OVERLANDING IN THE OZARKS
WHAT IS OVERLANDING?
You have probably seen a lot of Jeeps and Toyotas cruising around lately looking like the old Willies from WW2. With shovels, axes, gas cans, and other gear pasted all over them. One of the fastest growing trends over the last couple years in the Ozarks has been Overlanding. What is Overlanding ,you might ask? It is where you take 4 wheel drive, SUV, truck, jeep, van, or any other suitable vehicle that can handle the back country roads and convert it into an off-road motorhome in a sense. Overlanding can be done in a camper shell, a roof-top tent, or a 300,000 dollar rolling condo with satellite. It is car camping on steroids.
Overlanding is not camping in campgrounds; it’s boondocking, but with the emphasis on traveling. The one thing that all overlanders share is the ability to travel off the beaten path while being self-sustained. The only difference is how comfortable you want to be.
WHY IS IT GETTING MORE POPULAR?
Overlanding describes self-reliant adventure travel to remote destinations where the journey is the primary goal. Overlanding is about exploration, rather than conquering obstacles. While the roads and trails we travel might be rough or technically challenging, they are the means to an end, not the goal itself .While expedition is defined as a journey with a purpose, overlanding sees the journey as the purpose. The goal is to see and learn about our world. I believe overlanding has gotten more popular lately because of all the crazy stuff going on in this world, folks are looking to escape and do some true social distancing. Some adventurers cruise solo while others may form small bands of caravans reminiscent of old pioneer wagons trains making their way through the mountains.
Once these explorers have made it to their destinations for the day. It is time to set up your rig for the evening. Maybe go explore the area on foot after camp is set up. After that, maybe start cooking some food. Ah yes, outdoor cooking at it finest. My favorite part of overlanding is cooking good food in the middle of nowhere, staring out over beautiful vistas. After a little cooler time, then its off to bed ready for the next days adventures!
OVERLANDING IN THE OZARK MOUNTAINS
Most overlanding here in the Ozark Mountains will be done on country or forestry roads. Technical terrain can be encountered throughout the Ozarks, especially in our National Forests like Mark Twain National Forest and Ozark-St. Francis National Forests. The Ozarks consist of the Boston Mountains, the Ouachita Mountains as well as Ozark Mountains. Travelers may even seek out the most challenging route to a destination as part of their experience here in the Ozarks, but overland travel is not the same as recreational "fourwheeling".
Do you want creature comforts, or off-road ability? If you are overlanding in the Ozarks which has very primitive roads in some regions. I know my full sized truck peeps are going to curse me ,but a smaller vehicle makes a lot of sense out here. Most "jeep" roads in the Ozarks are really just old ATV or new UTV trails. So not very wide between trees and bluffs a lot of times. If you go this route, you will have to travel light. Lots of thought will go into the gear you choose to bring. Will you be able to resupply on the road? If you are planning a long trip with limited access to supplies, which it can be a long way back to civilization in some parts of this region a larger vehicle makes more sense. Eventually though, you will have the same issue with storage space, and weight capacity, regardless of the vehicle you choose. The bigger you go, the more you have to think about mobility, and fuel mileage.
THINGS TO HAVE YOU WHILE OVERLANDING IN OZARKS
You have to consider the needs of the vehicle first. You should have plan for when things go wrong. Spare parts, tire plug kit, tools, vital fluids, recovery equipment, and the ability to perform repairs in primitive conditions. Try to get to know your vehicle inside and out. If you are not up for the tasks of repairs out in the middle of nowhere, I suggest carrying a satellite phone. Spares are the bare minimum. Having the added insurance of compressed air, onboard welders, or even a bicycle can pull you out of a bind, but you have to know how to use them or bring a friend that does. Whichever plan you devise, being prepared will be the difference between a serious situation, and an inconvenience when you run into trouble.
Venturing into the wilderness should not be taken lightly. Your first priority should be basic human needs. You need proper clothing, shelter, food, and water in order to survive. If you are traveling in an area that has abundant water, you can get away with carrying less onboard, as long as you have a way to purify it for drinking. Food will run the spectrum depending on your cooking equipment and whether you have refrigeration. You can survive on dry goods, but having great food to eat makes any excursion much more enjoyable. Unless you have tons of power available for an induction cooktop, most cooking will be done on a camp fire, or on some type of stove with an open flame.
Eureka! Portable Two-Burner Camping Stove
A push-button ignitor allows for fast, easy starts while the stove fits two 10-inch pans to create your campsite meals. A stainless-steel drip tray offers rust-free performance and easy cleanup.
With rugged, thick-gauge steel construction, this portable stove is designed for years of use camp cooking. A pair of 10, 000 BTU burners include two-turn simmer controls that deliver precise flame adjustments, from light simmer to full output for up to 90 minutes burn time per canister at maximum flame.
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There are many 12 volt compressor refrigerators on the market that use minimal power, and will keep perishable foods cold. They can be powered with a generator, or solar power which is very popular. Ice chests are ok for a couple days, but anyone will tell you, they are terrible to deal with in the long run. Many travelers have an outdoor kitchen. There are a lot of upgrades that will make your trip more comfortable and enjoyable. Overlanding is essentially road tripping (to the max), so you’ll need to have two things: a free-spirited mindset and good attention to detail. You should be competent with GPS and paper maps. Bring the things you would bring while backbacking, just on a bigger, longer scale. Gear helps long-term sustainment and overlanders want the most efficient way to accomplish this with the least amount of hassle, weight, and cost. But it doesn’t have to be expensive, and systems are often DIY.
LEAVE NO TRACE PRINCIPLES
Learn and adopt the Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly principles. Before hitting the trails, travelers should check weather conditions and local regulations (such as fire and camping restrictions), as encouraged by the first of the Leave No Trace principles: plan ahead and prepare. Other important fundamentals are to travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, and respect wildlife. Disposing of waste can be difficult at times. Consider bringing an exterior hanging, durable trash, stuff sack. You can get a TRASHAROO or one of the other awesome canvas trash cans. Keep your stink on the outside of your rig until you can dispose of it at your next gas station dumpster and keep our trails clean!