Overland vehicles going off road.

Overland Vehicle Build

Looking to build an overland vehicle? Take a few minutes and figure out what you really need and want in an overland vehicle. Then plan your build with a clear plan.

What Is An Overland Vehicle?

An overland vehicle is a type of vehicle, often equipped with four wheel drive, that is designed to travel both on and off road. It should be capable of both covering long distance on traditional roads and the occasional off road excursion. A typical overland vehicle will have a high ground clearance, large tires, and room to carry days, if not weeks of supplies.

The definition is very vague though and, in truth, an overland vehicle can be anything that you want, as long as it covers your needs. If it gets you to where you want to go and it handles all of your gear, it is an overland vehicle.

What Are The Advantages Of Building An Overland Vehicle?

The advantages of building an overland vehicle are numerous.

  • They can be used for both work and play purposes.
  • They are versatile in the types of terrain they can handle.
  • They can be used for long distance travel.

Unlike a traditional off road vehicle build, the on road prowess of your overland vehicle will be very important. As an overlander, you will spend the majority of your time on paved roads, covering long distances. This means that sacrifices need to be made for comfort and utility over all out off road performance.

What this also means is that there are a lot of options as far as vehicles that you can choose. If you want a hard core off road vehicle, your short list might be less than 10 vehicles. For an overland build however, there are potentially dozens of vehicles that might fit the mold.

How to Choose the Right Vehicle To Convert

There are many things to consider before you choose the right vehicle to convert. One of the most important aspects is your budget. You need to be realistic about how much you can spend and how much you want to spend. If your budget is tight, then it’s best to look for a cheap option that will still meet all of your needs.

If you have more money than time, then it’s worth investing in a higher-quality vehicle that will last longer. However, if you have more time than money, then you should consider buying a cheaper vehicle and spending more time converting it yourself.

Features To Look For In An Overland Vehicle

Realistically, you can make an overland vehicle out of any platform that you choose. It just depends on how much time you plan to spend off the road and what kind of terrain you will be traveling on. There is a big difference between blazing your own trail and following old fire roads.

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Here are some features to consider when making your choice.


Four wheel drive can be a major asset when it comes to overlanding. Even the best maintained dirt roads can become impassable in rough weather, so the ability to engage all four wheels is a nice feature.

If you do not intend to hit any rough trails, all wheel drive will do. All wheel drive vehicles can engage all four wheels, but will lack a low gear and the torque that comes with it. For more rugged terrain, a true four wheel drive system with high and low gears is advised.

Vehicle Size

Before you select a vehicle, you should decide how much gear and how many people you will be carrying. A small 2 door SUV is light and nimble on the trails, but having no room for gear will get old very quickly.

Likewise, that full size one ton pickup will hold everything that you can imagine, but you will be limited in where you can go off road.

When choosing the size of overland vehicle to build, compromises will have to be made between storage and maneuverability.

Engine Size

A V8 gas engine or Diesel might seem like the obvious choice, but there are tradeoffs when choosing a powerful engine. The more power it makes, the more fuel and maintenance it will require.

Since most, if not all of your overlanding will be on paved roads, you need to make some concessions to mileage. The better the mileage, the less you will have to stop for fuel and the cheaper your travels will be.

Your Overland Options

The options, when choosing an overland vehicle, are virtually endless. Here are some possibilities.


You might not think of Kia motors right away, but they have several models that fit into overlanding very well. Vehicles like the Sorento and Sportage are compact yet have plenty of storage. They also feature engines that make decent power and get good fuel economy. All Wheel Drive is also an option on most models.

Different Overland Vehicle Brands.

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James is a computer generated character. A fictitious dad of three, he enjoys camping in the great outdoors and the idea of off roading.

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