The coolest overland rig and all of the gear in the world won't do you much good if you don't get out and explore. However, it's not always easy to find good places to go, and for the novice overlander tracking down trails and off-the-beaten-path campsites can be challenging.
The region you call home, or at the least the areas you wish to frequent, can further complicate this if they lack the public lands that some areas are fortunate to have.
Fear not, novice overlander. We will find you a place to test your meddle and maybe even a nice place to sleep under the stars.
OLD SCHOOL COOL
There's just something about pulling out a map and tracing a route from the maze of lines that cross the page. While there are some cons to overlanding using only maps, there are also plenty of points in the pros column.
For starters, they don't require batteries or lose service, and you can store them just about anywhere. You can also easily compare maps from different sources to decide which one offers the most pertinent information. We're big fans of a couple of different map companies. Namely, Butler Maps, Latitude 40, and Purple Lizard. Each offers different kinds of information so check out these breakdowns of each brand.
- Garmin / DeLorme Gazeteer: These atlases have been a gold standard for many years. Featuring large maps with plenty of information and an easy-to-navigate layout, these are worth having in your rig full-time.
- Butler Maps: Covering specific Backcountry Discovery Routes and geared toward adventure motorcyclists, take a deep dive into specific routes offering overviews and info on each section. These maps also free offer GPS downloads to work in collaboration with the printed map.
- Latitude 40 Maps: For information on access to public lands in a tear and waterproof package, take a look at these off-road ready maps. Most of them focus on popular trail systems in the western states. Not only will you find high-quality maps, but they're also bordered by descriptions of area trails that give info on access, elevation profiles, and more.
- Purple Lizard: If you're a multisport overlander, then Purple Lizard should grab your attention. They offer info on off-road, hiking, and bike maps. Plus, they're a bit more east coast-centric than other brands. Purple Lizard also adds on-map blurbs to give more info about specific points of interest.
This mobile app has been on the market for a few years now and features some unique features that will help you get out and find awesome places to explore and camp. The biggest feature that sets it apart is the Discover Mode. With the press of one button, you get a list of local trails ranked by proximity to your current location.
It also includes difficulty ratings, recommended vehicles, closure dates, and more. Of course,onX also features all of the GPS application features you'd expect, like waypoints, track recording, offline map capability, and multiple map layers. If you're looking for one mobile application that will help you find places to go overlanding, and save your routes and waypoints, all wrapped up in an excellent user interface, then onX is a great place to start.
The Garmin Overlander was the first-in-class device as a dedicated GPS unit that was geared towards the tools that overlanders need. You can import your own content via the Garmin Explore website or with a microSD card. The app also features pitch and roll readings, track-back features, pre-loaded topographic maps, and road maps, just to name a few.
For when you've found a bit too much adventure, you can pair the Overlander with other devices like the InReach Mini, so your SOS capabilities are all in one place.
Even if you have the previous three tools in your proverbial toolbox, the overlanding community is still a great place to go find new trails and campsites. We're not saying to throw out the "where's that trail at?" on some random Instagram post. Instead, get involved with local overland/offroad groups both online and in person. Stopping by local outfitters, ranger stations, and even gas stations is often a good idea. Just like you'll grow to know your local stomping grounds, the people in the area will almost always have some insider info they can share.
We hope these tips are helpful in planning your next overland adventure. And remember - after it's all said and done, enjoying your journey is the real goal. Happy trails!