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What is Overlanding?

Kelly Nomura November 17, 2023 Tread

Often asked by those first learning about the hobby, I still hear the question asked today: So, what exactly is overlanding?

By definition from Oxford Languages, overlanding simply means “to travel a long distance over land.” Most resources online will add in that overlanding is self-reliant adventure travel through remote areas where the journey is more important than the destination.

It’s pretty safe to say there are many ways to interpret that definition, with the most important takeaway that the journey is the emphasis. I’d also toss into the definition hat, that it could include remote camping, where one needs 4WD to get to a camp spot. As many of us in the U.S. are weekend warriors, we may not have the time to get out for longer trips, but get out frequently on the weekends to escape the city and enjoy nature.

For me, a few memorable trips that I consider overlanding fall on different spots of the spectrum. One was a 10-day off-highway trip through Nevada that covered 950 miles. Another is a trip I just completed last week; we spent 5 days driving through California, mostly on road but camping every night. A third trip was brief, but remote; we spent 3 days, 2 nights at the North Rim Grand Canyon where we camped on the cliff’s edge in two different spots with no one in sight except my group. These trips, while different, brought the same feelings of discovery, excitement, and adventure. And the takeaway is the same: I adventured in my vehicle for multiple days where I was self-reliant and in good company having a great time experiencing new things.

One of the great things about overlanding is the aspect of individualism. You get to build a vehicle that is your own to fit your needs. Whether you tend to do more off-road expeditions or weekend camping in remote locations, the vehicle you build should reflect your needs —and that may evolve over time.

This issue highlights builds of varying needs and use. There’s a Nissan Xterra that is lived out of full time and ready for adventure. Rebuilt after an accident, the owner’s love for the vehicle and adventures shared lead to the easy decision to fix her up instead of scrapping her. A built Lexus GX460 graces the pages and shows once a car builder, always a car builder—even when the style may change. The Subaru Outback Wilderness has been a popular choice for those looking to get outdoors and camp. The higher ground clearance makes it an easy choice for those looking to get good gas mileage in day-to-day driving and take it through the dirt on weekends. This issue features a Subaru Outback Wilderness that does just that, proving a few accessories are all you need to get out and camp away from the crowds. To round things out, we finish up Part II of Chris Collard’s tire repair story, arming you with great knowledge to now fix a flat both on trail and off.

By the time this year concludes, we will have attended 8 overland or off-road events. We highlight a few that occurred earlier this year for those who didn’t make it and may want to check them out in 2024. The crew at Rogue Overland share their adventures from their annual trip. This year, they head into Moab and hit the trails in that area, experiencing wild weather and lots of water crossings. The annual trip seems to keep getting more exciting each year.

Whether you drive more road miles or dirt miles on your next trip, enjoy the journey and the company. Making memories is truly what overlanding is all about.

Happy trails,
Tread Magazine

Editor’s Note: A version of this article appeared in TREAD Nov/Dec 2023.


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