Preparing for an overland adventure: The absolute essentials

Axle-Less convoy through the wilderness. Overland adventure.

Preparing for an overland adventure? If it’s your first time heading into the bush – a few hundred yards or a few hundred miles –  there are certain essentials you must remember…

1.  Choose the appropriate 4WD vehicle

Many of today’s 4x4s are not designed for true off-road activities. For serious off-road adventures, you need a 4×4 that’s modified, with a chassis frame built to withstand the punishment of off-road obstacles.

If you plan to tow a trailer, make sure it can go where you decide to take your 4×4 vehicle.  You say your trailer isn’t able to navigate rough terrain?  You might want to consider this… 

2.  Don’t leave home without them

Before you take off on your awesome adventure, make sure you pay attention to some important details:

  • Know how your 4×4 system works and how to use the controls.
  • Know where the spare tire and jack are located and how to use them.
  • Know your vehicle’s dimensions including height, width, length, approach angle, departure angle, ​and ramp angle so that you can pass through tight areas without damage.
  • Know where the lowest point of clearance is located.
  • Get used to driving your 4×4. Get a feel for its size and driving characteristics.
  • Practice using the low-ratio gearbox.
  • Maintenance: Check your tires (including the spare) to ensure they are in good condition and inflated properly. Keep track of maintenance on filters, belts and hoses, and keep all fluids topped up.
  • Safety precautions: Pack all of the appropriate “emergency” supplies. Travel with at least one passenger, and at least one other vehicle whenever possible. Let someone know where you are going, and set a time to contact them to let them know you are okay.

3.  Know the rules of the ‘road’

  • Don’t blaze a new trail. Instead, stay on the established path. Don’t disturb the wildlife – this includes plants and animals. You are treading on their turf.
  • Drive slowly. Just as on the street, stay right to avoid oncoming traffic. If there is only room for one vehicle to pass, the rule is that the more maneuverable vehicle (or the more experienced driver) should yield the right-of-way.  When two vehicles meet on a grade and there isn’t a safe place to pull over, the vehicle traveling uphill has the right of way.

4.  Emergency situations:

Sooner or later, your vehicle is likely to get stuck or experience mechanical failure. If you pack the basic tools and supplies, you should be able to get under way again. Here’s what to do if you stall, get stuck, or break down.

  • If you stall: If your vehicle is about to stall on a steep incline or decline, do not depress the clutch! Instead, first turn off the ignition and apply the foot brake very hard. Then apply the parking brake. After selecting a suitable route back down the hill, slowly depress the clutch, put it in reverse, let the clutch out, and simultaneously release the parking brake and the foot brake slowly. Then start the engine.
  • If you get stuck: If you get stuck on a rock, stump or log, survey the situation first to determine the best way to free the vehicle without damaging it. If you’re stuck on an object that can be moved, jack up the vehicle and clear away the obstacle. If you’re stuck on an object that can’t be moved, jack up the vehicle and fill under the tires so that you can drive over the obstacle.

If you plan to tow a trailer, make sure it can go where you decide to take your 4×4 vehicle.  You say your trailer isn’t able to navigate rough terrain?  You might want to consider this…