The Basic Overland Gear Everyone Should Have
Show Notes for Podcast Episode #20
Principles of Overlanding: The Basic Overland Gear Everyone Should Have
For this Principles of Overlanding, Matt and Scott review the top ten pieces of kit that help support local and international overland travel. Topics include navigation, communications, recovery equipment, medical kits, training, tools, and more.
Image: Sinuhe Xavier. Caption: Podcast host Scott Brady negotiates his BMW GS out of a boat along the border of Venezuela and Colombia. He took minimal gear to save weight, but had the essentials.
This list is all about managing risk, and building confidence to explore remote locations with the essential gear.
The List: (details below)
1. Remote Communications :: Do you have a way to communicate while remote?
2. Mapping and Navigation :: Do you have paper maps at a minimum, supported by GPS?
3. Medical Training and Equipment :: Training is critical, which will reveal the required kit
4. Bug Out Bag :: Items above go in here, if you need to ditch the vehicle quickly
5. Tools and Spares :: Only the tools you need to save weight. Research critical spares for frequent failures
6. Recovery Essentials :: Can you get yourself unstuck?
7. Proper (GVWR) Recovery Points :: For getting yourself unstuck, and helping others
8. Proper Tires with a Full Size Spare :: The foundation of vehicle preparation is literally the tires
9. Loading and Lashing Points and Proper Straps :: Secure the load properly to prevent equipment damage and occupant injury
10. Minimalist Camping Gear :: For sleeping in the backcountry by choice, or necessity
Minimalism is the key, as people have ridden around the world with only the gear that fits on a motorcycle. Here, Scott negotiates the GSA up a ramp near the Venezuelan border of Colombia. The team had just lost a rider into the river after he was rammed by the Colombian military. The ability to communicate quickly in an emergency is key.
1. GMRS / FRS like the Midland Radios
2. HAM 2 meter. Frequency 146.460 (a frequency credited all the way back to the 4WDTrips forum)
B. Standard = Cellular Smartphone
1. Garmin inReach (recommended)
2. Spot Messenger
3. Bivy Stick (in testing)
3. Medical and Emergency Supplies
A. Basic Medical Kit and Training: Wilderness First Aid Training (WFA) from NOLS or similar
B. Basic First Aid Kit
1. What If Survival = First Aid Response Kit (Recommended)
2. Moto = Rescue Essentials rescue-essentials.com
3. Adventure Medical Kits
a. Dental Medic Kit
b. Syringe Kit
C. Fire Extinguisher
4. Bug Out Kit / Lighter
1. Communications and Navigation
2. Water and the ability to treat additional water
a. We use a water bottle that will both store water and filter additional water from backcountry sources, like this clever Grayl bottle
3. Body Heat / Shelter
We became believers in the bug out bag after (the first time) we fell into a crevasse. This image was taken just after barely reversing out of the collapsed snow bridge on the Eyjafjallajökull glacier in Iceland.
5. Tools, Spares, Basic Fluids
A. Work with the tools travel with to determine what is needed, and what can be left behind
B. Use forums like IH8MUD and Expedition Portal to determine frequent failure modes
C. Tire Repair kit and Compressor
D. Spares and Fluids for your vehicle
6. Recovery Essentials
A. A good quality shovel
1. Glock entrenching tool
2. Spade with d-handle preferred
B. Self Recovery Traction Board and/or winch
C. Training in recovery skills
1. Recovery Points or Transit Cluster
2. Tires in the appropriate tread pattern for your conditions with a full size spare
3. Proper Loading and Lashing points in the vehicle with rated and easy to manipulate straps
A. Roller Cam
B. Quickie Tiedowns
C. The Perfect Bungee
Camping can range from mild to wild. Start mild, with the backpacking gear already in the closet. This will safe money for fuel and time in the field, which will reveal the items that need to be replaced or improved.
Note: A list like this can certainly be expanded into infinity, often to the detriment of payload, budget, and minimalism. The intention is to highlight the basics so the traveler. . . can travel.
You never know when you might need a bug out kit. Keep it and the communication device close at hand.
1. Tell someone where you are going
2. Preserve the vehicle through mechanical sympathy
3. Get training before spending additional money
a. 7P, Nena, Overland Training, Wilderness First Aid
4. Research the area
5. Initial vehicle inspection, daily checks
Scott Brady:Hello and welcome to the Overland Journal podcast, I am your host Scott Brady and I am here with my co-host Matt Scott. What is on the agenda for today Matt?
Matt Scott: We are continuing our principles of overlanding Series this week with the basic Overland gear that everybody should have. We think this is an interesting one because it really applies to somebody that's going on their first trip as much as somebody who's traveled extensively.
