Tent camping and RVing may seem like worlds apart. But if you know overlanding basics, you can enjoy the best of both worlds. The Overland Rallies in Washington, British Columbia and Colorado are a great way to get started.
Blending the Best of Tenting with RVing in the Outback
My husband and I assumed our wilderness adventures were over when we traded our trusty backpacks for a comfy RV. Little did we know that we could enjoy the best of solitary wilderness, with comfortable camping in the outback. The rugged four-wheel drive home on wheels style known as an “overlander” is how we’ll get there.
Overlanding is about going beyond the confines of a predictable campground. According to OutdoorX4 magazine, the definition of overlanding is as follows:
Think of overland travel as blending a road trip with backpacking: traveling that is as much about the journey as it is the destination, and for which the traveler is wholly self-sufficient and capable of overcoming all expected, reasonable challenges that may arise while exploring remote backcountry areas.
A variety of vehicles can be used to support overland travel including dual-sport motorcycles, unmodified all-wheel drive vehicles, 4WD “adventure” vans, trucks, SUVs, and even modified, medium-duty platforms.
Learning Overlanding Basics and Beyond
The Overland Rallies are action-packed, hands-on outdoor classrooms. According to overlanding fans, the vibe is far more intimate and less intimidating than the massive, twice-yearly Overland Expo production in Arizona and North Carolina.
British Columbia, Washington State and now Western Colorado host the rallies each summer. They’re a must-do destination if you have an interest in rugged, off-pavement adventures far from the predictability of RV parks and campgrounds. Every event is a low-pressure way to dip your toe into the lifestyle and see if it’s something you would like to pursue.
Women and men with longstanding reputations for adventurous off-road travel teach overlanding basics and beyond. Newbies and experienced overlanders alike learn from topics that could save a person’s life or vehicle in tough wilderness terrain where help is hours if not days away.
The weekend of overland learning kicks off with seminars such as:
- Vehicle Build Planning
- Solar Power Basics
- Travel Food Cooking Classes
- Vehicle Spotting Tactics
- Navigation 101
- Tire Repair
- In-field Welding
We received press passes to check out this event, and were glad we did. Participants get a feel for the ins and outs of off-pavement, technical expedition vehicle travel and more. Instructors also share how to prepare for any kinds of condition, into remote locations from American wilderness to Saharan deserts.
More Than Just a Learning Experience, It’s a Community
Founded by overland adventurer Ray Hyland, these educational events have built a loyal community of attendees. Everyone engages in laid-back learning opportunities held in a family and dog-friendly environment. The rallies also have planned outdoor activities, like fly fishing, mountain bike riding and nightly happy hours.
Whether you have a lifetime of international off-pavement travel experience under your belt or are learning overlanding basics from scratch, everyone is welcome at the Overland Rallies. All makes of rugged overlanding vehicles are present, but nobody judges other attendees based on what kind of vehicle they do—or don’t yet drive.
The event locations are chosen for their proximity to stunning wilderness. Even the most seasoned overlanding driver puts their skills to the test over the weekend
The fun kicks off with the building of a temporary community of weekend campers. They roll in with an endless variety of overlanding rigs, from simple vans in various stages of completion, to pop-up weekend warrior campers and towable 4×4 trailers.
Discover the Best Overlanding Rig for You
Some attendees make their own rigs from scratch. Some buy them from overlanding vehicle designers. A few appear in their ginormous, million dollar, all-terrain exploration vehicles. As for overlanding newbies who don’t have any vehicle, they’re welcome to camp too. The rallies are a great way to learn which vehicle is right for you.
The Overland Rallies are also a great way to spend money on tools, and gear you never knew you needed. Dozens of vendors attend each event, ready to sell you the best time-tested and new, innovative overland gear on the market.
Overland adventuring doesn’t mean you can’t bring creature comforts along. But in the spirit of off-road travel, standard RVs are prohibited at the Overland Rallies and others like it. We had to leave our fifth wheel at home for this one. But we met plenty of RVers who combine overland camping and RVing by towing an off-road camping vehicle.
Overlanding is much more than a way to get deeper into the wilderness. It’s a lifestyle with endless opportunities for learning better, safer and more exciting ways to engage in the wilderness and beyond. Once you learn overlanding basics from a crew like this, you may never go back to your old way of camping.