Planning Your First Overland Journey
Show Notes for Podcast Episode #32
Planning Your First Overland Journey
For this Principles of Overlanding, Matt and Scott review the fundamentals of planning your first overlanding trip, including basic equipment, vehicle modifications, and route selection.
Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal and is often credited with popularizing overlanding in North America. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and includes three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar expeditions include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. @scott.a.brady
Matthew is a leading expert in automotive adventure. He has extensively explored the world's most remote places by 4WD and is considered an industry authority on overland travel. He is the only American to ever become an editor of a major Australian 4WD publication and has over 15 years of competitive auto racing experience. @mattexplore
Destination and Route Selection
There is a joy in exploring close to home
Start close and short
Engage your family in the process
What do you love about travel?
Travel with friends and family
Ask the community
Reduce complexity and savor the chaos
Expect problems, er, adventure
Save key waypoints on multiple devices
iOverlander, OnX, and Gaia
Enjoying the process of reading and research
Overlanding books (Graeme Bell, Chris Scott, Tom Shepprd)
Adventure stories (to get excited!)
Podcast #20 Basic Equipment
Basic tools and recovery gear
Maybe some good LT tires
Make great meals
Bring comfy chairs and good pillows
Drive half the distance offroad you originally planned
Hello and welcome to the Overland Journal Podcast. I am your host Scott Brady and I am here with my co host Matt Scott. ANd we’re not only recording for Apple Podcasts and everywhere else you choose to listen to a podcast we also now have YouTube, live video feed. *laughs*
Matt: YoutTube people! *laughs*
Scott: So that’s why I am wearing a hat. To spare you all the glow.
Matt: I wore a hat, so you wear a hat.
Scott: No. It’s mostly the glow from my bald head is mostly why I’m wearing a hat.
Matt: Umm.. I was trying to hide my luscious blonde locks. But.. you know…
Scott: I do not have locks. *laughs* of any kind.
Matt: What can we do? *laughs*
Scott: *laughs* So what are we going to talk about today Matt?
Matt: We are talking about planning your first overland adventure. I really like this concept. I think that we don't want to pontificate about international travel and these significant explortive trips but it all starts somewhere. I remember my first overland trip, my first four wheel drive trip.
Scott: What was your first notable overland trip, one that you really remember being afraid and under planned and …?
Matt: I mean, you know I’m originally from Chicago for those that don’t know. My first real thing was when I moved out here and worked for Expedition Portal like 10 years ago, and I honestly have to say it was loading up my super, super janky TJ. Which at the time i didn’t even know was janky. I thought it was.. I thought it was the panty dropper. *laughs*
Scott: Ignorance is bliss! *laughs*
Matt: But it had a 8” long arm lift and 35”s and like..
Scott: I remember..
Matt: And probably had some kind of tube door on it. It broke … a lot. I remember going through Mexican Hat, Utah. WHich is now a place I don’t even blink to go through and I’m like.. Oh my god. If I break down here I’ll be on expedition… but the point I’m going is everybody starts somewhere. And I think that umm, we’ve both made a lot of mistakes. I mean you were saying you had enough fuel to go to Cleveland when you did your first trip to Arizona.
Scott: I did. My first memorable longer distance overland trip was the El Camino Del Diablo in southern Arizona. And it is about 150 miles or so between fuel points and you do get fairly remote and you run a lot of it along the Mexican border. And I definitely had enough fuel to probably do the trip four times. I had it strapped to the, I had like every lawn gasoline container, and they were all the wrong size. None of them were a nato can, they all leaked, and none of them would strap down. They all swelled because of the coorigation and the heat *laughs*
Matt: The pressure changes and the..
Scott: Ya. *laughs* ANd I towed a trailer filled with a bunch more stuff that I didn’t need. I mean it’s amazing that the little….
Matt: Did you have your ice axe with you for the desert?
Scott: I think I did. I think I had an ice axe, and about five compasses, ya.. Everything.
Matt: The point here is that you can do a lot with surprisingly little.
Scott: For sure.
Matt: And I think that is what we are both trying to say. You don't have to be over prepared, you just have to not be under prepared. I think that is a big thing. And it’s totally ok to recognise that you have anxiety about doing your first extended offroad trip.
Scott: I certainly did. I remember feeling like I didn't have enough information. I was worried I was going to get lost, I didn't know what was going to happen if I broke down. I do remember feeling that anxiety and I also think it’s just important for people to also give themselves some grace. If you do take enough fuel to go to Cleveland, it's just ok.
