15 Overland Gear List To Make Your Camping Experience Safe and Secure
Is Overlanding dangerous? It needn’t be. If you’re not prepared, it can be.
What if your water supply is low, with nowhere to refill for miles upon miles?
Do you have a reliable way to attract attention when your survival is at risk? What if one of your fellow overlanders has an allergic reaction? How will you contact emergency services if you have no cell signal?
Read on so you can stock your overland gear list with crucial items for your safety and security.
Overland Gear List Safety Items
1. First Aid Kit
A basic kit should include:
- Band-aids, various sizes
- Adhesive tape
- Disposable gloves
- Hand sanitizer
- Alcohol swabs
- Antiseptic wipes
- Antiseptic cream
- Burn gel or cream
- Insect bite cream
- Plastic bags for disposing of used items
- A thermometer
- Safety pins
A more comprehensive camping first aid kit could include:
- Instant cold packs
- Instant hot packs
- A small flashlight
- Emergency blankets (for winter camping, always include one).
- Paracetamol and/or Ibuprofen
- Antihistamine tablets
- Motion sickness tablets
- Medications to ease vomiting
- Epi-Pens – for administering epinephrine for severe allergic reactions.
To be best prepared, do some first aid training before you set off. You won’t always have quick access to medical assistance in emergencies. It’s ideal for each person traveling to be trained.
Different regions pose different risks. Depending on where you’re travelling, you may need to include some of these items:
- Anti-diarrhea tablets
- Fever-reducing tablets
- Altitude sickness tablets
- Anti-malaria tablets
- Hydration salts
- Snakebite kits
- Treatment for other poisonous wildlife or plants in the region
Sometimes, anti-venom can only be given under medical supervision or instruction. Make sure you have a way to contact medical services for advice and travel with instructions for equipment like Epi-Pens.
2. Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer will be part of your first aid kit, but take extra when you leave your vehicle to explore. Who knows what you might encounter in the backcountry.
Calculate how much water you need and bring extra. On average, each person needs two liters per day. In hot weather – or if you’ll be physically active – you need more.
One gallon (around 3.8 liters) per person per day is the recommended minimum. Multiply that by the number of days you expect to be on the road before you can refill.
Also, think about water for washing. If you can wash in any natural water sources, that makes things easier. You also need to wash dishes and do laundry.
You need suitable containers for storing it. Because it’s heavy, store it lower in your vehicle so you don’t affect its balance.
4. Enough Food
Work out how much food each person needs per day until you can restock. Store it in a fridge-freezer with a large enough capacity. Bring dry products so you still have something to eat, in case of emergencies.
5. Water Purification Tablets
If you run out of water, purification tablets make contaminated water safer to drink. They contain chlorine or iodine which kill harmful microorganisms in the water. They take up to 30 minutes to work.
6. GPS, Maps, and Compass
Never rely solely on electronics in remote locations. A map and compass are essential backups.
GPS is banned in some countries. In this case, consider staying closer to civilization or make sure you have experience using maps and compasses.
7. Signaling Devices
If you need to attract attention in an emergency, you’ll need two or more types of signaling device. Why is one not enough? Because different devices are more effective in different situations and locations.
Options to add to your camping safety kit include:
- Personal locator beacons (PLBs) – they send an SOS signal and your location to satellites monitored by the military. Rescue services can then find you.
- Satellite messengers – they can send SOS signals (not all – check the device specs), and you can use them to send and receive messages. Some models have extra features like digital compasses, altimeters, access to maps, weather, and other data.
- Flares – suitable in open spaces like the desert or by the coast. In the forest, trees can prevent smoke from rising high enough to attract attention.
- Signaling mirrors – most effective on sunny days. They can be seen up to 40 miles away, sometimes further. They’re less effective when it’s cloudy.
- Survival whistles – their loud, high-pitched call can be heard over long distances. Some whistles have a “pea” design, while others are pea-less. (The pea is a small piece of wood or cork). Pea-less designs are more reliable and more resistant to cold, wet weather. Many models can produce sound up to 120 decibels. Get an emergency whistle with this design - not a generic whistle.
8. Remote Communication Devices
If you get separated from your companions in remote areas, you don’t want to rely on a cell phone signal to contact them. The same applies if you need to contact emergency services.
As well as satellite messengers, radios are an important backup for cell phones. Some things to consider before buying include:
- Distance range
- Whether you need a license to operate its frequency ranges
Satellite phones are another option. Unlike satellite messengers, these devices let you make and receive calls.
With any satellite device, coverage can vary across the world depending on the satellite network provider so make sure you check in advance.
Satellite phones are illegal in some countries due to terrorism or excessive security measures.
9. Backup Power
Always have a backup power source for GPS and other electronic communication devices. Bring spare batteries. If they’re not battery-powered, bring fully charged portable power banks.
Solar power banks can be charged using a power source or solar energy – a more reliable option than standard power banks.
If you rely on propane to fuel any appliances, calculate how much you need before your next opportunity to refuel and bring extra.
10. Gear For Keeping Warm
Overlanding safety in winter means knowing if your gear can keep you warm enough. For extremely low temperatures, it’s vital to know the temperature range sleeping bags and camping quilts are rated for. Ratings should be based on ISO standards, not degree ratings (i.e. rated for 0° F).
Hardshell rooftop tents often have insulation in the roof and floor and some models have the option to add extra.
11. Bear Deterrents
If bears roam your camping location, add these to your overland gear list:
- A horn or flashlight – they don’t like bright lights or loud noises.
- Bear cans – keep your food and toiletries locked away in these.
- Bear spray – for the unlikely event you might have to defend yourself against a bear. (The spray doesn’t cause permanent damage. It will buy you time to escape).
- Bear bells – hanging bells around your camp alerts you to intruders (bears or humans) – they also send bears elsewhere, since they don’t like the noise.
12. Vehicle Essentials
In case your vehicle faces problems, be ready with:
- A spare tire
- A tool kit with a carjack and other essentials
- Extra gas and vehicle fluids
- Recovery gear (for off-roading) – fundamentals include recovery tracks, recovery straps, tree saver straps, tow straps, and shackles.
13. Safety Glasses
Protect your eyes when working on your vehicle. They’ll come in handy if you encounter other situations where you’re exposed to dust and debris.
14. Avalanche Safety Equipment
If you visit areas with avalanche risk, it’s crucial to have the correct gear to locate others, or for others to locate you.
Typically, kits include:
- Avalanche beacons (aka. transceivers) – This broadcasting device beeps once per second, getting stronger as other beacons get closer. They should be worn under clothes so the batteries don’t get too cold to function. (Make sure software on digital versions is up to date before use).
- Avalanche probes – metal rods for locating someone under the snow.
- Shovels – for digging to rescue the buried person.
Other gear includes avalanche airbags which inflate and help you stay closer to the surface of the snow.
15. Roof Rack Locks
Lock your roof rack to your vehicle to prevent theft. It’s not enough to lock your rooftop tent to the rack as anyone can remove the whole lot with a spanner. For the greatest security, use locking systems from rack manufacturers like Yakima.
With these camping safety tips in mind, you’ll return home safe and sound. The length of your overland gear list depends on how remote you are and the activities planned.
Wherever you go, cover the fundamentals – water, food, warmth, communications, power, and shelter.
How about extra shelter for extreme weather? The Overland Pros Wraptor 2000 Wall Set goes with your awning, giving you an extra barrier against wind chill, rain, and snow.