Spend enough time outdoors and you quickly realize there’s gear you wouldn’t go anywhere without, along with some that isn’t essential. It’s time to settle the debates and go over the gear every overlander needs. We’ve compiled a list that will keep you alive, comfortable, well-fed, and safe. Without further ado, here are the top ten gear items every overlander needs for adventure.

Top Ten Gear Items Every Overlander Needs For Adventure.

Before we dive into the overland gear list though, let’s talk about the key factors that make essential gear, well, essential. First, it’s something that helps you avoid some sort of crisis. This could be physical injury, food shortage, vehicle trouble, sleep deprivation…the list is virtually endless. But with overlanding, space is limited. So ideally, the gear will be lightweight and not bulky. And if it does take up a lot of space, it has to earn its keep by adding significant comfort or ability to avoid crisis. As we go through these, you’ll notice several kits consisting of multiple pieces that complement each other.

1. First Aid Kit

This is listed first for a reason – it might save your life. You can either create your own or buy one with all the essentials. But most importantly, familiarize yourself with the contents and know what the capabilities are. You don’t want one of the pocket-sized kits from the grocery store with a few bandaids and Neosporin. You need a kit capable of managing serious wounds, burns, allergic reactions, and more. It’s also a great idea to add pieces specific to your situation – this could include personal medication or small tools.

2. Camp Cooking

Having the option of a warm meal can make a huge difference in maintaining a positive attitude. You’ll want a camp stove, a few different-sized pots and pans, and basic kitchen utensils. If you’ve got the space and love to cook, you might pack cooking gear similar to what you have at home. Many kits are available that nest into each other so size and weight are minimal. Stainless steel cookware is a great material that stands up to outdoor abuse and stays clean.

3. Sleep system

Among all the overlanding camping gear, the value of a good night’s sleep can’t be overstated. Whether you have a rooftop tent or you’re camping from the truck bed, comfort matters. This will vary based on your vehicle and personal preference, but focus on insulating power, cushion, and ability to wick moisture. If you’ve got a comfortable bed with a mattress in the back of a van, that’s great. But a quality sleeping pad and synthetic or down sleeping bag is an affordable, simple way to rest easy.

4. Basic Tools & Repair Kit

Similar to a first aid kit, you can buy a set of basic tools or create your own. Additionally, equip yourself with the knowledge to use the tools. Keep all these items together and store them in an organized manner. Chances are you won’t need these often, but when you do you’ll want to be able to find them quickly. At a minimum, you’ll want different types of pliers, screwdrivers and bits, hex keys, ratchets, sockets, and a multi-tool such as a Leatherman. Keep other items like paracord, duct tape, and zip ties close by as these have infinite uses.

5. Vehicle Recovery Kit

You’re not overlanding if your vehicle is stuck or immobile and first up in this category is extra fuel. While you want to be aware of the nearest service stations and fill up when possible, a full gas can is cheap insurance. A heavy-duty winch on the front of overland vehicles can be a lifesaver, but you’ll also want a tow strap, shackles, traction boards, and a shovel (more on that later). If you’ve got the space, a high-lift jack is a great addition to your recovery gear.

6. Shovel

It’s hard to beat a shovel for simplicity and multipurpose use. You can pack a small fold-up shovel that takes up minimal space, or a full-sized shovel if you’ve got room. This piece of gear could get your vehicle unstuck, put out a fire, bury waste, and clear a campsite all in the same day.

7. Fire Extinguisher

This one is non-negotiable and needs little explanation – they’re small, inexpensive, and can prevent a bad situation from turning tragic. Be sure to check the pressure and keep it somewhere that’s accessible and visible so others can find it.

8. Air Compressor

Tires can take a beating going over rugged terrain and a portable air compressor is perfect for adding air to tires that develop slow leaks. But they can also be used for filling air mattresses and blowing away dirt and moisture from places you want clean and dry. These can run off 12V DC power or your car battery for easy, reliable use. Keeping one in the vehicle is a no-brainer.

9. Satellite Communication/Navigation

Knowing where you are and where you’re going is critical with any overlanding trip. You’ll want some form of electronic mapping, such as a handheld GPS or an app on your phone like OnX. These provide topographical info, satellite imagery, and public land boundaries. Good old-fashioned paper maps are also tough to beat for quick, big-picture referencing. Along the same lines, you want a satellite communicator in case of emergency. There are multiple options for satellite phones and devices that serve as both GPS and communication tools. Choose one that fits your needs and budget, and don’t hit the road without it.

10. Lighting

There’s no escaping darkness after the sun sets, but having a few different LED lights makes life easy. Headlamps are small and easy to keep close at hand near the driver’s seat and another one or two with commonly used gear, such as cooking equipment. A full-sized flashlight or collapsible LED lantern is perfect for lighting a larger area when you need a lot of light. If it works for your vehicle, running a string of LED lights along the inside with an on/off button makes it feel like home. This is especially nice if you have a truck topper. These lights can run off your vehicle’s battery so you don’t have to worry about the power supply.

Before you take off on the next overlanding adventure, be sure to add any of the gear you might be missing. Stay creative as you prepare and always look for gear that’s versatile, packable, and durable. Overlanding wasn’t meant to be easy, but peace of mind knowing you’re prepared for anything goes a long way in having a great adventure.