COLUMN: Overlanding – fusing off-roading with camping

COLUMN: Overlanding – fusing off-roading with camping

Only $3 for 13 weeks

Overlanding. That is probably a word you are not familiar with unless you do it. Overland camping is one aspect of overlanding.

Basically, overland camping is a fusion of off-roading and camping. Overlanding originated (at least the term did) in the Australia Outback. It is popular for the off-road-driving community in which the journey is the ultimate thrill rather than the destination.

Camping while overlanding became necessary due to the often-long trips over tough terrain. And there are a multitude of possible setups.

Because the terrain is too extreme for a typical recreational vehicle as well as a pull-behind camper, some concessions and changes were needed to successfully handle the environment. Even trying to attempt camping in a typical tent didn’t work because there just wasn’t anywhere to put a tent where you could get comfortable.

Hence, tents were still used, but instead of setting up on the ground, they were installed on the top of all-terrain trailers or on the rooftop of the four-wheel-drive vehicle. This enabled the occupants to sleep on a structured flat surface. The tent would lay in a flattened position during travel. And despite all the bumps over the harsh terrain, nothing was thrown around or broken.

These types of tents run a pretty penny, but the market has increased exponentially over the last decade as it has become more popular among off-road clubs that are centered on vehicles such as Jeeps, Land Rovers and FJ Cruisers. Get-togethers along environments ranging from the coast, such as Cape Lookout National Seashore, to the mountains in areas such as Uwharrie and Pisgah national forests, to Bureau of Land Management lands in the western United States are scheduled and attended throughout the year by clubs throughout the country.

Where a typical high-end tent may run around $300, a rooftop tent may cost $2,000. Still, this is much cheaper than a RV or camper. Setup is often very fast, and depending on the style of tent, may be as quick as unzipping a cover and unfolding a ladder. They are spacious, rainproof, and remarkably sturdy even on top of a vehicle. During winter months or on top of 10,000-plus-foot mountains, you can even run a heater such as a Mr. Buddy to keep warm.

Bedding and foam floors remain inside the tent when closed for travel, which again makes setup and takedown quick and easy.

As stated earlier, some use the rooftop tent on top of a dedicated off-road trailer. The trailer resembles the back of a pickup for visualization. The trailer can carry supplies such as coolers, clothing, and even generators and extra fuel. On top of the trailer, there are rails on which the rooftop tent will mount. The tires on the trailer are usually aggressive, oversized, off-road ones just as you would find on a decked-out off-road Jeep.

So, for a different experience, especially if you enjoy off-roading or going to out-of-the-way locales, a rooftop tent can be a very interesting option.

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