Matt: If that is what enables you to do the trip, I think one of the things we were talking about is it’s generally not just the driver. There's a lot of other people involved in the trip. Lets say your wife is driving and you are the one in the passenger seat and that is absolutely terrified of running out of gas. If that makes the passenger more comfortable…
Scott: Bring some more fuel along.
Matt: Bring some more fuel. Whatever, it’s not going to hurt anybody. Assure the people who are overly critical, because I assure you that probably 90% of those people haven't done half the things they have claimed to do. Maybe that's the wrong way to say it but, they're not as experienced as they would love to portray they'd be. There are a lot of internet experts.
Scott: Be gentle on yourself and recognise we’ve all started from somewhere. Even that person on the internet espousing knowledge, they started with their first trip as well. I do remember being anxious and I remember being worried. I remember overplanning some parts of it and under planning other parts of it. One of the things we want to talk about on this podcast is just go local first.
Scott: Go close enough to home where if something doesn't work or the tent breaks or the stove doesn’t light or whatever you can drive home and still enjoy the rest of your weekend and learn from that. And it doesn't mean don't go for it. I think about the first overland trip, those guys that drove from London to Singapore, they had no real experience. They just set off, Karen and Coon, The (?) that have that yellow FJ-45 that we all admire, not only adore their vehicle but they have had these amazing trips. When they left on their overland trip, it was the first time they had ever done a trip. So they left their home, and started driving east to take the Silk Road and they had never overlanded before. So that's amazing to me it just shows that sometimes if you don’t know what's coming it can also empower you to just do it.
Matt: I think savour that first trip. I'm talking about that trip when I drove out west for my first time. And I’m camping here and I’m doing this and I went through Moab. And I thought Moab was this crazy place! Now, I wish I could have that. I’m not saying I wish I could have the anxiety that came along with planning for that. But I wish that I could have that excitement.
Scott: That newness…
Matt: This trip, your first overland trip has the potential to be your best. Savor the things that go wrong. There's that saying Adventure doesn't start until something goes wrong. But it’s kind of true. We’ve both been on trips where we've done this a few times and we have planned them to the enth degree. I don’t want to say they are boring, they are very enjoyable. But I miss those rookie mistakes, those new things that you know you can't replicate seeing something for the first time. You know I was a kid from the suburbs of Chicago that dreamed of driving past the Continental Divide. I had never really camped, I had never really done a lot of the things that I wanted to do. But you just have to do your first trip.
Matt: And don’t hold yourself to be too critical. I think that is just super important.
Scott: I love it that I still make tons of mistakes. When I did the bigger, maybe more serious trips, there was a lot of consequence. I probably over planned because it was necessary.
Matt: When you're in Greenland though, and you underplan. Legitimately people can die.
Scott: That was definitely true of Antarctica, even regulations required a certain degree of planning. But I do like it now, for example when I did that trip on the motorcycle to Swaziland, you've got just one bag strapped to the back. And we’ve kind of spread our tools out between the three of us, we really don’t have a plan and we were getting lost. It was perfect because it felt comfortable to be in that state of chaos. I think that is one of the things I wanted to talk about on this podcast is inherently things will not go as planned.
Matt: And that's ok..
Scott: And it’s ok because we often have people with us. We have our partner, our kids, possibly our families with us, maybe a parent. When things don’t go well or that brand new GPS stops working, or we forget.. I mean the last trip that I went on I forgot all of my maps and first I got frustrated with myself and then I just thought, I’m doing something wonderful with some people that I care about. Why shouldn't I just let that go and if I get lost it’s ok. Because I’ve got an inreach and I'm on the mogollon rim, I'm not going to get that lost. Eventually I am going to bump into a road.
Matt: Eventually there will be an AEV with coors light ..
Scott: For sure.
Matt: You kind of talked about family and the process. I think that is something that I’ve learned, it’s just important to involve other people in the planning. It’s not all about the person behind the wheel. I think that if more people knew that going out, more people would be doing this.
Scott: The more you engage your family. Like for example if your husband is hesitant to go camping, he doesn't know how to drive a manual, he’s not really an outdoors guy, and you're like I really want to go on this trip. Take him out and show him out to drive manuals and make that be part of the fun. Show him a little bit more on how the camping gear works; how to light the stove, or whatever so that he feels more comfortable as your passenger when you take him out to the back and beyond.
Matt: And learn how to *@$# in the woods. I know how that sounds, it's a really big thing. But did I know how to effectively and properly do that when I first started going camping? NO. But it's like one of those things like: “Oh he doesn't know how to go in the woods.” To like ya, Ok, Cool. You’ll learn.
