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Get overland-ready

10 February 2014

Okay, so you’ve bought that 4×4 – you’re now ready to head off on your first overland adventure deep into the heart of Africa. Or are you? What about all those must-have overland accessories? According to your mates, you’ll have to spend another R100 000 just to get your vehicle kitted out for its first trip.

Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Yes, there are countless aftermarket accessories available, and a lot of them are undoubtedly very useful, but you don’t need to buy them all right away.

By fitting just a handful of items you’ll soon be ready for your first overland trip.

In my view, the single most important item for overland travel is a fridge. You simply can’t head into the bush without something in which to keep your meat – and beer – cold. Without a reliable fridge an overland trip simply isn’t a pleasant affair.

Of course, if you’re going to buy a fridge, you need to have a dual-battery system installed as well. Why? Because it ensures that you can keep your fridge running when your vehicle is switched off, without you having to worry about draining the main battery and finding yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere.

If you’ll be buying a fridge, and transporting a family of four in your vehicle, that doesn’t leave a lot of packing space, so getting a roof rack might be a good idea. It is also worth looking at the various drawer systems available.

Another useful item is an auxiliary fuel tank. If you don’t plan on venturing very far from fuel stations, an extra tank isn’t needed, but where’s the fun in staying so close to the popular routes? If you plan on venturing far off the beaten path, an auxiliary tank is a very useful item. It will certainly save you the hassle of having to cart a whole bunch of jerry cans along!

Depending on the terrain, and the weight you’ll be carrying, it might be a good idea to upgrade your standard suspension with an aftermarket option, though this will depend entirely on how “hardcore” your inaugural overland adventure will be.

And what about that replacement bull bar and winch that you see on just about every kitted 4×4? These items look great and are certainly nice to have. A replacement bull bar provides fitment points for spotlights, and can help simplify recoveries, since it comes with recovery and jacking points. A winch can also help in the recovery department, especially if you’ll be travelling alone (never a very good idea, but especially on your first outing!). But these accessories are rarely necessities.

Study your itinerary, and decide which items would make life on the road much easier. The remainder can be purchased in the future.

One final bit of advice, though: start with that fridge. Always start with a fridge. Who wants a warm beer after a long day on the road?

By Gary Swemmer