- 11 min read

Getting started in Overlanding: Essential Gear and Tools

img of Getting started in Overlanding: Essential Gear and Tools

In this article we are going to go over some essentially gear to bring with you on your overlanding adventures. We want to make sure you’re safe and well taken care of because getting stranded, lost, or hurt is never a fun time especially when you’re out in the wilderness.

This list is non-exhaustive, but should act as a solid foundation for you to expand upon to meet your own needs. We want to account for every surprise we can reasonably foresee including weather, terrain, animals, whatever the case may be.

Rescue and Recovery Gear

Let’s start off with Rescue and Recovery Gear, these tools will be essential to get you unstuck and out of any sticky situations.


Maxtrax are a type of traction mat used in off-roading and overlanding. They are placed under the wheels of a vehicle that is stuck in mud, sand, or snow to provide the necessary traction to get the vehicle moving again. Made from durable, reinforced plastic, Maxtrax are an essential piece of recovery equipment for any overlanding adventure.


Gloves are crucial for protecting your hands during recovery operations. They help prevent cuts, abrasions, and burns that can occur when handling recovery gear, such as winch cables, straps, and shovels. Additionally, they can provide a better grip, ensuring safe and efficient handling of equipment.


A shovel is another essential piece of recovery gear for overlanding. It can be used for digging out around stuck tires, removing obstacles from your path, or even for creating a fire pit. It’s a versatile tool that can be crucial in many unexpected situations.


Recovery straps and soft shackles play a critical role in vehicle recovery. A recovery strap, also known as a snatch strap, is a piece of equipment used to help extract a bogged or immobilized vehicle. It is designed to stretch and recoil, which allows it to use its kinetic energy to help pull a vehicle free.

Soft shackles are also useful as they are lightweight, strong and safe, and can be attached to various recovery points on the vehicle.

The K-rope is specifically designed for situations involving sand, snow, or mud, while a static strap is more suited for off-road park rock crawling. These specific tools increase your chances of a successful recovery in these situations.


A winch is another vital piece of equipment that if you can install on your vehicle, will be incredibly helpful in freeing your vehicle from a variety of situations where it may become stuck or bogged down. Additionally, if you happen to come across other Overlanders who may be stuck themselves, you’ll be the hero of the day.

Winch Anchor Kit

When you’re out on an overlanding adventure, getting stuck in mud or sand is part of the game. That’s where the winch anchor kit comes in handy. It’s a set of tools designed to help you get unstuck when your wheels are spinning but going nowhere.

Imagine this: you’re deep in the wilderness, and your vehicle’s tires are sinking into mud with every attempt to move forward. That’s when you need to deploy your winch anchor kit. With its ground anchors, straps, and chains, you can create a stable point to pull from, using your winch to free your vehicle from the grip of the terrain.

But the winch anchor kit isn’t just about getting unstuck. It’s about being prepared and feeling confident as you tackle rough terrain. With this kit, you have the tools to handle whatever challenges come your way.

Plus, it’s not just about convenience—it’s also about safety. By providing a secure point for winching, the kit reduces the risks associated with vehicle recovery, ensuring you can navigate tricky terrain without worry.

Snatch Block

The snatch block’s utility extends beyond merely boosting winching capacity. It serves as a problem-solver in recovery scenarios, offering flexibility in angled recoveries, side pulls, and other challenging situations where conventional approaches fall short. By changing the direction of the winch line, it expands recovery options and enhances the likelihood of successful outcomes in various terrains and conditions.

Another critical aspect of the snatch block is its role in protecting your winch cable. By keeping the line clear of obstacles and minimizing strain, it helps prevent damage and prolongs the lifespan of your equipment. This not only saves you from costly repairs but also ensures safer recovery operations, reducing the risks of sudden cable failure or damage during intense pulls.

Furthermore, the snatch block contributes to safety by evenly distributing the load across the anchor point and winch, reducing the likelihood of accidents or vehicle damage during recovery operations. Its ability to provide stability and control is particularly valuable in remote locations where professional assistance may be limited or unavailable.

In emergencies where your winch might fail, the snatch block serves as a reliable backup. It can function as a makeshift pulley, allowing you to harness mechanical advantage from other vehicles or anchor points to overcome obstacles and continue your journey safely.


Sleeping bags

Sleeping bags come in all sorts of different varieties and it really depends on the weather you’ll be camping in. Let’s talk about seasonal considerations.

Choose a sleeping bag appropriate for the expected weather conditions during your overlanding trip. If you’ll be encountering varying temperatures, a three-season sleeping bag is usually a good choice. For colder climates or winter overlanding, opt for a four-season or cold-weather sleeping bag with appropriate insulation.

It’s also a good idea to bring an extra blanket or two with you. Considering you’ll be hauling all your belongings in your vehicle, make some space for a heavy wool blanket especially if you’re camping in the cooler temperatures; obviously, this is not as important for spring/summer camping, but do keep in mind the temperature.

Sleeping bags typically come with either synthetic or down insulation. Synthetic insulation retains warmth even when damp and dries quickly, making it suitable for damp or humid conditions often encountered during overlanding. Down insulation offers excellent warmth-to-weight ratio and compressibility but may lose some insulating ability when wet.


Because we are overlanding, let’s assume you have a rooftop tent as that is by far, the most common way of overlanding and by far, the most comfortable.

When shopping for a rooftop tent for overlanding, it’s important to consider your vehicle’s compatibility and the tent’s weight capacity. Opt for one that fits securely on your roof rack and can support the number of people who will be using it. Look for tents with simple setup processes and durable materials that can withstand different weather conditions, ensuring they last through many adventures.

