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What is Overlanding & Why Are Tacomas So Good At It?

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Preparing your Tacoma for an overlanding trip can be divided into a few categories, but the main one is outfitting the exterior of your truck. Skid plates, bed storage solutions, brush guards and the like will help protect your Tacoma as well as maximize storage for all of your provisions and tools.

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Owning a Toyota Tacoma opens up a world of off-road possibilities, and this excellent platform has drawn in quite the crowd over its lifetime.

There is no debating the off-road titans these light-duty pickup trucks have become – and that’s in stock form. The aftermarket took notice and offers endless mods for enhancing the off-road capabilities of these vehicles. Now, more than ever, a very large following of overlanders have taken favor to these trucks. With the news of this many are bound to ask a few questions:

  • What exactly is overlanding?
  • Why is the Tacoma platform an optimal choice for overlanding? 
  • How can someone build their Tacoma up so they too can take part in this lifestyle? 

What is Overlanding?

The first thing to understand about overlanding is that it’s not the same as traditional off-roading. Overlanding and the vehicles used do share a lot in common with the off-road community, but there is a big separation.

Traditional off-roading is geared toward taking on rough trails for the sake of simply overcoming obstacles. Overlanding is about adventuring to remote locations with a self-reliant vehicle.

Overlanding vehicles are fitted with lift kits, aggressive tires, and recovery equipment. They are also modified for overnight stays; this means that sleeping space and adequate room for storage of provisions are a must.

Ultimate Off-road Adventure: The attraction to overlanding is a totally subversive experience in some of the most remote and beautiful locations you can possibly get your truck to. Rather than simply heading out for a days worth of hammering trails, you head out for a weekend or better of exploring the great outdoors and living out of your truck. It’s a test of personal will and vehicular capabilities.

Overlanding vs. Camping

Provisions and camping supplies will be needed for a successful overlanding experience. This doesn’t mean that it should be mistaken for camping. Camping is a more tailored experience and there are plenty of predictable factors that make the experience more of a challenge than a simple stay in a state park.

Camping: At the campgrounds you may find a few well-dressed pickup trucks for adventuring and off-roading. Even if these trucks did some off-roading before they reached the campgrounds this still isn’t what overlanding is. 

Camping on campgrounds provides a well-groomed easily, accessible location. It’s the kind of place where you wouldn’t have a problem reaching or visiting with the family mini-van and the kids.

Overlanding: Tents, campfires, and fun pass times may occur at the chosen location for setting up camp when overlanding. The difference between overlanding and camping is that the location you are headed to is not easily accessible and may very well be uncharted.

The goal is to set up a round trip into the wilderness where you will trek through trails and obstacles that the average vehicle cannot reach – all while having everything needed for an extended stay is with you. Rather than setting up a tent and tossing the pigskin to pass time, you will off-road for most of the day and set up camp when you reach your destination.

What Makes Tacoma’s So Good for Overlanding?

Toyota Tacomas are pickup trucks, and considering you will live out of your truck you will question why the Tacoma and not the 4Runner. The Tacoma will require modification to be considered a great overlanding vehicle - just as would the 4Runner. Both are light duty vehicles and space is limited, but they do have the right combination of qualities that make them such excellent choices. The Tacoma has just enough more to make it a better overlanding platform.

Agile Off-Road Capable: The first contributing factor is the Tacoma’s off-road capabilities. These trucks are on an excellent platform for heading toward hard-to-reach locations. The layout of this truck makes it easy for Tacomas to move through trails with agility and grace. Unlike other agile platforms such as the Jeep Wrangler, Tacomas also offer more storage space for carrying provisions and equipment. They also have powerful engines and durable drivetrains. This means that durability need not be questioned as you spend your time beating through the brush.

Aftermarket Supply: Without the aftermarket following that these trucks have there would be no overlanding. For up-fitting your Tacoma you will need to dress the truck beyond the requirements of off-roading. You will need to have the truck dressed with adequate storage, recovery and most importantly a place to sleep. The aftermarket has everything one will need and more. You will need a cap with adequate space, and a rack up above for additional storage as the bed will be dedicated to keeping you off the ground at night.

What to Bring

Setting up your truck for overlanding is half the battle. You yourself will need the right equipment and provisions to ensure you will have a good experience in your adventure. You need to make sure that you have what you need to survive and to take care of yourself in the case of an emergency.

Provisions: Overlanding will lead you through long trails and remote locations. Fishing, hunting, and foraging for food are all in the same category as stumbling across a fast food joint or superstore for restocking on rations. 

You will need to bring food, drinks, toiletries, and utensils. You should head into this adventure understanding that all you will have to survive is what you stock in your truck. So be sure to bring a well-stocked cooler and bins with other needed supplies such as warm dry clothes, toiletries, and everything needed to set up a small campfire.

Safety: You will be in remote locations when overlanding. Help will not be there within a few minutes if things go wrong. You will want to make sure that you have everything you need in case that things go south. An extensive store of first aid equipment is just a start.

Cell service cannot be depended on, so a satellite phone or a radio will also go a long way. Investment in satellite safety devices such as a SPOT are crucial. Personal protection should also be considered. It is not mandatory but overnight stays in the wild can take negative turns – especially wild animals. Being proactive is key to the safety of you and your family/friends.

Fitment includes: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, Pre-Runner, X-Runner, SR, SR-5, TRD-Sport, TRD-Off-Road, Limited, TRD-Pro