Scott Brady: It's a good reminder of not only how little we need but to reinforce what is most important to bring along. Again, we're never going to say that this is the ultimate list, this is the only list, I'm never going to say that I got it all figured out because I don't. This is based upon Matt and eyes experience and it also brings in this idea that we may want to fly and drive, which means that we don't want this crazy huge list but there's this thing that we need in order to feel confident about traveling. So that's what this is really about which means, you could leave tomorrow, you could walk out your door right now with the money you've got in your pocket and you could figure out a way to travel around the world. People do it all the time. You travel with little to nothing. About this is about mitigating risk, managing risk, giving us a better opportunity of having a better experience, being able to manage challenges that come up as we go along, and that's why it's a very fundamental list. We're going to start off with that.
Matt Scott: I think keeping it simple is a really important thing. when you are carrying your house on your back you don't need to have absolutely everything that you do at home. I guess we both tend to travel a little bit later than most but I think that's great.
Scott Brady: I like to travel light, in fact even when I fly, if I have to check a bag it's pretty much because I'm sending motorcycle gear.
Matt Scott: I generally do think that overlanders are pretty well prepared, this is going to apply to the beginner as much as the experience guy. Because maybe the experienced guy brings too much stuff, I'd like to recommend you go through your truck and put little stickers on everything. After a few trips, after a few car camping trips or weekend Adventures if they're still a red dot on that, if they're still a little. On that, maybe it's something that you don't need to consider. Simplify because the letter used vehicle is, the better your gas mileage is going to be, the better it's going to handle. I really think that a lot of the problems that Overland Travelers have their vehicles come from having too much weight. You're never going to be prepared for absolutely everything.
Scott Brady: And I think it's a mistake to try and do that because then what happens is you either spend so much money or so much time were you have allocated so much weight in the vehicle towards being prepared for everything that you actually do end up breaking down and you do end up breaking Springs. Where you spend more money than you should add you don't actually get to go on the trip. That comes back to as we work through this list, very few of these things have a lot to do with driving the vehicle. In fact almost none of them do. This is really a fundamentalist, this is the stuff you want to you decide to go remote or to travel internationally where you're in unfamiliar terrain and unfamiliar locations. What's the least amount of stuff we can bring? Isn't that a fun thought.
Matt Scott: I think it's all about refining. I've done both, I'm lucky enough to have more than one vehicle, I have my Gladiator which has everything it has the camper, the heater, the battery system, it has everything that you really kind of want. But that it has things that it doesn't have like crazy skid plates because I'm not rock climbing, it doesn't have crazy slack Fighters because I'm not rock crawling. You're probably not going to be rock climbing much when you're traveling.
Scott Brady: Unless it comes up, which does happen.
Matt Scott: In which this list is going to help prepare you for some of that stuff. Communication I guess it's kind of the first thing and I think communication has changed drastically. I have maybe more strong opinions on this subject, I'm like the anti radio guy because I travel solo. every time I'm on a ham radio it's, “ hey guys did you check out my number 4 5 6 suspension kit?” use the radio for emergencies. I like and inreach or a spot Beacon or something like that. A lot of places these days also have cell service, it's not that hard to get to someplace that has cell service.
Scott Brady: Did you have a radio on your vehicle and Australia?
Matt Scott: We had a GMRS I want to say it was, and that was nice to be able to talk to truck is that are coming on similar roads and things.
Scott Brady: I think that's the upside there, for safety on those back roads in Australia.
Matt Scott: Yeah, and I think the nice thing with that system is-
Scott Brady: and I think it, maybe to be slightly contrarian on that, I think that it really depends on the traveler. If you're in a group, especially in a Dusty area where you're getting a lot of distance between the vehicles, you start to easily outstretched the range of a gmrs or something like that. I remember one of the times I was most grateful for having a radio was actually in Greenland, we were in a whiteout and we were trying desperately to stay and keep in touch other in view, we could see other vehicles that we started separating we were coming to this cross. So the risks were getting much higher so we all stopped and started to communicate to the radios on what our GPS location is. We triangulated ourselves and got ourselves closer and closer until we were able to see the vehicles again, and then I think about the times that I've traveled with other overlanders that are ham operators, they tend to have a little bit better radio etiquette when they're ham operators, on what your allowed to say and what you're not allowed to say. You can get a more powerful performance out of that.
Matt Scott:I guess I'm just antisocial and I don't want to talk to people. *both laughing* it's also worth looking into where you're traveling, what radio frequencies are publicly accessible. You may find that you are chosen method of communication is fine in the United States but the moment that you cross the border of Mexico or Canada, or you fly into Russia, there's things that you don't want. I've even had friends with satellite phones and some places in India and they were on their Earth satellite phones with super bad news because suddenly the blacklights come in the only people that use satellite phones are not on our side. You do have to consider that, I think when you travel.
Scott Brady: You actually make a really great point, I remember we were in Aishwarya and we were heading back North and we were chatting on the 2m and this guy comes over to the channel and says, “ Identify yourself immediately, this is the Argentinian military, you're communicating on a control station!” in perfect English as well *both laughing* so this person was clearly modering radio communications. We didn't even have to say anything, we all went completely silent and had to shut the radio down. I remember smuggling ass a phone, I'm not recommending anyone do that.