Scott: It does kind of come naturally once ya go for it.
Matt: Maybe that was a crude example but the point being that.. Well you always talk about the Dunning-Kruger effect. It's the more you know you don’t actually know as much as you think you do. And there is this weird bell curve of people who love to talk smack to beginners. Because they were one..
Scott: Five minutes ago..
Matt: Five minutes ago. So you know, don’t listen to those people. You know, recognize people's fears and recognise people's shortcomings and figure that out. Maybe that means you go camping in a state park next to your house just for a night to sort things out. Just figure out how you set the tent up and how you put the car into low range or whatever that means. Just don’t be afraid of the first time. I think there are a lot of people in the community that would love to help.
Scott: Absolutely. Also what I recognised in the beginning, a lot of the trips that I was doing, were the activities around the trips that I was doing. It was I was either emulating people that I aspire to be or deeply respected. And I realized that it is often a mistake. The best thing you can do is sit down with your partner, sit down with your family, sit down with yourself if you are solo traveling. Really decide what it is that makes you happy. That gets you excited about being a traveler. Is it that you love history? Is it that you really love good food in crazy places? You’ve watched a lot of Anthony Bordain, who’s a great person to aspire to be.
Matt: He was an inspiration and a huge motivation for me was the food. I look at people who have Mountain House little freeze dried meals when they are camping and they like, they are convinced that that is cool. I’m like…
Scott: You don’t need it. Maybe you have a couple of them for an emergency, but..
Matt: I would rather starve..
Scott: Maybe there are better things.. I figure I could probably last a while out there in the back of (?)
Matt: Always bring water. Don’t bring freeze dried food when you have a car to transport real food. But if you're comfortable with that.
Scott: Totally, if it makes you feel like you are a little bit more prepared, or if you are going someplace super remote, again.. Back to Antarctica and Greenland, there is only so much fresh food you can take along for over a month of travel.
Matt: No Foie-gras, no champagne.
Scott: No. *laughs* I think we did have some Shackleton's whisky for the South Pole, that's to Chris Collards. But we didn't have much.
Matt: Back to starting in the state park next to your house. What are the things that actually interest you right? And were going to kind of move into how to plan that trip and I guess this is a little bit of an interesting segway.. I love GoogleMyMaps. It’s basically a feature within Google Maps. It allows you to save way points.
Scott: You can save POI’s, way points, you can import XML files, you can import KML files and you can export both of those file formats as well. You can plan and draw entire routes. It’s super powerful.
Matt: It's super accessible, free, that for most things that I feel a beginner is going to do, it allows you to actually see on the map where the gas stations are. Where the grocery store is. Where the state park and the state park check in, all of these things. The world is on Google Maps. If it's not on Google Maps, it essentially does not exist. Now I will say that if you are planning a technical more four wheel drive route. Like you are gonna go and you are gonna …
Scott: Mackenzie trail or ..
Matt: Ya, something a little bit more core, you might be better served by Gaia or Onyx or something like that. But when it comes to just compiling data, for travel, not necessarily purely all off road, recreational sport four wheel driving, I always start on Google and then I will transfer things elsewhere.
Scott: And it translates. You can do all that planning in Google My Maps, which by the way for those of you who are subscribers to Overland Journal Magazine, when you see a map in Overland Journal, all of the base files were created in Google My Maps. It’s such an easy way to share information.
Matt: And you can collaborate with people, again pulling on that community. One of the things that even I do, I’ll use Baja for example, I really love Baja. Baja is a place that you can spend a lifetime going to and you could never on your own compile a sufficient amount of knowledge. It's’ oh take this little track to this little beach where you will meet a guy and he’s going to unlock the gate for you. With Google My Maps, you can literally go to somebody that maybe you know has been down there a few times and say hey, this is where we are thinking about going. Could you mark a few places on the map for me.
Scott: You can share it with them.
Matt: It can be collaborative and since it is Google and it’s not a more specific app, it’s accessible to everybody. Everyone can use Google. Not everybody is going to have On-x or Gaia. Or a variety of these things, Hema if you are in Australia. It’s really easy to plan, obviously we are recording this during Covid thing. We were hoping to be in Alaska, basically, now, for a few months this summer. And one of the things is I have been going back and I’m adding to this Google My Map. That's how I’m planning particularly those trips where you are covering long distances and you have to interact with civilization. You have to know, ok cool, well if I’m going to go to Keno City, in the middle of the Yukon, I actually need to know where I need to get gas. That is really easy to do on Google My Maps. That's not something that you can do on Gaia, or On-x. They just don't have that data available.
Scott: I love how you can switch back and forth between satellite images and their base maps, so if you are a little uncertain where that trail peels off of the highway, you can switch over to satellite and sure enough, right there as plain as day, you can drop a waypoint and then you can take that whole project and export it as a KML, KMZ, XML file. And most of those can be consumed by both Gaia and On-x.
Matt: And if you want a dedicated device, some people just don't want to have things on their phone, like that Garmin Overlander, you can plan things on Garmin website.
Matt: I have a lot of friends that use that. I think it has iOverlander built in.
Scott: It does.. All those POI’s are built in.
Matt: And iOverlander is a fantastic application and website, I use it frequently. Again, not to keep bringing up anxiety I think that there is a lot of anxiety that comes into your first overland trip. Knowing where you are camping as far as planning the route, I think that is where you start. You kind of have to know where you are sleeping. I think once you have done it a few times you can kind of learn to go with the flow, like we made it a little bit further so we're going to find another spot,or wherever that may be. Using tools like iOverlander, two three years ago it was not the resource it was. Now if you want to find cool vehicle based camping specific spots, iOverlander is wonderful.
Scott: i use it all the time now. I started using it only this year on this trip because again the scenario we are in right now, as a global community, I haven't been able to travel internationally so I hopped in a Earth Cruiser and started going up and down the Oregon coast and I was just letting it totally be serendipitous, and sure enough you pull up iOverlander and there's a perfect little camp spot, right there on the coast. And there is one thing that comes to mind though on a lot of these community based tools, we have to be very careful around overuse. We have to be super cautious to leave places better than we found them, if you see trash there it is your responsibility to pick it up. There's no question about that and wouldn't consider an argument to the contrary, if there is trash at an iOverlander spot, you are an overlander and using a tool to get there and the place has been trashed, take the 15 minutes and pull out a trash bag and clean it up because people in that area are going to associate iOverlander and overlanders with that trash whether it came from an overlander or not. And also if you can find other campsites nearby, don’t camp at the one where the pins have been dropped. Start to distribute some of the impact in other locations as well. We do have responsibilities as travelers when we use tools like that.
MAtt: Ya, and I think iOverlander is a hugely powerful tool. To be able to plan where a little turnoff is to a campsite out of town is just huge and I think just try to not set your expectations of your first overland journey or overland adventure too high. If you are thinking you are going to be Reynold Fiennes the first time you leave Iowa, you're probably not?
Scott: Might lose a few more more fingers than he did.
Matt: Ya, you know the point being.. Keep yourself comfortable, keep yourself sane, consider everybody in your entire party. They may not have the same tough constitution you do. Don’t feel like right off the bat you have to go to the most remote, most technical trip. And I think it goes without saying if you are going to go off road and you don’t have a lot of experience, look up the I4WDTA. It's the International 4 wheel drive trainers association. They are a great place to start for getting proper training. If there isn’t an I4WDTA person, I’m not saying they have to be a I4WDTA, they are really the only major governing body. SO that is a great place to start for recommendations. But you know find a local four wheel drive club, find a local guide, or a local trainer.. I shouldn't say guide. Find a local trainer, they are going to be a great resource for you. Take a class with them.
Scott: And it will give a lot of confidence for those first couple trips. It's interesting, if we engage the people that we travel with in the process it always seems to go better. The more that we silo our desires and don’t engage our family or our partners, it tends to go much worse. People just want to know, they want to be involved with the planning. They are taking their time too. Ask your kids what they want to see. Maybe your daughter wants to see the world's biggest ball of yarn and it’s only a twenty mile detour…
Matt: Go to the ball of yarn..
Scott: Ya go to the ball of yarn! And enjoy that part of the experience by doing that with your family. It’s really important.
Matt: You may enjoy the trail. I think, at a very board level, what is the difference between overlanding and four wheel driving? It’s the things you see outside of the trail that might be controversial, but if you are going and you are just going to do Hells Revenge in Moab, or you are just going to do Fins and Things, you're not overlanding. I’m sorry, I know everybody wants the badge, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Scott: You are just enjoying a day of four wheeling..
Matt: If you are going to go and do Lockheart Basin, well maybe somebody in your car is really into hiking. There are some amazing places once you get back there that have Colorado River access that are great hikes. That adds to the trip, that is overlanding. It is a more holistic travel based view at remote vehicle travel.
Scott: And stop, take a hike! Go check out the petroglyphs
Matt: I was so horrible at this when I first started. I wouldn't get out of the car. The idea of taking my, at the time ground tent, and placing it someplace anywhere than next to my car. You know? Maybe there is a better campsite that your car can't get to. Being open is what I think we are really advocating for and really try to figure out what everyone in the car really wants to do.
