Only the Gear We Need (or Really Want)
While we prepare for our next adventure we’re doing something everyone does before leaving on a big trip: organizing and procuring gear that we need (or really want). This is our complete overlanding gear list. Thankfully, with a couple of years of experience, we have a good idea of what worked for us, what didn’t, and what we want to add to our travelling arsenal.
This is a crazy (and fun?) game of trying to minimize size and weight of gear we’re going to pack into our truck, but also where we do our best to pack things that will actually need on the road. Everything is about compromise, and we’re more than happy to discuss the pros/cons and thoughts behind the decisions that we made. Also (this is for us as much as it is for you) it almost always makes the most sense to pack light and add things along the way. No matter where you are in the world you’ll be able to find a solution to whatever camp problem you have.
We’ve summarized all of the information below in a handy printable checklist! We hope that this checklist will make life easier for you the next time you’re preparing to hit the road, whether it’s for a weekend warrior trip or a long-term overlanding trip.
Without further ado, this is what we’ve decided to carry with us around the world. We’ll update this as we continue preparing and once we hit the road.
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COMMUNICATION AND EMERGENCY
More often than not our Delorme inReach Explorer is used as a two-way communication device when we’re backpacking or out of cell service. In South America we didn’t have a cell phone plan at all, so it was our only means of communication outside of wifi. It gives our parents (and us!) peace of mind knowing that we can always be in touch. Also, if we find an epic remote beach camp that we don’t want to leave, it’s easy to send a message saying we’re safe and sound and there’s no need to send out the search party.
Delorme InReach Explorer (now owned by Garmin)
TRUCK CAMPING GEAR
On our trip to South America in 2013 we took the heaviest and least efficient gear known to man. We didn’t know any better. Our $3.99 camp chairs from a random grocery store (Fred Meyer) sure did the job, but they were weighty and didn’t pack down well. We had a giant Coleman stove, cooking pots from home, and no idea what we were doing. To be honest, all that stuff worked just fine. If the goal is to hit the road with zero spend, then using gear that you already have is very much the preferred method.
This time we wanted to scrounge up free space in the truck so we can utilize a little living space within the camper. We had upgraded most of our gear over the past few years, but decided to buy a handful of new things to fit the new plan. We just picked up a collapsible sink, a stacking cook set, bowls and plates that nest tightly together. Most of our cookware is stored in a Front Runner Flat Pack box.
Hario Mini-Slim Ceramic Coffee Mill
Primus LiTech Kettle
Primus Campfire Prep Set
10lb Propane Bottle
Assorted utensils stolen from the home kitchen
In an effort to maximize space, we try our best to bring gear that’s multi-purpose. The plates, bowls, and utensils we use when truck camping also work great for trekking. That Jetboil Flash we brought for trekking is our go-to tool for boiling water in the morning for a quick coffee. Sleeping bags are used for both ground and truck camping and that MSR water filter is a great backup just in case. Small/lightweight trekking gear packs small in the truck and is easier on our backs/legs on the hiking trail. Win win.
This is listed, not in order of importance per se, but in order of how often we use each piece of gear. At the very least we carry a tire pressure gauge, deflator (or just use a key or stray rock), and a portable compressor. Airing down our tires almost always gets us out of a stuck situation. If it doesn’t, then we start rolling down the list until we get ourselves unstuck.
Sometimes it makes sense to pull out all of the gear at once to make extraction easier on the equipment. We’ve been known to air down the mired truck, dig out as much as we can, throw Maxtrax under the tires, and then use a second vehicle with a recovery strap to get out of a sticky situation.
Autogage tire pressure gauge
ARB Tire Deflator
Viair 90P portable compressor
Maxtrax (1 pair)
Shovel (not shown)
Blue Ridge Overland Gear Recovery Bag
– ARB Recovery Strap
– Mule Expedition Outfitters hitch link
– 2x Warn bow pin screw shackles
Tire speedy seal kit
Warn M8000-S winch
Warn Tree Saver Strap
Sometimes it’s tough to know what to bring or what not to bring with regards to tools. They’re some of the heaviest items, but if you leave something simple behind it’s the difference between a 5 minute fix, an hour workaround, or potentially a long wait for a tow truck or local. Here’s my technique for making sure I have most of what I need with me on the road.
I keep a tool kit specifically for the truck and keep every single hand tool (within reason) I use to build/fix it prior to the trip in that tool kit. This will get you 90% of the way there.
Having easy access to tools is important to me as is being fairly organized. Using tool rolls or lightweight cases helps to find things quickly, but also allows you to see at a glance if you missed a wrench/socket before putting the case away. When 10, 12, 14mm wrenches and sockets are my Toyota-life, I’d prefer not to leave one sitting on the bumper and not notice before driving away.
Currently all tools and spares are stored in a couple of Front Runner Wolf Pack storage containers. Pelican cases make good tool boxes too.
Gloves (work and latex)
Ball peen hammer
Axle nut socket
Metric wrench set in tool roll
3/8″ drive socket set
Spare oil filter
Milwaukee M18 18V 1/2″ electric drill with bits
Small can of WD40 or similar
Blue Ridge Overland Tool Pouch Sling
– Wire strippers
– Wire crimpers
– Flush cutter (small)
– Utility knife
– Assorted zip ties
– Assorted marine-grade heat-shrink crimp connectors
– Assorted fuses
– Assorted lengths of spare auto/marine grade wire
Blue Ridge Overland Gear Tool Bag
– Allen key sets
– Small metal file
– Small and large adjustable wrenches
– Small and large Vice Grips
– Ratcheting wrenches (10mm, 12mm, 14mm)
– Fan/alternator belts
– Radiator hoses
– Uniballs for TC Upper Control Arms
– Rebuild kit for TC Idler Arm
– Oil filters and spare oil
I’ve split this up between stills and video. The Canon stills gear is still my go-to for photography (whether working or blogging), but if I really wanted to minimize what I was bringing I would leave that behind and let the Sony A7III (or similar) do both stills and video. I appreciate that with this pairing I have a backup camera body that can do either photo or video fairly well. Everything fits neat and tidily into a Pelican Air 1535 with TrekPak dividers.
Looking for a “budget camera” that does everything? In the past I have recommended the Sony a6300 over and over again.
Canon 5D Mark IV (I’ll also bring my 1DX II when working)
Canon 35mm f1.4
Sigma 20mm f1.4
Canon 70-200 f4
Sony 16-35 f4
Sony 24-105 f4
Tiffen Variable ND Filter
Lacie Rugged 4TB HD (pair)
Contrary to the title of this post, this list isn’t exactly complete. At the very least, we’re missing personal items and clothing, but those will be added as we pack for our actual trip. In the meantime, check out Life Remotely’s comprehensive packing list or GrizzlyNBear’s Essential Overlanding Gear video on YouTube.
Our gear list is a constant work in progress. We’ve found that no matter how much we plan in advance, we end up getting rid of some items and adding others. This changes based on climate, length of trip, or when things wear out or fail. Sometimes we meet other overlanders who have genius life hacks that we can’t help but copy. We’ll update this list as we make those changes.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask!