals in the backcountry is to pop a pantry in the back of your rig. Handy and well thought out, the Clearview Pantry Kitchen and EasySlide is built from powder-coated aluminum panels and stainless steel parts with a foldout kitchen-in-a-box that provides ample storage and prep counter space along with a kitchen sink cutout, collapsible bowl, and lockable door. Go for the heavy-duty EasySlide, which pulls out and then drops down nearly a foot for waist-high access to your work surfaces, even in a lifted rig.
Installing a solar panel system on your vehicle can get technical and isn’t really needed for any rig doing double duty as a suburbia-mobile during the week. On the other hand, having the ability to harness the sun’s power while off the grid is ideal (perhaps essential) for overlanders. Enter a perfect comprise—the Goal Zero Boulder Briefcase Solar Charging Kit. Encased in a sturdy, foldable aluminum frame, the 200-watt, tempered glass solar panels are easy to pack and deploy, while the included 20-amp charge controller lets you juice up 12-volt batteries safely and securely, The kit also includes all the connectors needed to charge a multitude of batteries—portable and in-vehicle—along with a handy canvas carrying case to protect your powerful investment.
Venturing into the wild behind the wheel, it’s a good idea to pack an extra, super-reliable, strong-but-compact power source. This sleek unit from Raptic —The Titan—comes in two sizes (225- or 500-watt) and features a light, tough aluminum chassis with a rubber coating on the corners for extra protection. Capable of powering up numerous devices—a 12-volt car socket, one USB-C, three USB-A, and a 12-volt household AC outlet—the unit itself can be charged up by either a standard outlet, solar panel, or USB-C cable. There’s enough juice here to run a variety of devices under 200 watts, like lights, radios, laptops, and cameras. Just leave the microwave and hair dryer at home (file under unnecessary overlanding gear).
[From $300; rapticstrong.com]
When taking to the trails in rough and rugged country, heading out with a friend or two in tow provides added security and peace of mind. Portable communication systems like walkie-talkies are handy, but their range can be limited. Adding distance with the Midland MicroMobile Bundle provides enough power to communicate up to 50 miles away, depending on environmental obstructions like trees or mountains. The powerful 15-watt radio uses a 3-dB antenna to double range for the kit’s 15 GMRS channels. Other features include silent option, channel scanner, mic extension cable, NOAA weather radio, and 142 privacy codes.
Smartphones have become such an integral part of everyday life that they’re now must-haves when venturing out into the wilderness. Navigation, weather reports, tide tables, and flora and fauna identification are all added phone functions in the backcountry—even if we wisely choose to ignore the latest news updates. All of that, of course, is contingent on having a signal. Adding a cell booster to your rig is thus a no-brainer. The SureCall Fusion2Go Max offers the security of almost always being connected through its patented Extended Range Technology and 2XP tech that work together to boost signals and increase transmission power. It works with all North American carriers (4G LTE and 5G) and installs quickly with an antenna that has a super-strong magnetic base and will plug into any rig’s standard 12-volt auto outlet.
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