Scott: honor the desires of the people that are with ya and you’ll end up with a better result for sure.
Matt: Ya, a car of unhappy people getting bounced around a rocky four wheel drive trail..
Scott: It’s going to come back to bite you!
Matt: It's going to come back to bita ya! It’s just not fun.
Scott: So one of the things I think is helpful, and that I still enjoy to this day is buying a couple guide books, buying a couple overlanding, getting started with overlanding books, and for those of you that are watching the videos… so this one is done by Graham Bell, it's beautifully designed..
Matt: Oh. Ahhh.. look at that text, I wished it opened to a photo.
Scott: Great photography, a bunch of great insights of travel. They travel with a family, they have traveled around the world. Four of them in a Defender 130. So a lot of great lessons in that and of course the Evergreen, Chris Scott, Overlanders Handbook. It does certainly go into the weeds of things that you would need for big global travel, but it has tons of practical considerations. One of the things I really like about Chris Scott is, he does not spend money where it doesn't need to be spent. He spends the majority of his money on the experience so there's lots of insights. Spending less, going further with your budget, he's very practical.
Matt: I think he is practical too. He's a very practical guy, great dude. And let's not forget actual paper maps.
Scott: There is such joy in having those paper maps.
Matt: I have to say all of this talk about how I love Google Maps and these apps. One, always have paper maps. Your cellphone can fall, it can break, it can run out of charge. You may have to leave your vehicle. I am not trying to paint this picture of all these terrible things that can go wrong. Because 99.9% of the time, nothing is. But I think that there is something special about opening a map.
Scott: You see a different scale.
Matt: Like ok, cool! Well this town is close to this town. And there is this road, let's check it out. Always, Always, Always have paper maps. In today's day in age, maps are cheap. This is $22.00. This particular one is for the state of Montana but it is quite detailed. They make these for most western states.
Scott: I think it’s just good to have them in the vehicle and include some of the neighboring states as well. Because you never know if you want to extend by a couple days. I’ll use the paper maps to kind of start the day. I’ll sit down with those I’m traveling with and kind of say this is where we are going. ANd it gives people a..
Matt: They are great for kids, they are great for your partner and they are great for whoever you are planning your trip with. Because looking at your own screen, there is that anxiety of handing someone your phone, or your iPad, and god forbid they look through your internet history. There's no internet history with paper maps. *laughs* It's just a wonderful thing to plan with. I know I really advocate and it sounds like a really basic thing but..
Scott: It's super important.
Matt: Make sure that they are topographic maps, make sure that they are targeted towards backcountry travel. A lot of the generic Atlas you get from Rand McNally, those are oriented for highway travel. That is really what they are meant and designed for, and that is fine.
Scott: That is one of the things that I like about the Benchmark Maps is that they indicate whether its private land, public land, national forest. In Arizona for example you have to have a permit to be on state trust land. It’s true of many states. So you know where you are. On-X certainly helps with that too.
Matt: On-X is the best that I have found so far for whose land are you on, and can you actually be there? I think their background is actually in hunting. The On-X app is wonderful, we have talked about Google Maps, we have talked about Gaia. On-X is really beneficial for people who are beginning. When I pull it up, in Prescott here, they've kind of digitised the forest roads and trails and some trails that are not just some generic road. Lets just say Smiley Rock which is a trail by us, they kind of give you a user review and you can see some photos of where you are going to go and how you're going to do it. It’s a great entry level tool. And not just entry level..
Scott: I use it all the time.
Matt: I still use it. That's an app from I think, a reputable company that has some cool things coming out of it in the future. But we should probably get into the basic equipment that you should bring with you.
Scott: That's right, and we do have a fairly thorough podcast where we talk about htat, its podcast #20, where we talk about basic equipment that you need to bring for overland travel, but I think it's important to touch on those key pieces because the goal here is to encourage everyone, and even ourselves, to remind Matt and myself that the key is to just go. Travel the world and go see what you want to see. Don’t make it about the gear and don’t make it about the vehicle. It doesn't matter what car you've got, you can go around the world in a Subaru. You can go around the world in a Honda Civic for that matter. So it's really about getting out there. But there are things that as we start to get outside of the infrastructure of paved roads and cities, of travel and logistics routes, that you need to take into consideration.