Also, prioritize features like good ventilation and convenient access points, such as sturdy ladders and wide door openings. These elements contribute to your comfort and ease of use during camping trips. Be mindful of the tent’s weight and shape to minimize any impact on your vehicle’s fuel efficiency and handling. By selecting a rooftop tent that meets these criteria, you can enhance your overlanding experience and enjoy comfortable accommodations wherever your travels take you.

Here is a brief list of some rooftop tents to consider (not sponsored):

  1. Tepui Explorer Series Ayer 2: Known for its durability and ease of setup, this compact rooftop tent is suitable for smaller vehicles and solo or duo overlanding trips.
  2. ARB Series III Simpson Rooftop Tent: With its spacious interior, durable construction, and high-quality materials, this tent is popular among overlanders seeking comfort and reliability.
  3. iKamper Skycamp 2.0: Renowned for its innovative design, quick setup, and spacious sleeping area, the Skycamp 2.0 is ideal for families or groups of up to four people.
  4. Smittybilt Overlander Tent: Offering a budget-friendly option without compromising on quality, this tent features a rugged design, comfortable mattress, and convenient access points.
  5. Front Runner Feather-Lite Rooftop Tent: Known for its lightweight construction, easy setup, and durable materials, this tent is favored by overlanders looking to minimize weight while maximizing comfort.


Okay, let’s touch on heating. Propane heaters are quite a popular choice for overlanders. One of the more popular brands of heaters is: Mr. Heater.

Mr. Heater offers a range of propane heaters designed for outdoor use, providing reliable warmth in a compact and portable package. These heaters typically operate using disposable propane cylinders or refillable propane tanks, making them convenient for overlanding trips where access to electricity may be limited.

One of the key advantages of propane heaters like those from Mr. Heater is their ease of use. They feature simple ignition systems and adjustable heat settings, allowing users to quickly and easily adjust the temperature to their comfort level. Additionally, many models come equipped with built-in safety features such as automatic shut-off mechanisms and tip-over protection, providing peace of mind during use.

Propane heaters are versatile and can be used inside tents, camper vans, or other sheltered areas to provide warmth on cold nights or during inclement weather. However, it’s essential to ensure proper ventilation when using propane heaters indoors to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide.

When selecting a propane heater for overlanding, consider factors such as heating capacity, size, portability, and safety features. It’s also important to bring along an adequate supply of propane fuel to ensure uninterrupted heating throughout your journey.

External Power

One popular solution for powering devices off the grid is an external battery bank, often paired with solar panels for sustainable energy generation. One notable brand in this category is Jackery, known for its high-quality portable power stations and compatible solar panels.

Jackery offers a range of external battery banks, also known as portable power stations, designed to provide portable and reliable power for outdoor adventures. These power stations come in various capacities, allowing users to choose the right size based on their energy needs. Whether you’re looking to charge small devices or run larger appliances like portable fridges. Jackery has options to suit different power requirements.

Pairing a Jackery external battery bank with solar panels further enhances its functionality and sustainability. Jackery offers compatible solar panels that can be easily connected to the power station to harness solar energy and recharge the battery bank while you’re on the move. This setup allows for continuous power generation, even in remote locations where access to conventional power sources may be limited.

One of the advantages of Jackery’s external battery banks is their portability and ease of use. They feature lightweight and compact designs, making them ideal for overlanding adventures where space and weight considerations are important. Many models come equipped with multiple charging ports, built-in LED lights, and other convenient features for outdoor use.


A GPS is not necessarily required, however it would be a strong recommendation. When being out in the wilderness where cell phone signal could be spotty at best, having a way to communicate and call for help is a peace of mind that cant be replaced. Better to have it and not need, than to need it and not have it.

One very popular GPS device is the Garmin inReach Mini. Keep an eye out for one next time you’re shopping and pick it up. A large majority of people who spend their time outdoors choose this device.


Let’s briefly go over some tools to consider bringing on your next adventure.

  • Basic toolkit: Including screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers, for handling minor repairs and adjustments on the go.
  • Tire repair kit: To patch up punctures and keep your tires in good condition.
  • Air compressor: For inflating tires after off-road excursions or repairs.
  • Jumper cables: In case of battery issues, having jumper cables can help get your vehicle running again.
  • Duct tape: A versatile tool for quick fixes and temporary repairs.
  • Multi-tool: Handy for a variety of tasks, from cutting to screwing and more.
  • Tire pressure gauge: To monitor tire pressure and ensure optimal performance.
  • WD-40 or other lubricant: Useful for loosening rusted or stuck parts.
  • Zip ties: Perfect for securing loose items or making temporary repairs.
  • Bottle jack: For lifting vehicles during tire changes or other maintenance tasks.

Fire Extinguisher:

  • Consider a compact option like the Amerex B417T, a 2.5-pound ABC Dry Chemical Class A B C Multi-Purpose Fire Extinguisher, for quick and effective fire suppression.

Spare Tire:

  • Opt for a full-size spare tire rather than a temporary donut spare, ensuring you’re fully equipped to handle tire emergencies without compromising on performance.

That should be about everything to consider bringing on your next overlanding adventure. Please keep in mind, this list should be just a foundation or give you some “food for thought”. I don’t believe you’ll go wrong including the items on this list in any capacity.

Now that you have an understanding of what to bring, why not take the next step? Create your own vehicle builds on wildbarrens.com and start planning your overlanding adventure today. The wilderness awaits!

Create your own Overlanding build over on WildBarrens!

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