The Design of Overlanding- 05.06.14
Life is all about balance ~ and it should be no surprise that the more time we all spend glued to screens (yes, phones count), the more we need the great outdoors! As you may have heard, between our endless 3D printing/soldering/etc. recently, we impulse started the NOTFZJ80 Project. While Shawn has been sharing endless Overlanding videos, forum discussions, and most excitingly — the gear, i’ve been fascinated by creative design solutions we keep finding!
The world of Overlanding is all new to me. Wikipedia defines it as: Overlanding is self-reliant overland travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal. Typically, but not exclusively, it is accomplished with mechanized off-road capable transport (from bicycles to trucks) where the principal form of lodging is camping, often lasting for extended lengths of time (months to years) and spanning international boundaries. I grew up with my first few cars being SUVs. When living in LA, SD, and SF, throwing everything in my car and spontaneously moving or roadtripping was never out of the question. I love the idea of your car being ready to handle anything and take you anywhere and back.
Overlanding fits nicely on the spectrum between luxury hotel jetsetting and backpacking around the world… in that spot that is more luxurious than camping, more self sufficient than glamping, as equipped as an RV, but everything is more efficiently packed, multifunctional, and far more capable to get you through just about anything… it’s the perfect combo of man/machine teaming up to explore the outdoors to reach amazing remote spots. What i didn’t expect was how many fascinating design solutions pop up around the basics of what you can fit in/on/around your 4x4 vehicle, and how much of a fun designer project the process can be! Take a peek on the next page at some of the fun gear/setup possibilities i’ve been learning about while we research it all…
While this is in no way an extensive list of options, here’s a look at some of the more ingenious designs encountered while researching the world of Overlanding as we work on The NOTFZJ80 Project. As a starting point, i’ve kept this list restricted to car specific products (versus tables, chairs, stoves, and other camping gear).
ROOF TOP TENTS - I knew about car camping, but until now i hadn’t looked into the idea of tents on top of cars! Fascinating is how many of them pop open, where the ladders go, that you can have a full mattress and even stash your sleeping stuff inside them! Here’s the Eezi-Awn Series 3 1600 Roof Top Tent.
Another option, if not going for the soft topped tents is the James Baroud hard top tents that basically pop open.
AWNINGS - i’m fascinated that this Eezi-Awn Bat 270 Degree Awning is strapped to your roof rack and opens up a full 270 degrees to cover the side and rear of the vehicle! Within moments you have an instant camp site shaded… and your tent can still fit on top.
… another option is the Oz Tent Foxwing Awning.
RACKS AND MOUNTS - A good foundation to attach everything to is key… one of the most unique, modular options we found are LabRak, based in Oregon. (Side note: i have a soft spot for their logo with the labrador retriever integrated in the R!) What I love about their racks for the FZJ80 are that the rain gutter mounts don’t require drilling through the gutters, and are just as strong if not stronger.
JERRY CANS - it’s no surprise that when you’re adventuring far into the woods, the most important resources to carry with you (besides food) are gas and water. On fun design details - the jerry cans from Rotopax that can be mounted/attached through the center hole caught my eye. These can also interlock when laid flat.
SHOWERS - As far as expedition showering, the vehicle aspect of Overlanding provides interesting opportunities, like the unique Road Shower. Strapping this large extruded aluminum tube to your roof rack, you can easily fill it with water, let the sun warm it, and pressurize it (with a hand pump or air compressor) to have a nice warm, pressurized shower or way to clean off your gear. The history of the Road Shower design evolution is fascinating.
SHELVING - to me, this is one of the most intriguing aspects from a design standpoint about Overland Vehicles. The efficient use of space, the usability, the multipurpose details that can be worked in to each aspect… and making it all rugged and lightweight enough to convert your vehicle interior into everything from storage space, to kitchen, to bedroom, to office, and beyond. While a look at the customizations people have come up with themselves is a conversation for a post on it’s own later, first, take a peek at some of the prefab options. Here’s the ARB Outback Solutions Modular Roller Drawer Systems - as you can see, any combination is possible. Mix up drawers of various height and depth, add sliding roller floors and more. … and that blue unit you see? That’s an ARB fridge for your vehicle! As for what makes them specially for your fridge: “Two separate power cords are included, one for AC operation (120 volt) at home, and one for DC operation (12/24 volt) in your vehicle. All sized models are able to maintain sub-freezing temperatures in 90Â° F heat, while only drawing 0.87 amps per hour (50QT model) from a 12 volt power source.”
SPARE TIRE USES - When offroading, the last thing you want is a spare tire attached to the bottom of the vehicle being crunched on rocks and dragged through the madness… so odds are your spare will end up on the back of the vehicle. Not to waste the space, here are some options of surprising ways to use your spare besides simply bolting in racks that sandwich your tire.
The Trasharoo is a HUGE backpack that fits your spare tire and can be used for anything you need - from muddy gear and wetsuits to trash and more. If needed, you can also wear it as a monstrous backpack for you. With the molle straps, you can even add pouches, clip accessories, or even add the license plate holder.
You can even add a Front Runner Spare Tire Mount Braai BBQ Grate as well as this Front Runner Spare Wheel Step as an alternative to a ladder. Though, keep in mind that if you end up using the spare, your step may not be so helpful.
For all in one strapped around your tire, the Redline Cruiser’s CAM R.U.T. Spare Tire Accessories Mounting System is another option.
GETTING UNSTUCK - since offroading can lead to getting stuck in all kinds of places… here are a few brilliant ways to get unstuck! First MAXTRAX, toss them under your wheels to get some traction. While their signature orange does look like those baywatch lifeguard floaties, it does stand out in the mud, and they are available in a few other colors as well.
On unique ways to jack your car up… use your exhaust! Here’s the ARB Bushranger X-Jack. It has a lifting capacity of 4000kg and provides up to 75cm of vehicle lift.
And these are just some of the basics… we haven’t even begun to dive into the various bumpers, grills/stoves, power/battery systems, lighting, tables, chairs, organizational setups, first aid kits, roof rack mount attachments, and more… any suggestions?