When choosing an overland base vehicle there are endless things to take into consideration. First and foremost - will it look good in pictures.
Overlander :- noun… Oh-ver-land-ah
Person who travels by vehicle, usually 4x4, adorned with expensive accessories to take photographs of said vehicle with differing landscapes as backdrop.
Dreamer, person with outlandish plans to explore where few people have travelled before.
Other less important things like cost, reliability and payload also need to be considered. So, what makes the perfect overland vehicle?
You need to factor how many people are embarking on this adventure and for how long, one person for a week maybe best to travel by motor cycle, but I can’t get my wife, two kids and dog on a bike, at least not willingly. Another thing to really shake out early is your destination and expectations… Are you driving to Yosemite with your partner or pounding the Dempster highway with your family? Each mission will need different vehicle assets.
Unless you’re a billionaire, the cost of a vehicle is probably the first consideration and there is no limit on how much you could spend. The amount of trucks I’ve seen kitted out to the nines that never go anywhere is staggering. People have a tendency to over spend on the vehicle and then don’t have a budget to travel or are scared to take the expensive rig anywhere interesting for fear of robbery.
Any overland vehicle needs to be reliable and as the driver you need to understand its basic mechanical layout and be able to fix and maintain it. No matter how well built your vehicle is, it will at some point break down, usually this happens at the most inappropriate moment and there will be no-one around to help you get moving. The biggest reasons I’ve seen for breakdown is poor driving and overloading. Driving in strange locations often off road and heavily loaded requires additional skills that are not commonly used in everyday life. Driver education is available and should be seriously considered, even experienced drivers will learn something.
Payload is often overlooked and it’s very easy to exceed. Sure, It looks cool to have stuff bolted all over your truck and a big roof rack allows you to pack more stuff but it really messes with the handling of any vehicle even on paved roads. Equipment should be kept to a bare minimum and keep heavy cargo low and central. All cargo should be securely fastened down so it doesn’t shift on rough roads and in the event of an accident the cab doesn’t become full of sharp, hard flying things!
We have used many base vehicles and currently use a custom built 4x4 van, this gives us inside space rather than using a roof or ground tent extending our travel season and having an indoor toilet with young kids has been a god send. Being custom comes with its own restraints, we have battled reliability and the costs have been challenging. Ultimately you need to do a lot of research and figure your individual requirements.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like personal recommendations.