Matt: I think it's a matter of being responsible and self sufficient. You don’t want to be a burden on the system, I mean how many people go to Moab and are just woefully unprepared. They don’t have any communication. They don't have any maps or navigation. No emergency supplies, no tools, no nothing. They become a burden. We don’t want this to become a burden on local areas. I think that is really important.
Scott: And just recently, Nena Barlow , Barlow they do Jeep rentals, She wrote a story about one of their clients that died recently in the Canyonlands area because he didn't go prepared. He didn't have enough water. He got back to within a half a mile from his Jeep before he died. That is so tragic, to not just take that extra step to make sure you have good communications with you.
Matt: And that is not a reflection on Nina. Ninas businesses is one of the foremost outfitters I think, she's a I4WDTA trainer, she leads a lot of training, she is a very prepared woman. Very talented trainer. She would have run this guy through all the processes, it sounds trivial but, so many people die because they don’t bring enough water. Particularly in the south west. Typically they are coming from the city, or something like that. They don't even have to be. They can be anyone. But they dont figure in the effect of altitude and dryness in the air on the west coast, they don’t figure in the effect of the sun.
Scott: The difficulty of the terrain, and the fact that you are walking through sand. Nina wrote the story, it was actually on Expedition Portal, she wrote it as a cautionary tale. Her team members asked a bunch of questions and the guy lied about a lot of it. Or misrepresented himself in a lot of it. He said he was going with a group, he went alone, those kinds of things and he paid the ultimate price. When we are talking about basic equipment, this is just to be mindful.
Matt: The easy solution there was the guy should have brought enough water. I’m not getting into the politics of it, you know we are obviously very, very sorry that this person passed away. And our condolences to their family. An easy way around that is a spot. Or an In-Reach. Or a personal locator beacon. Spots and In-Reach I really like but some Spot and all in-Reach allow two way text message communication. It's a very sisynced accurate way to relay information. Sometimes when you have a radio there may not be a person on the other end, or you may not have the skills, you may not be a Ham operator, to know how to reach those people , how to do the repeaters etc. An in-Reach…
Scott: All day long.
Matt: No one has an excuse to not have one. I don’t. I need to get one. A lot of the Garmin devices Garmin recently purchased from Delorme. The Garmin Overlander I think even links with it. Those things are something anyone can go and buy, you subscribe to the service, and they work. They allow that communication. If you want to have something that doesn't require a subscription, personal locator beacons work on triangulation of frequencies, those are very 1.0, now we have the 2.0. Which is the in-Reach.
Scott: Ya, the personal locator beacons are extremely effective but, oftentimes when a person is under duress, they want more than anything in the world to know that somebody got the message. ANd if you use a Garmin in-Reach, which is what I like to use. It's based in the iridium satellite network, it works everywhere in the world if you have a clear view of the sky, and you can get that ping back. And maybe it's just that you have too many flat tires and you can’t repair them. And you need to get a hold of a buddy to bring you out, just for them to say; no problem, we got your message we are on our way. That settles all those concerns down and you can be very specific about what you need. Maybe you have injured yourself and you need someone to bring an extra driver, you can communicate those specifics.
Matt: Maybe you just need a belt for your car, a serpentine belt, you don’t need the proverbial cavalry to come, you need the local four wheel drive recovery guy to bring you a belt. Or whatever that is. Navigation we have kind of covered, that is really important.
Scott: Have some redundancy.
Matt: Have some redundancy. I really like the apps. I really like Gaia, and On-X. I have yet to have an app, now this is my experience, I have yet to have an app NOT fail in the field. The offline maps are good, but I have had several significant adventures where I get out and day one, all the sudden, there's been an update. You just had that with an app, thes been an update, whether it was the app that was updated or it was Apple, or Android.
Scott: Ya, for me it was the iOS update. It killed one of the apps and it wasn't recording a track properly.
Matt: Ya, again, paper maps are huge. And have a common sense idea of where you are going. Don’t be one of those people that follows the arrow and never knows what direction is North.
Scott: Let a couple people know where you are going, so that way if you don’t show up in a week, there is somebody that starts looking for ya. And they at least have an idea of where to go.
Matt: Emergency supplies, we just kind of went over that with that unfortunate guy that just passed away in Utah, but: water, water, water. People always have a bunch of food with them, they never bring enough water.
Scott: Having enough medications for example. Having a properly stocked medical kit and the training to use it. Those are the kinds of supplies we need to have going along with us. We don't need to be total preppers, we just need to be able to handle those 36hrs ish of problems or that injury that happens. That sprained ankle or the deep cut.
Matt: The reality is that most of the stuff you are going to encounter is really minor. It’s going to be you got stung by a bee and had an allergic reaction. You had a cot that got infected. You fell and scraped your knee.