Matt Scott: they use *censored* so it's really easy to tell what's going on.
Scott Brady: There are countries where that's a big No-No, you gotta know the location that you're going to if it's okay. What tends to be okay in almost every country is something like a spot device where you're in reach. Because it's classified as a Personal Locator Beacon, so it's for SOS only, so it tends to be exempt. Even though now both Garmin and the spot devices allow for two-way communication but do some research to make sure you're not getting yourself in unnecessary trouble. I do think that there is something I'm speaking for myself personally but there is something about going through the process of learning what you need to learn to get a ham radio license, understanding the frequencies, I enjoyed that. I remember looking back on that and it was probably because of the guys at Expedition exchange, this lofty expectations. I felt like I continue to fall very shy of that. It was cool to accomplish that.
Matt Scott: I'm not saying that there bad, I playing that's why I like the beacons. I like that kit that you can fly somewhere, I have a spot in reach I forget which one I have but it's just there, I changed the batteries every year.
Scott Brady: I started using a busy stick and I'm not recommending it, I'm just saying that I'm using it because I'm testing it, but it's too early to really recommend it. They updated it and it's so small, it's literally like this size of a large cigarette lighter. It pairs with your phone, communicates over the Iridium satellite Network which means that works everywhere in the world, so there are some very cool tools out there now, I would just recommend that whatever you buy make sure, especially if that pairs with your phone, and make sure there's a way for you to transmit an SOS without the phone. That's because maybe you just got in an accident and out the screen of your phone is cracked, you can't see anything. That's what we're suggesting around Communications is, have multiple ways of communicating and then if you're very remote, which we love to get remote, we want to go camp at that beautiful Lake where no one else is, we drove a day to get in there in the low range, if someone has a medical event or if your family has an emergency and they need to get ahold of you or you need to get ahold of them, I really recommend that everyone can consider a device like that. Again it comes back to that confidence, once we have the device we become more confident going remote. It's not like we've gained any skill, we've gained confidence and oftentimes that's all you need.
Matt Scott: Listen to my advice but there's a large variety of different trips, the way I travel I have developed a system for the way I travel and it works for me. If you're more comfortable with a ham radio or you're more comfortable with whatever form of communication is, as long as it works you're going to be fine. I think we started out with communication because everything else that comes past this, communication is very important you have to have it, but everything else passed this list is going to mean that you hopefully never have to use those Personal Locator beacons and all that kind of stuff. If you have the proper recovery Guerra, the proper tools, the proper spares, you won't have to potentially ask for help but it is always a good idea to have that.
Scott Brady: Communication is first on the list not because it has to be the very first thing, it's because I generally see that as a way to overcome future stiffens. If you forget your fire extinguisher in your truck burns to the ground, you still have a way to communicate for help. I think starting out with communication within my mind, I'm not saying that my Approach here is perfect. The next thing we're going to talk about is navigation. Which I find that again this comes back to that idea of confidence. If you can give people tools or they can acquire tools that gives them confidence to explore, they're more likely to go remote and they're more likely to have an adventurous experience. What do you use for navigation, what did you use when you were traveling around Australia Matt?
Matt Scott: I use Hima, because Hima actually creates Maps which is what I really liked about them. It works pretty well, we used Hima Maps, and that was essentially just a digital version of a PDF. If you get what I'm trying to say. I really like to that because I was able to actually navigate because there were things that we were doing there that were very remote, they were cross-country, there were even dedicated routes and things like that. Juxtaposed from my opinion on communication, I always have paper maps, I've always loved paper maps, because frankly I love to disconnect when I travel. I find that my day today life is in front of a computer when I'm working, and I like to be able to throw away my cell phone unless I absolutely need it, and I love to know where I'm going with paper maps when I'm in Baja oh, I'm lucky if I have a Baja Almanac. There's a joy and pointing out the compass and actually figuring out where you are in disconnecting, I find that a joy. Otherwise I just use Google Maps for most things. I used trucks in Africa when we were in Africa which was pretty cool. but I ended up finding the all of these apps that I've used, everyone that I've personally tested on this sucked. They don't add any value, most of what these apps are doing is they're taking old USGS data, they're taking openstreetmaps, they're taking available data of what Google generated of all of them. And then they're putting them in to an interface that's not as good as Google Maps, and I have not bothered. If somebody is actually going to go out and create Maps, I would love to check that out. I just use Google, you can download everything offline and especially for the people that are more interested in National travel.
