[Image credit: Jonathan Hanson - ExporingOverland.com]

My top favorite people in overlanding and expedions are probably:

Expedition Portal / Overland Journal

Scott Brady's LR4 build:

Jonathan Hanson, founder (with his wife Roseann) of Overland Expo

Andrew St. Pierre White - 4xoverland

ASPW + Mac Mackenney

Mac Mackenney

Clay and the team at XOverland

Tom Sheppard - former RAF pilot, has travelled the world over 300,000 miles of solo trips across deserts.

Paul Marsh

SOME of what I've learned from all these gurus in one quick summary:

Buy the right vehicle for you, your budget, your market, and your purpose.

The first thing to do when you buy it: upgrade the wheels/tires:

  • Generally speaking, A/Ts are better than M/Ts for overall multi-purpose overlanding
  • You want the smallest wheel you can get (rim diameter) that will fit the truck) to maximize sidewall height.
  • Tires that are the same size or a bit larger than OEM are okay. Going much bigger than 33” often results in having to cut the body.
  • Wider is NOT better. Narrower is better and anybody who has done expeditions will agree with this. Most people build trucks with tires that are too big and too wide. This is actually worse for traction, not better. And the further the overall tire size is from OEM, the more it can impact other systems like CVs.
  • Remember that wheels and tires and suspension are all related. Even if you don't buy it all at once, plan it out all at once.

The next most important upgrade is THE DRIVER

  • Get trained and apply your driving skills. Go learn how your truck works.
  • A stock truck on good quality but stock- sized wheels and tires and a great driver is better than a modded out truck with big tires, lots of kit and a crappy driver.

Avoid or consider avoiding these things:

  • Buying stuff and sticking it on with no plan or purpose
  • Exceeding the GVWR of the vehicle - this is unsafe
  • Messing with brakes
  • snorkels/raised air intakes - they mostly make it harder for the engine to breathe
  • Raising the vehicle more than 2"-4" as you'll end up causing cascading engineering issues through the system (CVs, braking capabilities, high-speed maneuvering safety, rollover / center of gravity, etc.
  • Roof racks. Avoid them if possible and if you can't avoid them, make sure you only put light stuff up there because it messes with the center of gravity and reduces mileage and increases wind noise.
  • Can you avoid a rear bumper and swing away tire carrier? If so, you reduce weight and cost and leave more room for payload.
  • Can you avoid a front bumper and/or winch? Same as above. You'll reduce cost, complexity, and weight (200#-400#).
  • Every time you add heavy bumpers to the front and rear, you lose payload and may have to upgrade your suspension.

Other principles:

  • The way to have that is to stay as stock as possible and as close as possible to factory specs and way under GVWR, otherwise you're taking on an engineering project you probably don't have the skills for.
  • Form follows function: Vehicle build follows from your use case(s)
  • Everything has a trade-off; be smart about them

Work from most important to least important:

  • MUST HAVE: wheels/tires, driver training, first aid, comms, base recovery kit, proper lashing & loading technique, good shovel, hatchet, food and water storage, fire extinguishers, compressor, a good bottle jack
  • SECONDARY:  Maxtraxx or equivalent, Under-body armor, sliders,  lights. roof rack
  • THIRD: everything else