I have had countless adventures to the backcountry in the Jeep over the last couple of years. I have explored awesome backcountry roads taking only the essentials to sustain me. I travel to locations that are within a couple hours of home and other times I travel to places 10+ hours away. Overall, I spent a lot of time on the road and enjoy travelling long distances, so my overland setup reflects that.
Read below to learn about my overland rig, camping setup, kitchen setup, and more:
My overland rig is a 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk. Over the last 3 years I have had the best times exploring the outdoors in my Jeep. This vehicle is capable straight out of the factory and has allowed me to explore some awesome places. However, as time passed, I have made various upgrades to the vehicle:
- Larger Mud Tires: Falken Wildpeak AT3Ws, Size: 275/65/18
- These more rugged tires with slightly large diameter and wider wheelbase have served me well through mud, snow, and rocky terrain.
- Wheel Spacers: SpiderTrax 1.75 in Spacers
- These increased my wheelbase for extra stability off-road and a more rugged look.
- Roof Rack: Rhino Rack Pioneer Platform
- Rock Sliders
- Skid Plates
- Metal Bumper
- Off-Road Lights
- CB Radio
- Coil Suspension replacement?
The air ride technology has allowed me to do much off-roading without doing a suspension overhaul as I can adjust the height of my vehicle with the push of the button. Additionally, the traction technology with different terrain modes works great for keeping traction on slippery and rugged roads.
Another thing I love about the Jeep WK2 is how quickly it transitions from off-road to on road and vice versa. I often go on long trips that require a lot of on pavement driving before hitting off-road trails and continuing the journey on the unmaintained trails. My rig handles great on those long on-road trips and then effortlessly transitions to off-road.
Additionally, my Jeep has plenty of cargo space. This allows me to bring all the necessary gear and still be comfortable. With the addition of the roof rack, I can fit all sorts of gear, but always make sure to not overload the roof rack as that would make my vehicle too top heavy. You want to avoid this while on uneven off-road trails.
Check out our article How to Build an Overland Vehicle.
While camping in the backcountry I always have to setup camp from scratch. There are usually no tables or amenities. For this reason, I like to keep my camp set up simple.
Most of the time I use a Coleman Tent, with a sleeping bag and sleeping matt. It is a fairly simple setup, but in the future, I may upgrade to a blow-up mattress. This setup is simple and provides the authentic camping experience out in the elements. I also have a Roof Rack Awning that I use for additional shelter and occasionally set up my tent underneath the awning for added protection.
I sometimes sleep in the back of my Jeep. The large cargo space and fold down seats turn into a flat surface that is great for sleeping at night. I then utilize my sleeping matt to provide a softer surface for sleeping. The benefits of this set up are that it is quick and provides extra shelter and warmth.
Having a quick setup works great when I am on the road. Sometimes setting up and taking down the tent can be tedious and takes time out of my adventure. I may get to camp late and be so tired that I just fall asleep in my car, and then in the morning I can just get up and go.
Additionally, in cold weather my tent does not always provide the most warmth or protection from the elements. Being in the car provides a large barrier between you and the elements allowing you to sleep safely and comfortably. This can sometimes take away a little of the experience of camping, since sleeping out in the elements feels more like you are out in nature, but it depends on the situation.
For our more info check out our article Shelter Options for Overland Camping.
My standard overland kitchen setup is straightforward and simple. I bring a folding table and a Coleman Double Burner Stove. When I get to camp, I first set up the shelter and then I set up the kitchen. I bring out the folding table and stabilize it with ropes and stakes if there are high winds, and then set up the Coleman Stove on top.
This kitchen setup is simple and provides a similar feel to my normal kitchen. I keep all my seasonings and dry food in a duffle bag and then all my cold food in my Pelican Cooler. My Pelican Cooler keeps ice for up to 10 days. Even in trips to the hot desert under the scorching sun this cooler performs.
I also utilize the campfire for cooking on occasion, but I always make sure there are no fire bans in the area before making one. The campfire provides an extra smoky flavor to the food and provides more cooking space than the double burner stove. I may cook some vegetables and side dishes on the stove and the cook the meat over the fire, usually using a cooking grate or skewers. Or cook the meat on the stove and finish it on the fire for a nice char.
Check out our article Overland Kitchen Setups for more info.
Having a campfire while overlanding provides a warmth after a day of adventure. However, if there is a fire ban, you cannot have open flames for risk of starting a wildfire. Always respect these restrictions. You do not want to be responsible for burning down a forest. Therefore, my setup varies depending on the location and time of year.
If there is a fire ban, I utilize a propane fire. This is also why I often carry a full tank of propane. Any propane stoves or propane fire pits are ok to use during a fire ban as you have control over the flame and there are no embers that can fly around and start a fire. I utilize the Bond Manufacturing Fire Pit for my adventures as it is not too large and provides sufficient warmth for a up to 8 people.
If there is no fire ban, I almost always start a campfire. I first collect wood, either by purchasing nearby or by chopping down trees and branches to collect and use for my fire. I use a Estwing Axe as it is versatile and lightweight to chop and split wood. I also recommend checking out the Est Wing Hatchet if prefer that over a larger axe. I utilize kindling shavings from the wood or paper I have in my vehicle as fire starter, placing it under the fire the fire to get it started with a lighter of flint rod.
I make sure to always utilize existing fire rings if there are any and if there are not minimize the impact of my fire, by not damaging any vegetation or habitats. In some areas, it is just no appropriate to start a campfire. I then properly put out my fire and leave no trace of it before leaving.
As you can see my overland setup is straightforward and works for the type of overlanding that I do. You can see that you do not need the most extreme modifications or the best gear to have a great time overlanding.
I also recommend getting good recovery gear, which you can learn more about in our article The Best Recovery Gear.
I hope that this inspires you to take a trip to the back country, just ensure that you leave no trace and practice Responsible Overlanding.
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