Scott Brady: I found Google to be the best for international travel for sure. I remember South America, any of the places I've gone, other than Africa I used tracks for Africa but other than that I use the Hima maps in Australia. But even then it's nice to have Google Maps on top of that because you get more up-to-date current information and you can save it offline. It seems like the apps, they usually have two advantages for me that usually have one killer feature like Gaia has the ability to display satellite images and it has the ability to display seven and a half minute toppos in the reason why I like those original toppos is that it shows Indian ruins, it actually has the cartographers notes, that you don't get with Carmen. That comes back to your paper and Matt comment as well, if you have topo maps for the area that you're exploring, you're going to have that same benefit. Then there's some that have, for example public land out location like if it's a area that's State trust and you have to have a permit, those kinds of things are beneficial. I think onx has something like that.
Matt Scott:I'd like to test their thing from what I've been told by others, that seems to be the leading app right now.
Scott Brady: They're innovating relatively quickly but Gaia has proven to be very stable so I've gotten the best results for GPS tracks out of Gaia but I really like especially on the motorcycle a simple robust Garmin GPS. They survived the weather and the Sun and there daylight readable and they work with your gloves and they always reliably record tracks.
Matt Scott: I don't record attracts much because I'm selfish and I just like to enjoy the experience.
Scott Brady: I'm usually working even though I'm not working. *laughing* I think when it comes back to navigation, start with paper maps for the area you want to go to, you'll get a lot of joy out of them sitting on your couch at home even spreading them out on the coffee table and thinking about where you want to go. That's one real advantage of the paper map it's a larger scale so you get to see much more than what's on the screen. When you're on the screen you're scrolling around and you see much less sense of a scale, or a sense of where you're at.
Matt Scott: Yeah, like the National Geographic trails topo maps are really good.
Scott Brady: There's some good ones for Baja if you can't find a Baja Almanac and anyone who's listening if you have a Baja Almanac, your retirement is now sold. We start out with paper maps, learn how to triangulate, learn how to identify natural features that also enhances your experiences to show that to your kids, you get to go through that with your partner that you're traveling with.
Matt Scott: Some of my most prized possessions are the maps that I have marked up from in the moment, I have one from Africa, Australia, Asia, everywhere. There's something cool about that experience. My entire life has been digital, I was born in the 90s so when I was young I used to have that Atlas and I followed along but it's nice to have an atlas.
Scott Brady: You're not young now? You just turned 30. *laughing* Old soul. I have some redundancy, get those paper maps and then decide what you want to use from there, maybe it's a Garmin, they got the new Overlander which is really robust for what we do. There is other GPS units out there too, we're not necessarily recommending anything.
Matt Scott: Know that if you're on a budget and you just want to get out and travel, what you have in your pocket right now is probably fine.
Scott Brady: The phone will work just fine but try to have those paper maps, try to have that redundancy I think that's really important
Matt Scott: I think that touches on a important thing here, that with all of these things, the travel is the most important thing but this series is about Overland travel the premium Garmin Overlander which is really nice, it's probably going to make a lot of things on your trip to easier, is it in the cards? Your phone will work just fine. Some medical and emergency supplies, this is something that I think is really important, there's no excuse to not have some kind of basic first aid training. I think everybody should have this. Knowing how to do basic CPR, knowing how to clean a wound, knowing how to adjust do very basic things. What's the basic course that you can take? Community First Aid?
Scott Brady: You can do first aid and CPR which CPR has changed significantly over the last decade or so, so it's good to get recertified on that. When I would really recommend people do is the Wilderness first aid which is called The Wolf course, there's one slightly above that called the WFR course A wilderness first responder, then from there you can go to WEMT or Wilderness EMT. When I was a full-time firefighter I was an EMT and I learned a lot but there's so much more that comes with Backcountry care and Wilderness medicine which is primarily around improvising and using available tools. So many times we are under supplied to handle a lot of medical emergencies that we use a stick to stabilize a joint for example. But for the most part we do want to have medical supplies with us, we want to be prepared to care for ourselves and for the people that are with us. We also need to think about the medications that we need, we do we need anti-malarials, do we need something to manage G I issue, do we need something to manage bad tacos- which I've never had bad tacos. But I've definitely gotten sick in my travels. Having those kind of medications along to manage a headache cetera, Matt and I are not doctors and we don't play them on the internet but there are some things that you're going to want to have him those kits and you should do some research on. One of the cats I really like because it's super fundamental is this, What If Survival is the name of the company and its this first aid response kit is what they have, no affiliation, not an Advertiser but it's just a really good kid. I really effective one. I think not starting off with a good kick it like that is key, it's got a tourniquet, it's got scissors, it's got a way to break a window.
Matt Scott: all of that stuff is really important but it's only useful if you know how to use it. That training is really important, if you don't have training and you don't have time IT training, some people don't, get a basic kit. I think it's one area that it never hurts to go a little bit overkill on because if you do have that way to communicate whether that's a ham radio or that's a two-way satellite message anymore phone or satellite phone, having that stuff there allows a medical professional to walk you through in an emergency and how to use it.