Scott: Ya, totally.
Matt: Make sure your bases are covered. There is always going to be someone out there that is the prepper and like why don't you have a… paramedic level kit with you. It’s like because I don’t have the time to become a paramedic. I’m not a paramedic, I don;t know how to use this stuff?
Scott: It seems like that, oftentimes, when people don;t travel a lot, they focus on those check marks of equipment. I’ve got: this, this, this and now the vehicle is way over payload. Whereas I think the more that we get out and enjoy it, the more we have fun and laugh with our family. We just don’t care. Just bring the basics.
Matt: Just bring the basics to get out. You do not need a lot of the stuff that people are going to tell you that you do need. You need basic tools, you need to know how to change a tire. You need to know how to make basic vehicle assessments like huh, my battery is dead. Why? Or how do I jump my battery? Recovery gear is important. I’m not saying you necessarily need to know how to repair a flat tire, I think it is really handy to have a bottle of that slime stuff. Because that can kind of nurse, you have your one spare, you have that slime, and you can even get some from Wal-Mart now that have a little air compressor and stuff with them.
Scott: Ya, we are talking about version 1.0 of starting overlanding. Maybe in the future we will have a 2.0.
Matt: Then you will have the built in air compressor and the this and the that and whatever.
Scott: Don’t feel like you have to have all of this experience and all this equipment to go. Have a good spare tire that is the same diameter as the rest of them. Check that it has air, make sure you have an air compressor. It is a good idea to bring along a tire repair kit and have someone show you how to use it. But if you don’t it's not a reason not to go. I think this also comes back to that engaging your family, engaging your partner. Show them where all this stuff is, show them where the medical kit is. THat is going to start to give them confidence in you and confidence in the fact that you actually been planning this thing so when your husbands nervous and his brow is sweating because he's about to go on this big trip with you, you can show him look dear, I've got the medical kit here, I’ve got this training, I learned how to do the four wheel drive thing, I’ve got the locking differentials, here's the tool kit. He is going to feel a lot more comfortable about it.
Matt: Learn how to lower your tire pressure. That will make everyone comfortable and there's a lot of resources on this stuff on the Expedition Portal. There are vehicle specific forums that have a lot of information as well.
Scott: I hate Mud is a great tool
Matt: I hate Mud is a great one. I have to say for the moto guys out there I find Adventure Rider, ADVRider.com. I can Google or search the most remote places in the world and there will be a thread for it on ADVRider.com that says where the gas is because they don't have the range, where the good eats are. So you know, use the Oracle, use the internet. So, tires. Tires are super, super important.
Scott: Totally. If you were going to do one modification to the vehicle, make sure that if it doesn't come with light truck tires, that you buy light truck tires. And we're not saying you have to have LT tires to go, but if you are thinking about spending some money on the vehicle and you are looking for the first to do that with..
Matt: A set of all terrain tires has very little downside, if you get the BFGK02, or if you get the Falken AT3W, there's a few other tires, those are just ones that I personally.. That's not an endorsement, we're not sponsored by them. Those are just what I use. I like them because they are winter rated. So if this is something that is new to you, oh well these tires are going to be better all year round, that's great. Recovery gear I think is important.
Scott: It is. And bring along a way to help someone else get out. So that can be a kinetic strap. I like to bring along Max Tracks. Full disclosure, Matt does import the Max Tracks into North America. So if you choose, disregard anything I say regarding that. But I do bring along Max Tracks because I can use them on my own vehicle, or I can walk down the trail even outside of winch range and help another vehicle get out.
Matt: If I was to remove myself from who I am, they just don’t require really much training and they have very little downside. A winch can cause, can put you in a worse situation, a snatch strap can put you in a worse, or kinetic rope can put you in a worse situation. I think if you are a beginner, look for things that have less consequence. That's all I’m going to say.
Scott: Ya, and there are lots of tools out there. Use the thing that makes sense to you, and fits for your environment. If you're going to do a muddy trail where you know you are going to be winching multiple times a day, it’d be a good idea to bring a winch. If you are going to be in the desert the south west, you probably only need a set of Max Tracks.
Matt: And I think too, and I don’t want to rag on this but everybody: You need a hilift jack. It’s like 80lbs of dead weight for most people..
Scott: 45lb *laughs* they feel like 85lb.
Matt: 45lbs whatever it is. They are very useful when you are trained on them. I will never argue the utility of them. But for a first time person it is. It is crazy how many people I see that have a Jeep Wrangler lets say, and they have plastic bumpers, they have no side sill protection, and they have a Hilift jack.
