how to start overlanding on a budget

How to Start Overlanding on a Budget

Ready to get rolling without breaking the bank? If you're new to overlanding, you may feel held back because you don't have a fancy rig to traverse the great outdoors. But overlanding is about the freedom to explore nature, not a pricey setup.  

In reality, you only need a few key accessories to get your vehicle ready for off-road adventure. Here's how to overland on a budget. 

What is the Price of Overlanding? 

The true divide between expensive and cheap overlanding is how much you're willing to spend. Factors like the length of your trip also affect the overall cost.  

The main expense of overlanding is your 4x4 truck or SUV. A new truck can cost anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000, and additional modifications can cost well over $150,000 if you have the cash. But it's also possible to overland under budget by purchasing a used vehicle. Some of the best used trucks on the market can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000.  

If you already have a 4x4 truck with reliable tires, you can go with what you have. From there, you can expect to spend a few hundred to a thousand bucks on additional accessories. This really depends on what tools, accessories, and supplies you already own. You can tailor your accessories to your budget and make many home items work for overlanding.  

How Does Overlanding Work? 

Overlanding is all about you, your vehicle, and the adventure ahead. If you love driving and exploring the outdoors, overlanding is one of the best ways to explore remote trails or stunning desert vistas. Once you arrive at your destination, you may choose to camp for long periods or spend a night under the stars. 

However, this off-the-grid freedom also requires plenty of preparation to keep you safe from the elements. Your vehicle has to be prepared for rough terrain. You also need to pack all of your supplies for eating, navigating, sleeping, and emergencies.  

If you're on a budget, you can still go overland by focusing on gearing up with what you absolutely need. This may require some sacrifice in comfort or shortening your trip's mileage to save money on gas, supplies, and high-tech safety gear.  

What Do You Need for An Overland Vehicle? 

You don't need much to be self-sufficient off the grid, but having additional equipment can make the experience more comfortable and enjoyable. When you're on a budget, it also helps to build up your additional gear over time. 

Even if you're overlanding on a budget, you'll need some of these must-have gear items to get started.  

Rooftop Tent and Rack 

A rooftop tent is an overlanding staple that doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. These tents keep you off the ground and strap directly to your vehicle for easy travel. Soft shell rooftop tents are the most economical option, with high-quality 2-person tents costing as low as $1,050. While still an investment, you'll get plenty of life out of these tents in every season. 

You may also need a cheap overland rack to mount your rooftop tent to your truck. In reality, a quality truck bed rack will still cost you a little under $1,000. You can find cheaper alternatives, but it's essential to choose a sturdy, well-constructed rack for your tent.  

Basic Camping Gear 

You'll want to pack sleeping bags and pads, camping chairs, lanterns, and anything else you need to feel comfortable during your adventure. The gear you need will ultimately depend on the elements, time spent at your destination, and comfort level.  

Other essentials may include toiletries, fire starters, extra batteries, clothing, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a pocket knife. 

Cooking Gear 

Gas grills and camping stoves are great when you're off-grid if you enjoy cooking. But if money is tight (and your location allows), a portable campfire can be an inexpensive way to cook your meals over the fire.  

You likely already have a few plates, utensils, water bottles, and a cooler to store food. However, you will want to make sure you bring plenty of water for your journey, so you may need some larger water jugs.  

Trash Bags and Bathroom Supplies 

Following the Leave No Trace principles is important when you're overlanding. This means packing out all of your trash! Make sure you have a solution in place to haul out your trash.  

Depending on your destination, you may also need some kind of portable toilet situation or bags to pack out any human waste. If you can relieve yourself in the elements, a small shovel for catholes is a must.  

GPS and Navigation Tools 

Obviously, the cheapest way to navigate is a good old-fashioned map and compass. While these are great to have on hand for emergencies, you can find affordable GPS options that make your life easier.  

Overlanders love GPS units from Garmin, OnX Offroad, and Gaia. Some of these devices have relatively reasonable service plan subscriptions. Plus, some plans don't require a physical GPS unit and utilize smartphone apps instead.   

Tool and First Aid Kits 

Driving through the backcountry comes with unforeseen challenges, including flat tires and the occasional injury. To make sure you're prepared, you'll want a tool kit with tire patch kits, screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, ratchet straps, and other necessities to make quick truck repairs.  

For bodily injuries, you can purchase some simple first-aid kits with basics like gloves, alcohol pads, gauze, bandages, and wraps.  

Cooling Systems 

If you're overlanding in the heat, keeping cool is essential for you and your vehicle. Drinking plenty of water and seeking shade can help you keep your core body temperature down, but an electric cooling system may not be possible if you're on a budget. Reflective sunshades, mesh tents, and battery-powered fans can help without breaking the bank.  

Overland On a Budget With Hutch Tents  

Ready to start your overlanding journey? Hutch Tents can help outfit your truck with affordable accessories for your adventures.  

Check Out the Best Overlanding Accessories Today! 

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