Scott Brady: When we were doing both Greenland and Antarctica, and Gretel and we had the advantage of having dr. John Sulver with us, but in Antarctica we had access to Medicine which means that I had an emergency room doctor on call that I could call a number on the cell phone in an emergency doctor would be the first person to pick it up, it's not an assistant, you immediately get on the phone with someone who can walk you through if you've forgotten how to use a nasal or you're working with some medical kit that you're not familiar with it, they might be able to walk you through that in the field. You might want to consider some form of telemedicine option as well. On the motorcycle the cat needs to be even more Compact, and then there's other good companies out there like Adventure Medical Kits.
Matt Scott: consideration has changed on a motorcycle too. You're way more likely to need some kind of GI stuff because you're going to be eating local food more, you're also going to be way more likely to fall on a motorcycle so you need to be prepared, you need to know how to splint, you need to know how to Road Rash, do you need to clean the wound. There's parts of the world that still don't have good access to healthcare and some places that you're going to be even in the first world even in California that you're just going to be so remote that you need to be able to fix the problem.
Scott Brady: I always bring along one of those emergency dental kits, and I always bring along the syringe kit so when you walk into that clinic in the middle of Uganda, you can hand them everything they need all the syringes, needles, Ivy, so they know that they're using everything fresh right off the back. It's a good idea to have that stuff along and I do carry it with me on all of my trips, I always have some version of that kid.
Matt Scott: And then let's think emergency supplies for the vehicle to. Fire extinguisher, if your vehicle is modified even if it's not modified, have some kind of fire extinguisher in there. They're very affordable, make sure that it's appropriately graded, make sure it's something that's graded for automotive fires. I always just have a small kind of Fix-It kit in the car. Have a flare, a road sign, in some countries it's required for you to have a flare or a safety kit. Be prepared, you don't have to be too prepared and I think my advice is to just have a realistic look at your trip. In the same way that I like the Carrie paper maps because the thing that is most likely to go wrong on an Overland trip is that you're going to get lost, for me the second most likely thing is probably that some sick because they ate something. Be prepared for these things and it's that prior preparation that's going to prevent poor performance.
Scott Brady:I like to have oh, this is maybe a little bit outside of the scope of Basics but I do like to have a little bug out kit. I make sure that the backpack is never anything tactical, I made the mistake of doing that early on when you're another country is, it looked Tactical.
Matt Scott: I've seen people get strip-searched in Japan because for no other reason that they were dressed and they looked like SEAL Team Six and in some countries when you look like Seal Team 6 they say something.
Scott Brady: So I do like to have a little bug out kit just to have a pack that looks like a backpack that you would see somebody Crossing around Europe. I just shove some basics in there that's where I make sure I've got my communication device, water, a small puffy jacket in the tarp and stuff like that. The reason why I started using that is because the first time I had a vehicle fall into a cross, I'm on the top of eyjafjallajokull Glacier in Iceland and the vehicle just broke through a snow bridge and I'm teetering and we were lucky to get out of there, it could have been so easy that broke through that we needed to get out of the vehicle very quickly. The second time I realize the critical nature of it was when we had a vehicle fall through the ice in a frozen lake in Greenland, so quickly these things happened. We've seen the video where the Jeep Wrangler catches on fire in the guy is just a few minutes to grab some basic supplies. Vehicle fires do happen, failed water crossing with a flowing river, those things happen and you need to be able to grab some basic supplies again to communicate and stay warm and dry until help arrives.
Matt Scott: And on that fire thing recognize that most of these fires can be prevented. There certain vehicles that have, like the North American spec Defenders have an oil line that would eventually rot and then spewing oil everywhere and all of a sudden you're perfect Land Rover is burnt to the ground. Get that stuff sorted before you go so you don't have to use the stuff. Tools, Spears, basic fluids. Here's my favorite thing to do is I like to work, I'm not saying that I always do this but for a. Of time when I get a new vehicle I like to work with the factory tool kit and I like to bring tools into that factory kit because then I know what I actually need on top of it. That was some great advice that I received a long time ago.
Scott Brady: If you're going to bring along a CV axle to replace it or repair it in the field, make sure that you have the nut socket to remove that nut. Do some research, go on the Forum specific to your vehicle and find out the stuff that tends to go wrong.
Matt Scott: There's a web form that has all the different sections for people that are traveling over land to different Vehicles, it's called portal Expedition.
Scott Brady: Check out I Hate Mud If you have a Land Cruiser, go on the Expedition Portal, there's so many great resources out there.
Matt Scott: Go to a Facebook group online and say “hey I'm going to drive this obscure car around the world” people are going to be really excited and want to help you.
Scott Brady: And they'll know what you should have because there is, when I had Land Rovers I always brought fuel pumps along with me because that was the thing that was most common to just completely leave you stranded. Then there was a couple of relays. Once he figured out what the kit was it wasn't so bad, you just have those Basics on there.
