Are you familiar with the practice of overlanding? For some of its most ardent fans, overlanding is actually more of a lifestyle than anything else. It is all about the journey. And often times, the journey takes overlanders into some pretty remote places. That’s why their equipment choices are so critical.
Some overlanding equipment is considered essential. Still, a lot of it falls under the ‘extras’ category. Extra equipment is stuff that you don’t really need to survive in the wilderness but it’s still nice to have anyway.
With all that said, there are two pieces of equipment that overlanders often fail to truly appreciate until they suddenly find themselves without. Both are considered unsung heroes of the overlanding lifestyle, at least from this writer’s perspective.
1. The Rooftop Rack
Just about every car on the market can be fitted with a luggage rack at the factory. After-market luggage racks are a-dime-a-dozen, too. But a cheap luggage rack might be useless to an overlander who knows it can’t handle the loads they plan to throw on top. So they need a stronger rooftop rack capable of dishing out whatever punishment is thrown at it.
It turns out that the rooftop rack is such a critical piece of kit that many overlanders couldn’t do without it. Here’s the thing: it does a lot more than just hold luggage. A rooftop rack can also be a:
- Tent Platform – Having your rooftop rack double as a tent platform keeps you off the ground when it’s time to sleep. Anyone who has extensive experience of wilderness camping knows just how important this is.
- Lookout Platform – In addition to providing a platform for your tent, a rooftop rack can also double as a lookout platform. Climb on top with your binoculars and scope your surroundings for miles.
- Toy Carrier – Some overlanders throw all the luggage in the vehicles, using their rooftop racks as toy carriers. The tracks are ideal for kayaks, canoes, whitewater rafts, hang gliders, etc. Any toys too big to fit inside need to go on the roof. That’s just the way it is.
There is more I could write about the rooftop rack. However, it’s time to move on to the second unsung hero of the overlanding lifestyle…
2. The Cam Buckle Strap
If there is one thing every overlander has in common, it is the need for some means of tying things down. You have your ropes and bungie cords. You have your chains. However, nothing is as versatile and useful as the cam buckle strap.
The makers of the Rollercam brand tie downs describe a cam buckle strap as a webbing strap with a cam buckle to hold things secure. You run the open end through the cam buckle and pull tightly. The straps are more secure than bungie cords and easier to deploy than rope.
Cam buckle straps can secure things to the top of your vehicle. They can be used to anchor your tent. Any application for which you would normally use rope can probably be accommodated with cam straps. You can never have too many straps when you are out in the great unknown.
Overlanders put a ton of money into their vehicles and equipment. It is important to them to be properly equipped before leaving home. That being the case, some of the things they invest in are deemed critical. From my perspective, two of those items are the rooftop rack and cam buckle straps. Without both, overlanding becomes a more difficult experience that could ultimately turn into a chore. And if that is the case, why bother?