You can encounter many challenges as an overlanding family while on off road trips. Your overlanding gear will look completely different from those who travel with kids.
Depending on the age of your kids, you may have to plan differently than other overlanding families. We’ll get into how to get started as an overlanding family with your FREE Packing List for the Overlanding Family, but we should define overlanding first.
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What is overlanding?
Overlanding has many different definitions depending on the source. Some say that you MUST have a highly built rig, travel internationally, and complete routes that would make Lewis and Clark cry like your kids after being in a car seat for 10 hours.
Some say that overlanding is kind of like car camping that involves some level of off-road travel. I say that the true definition lies somewhere in between and
the overlander is the only one who can define what that experience looks like.
Sure, you should have a certain element of vehicle dependent travel that takes you off of the beaten path, but you don’t need to drop $80,000 on a rig and drive through the African desert for 9 years to truly be an overlander.
During my time at Outward Bound, I heard the saying that “There is no finish line, just an ending point.”
That is to say that the entire journey is the experience, not just reaching the destination.
There will be some trails that you encounter that you can’t climb. Some water crossings will be too deep and will necessitate a bypass.
Those are just part of the journey.
As I’ve heard many times on Overland Bound forums, the best overlanding vehicle is the one that you have.
Are there better ones? Probably so.
Could you get this or that modification to make your vehicle more capable, absolutely.
But do you want to wait 5 years to have the perfect vehicle? Do you want to miss out on 5 years of overlanding with your family to have the perfect vehicle?
Think about that…if you have a 10 year old kid, who is eager to adventure, she will be 15 before you start your adventures.
You could miss the opportunity to build that sense of adventure and drive to explore in her.
Overlanding with a family can be quite a challenge. Two people could easily take a Jeep Wrangler JKU, drop the back seats and load out for an adventure covering hundreds of miles.
Now add in two more people, who have an attention span of 30 minutes, if you’re lucky, and put them on a rough road for 8 hours.
You’d better start getting creative.
My family and I have been traveling full-time for the past year and have learned to cultivate the gear that we bring including what we put within arms reach of the kids.
We are very fortunate to have kids who are eager to read and learn. We noticed this innate drive in them to learn as we have been fortunate enough to homeschool/roadschool them for their whole life.
Some of their favorite things to do in the Jeep are to work on previous activity booklets from Junior Ranger programs. Many of the programs are free through the National Parks Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Some Junior Ranger program booklets need to picked up in person at the park and complete on site and earn the badge. But you can download some from here, complete them on your next trip and send them in for a patch or badge. This is just one of the necessities an overlanding family must have on the packing list. ALWAYS!
The other things that are important for our kids while overlanding is their books.
We bought a cheap cloth box that fits between the two car seats. This box has two purposes, it gives them a place to keep their things and also limits the amount of stuff that they can bring.
They each have a backpack that they can keep their journals, pencils, and other books in. The backpacks are also where they attach the badges and patches that they’ve earned through the Junior Ranger programs.
Best Off Road Gear for the Overlanding Family
To help get you started, we have included a free packing list to help you get ready for your first trip as an overlanding family or to help you refine what you already bring. These are some of the things that we’ve found to be the most important thus far.
- All-Terrain Tires – One of the best things that we have purchased for our Jeep is our BF Goodrich KO2 All-Terrain tires. We mounted 33″ tires on our stock Jeep wheels.
- We are experiencing a little bit of rubbing when the wheel is turned all of the way to the left and right, but the trade off is more ground clearance and better traction.
- Skottle – One item that we couldn’t live without is our Skottle by Tembo Tusk. We cook everything on this! We make burgers, bacon, eggs, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower rice! This cooks it all is made by an awesome company!
- Plus you can use our discount code for 5% off of your purchase: thepathfindersnetwork
- Yeti – We love this cooler because we can smash it to make it fit in our rig. We can carry up to a weeks worth of cold items, including meat, drinks, and extra stuff.
- Front Bumper – The next best purchase has been our Smittybilt Carbine SRC as we can also use this bumper to flat tow our Jeep behind our motorhome.
- This gives us a solid mounting point for the winch, that we have yet to acquire.
- Hi-Lift Jack – We have had a Hi-Lift Jack floating around our storage unit for years and decided to mount it on our Jeep as a little more piece of mind while off roading.
- Trasharoo – I found a used and damaged Marine Corps FILBE that worked perfectly for my make-shift Trasharoo.
- Having a dedicated place for our trash has been invaluable. We don’t have to put the trash in the vehicle which would just smell bad and take up precious space.
- Pelican Case – Our large Pelican case serves as way to organize our camping gear and keep it from falling out of the back of our tightly packed Jeep.
- Aeropress – Speaking of coffee, I would be remiss if I didn’t include the most critical element of our overlanding experience.
- My morning process of grinding whole beans and getting the perfect brew in my Aeropress is critical to a great day. I enjoy the process of making the coffee as much as I do drinking it.