Matt Scott: My tool kit for my Land Cruiser involves a ham sandwich. * both laughing* Tire repair, know how to repair a tire before you go and even if you haven't done it in a while and maybe it's time to find that old tire and fix it, it's something that most people can always get better at.
Scott Brady: It's a the most common failure that we're going to have in the field is a tire failure so be prepared for that. If you have anything along with you, make sure you have a way to air up a tire, have a way to air it back up after you've repaired it.
MAtt Scott: Even if it's a foot pump or something. Anything is going to be better, know how to do that. Always have a full size spare.
Scott Brady: New tires are so good and if you're paying attention there are some people who are very tired failure prone so they should probably have two spares.
Matt Scott: All these people who don't actually pay attention, they're the same people who drive up onto the embankment and then roll their car for no reason in the same way that people don't move the 6 in around the sharp rock, or they don't consider that in their line.
Scott Brady: That was how I got my first flat on a trip was just not paying attention, I was fiddling with the GPS and I got a flat. That's when that stuff happens but in general you don't need, if you're doing a lot of solo travel than you might want to consider a second spare.
Matt Scott: And that's just something which is an instant game over if you don't have it. If you don't have a way to repair your tire you're just not going anywhere. I guess recovery is the next logical thing. Full disclosure Here, I Am the u.s. maxtrax distributor, I have used the product a long time before I was here so yeah we're going to talk about recovery personal and stuff but even if you don't go down that route, self-recovery is really important whether that's a windshield, whether that's a recovery board, even a hand which.
Scott Brady: It uses a steel handle and it has these set of teeth that kind of, very extensive ratchet strap. They can usually handle a couple thousand pounds, they're a great addition to a winch to if you're in a really a muddy and Technical terrain and you're doing some complicated recoveries that could be beneficial for that. If you are already got a high-lift on your vehicle, learn how to use it. Bring along a hi-lift recovery kit so that way you can use it as a winch if you need to. Have a shovel in your kit, you're going to need it for when you go to the bathroom, you might as well have a shovel.
Matt Scott: UK use that Glock trenching school, it's actually made by glock. I have one of those in all of my car is. Shovel is always going to be better to have then not a shovel.
Scott Brady: I think it's important to have a way to do self recovery, I've been with groups and I've gotten stuck on my own. I remember screwing around on the beach while everybody else was having tacos and I got stuck, so having a way to get self-recovery if you're in a group is important. If you get separated or decide to do a side trip or something like that, always have a way to get yourself out. That can be a witch if you're in the deserts you may not be able to connect with trees so have a way to do self recovery or know how to do that. Get training on how to do self recovering.
Matt Scott: If you've never taken even a basic four-wheel drive training course, please do it there are a lot of resources. There's seven P, they do great training oh, they do stuff over at Overland Expo, I know those guys they're very friendly. I 4WD ETA International trainers Association, you're going to find one in your area the guys are all top-notch.
Scott Brady: There's Overland training in Prescott which is something that we used to run but it's now run by the guys at fieldcraft. Very experienced guys.
MAtt Scott: We're talking about guys that are going to teach you to be calm under pressure. A bunch of former faceless guys.
Scott Brady: And then, start off with a jack, start off with recovery boards. I think recovery boards are very useful because you can move them from vehicle to vehicle, decide you're going to go out one day and your Jeep in the next day you're going to go out in your 4Runner, it's so easy to move them from car to car. You can walk her down a muddy Road and help out a stranger that's stuck, maybe you don't have access to it and they work in the desert where there aren't trees and it's more difficult to attach a winch to, so I actually have both. I like to have a winch on my vehicle and I like to have traction boards on my vehicle.
Matt Scott: I'll stay out of the trash and board thing because of Ethics I want to make sure we're looking after the readers here. Let's move on to just preparing your vehicle. Making sure that you have recovery points is a massive thing. A lot of recovery points or a lot of what you believe to be recovery points on a vehicle may actually be a lashing point during Transit. Wrangler is great with that, G wagon is great with that, gladiator, there's several vehicles and manufacturers that actually offer rated recovery points. Something I do want to say is if you are going to add recovery play to your vehicle make sure that it is a rated recovery point. And engineered rated recovering point. You actually want to see data on that believe it or not when a dude says it's good enough, “ it won't break, it's got grade a bulbs” for whatever, you want something who knows what they're doing on that.
Scott Brady: I think ARB makes rated recovery points that incorporate into several attachment points on the frame. I think tjm does it as well.
Matt Scott: You'll see a lot of Australian companies that do it because there are actually Australian designed rules and regulations around what can and cannot be sold as a recovery point. If you have a vehicle that is a great place to look, frankly if the recovery point is engineered as part of the bumper, you're . but I'm always wary of, “ I will did these D shackle nuts on myself.” And I'm like yikes. There's no disrespect but you could have a three-quarter inch piece of cut steel but they will did it on too crappy chinese-made Discount Parts buyer bumpers, I'm trying to say a company but I'm not. Just be careful there.
