Overlanding, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a type of self-reliant adventure travel. It involves setting out to remote destinations—a trip in which the journey itself is one’s primary goal. Blending off-road exploration with a healthy dose of comfortable camping, this get-away-from-it-all activity has seen a great deal of growth in this current age of social distancing.

When it comes to overlanding vehicles, you’ll want to equip your right with things your crew needs for camping — food, water, sleeping accommodation — plus a slathering of off-road upgrades. Depending on what you’ve got in mind for your destination, those add-ons could be a few simple items or a complete bumper to bumper overhaul.

For those looking to jump into the overlanding arena but who may be unsure where (or how) to start, we’ve partnered with the experts at MagnaFlow to create the ultimate overlanding guide, from the best rigs and equipment for the pastime to a list of items you won’t want to be without the next time you hit the Back Forty in search of overnight adventure.

We've partnered with the experts at MagnaFlow to create the ultimate overlanding guide.

What You’ll Need to Get Started

Experienced overlanders know the value in assembling their gear before embarking on journeys far and wide. Deciding whether you’ll want to sleep in your vehicle or in a rooftop tent is the first step, as it will guide pretty much every other decision you will make. Dozing atop your rig frees up a lot of cargo space but does add the expense of buying topside sleeping quarters.

Investing in good quality cooking gear and food storage is a must as well, avoiding spoiled grub and hangry travel companions. Once you’ve got a comfortable sleeping setup sorted out, you’ll also want to be sure to pack a first aid kit as well as a tool kit. Every trip and vehicle is unique, but we’d recommend starting out with an Allen key, socket set, a quality pair of utility scissors (or pocket knife), a tire pressure gauge, parachute cord, and plenty of zip ties just in case.

As for where to put all this gear, some people simply arrange it neatly in the vehicle cargo area while others rebuild the inside of rigs with the zeal of This Old House.

Solar panels are becoming an increasingly popular method of powering electric devices while on the trail as well, saving fuel and the truck’s battery reserve. This is particularly handy, as overlanding often takes drivers to the far flung reaches of civilization.

How to Kit Out Your Vehicle

Building up your 4×4 does more than simply providing the thing with an aggressive appearance and too-cool aura. Installing a gnarly set of tires should be one’s first order of business, since all the power in the world is useless without traction. Seek out good quality hoops from reputable companies and avoid off-brand knock-offs whose tread may be similar to the big guns but are often constructed from far inferior materials.

A Toyota 4Runner with MagnaFlow Overland Series exhaust

One other area where an upgrade can go a long way? Your vehicle’s exhaust. MagnaFlow’s new Overland Series of performance exhaust systems. Easy to install and coming with a lifetime warranty, these performance exhausts are tuned to eliminate highway drone while enhancing the individual character of your vehicle, while their lightweight construction will help offset the weight of all the extra equipment described above.

The MagnaFlow Overland Series performance exhaust on a Jeep Wrangler JK

Also handy? Their high-clearance exit pipes, designed to avoid getting hung up on obstacles such as a wayward rock that could otherwise ruin your day. This helps preserve (or perhaps even increase) your rig’s departure angle and ground clearance measures.

What Are the Best Overlanding Vehicles?

In a section that will surely spur angry letters to the editor, we’ve assembled a list of vehicles we think are prime candidates for a week-long overlanding adventure.

A full look at MagnaFlow's overlanding lineup: the Toyota 4Runner, Jeep Wrangler JK, and Lexus GX

The venerable Jeep Wrangler is top of mind, of course, since it can leap over most terrain even in stock form. Adding aftermarket parts to its capable frame only enhances its capability. This is also true of the Toyota 4Runner and, for those who simply can’t live without their luxury atmosphere, its cousin the Lexus GX.

Land Rover Defenders are also known as an immensely capable off-road vehicle right out of the box, and are spoken of in reverence by fans.

Adding equipment on these machines to permit a few nights of self-contained adventure is a relatively simple task given they are generally shaped like bricks—and most are tough as one, too. Starting with a new vehicle is a pricey proposition, so many look to the second-hand market for their whip of choice. Know that many of these vehicles hold their values quite well, however, so the savings may not be as great if the used rig you’re buying needs a bit of work. Still, with a little elbow grease and the right equipment, you can get your rig set up to take you just about anywhere. Just remember: when it comes to overlanding, the journey is the destination.

For more on how MagnaFlow’s Overland Series can help take your overlanding game to the next level, click here.