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Overlanding Checklist

Overlanding Essentials Checklist

As with most anything else in life, it’s important to be prepared whenever you head off-road. Whether you’re Overlanding or just spending an afternoon on the trails, the best way to ensure that you have everything you need for yourself and your vehicle is to create an Overlanding supplies checklist for each trip. This can help you avoid packing too much or too little.

However, before you start running down the list of recovery gear, off road accessories, and basic tools that you might need, you should also make a list of what you need to check on your Overlanding vehicle before heading out. Some wheelers tend to take their 4×4 rigs for granted, and you definitely don’t want to do that when you’re Overlanding or trail-riding and need it to work.

Overlanding Essentials


While it’s important to ensure that everything related to your 4WD system is working on your rig, it’s also important to check pretty much everything else. In fact, a good rule of thumb anytime you plan to take your vehicle far from home or off the road is to give everything a thorough once-over. In general, if you keep your rig well-maintained, you should be catching problems well before you plan any kind of trip, but it never hurts to check before you load up your truck bed rack, cargo case, or roof rack with Overland gear.

4WD System

How you check this can vary depending on the vehicle you have. At the very least, make sure you can get into 4-high and 4-low without any issues. You don’t want to find out that one of these isn’t working when you’re hitting the trails.


Your vehicle has a number of fluids that keep things lubricated and running normally. Besides your engine oil and fuel, you should also check your coolant, power steering, differential, transmission, and even your wiper fluid. While checking and topping off, look carefully for any signs of leakage.

Belts and Hoses

It’s not always easy to know when belts and hoses will fail, but checking everything before you go is still a good idea. Keep an eye on belts or hoses that look or feel brittle. It’s also a good idea to pack spare hoses and belts, especially the ones for your cooling system and alternator.

Electrical and Lighting

Always make sure your lights and electrical system are functioning properly. Check your headlights, your high beams, your fog lights, and any off-road auxiliary lighting. If you have a winch, air lockers, solar energy sources, air compressor, or any other accessory that requires power, check that these are in good working order. You might also consider testing your battery and interior devices like portable refrigerators or off-road GPS units.

Suspension and Tires

These two areas are among the most crucial for a successful off-roading trip. Make sure your tires are properly inflated (or deflated) and have plenty of tread. Look at your spare as well. Inspect your suspension, including shocks, springs, control arms, and tie rods. You’re mainly looking for any signs of damage or leaking.


Overlanding Essentials

Next, create a checklist for the basic supplies that you’ll need while going off-road. Some of these Overlanding supplies are simply personal necessities, but others fall under the category of emergency preparedness.

Food and Basic Essentials

Food and water are obviously important to have when venturing off-road. How much water should you bring? The minimum amount is one gallon of water per person per day. You shouldn’t skimp on the amount of food you bring either in case you get stuck. Non-perishable items should take priority. Other basic essentials include things like hand cleaner, toilet paper, sunscreen, trash bags, water purification tablets, and either cloth towels or paper towels.

First Aid Kit

It’s always a good idea to keep a first aid kit in your vehicle. A basic Adventure Medical Sportsman 200 first aid kit is a good choice, or the LIFE+GEAR 41-3803 First Aid and Survival Essentials Tin if you want to be more thorough. An off-road first aid kit like the Sportsman 400 first aid kit is also a good choice. If your kit doesn’t contain hot/cold packs or gels for snake bites and burns, you might want to add these.

Extra Clothes

There’s no telling what you might run into on the trail, and there are any number of ways you could end up wet or dirty. Spare clothes like socks, jackets, a warm hat, gloves, and other outerwear are essential to have on hand if the weather gets bad.

Tool Kit

It’s never a bad idea to carry a tool kit in your vehicle, whether you’re off-road or on-road. The kit should include things like a hammer, ratchet, and a set of wrenches and sockets. The Performance Tool W1532 mechanics tool set is an ideal setup.

GPS or Compass

In most cases, your cell phone is plenty. But it’s not a bad idea to have emergency options available, such as an off-road GPS unit or even a basic, old-school compass and a map. Speaking of your phone, don’t forget to pack cables for charging. On a related note, before you hit the trail, visit our post about the best Overlanding apps for our opinion on that topic.

Portable Power

Finally, don’t forget some portable power options like a power inverter, battery pack, jumper cables, flashlights, and USB hubs. It’s always a good idea to have more than one option available. A portable power bank like the Southwire Elite series portable power station even has AC outlets. The Duracell 900 amp jumpstarter or the Michelin XR1 portable power source are good choices for battery jump packs.


Overlanding Essentials

The final checklist for your off-road adventure should be the one that keeps your vehicle moving forward. The potential for getting stuck is an ever-present danger when you head off the pavement. This checklist will help ensure that your vehicle doesn’t stay stuck for long.

Winch and Tree Savers

The most common and essential of vehicle recovery options is undoubtedly a trusty winch. If you go off-road often, you probably already have a winch mounted to a winch-ready off-road bumper on the front of your vehicle. However, you can also purchase a portable winch, such as the WARN Drill Winch or Superwinch Winch2Go.

If you’re using a winch, it’s also a good idea to have a tree saver on hand. This tool prevents damage to your winch line as well as the anchor point, which might be a tree or a boulder. You can find what you need with top brands like Factor 55, Bubba Rope, and Bulldog Winch.

Kinetic Tow Straps and Rope

Traditional tow straps are a basic recovery item, but if you want to make them more versatile, you should consider investing in kinetic tow straps. These straps have extra stretch to them that enables better load distribution during a recovery. Look at some top brands like ARB, Voodoo Offroad, Rugged Ridge, or Bubba Rope. Regular rope is also a good thing to have on hand.

Tire Repair and Air Compressor

Tire punctures are a common issue when traveling off-road. Having a spare is one way to keep going, but sometimes it’s quicker and easier to perform a tire repair instead. Having a tire repair kit on hand from brands like ARB¬†or Overland Vehicle Systems is a great way to save your spare for a more critical situation.

Speaking of your tires, a portable air compressor is a good tool to have as well. Deflating your tires on the trail can help you get more traction, but it’s not as easy to add air when you’re back on the pavement. An air compressor fills this need. Consider brands like Viair and ARB for on-board air systems.

Recovery Jack and Boards

These are two extremely useful items for getting unstuck on the trail. Recovery boards can be placed in front of or behind your stuck tires and give you immediate traction. A recovery jack is useful for working on your vehicle, but it can also help you get unstuck from a tall obstacle like a stump or a rock. When it comes to recovery jacks, Hi-Lift is the best in the business, and their All-Cast 48-inch recovery jack is a top choice.

Recovery Gear Kits

If you don’t want to build your arsenal of recovery gear piece by piece, you can also invest in a recovery gear kit. You still might have to add a few items from the above list, but it’s hard to beat the initial convenience of a kit.

Here are a few of our recommendations:

ARB Premium and Essentials Recovery Kit
Warn Heavy-Duty Epic Recovery Kit
Rugged Ridge XHD Recovery Gear Kit
Smittybilt Premium Winch Accessory Kit

This list of Overlanding essentials should get you started on the right path. Of course, this is not everything you could possibly ever need. Your requirements may vary depending on the type of terrain you plan to cover and the conditions you will face. It’s always best to seek out fellow travelers for additional help and ideas. We recommend the community at Overland Bound for additional tips and friendly advice.

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