Scott Brady: Make sure that the recovery points are rated, understand how that rating system works, what are they rated to, they need to be rated to at least the gross weight of the vehicle preferably one or two times that. From that point then you can feel confident to have recovered when you're stuck in the mud. We don't want to be exclusionary in this case, there are times where let's say you love this old Mercedes Sudan and that's what you decide to drive around the world in, but you still need to self recovery because you're even more likely to get stuck. A lot of vehicles don't have any recovery points or even a means of installing one so there is a way to do that using what's called a Transit cluster, that requires a lot of training and understanding of the limit so they're going to be much less than gross vehicle weight. It's going to need to be a very gentle managed and controlled extraction, but look into a Transit cluster if for example you drive a Subaru that doesn't have a recovery point.
Matt Scott: And I think that's where recovery boards just makes so much sense for vehicles that are a little bit more obscure, you're not having to modify anything, there's very little risk to the end game here. Recovery board is not going to snap and send shrapnel places.
Scott Brady: There's some of them that were made poorly and I think they did break and send off in two different directions. I think what you notice so far in this discussion is that we're not talking about modifying the car at all yet because you don't actually have to. I think that modifications are important if the conditions demand it. If the conditions don't demand it then spend the money on gas and tacos and experiences.
Matt Scott: Needs versus wants, be honest with yourself if you have a very generous budget and you want to drive the Pan-American Highway with 37s and 60s and you want to do everything that you think you're going to need. Just travel within your means, it's about travel.
Scott Brady: Have those travel experiences be the priority. But we do recognize that the things that we're recommending our recommendations, we're not saying that you need to have the money to travel. We have found that if you do have them you're going to improve your outcomes.
Matt Scott: Except for a full sized spare. *laughing*
Scott Brady: How many times have we seen people that don't even have spirits. But you do want to have recovery points, it's a good idea to know where they are in the vehicle, how you access them. Some of them you need to remove dust caps and they need to be screwed in. If you bought the vehicle used, make sure that that hasn't been removed or stolen.
Matt Scott: That would be in your tool kit and that won't be there because they had their vehicle a dealership or whatever then it got taken off. Just make sure that you verify that those kids are there.
Scott Brady: Check that stuff for how those recovery points are attached to the vehicle because again some of them are just screwed in. Oftentimes they have the provision for that because the tow truck driver will have a set of those on the his vehicle but you may not have one in your car. So if you have a BMW X5 it's probably not going to have the recovery point in the vehicle because the tow truck driver would have those in their truck so make sure that you buy whatever you need in order to have a proper recovery point.
Matt Scott: Just verify and I guess the next thing, loading and lashing. Everything that is in your car that is not bolted down or properly strap is a projectile. “Nothing is going to go wrong, I'm a good driver”, well it doesn't matter because the bus that just ran in front of you because they just ran a red light and they ran in front of you and you ran into them because you can only physically stop so quickly. None of that stuff matters so that little fire extinguisher we told you to have if that's not properly secured, I have seen photos and accidents where things go through windshields. Make sure, that's where if you're doing this for the long-term and you have a lot of things to store particularly a lot of loose things, that is where I do like drawer systems and cases are the simplest thing. Most Vehicles will have lashing points in the truck. Let's make sure that those lashing points are actually strong enough because if they're on a Saturn then they're really not meant to take the weight. But most SUVs are generally Factory lashing Point, that's pretty good. What you don't want to do is go to Harbor Freight and buy those little trailer lashing points and use them without a backing plate because that little screw that you just put through with his fine but it's just going to be pulled right out in an accident. I like those roller cams those little blue kayak straps.
Scott Brady: Those work really well, I like the quickie tie downs, the ratcheting ones, those are really effective. I don't generally like bungee cords for anything that's hard or heavy, bungee Nets are fine for jackets and sleeping bags and stuff like that but you don't want to use it to secure anything heavy because they stretch so they're going to stretch under those kinds of fluids. This is very fundamental, it's just like when we talked about payload. If anybody that's listening to this podcast takes away the reminder of always lashing down their gear when they go on a trip, I'm going to feel like I won the day because it's going to save some heartache.
Matt Scott: So camping I guess is an essential part of overlanding.
Scott Brady: Often times you end up camping, sometimes you don't. This is really optional but I did want to include it because again we want it to be about the experience first. It's surprising how much can be done with the same stuff that you have in your backpack. The backpack that you've used to go backpacking maybe even 10 years ago with all those small stoves and sleeping pads intense and everything else, start with that and then like what Matt talks about, determine at the end of your first weekend trip what works or what went flat or whatever, or if this was a warm enough. And then you start to adjust your kit with the things are really need. But then it's also possible to go in tirely around the world have an amazing journey in Deptford Camp once. We're not saying that overlanding has to include a camping, it often does I think it's an added experience.