Scott: They can't lift the vehicle from it.
Matt: I guess you can use the they have those wheel adapters, in theory pick a tire up and throw some stuff underneath it. But you know, you don't always have to have the things that everybody just bolts on to their car.
Scott: That's a full tank of fuel, and it does require some training. Just YouTube Hilift jack accidents. ANd I think that is all the description we could ever give you.
Matt: I am all for Hilift jacks, great company, very, very useful tool. But you have to have training to use it.
Scott: And the vehicle needs to be prepared for using the Hilift as well. It needs to have rocker panel protection that you can lift from that can take the weight of the vehicle. Needs to have metal bumpers, especially ones that allow it to capture the Hilift so it can’t slide off. There's a lot that goes into using a Hilift, again, we are not bashing the product, we are just saying. For your first overland journey use the money to put it in the gas tank and go a little further. ANd I think that really covers the basic stuff again we do have a lot more in that podcast, #20. I do have a couple thoughts as I wrap up and I know Matt will have some of his own. Again, all of this comes from the fact that I have screwed all of this stuff up myself..
Matt: We both have.
Scott: So many times I have gotten upset, I’ve cut trips short because I was frustrated. I have got frustrated with myself and I have learned through the years to slow down. I have learned to expect less from myself and the vehicle and the trip. If you go into it with this expectation of being able to circumnavigate Africa in two months, you are going to have a really bad time. If you choose to do Namibia and South Africa in two months you're going to have a fairly good time. So slow down, expect less, do less. Don’t be afraid to sleep in. You are not working anymore, enjoy it.
Matt: You have to be able to enjoy it, by nature this is a vacation.
Scott: ya! Stay up! Bask under the moon until two in the morning, read a book until you finish it. ANd sleep in! You know most of these roof tents have pretty good light protection. You know, make a good meal when you have people with you. Taking that time as a family preparing that great meal that you sourced from local ingredients or maybe you went to the farmers market from Bend Oregon and you loaded up before you went out the Steens and your using these local ingredients and your making this great food. It just adds so much more to the experience and leave the Mountain House for emergencies and makes a great meal as a group. ANd do bring things that enhance the comfort. There is no shame in having a big fluffy pillow along with you if you can fit it. WHen you are on a motorcycle that is a little bit more difficult but bring the pillow that helps you sleep the best. Make sure you have the sleeping pad that you like.
Matt: Ya if you don’t sleep, like I bring my pillows from home because I know I'm going to sleep well with them.
Scott: yes, it’s that one little connection from home, it's the one that helps us fall asleep. It’s easy to sleep on this because we like it. Bring comfy chairs, now some of them can be ridiculously large, but bring chairs that are comfortable to sit in so you can sit around the campfire for hours and drink that special whisky that you got or finish the book that you wanted to read or just sit and talk with your family. Those chairs, the little three legged stools, I mean forget that stuff, it's terrible you'd rather stand. Bring something comfortable.
Matt: You don’t have to suffer.
Scott: Like Matt said, don;t be afraid to take a walk. Get away from the vehicle, take a hike.
Matt: Barry Andrews, I said remote, I didn't say primitive.
Scott: i definitely attribute that to him, that was his statement and that's a great one for sure.
Matt: For me, it is just slow down, breathe in, breathe out and enjoy the time. Recognise that you are going to make mistakes and that's ok, turn the negative into a positive. Oh man I got stuck here.. Oh ok, well..
Scott: Learning opportunity.
Matt: I’m going to realize what I did wrong.
Scott: You're going to take that photo for the Gram right? *laughs*
Matt: Just don’t take it too seriously, be prepared. There is a difference between being prepared and on a military death march. I have been on trips before with people where they are: “It's 7:15 we have to be out of here.” I don't know what it is about camp where people get primal and weird and militaristic? But just chill out and enjoy it, you are there you are doing this for fun. You are not on a scientific expedition, you're not, shockingly, you are not on an expedition. You're on a road trip. You are on an overland trip. Call it whatever you want. The point being, you are essentially on a vacation. Have fun, enjoy it.
Scott: Ya have fun. SMile. Laugh. Enjoy it. Make some memories.
Matt: Don’t get mad at somebody because you know maybe you've camped a bunch, maybe your partner hasn't? Don’t get mad at them for that.
Scott: Ya, if he breaks the spork don’t be upset. *laughs*
Matt: And you don’t need a titanium spork overlanding. *laughs* Lets just…
Scott: And on that bombshell, thank you all for listening and we will talk to you next time.
Matt: Take care guys. …