What is Overlanding? A Short Exploration

If you search for the term “overlanding” you will likely come across an explanation that goes something like this, “…travel to or through remote locations via a self reliant, off-road worthy vehicle, where the journey is the primary purpose…”

I agree and I disagree.

Overlanding; Why I Agree

I agree because it is a simple, easy explanation that can be easily repeated to someone who may not have any ideas on the hobby/lifestyle of overlanding. I would almost call it a short elevator pitch. Picture yourself at your 9 to 5, you’re chatting with friends about your upcoming trip to Aroostock County, Maine. Your manager overhears “overlanding” and stops by your cube and asks, “…what the heck is overlanding?” At that point, you could very easily regurgitate  the Google search results.


…where the journey is the primary purpose…


Here are the key elements to help answer, “What is Overlanding?”

  1. It’s a journey
  2. Using off-road vehicles
  3. Travel to or through remote locations
  4.  Self reliant as much as possible

Overlanding; Why I Disagree?

Here is why I disagree. I think there are many different reasons why people gravitate to the lifestyle. I’ll focus on a couple of the items that I believe stand out as some really key aspects.

Together Time!

More often than not I see people overlanding together! Sometimes it’s a couple just traveling together. Sometimes you see a family with young children going on a tour of the Southwest. You will often also see a group of guys bonding over their “rigs” and other equipment during meetups and other activities. The point here is that the lifestyle is really about bring people together and getting to experience something absolutely unique.

I personally view overlanding as a great opportunity to spend time with my son. We disconnect from the digital world (for the most part) and focus on the philosophical musings of a 14 year old boy. It’s pretty amazing what insight you can gain from spending days together with nothing but your own conversation to help pass the miles.

Remote Camping

Probably my favorite reason for taking up the hobby would be to pursue another hobby! Remote or Primitive camping is one of my favorite activities. I don’t get to go very often which is a bit of a disappointment.

If you’re not familiar with the terminology, Active.com defines as, “In general, primitive camping is defined as being without neighbors, electricity, running water, bathroom facilities and, often times, cell service. You camp in a remote location and provide everything for yourself.”

Overlanding provides and excellent opportunity to do some remote camping as well! Being able to drive into areas not accessible by your typical “car” camper means that you have the opportunity to experience camping with some elbow room! I’ve never been partial to campgrounds and the site on top of site arrangement.

My Final Thought

Whatever your reason, be it the journey, the comradery, the relationship or the destination, one thing is for certain, overlanding holds a special purpose for many people.