What is the difference between camping and Overlanding? Overlanding is getting further off the grid. For decades, Subaru enthusiasts have been combining road trips and taking their vehicles to less-explored locations. Many Subaru enthusiasts take it to the next level and modify their all-wheel-drive vehicles with lift kits, underbody protection, and larger wheels and tires.
Here are tips from experienced Subaru Overlanders who say there are some things you must do to have the best off-the-grid experience. Check out the tips below from Subaru Drive Magazine. Click on the red links and videos for additional information.
Photo credit: Subaru via Ryan Corlis
Get your vehicle serviced before you go
Overlanding trips usually last extended periods in remote areas, so your Subaru needs to be ready to go without issues. Jeff Maassen, an overlander based in St. Louis who takes about four Overlanding trips a year, says being diligent about routine vehicle maintenance is the best way to have a drama-free trip. Oil changes, tire rotations, and checking your headlights, brakes, and turn signals are all important.
Marc Eslava, an overlander in San Diego with The Rooted Progress, agrees. “Every big trip that I plan, I always have my mechanics look over everything and change the fluids on my vehicle each time,” he says. “In my opinion, Overlanding is like backpacking for a car – it’s very harsh on the transmission and engine.” Eslava also suggests learning about the common failure points on your vehicle so that in case something fails, you know how to fix it on the trail.
Photo credit: Subaru via @troydesigns
Plan your route and secure camping reservations
Aside from knowing where you’re going, planning your route for each day is essential. “Determine your desired drive times for each day and how long it will take you to get from one place to another,” says Maassen. “Then, locate your plans for the camp that night. Searching for a camp spot at night in the dark can be very stressful, and finding nothing but closed-out camping spots.”
He also suggests utilizing BLM land, as there is a lot of it, and it’s free to use. Eslava also recommends planning your food and water for the number of days you’ll be Overlanding and planning for cooking equipment.
Get a rooftop tent
“Long Overlanding trips are no fun if you are sleep deprived the whole time,” says Maassen. “A comfortable sleeping setup – whether that be a ground tent, rooftop tent, mattress in the back of your wagon, or a camper – is a must.” Eslava agrees and calls his rooftop tent “a massive game changer.”
“It improves setup time. Plus, you can fit your sleeping bag and pillows in the rooftop tent when it’s closed, and setup takes seconds to minutes,” he says. You’ll also want a comfortable, reliable sleeping setup if you get caught in bad weather.
A good medical kit is crucial
Accidents happen, and remote stretches of the world are the last places you need to find yourself without medical supplies. A good medical kit is crucial, especially if you’re miles from the nearest hospital.
“You never know what can happen, and it’s essential to be prepared to handle small emergencies,” says Maassen. Medical kits come with various options and items, from basics such as bandages, alcohol wipes, and antibiotic ointment to more important things such as tourniquets and surgical tape.
Don’t get stuck without recovery equipment
Tackling rugged terrain or even desert landscapes means that sometimes your vehicle can get stuck. Self-recovery equipment helps you escape sticky situations and can even prevent them.
Maassen recommends having traction boards, soft shackles, and tow straps, as these items would help you get your vehicle out of the sand, snow, mud, and other tricky spots. Eslava agrees and further recommends skid plates to protect your engine and a jump starter for your car battery.
Find an Overlanding community
If you need help with any aspect of Overlanding – from vehicle modifications and gear recommendations to preferred Overlanding spots and advice on remote camping – consult an Overlanding community. “I learned most everything I mentioned about Overlanding through friends I have met in the community,” says Eslava.
Conforti also says she learned much from finding an Overlanding community while Overlanding. “We would all be talking about road trip tips at the hostel, and some overlanders were more experienced than me when it came to this kind of travel,” she says.
One final point to go alongside community: Never go out Overlanding alone, especially as a beginner. “Always bring a friend or a more experienced overlander, and use the multiple communities out there,” says Eslava.
The 2023 Forester, Crosstrek, and Outback are the most popular Subaru models with off-road enthusiasts who get further off the grid. These six tips will make your Overlanding experience the best.
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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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Photo credit: main image Subaru via Robert Champion