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Building An Overlander Is An Exercise In Balancing Need And Want

The first thing you need to realize when you’re building an overland vehicle is that you don’t really need most of this stuff—but it’s okay if you want it.

If you think you need that fancy suspension to explore backroads—there’s a biologist doing it every day for work in a bone-stock F150. If you think you need 35s because your dream journey across the (insert exotic name of a trail in a third world country here) requires it, there’s probably someone driving it in a Toyota Corolla; when they get stuck in the mud, they push. If you’re the kind of person who thinks you need everything because you saw it on Instagram, you might want to re-think your priorities. However, no one can ever criticize you for something you want. There is one exception—I need a 12V fridge/ freezer because I need cold beer. The best overland vehicles I’ve travelled in, built, or driven have had a well-balanced approach to what they need and what they want. Too many needs or too many wants lead to a quickly overweight, underpowered, unreliable vehicle. You’re never going to be prepared for everything, so give it up while you’re ahead. Also, it’s important to understand in this story that I’m not recommending specific products to buy, I’m telling you what you should keep an eye out for in the products you may buy.

Ask yourself: what kind of adventures will you really go on?

Overlanding, in spirit, is about exploring new things—not conquering the most technical trails out there, or seeing who can get through the biggest mud hole. If you’re setting out to explore some of the more-common overland routes in North America, the Mojave Road, comes to mind; you probably don’t need the biggest lift, the largest tires, or quadruple bypass remote reservoir shocks.

We all think we’re going to end up putting our vehicles through scenes reminiscent of Land Rover’s Camel Trophy, but I suspect most of us will not be putting our vehicles completely underwater. Figuring how you’re going to be actually using your vehicle—before you build it—is just as important as the parts you’re going to put on it. Most people could do far more with far less.

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Best Of YOTA 2019, Outfitted & Ready to Go, Toyota Off Road Tour Guide, And More....