Matt Scott:if you're staying in hotels then you're not over Landing, says who? Everybody does they just don't talk about it. Sometimes you need to shower, sometimes you just need to sit and watch TV. Sometimes you need to be away from the stimulus of other people.
Scott Brady: For me I need to work every few days when I'm traveling so I'll get a hotel so I can get reliable Wi-Fi, I can have a place to stop and rest and write and work.
Matt Scott: since this podcast is about the basic preparations you make about overlanding travel, recognize that if you're on a budget or on the opposite end you're not on a budget, maybe you don't even need that stuff. I know that's my goal with this podcast is to get people to travel. And be realistic. What works for you is what works for you.
Scott Brady: For those that are listening you'll notice we've got to the end of the list and we've not talked once about long travel, we've not talked to once about some fancy roof rack or snorkel, were talking really about the fundamentals of basic preparations for travel. People have gone around the world with less than this, so these are really the fundamentals and then once you start to travel in you identify either this is the place that I'm going in at requires a certain amount of capability that I'm going to prepare for that. Or I find that when I do my trips these tires just don't work for me and I'm going to upgrade them, or my suspension is too soft and need to upgrade the Springs. But start off with doing the trips person find out what you really need. Not just what looks cool on the glossy cover of a magazine. Make sure that you start out with the fundamentals and then only added things that you need to. We've kind of got some additional thoughts that come along with these fundamentals which is, the first one is, tell people where you're going, make sure that you let somebody know. We're not telling you that you have to do this, it's a good idea to let people know where you're going if you've ever heard of Aron Ralston in Cowboy Canyon, he had to cut his arm off because no one knew he was there, and if someone knew he was traveling there it would have changed the outcome. Let people know where you're going.
Matt Scott: Also Scott and I are both huge fans of mechanical sympathy. Overlanding the goal is traveling, the vehicle is a tool. When that we might get emotionally connected to. It's just drive conservatively, be gentle with it. There's a reason that they pull people over for speeding because there's an exponential increase in the speed limit to get in an accident right? Or if you're off road there's always one guy that breaks everything and always thinks he's a legend but he's usually the worst driver out of all of them. Get training and there's going to teach you mechanical sympathy. Look after the vehicle and generally speaking the vehicle will look after you. If your vehicle is not happy doing 90, don't do 90.
Scott Brady: And that reinforces the idea that we've talked about with training that teaches us his more effective with a vehicle that we already have as a driver, we can go further or go into more challenging areas without modifications because we gain skills. That also teaches us those concepts of mechanical sympathy. Crawl underneath your car and get an idea and then also work on what's your daily inspection when you're out traveling. It sounds like we're being Super Boy Scout with that but I have struggled so many times in my life by not just taking 3 minutes and looking under the car and noticing a little pool of oil or noticing a little shocked. If you just take a few minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes to go through and check your belts come and check your hoses because you can fix that stuff when you're already in a cool place when you're camping. You're already in the city where you can get access to support. Do those daily inspections as well.
Matt Scott: Figure out where you're going is also a big thing. I went through a period where I like to kind of get to the place and talk to people and figure out what I wanted to do. There's certain adventures in which that works good. When I generally find that having itineraries, I love Google Maps for many reasons but one of the reasons is that you can use my maps on Google Maps and you can actually go and save things on Google Maps. They're available on your phone and offline. I have the secret map that has every cool campsite that I've been too, every Mission, every sweet Taco spot, every decent hotel, every emergency Hotel, tire shops, whatever. Everything that I found you is full but I have the information there. I don't necessarily have a route planned but it's nice to just know where stuff is that interests you.
Scott Brady: And I think it adds to the experience, it adds to the excitement of going, it also gives you an opportunity to sit down with your partner or whoever you're going to travel with your buddy or your friend, sit down and look at the pictures of the places you're going to come and get excited, do some research and then you're going to find that one little beach with a mission and a great restaurant, and next thing you know you've had a really great experience. I do think that research has a fundamental and it allows us to best experience. Sometimes the best experience is no research at all and we're not saying that that isn't true because it absolutely is.
Matt Scott: There's some trips where that's kind of fun on, but on the other side wouldn't want to maybe do that.
Scott Brady: Matt, you got any other thoughts on that?
Matt Scott: No just keep it about travel guys and hopefully both people that are new to overlanding and people that have been around for a while have something to take from this. As always, Scott can be reached so you are scott.a.brady and them I’m mattexplorer on Instagram, feel free to reach out.
Scott Brady: Tell us what you would like to hear if you've got questions, since this is very list based we're going to have all of that in detail in the show notes including some recommendations for products. None of them are going to be based upon any affiliation, it's just going to be things that we recommend. Take a look at the show notes to get those detailed lists and we appreciate everyone listening, we appreciate everyone going out and seeing the world and we also look forward to hopefully seeing some of you when we're out traveling about.
Matt Scott: Take care guys.