If you say Off Roading to different people, it’s going to mean different things.  And I don’t pretend to be an expert at anyone of them, but I’ve tried them…
Rock Crawling has never had much appeal to me.  Fighting your vehicle over obstacles may be fun for some… Twisting axels and drive shafts and blowing your tire’s bead off the rims… no, I don’t consider that fun.  Sure, it’s fun to watch others do it.  But I’ve never been tempted to do it for sport.  I’ve done it a couple times out of necessity in my Bronco or my Scotsdale… but I only did it to get out of areas I got into and had no other way out of.  No, I’ll avoid rock crawling as much as possible.
I’ve never liked Mudding either.  Sure it can be fun, but it can get you stuck tighter than anything else.  See, the Earth doesn’t like Mud Boggers and Mother Earth strives to punish them… Sucking them down ever deeper into her grasp.   I was once stuck for over 14 hours when I went Mudding with some folks in Washington State.  We were so stuck, a couple of us had to hike out to find Search and Rescue.   The Rescue vehicle showed up, pulled them out (While me and another fellow hung out at the Rescue Station and waited for them to make it back) and then got stuck them selves.   That cured me of all my desire for Mudding.   And then as further punishment, the Mud will get into your axles and bearings and everywhere else it can cause havoc and if you don’t get it washed out good – will act as a grinding compound to eat your vehicle alive.  No, no thank you.
Now then there is Overlanding.   This is my kind of off roading.  Overlanding is about traveling.  It’s about going some place, not just getting through some thing.  The way I see it, Overlanding has a point.  A destination as well as the journey.
I see a lot of Off Road vehicles guys are setting up and a lot of them just make me scratch my head.  What are they set up for?   To me, it seems they are set up for looks only.  Some look like they could be set up for Mudding or Rock Crawling until you look closer.  Few are set up to be an actual Bug Out Vehicle, yet that’s what their owners are saying they are.  I’m sorry, but Jeep is cool with your 454 on a stock 18 gallon tank turning 44″ tires isn’t going to get you much distance, so I hope you are not Bugging too far Out.
To me, a good Bug Out Vehicle has to be a good Overland Vehicle.  Imagine it this way… You have to get from one coast to the other, without going on a Freeway or passing through a city and avoiding as much population as possible, and avoiding Points of Entry along the way.  Now plot that course out.  You may have to take some trails or fire roads.  You may have to cross open BLM Land.  Forestry Trails.  Follow power line trails.
Okay, let’s get serious here.  Think about your Zombie Plan.  Your SHTF Plan.  Your Bug Out Plan… Where are you Bugging Out too? How are you going to get there.  Now think about who you are taking with you.  Okay, now think about what you are going to need.  Now think about how you are going to take that with you.  Yeah, just having a 4×4 isn’t the solution.   You may not actually need a 4×4.  If your plan is just “getting up into the mountains”… You need a better plan.
This is where Overlanding has some good value.  It’s like a how we go to Shooting Courses to learn the art of gunfighting… but for Bugging Out.  Get out there… get into the wilderness. Get away from Wi-Fi.  Disconnect from things.  And put yourself to the Bug Out Test.  By actually Bugging Out for awhile.
Man, I do miss my Chevy Scotsdale 4×4 right now.

11 thoughts on “Overland”

  1. An expedition vehicle is a whole different prospect than most things seen on a dealer’s showroom floor. We’ve done hunting trips and camping trips into the back country – sometimes gone for as much as ten days or so. One thing you find out pretty quick is just how badly the focus has shifted from capability to creature comforts in most vehicles.

    An old WWII era Dodge Power Wagon will still get you just about anywhere you need to go but it won’t do so in air conditioned comfort and you can pretty much forget about a sound system. Winches, tow straps, Hi-Lift jacks, shovels, axes, spares and a decent tool kit up to and including a welder is probably not overkill for overland travel. Two vehicles are way more capable than one vehicle alone. A smallish, off-road capable utility trailer is definitely a plus.

    Like your analogy for training, mindset will likely make or break you in terms of getting from point A to point B cross country.

  2. A Jeep Cherokee(XJ) with a small lift and 31-32″ tires will get you most places you’ll ever really “need” to travel. You just have to be careful picking one, as they are no longer made and options varied quite a bit during their production run. The models with the factory tow package tended to have the stronger Dana44 rear axle.

    Personally, I prefer the ’96-98 Grand Cherokee(ZJ). The V8 had ample power, they rode extremely well and were quite capable in stock form. A small(2″) lift will clear 245/75/16(31×10) tires. With the V8, re-gearing isn’t even necessary. Plus, you could get it fully decked out with all the luxury items you want.

    Either truck would serve well for overland travel, or getting out of dodge. Particularly if paired with a small “off-road capable” trailer in tow.

  3. This is almost exactly like what I enjoy doing with my family outings in the 4Runner.

    I get to learn about the vehicle – what it can do, what it can’t, and what it probably shouldn’t do.

    More importantly, I get to familiarize myself with the backcountry of my area. For almost any place within 100 miles, I know all kinds of routes to get there, from highways to roads that are practically mule trails.

  4. I agree 100%. I have had similar experiences with rock crawling and mudding – I’ll only do them again if forced. Exploring back roads, taking friends to that sweet swimming hole way-back in the woods, having fun without investing piles of money in your vehicle then breaking it – great way to spend a weekend.

  5. I used to do quite a bit of off-raoding back in my youth. What I learned was management of assets: It is fun to get there, but you must not forget that at the end you have to go back with your vehicle. Plan ahead, don’t be stupid, keep risk to a necessary minimum.

  6. 1967 2wd datsun pickup, a come-along, chains, shovel, and an ax.

    I’ve gone places with that setup that others with “equipped” vehicles fear to tread.

    It’s all about your know how with the equipment you have and your skill set for the environment you are in.

  7. I am MUCH more interested in an overland vehicle.
    Being able to grab the wife and just go wherever we want is HUGE.
    My F250 4×4 does OK, but it would need a bit of work to be a good overlander… and Superduty overland mods are not as cheep as Cherokee mods.
    Thus, another XJ is in my future.


  8. One type of off-roading that is common in coastal North Carolina that you might not be familiar with is beach cruising, in which you take a 4×4 truck or jeep and use it to drive on the beach itself in order to quickly arrive at shore fishing areas. NC regulates when and where you can drive on beaches, but it’s a lot of fun in those places where you can do it. The Fort Fisher area is one place in which you can offroad on the beach, the north part of Carolina Beach is another.

    Here is beach access info for the Bogue Banks area (Fort Macon). You can probably Google for other areas.

  9. My choice a 70-80s carburated 4 cylinder jeep Cj or Toyota land cruiser. Setup with manual transmission, aftermarket inline overdrive and manual lockouts on all 4 wheels. Towing a mil surplus trailer with the axel swapped to use the same rear axle, springs, breaks and tires as the towing vehicle. Aftermarket extended range gas tanks in vehicle and 50+ gallon tank in trailer. With proper tool kit and judiciously choosen spares you should be able to keep this combination moving for a long haul. Duplicate vehicles would mean being able to scavange parts to keep one running. This rig has as much redundcy and repairablity as possible but sacrifices creature comfort.

    My 79 CJ can be a daily driver has a 580 mile 2wd highway range using onboard tanks and an additional 800 from the trailers reserve tank. I’ve owned it since 79 and there isn’t any thing I haven’t taken apart. It’s mechanically straight forward and maintainable under primitive conditions.

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