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Fortune Bay's View on "Overlanding". (No replies)

2 years ago
adminschool 2 years ago

Overlanding, generally is using a motor vehicle to traverse terrain for long distances while being self sufficient.  But, that means different things to different people.

Overlanding. It means something very different (to many people) than it did just a few years ago. Everything is an overland rig now and every trip is now an overlanding trip (at least it seems that way these days.). Truthfully, for many overlanders - most anything will work. 

Overlanding isn't Off-roading to many. Some believe overland is car camping on a beach. Others feel remote and difficult roads are overlanding. Still more believe it is off-roading and setting up a tent.

A lot of effort and knowledge is focused on gear.   What axles to you have, lockers, sway bar disconnects?  Meh - doesn't matter much in the big picture for many overlanding trips.   

Let's take a Jeep JKU Rubicon.  Considered the best production off road vehicle currently in production.  The Rubicon offers lockers which are indispensable. They have better survivability. They are expensive, but probably not as much as after market modification (no matter what they say). It also has an electronic sway bar disconnect. Which at first glance is nice, but as an owner with 90K on a Rubicon, they aren't "that" nice. I have had to have it repaired a few times and I just gave up and put on a manual disconnect. 

All the other additions to a Rubi make it a great "wilderness" overland rig. Off the shelf, NOTHING beats a Rubi. But, today - state parks and private campgrounds are now included in the definition of overland. We don't have a problem with that, but it is important to keep that in perspective. After owning Toyota's, two Land Rovers, a few pickups. . . I go for the Rubicon. BUT - if it wasn't for the JKU (4 door) and all the extra room it offers I would go for something other than a two door Rubi - for overlanding. 

All that said, I have owned a JKU basic model and a Rubicon. Both worked just fine for the most remote roads and both handled most obstacles with ease. The Rubicon was marginally better for overlanding. Some of the most important features like approach and departure angles, ground clearance, solid axles, fording capability, etc. exist in both. So, a regular Wrangler is pretty darn good off-road too. With solid knowledge in Overlanding (the old fashioned and new stuff) either would be great.

From a vehicle perspective - in today's overlanding world, most things would work.  Especially if you define overlanding according to you membership (as an overland organization) or a marketer of products.   If product manufacturers start getting everyone to talk about rigs and gear (instead of skills, knowledge and experience) they will make more money.  That's their goal.  So avoid the debate about the "best vehicle".  Learn to use the one you have to its fullest. 

It all comes down to what you do with it. 

At Fortune Bay, we view Overland Travel in a more "pure" sense.   

We've read a lot of these conversations on many internet boards. We think to an extend, many forums (and companies who sponsor said boards) try to be everything to everyone.  We probably define it according to how we use it. We use it to match our vision "Go Farther".

Our classes and public position are, "overlanding is how you want define it". But internally, FBET is an expedition team and our vision demands that we adapt a focused approach.  Here is our take.

The history of our Overland Project (which was recently retired) was to build an institutional knowledge that we could use to get to remote places. As a team, we always built and practiced our wilderness skills (Navigation, Paddling, Camping, Survival, blah, blah, blah.). On expedition, we would travel by vehicle to a pretty easy place and leave the vehicles behind. But, we found that we were going to more and more difficult places to access and places that were farther and farther away. We needed capable vehicles and solid knowledge to accomplish our mission and vision. 

To build this knowledge we needed a curriculum based on a lot of practical experience. We needed instructors with lots of practical experience. We also needed a good portion of our members to have a knowledge well beyond what most organizations have. There wasn't much offered unless you were specifically trained by the military or were in Australia. 

With that, we started the Overland Project. Our intent was NOT to be off road focused nor to be an "Overlanding Group", but to build the necessary skills and pass them on (in perpetuity) to other members. 

We started with a few experimental trips - much like the trips done by members of Michigan Overland, Overland Bound, Midwest Overlanders, etc. We took that knowledge, the knowledge of previous expeditions and some outside expert knowledge and created our first Overland Travel Class. After a couple of years of experimentation and reworking the class, we had a class that shared the right knowledge. We want our members to take it and we want the public to get the opportunity too. Then we built some other pieces. We will continue to build it. 

With that, we went on to accomplish such overland tasks such as Ice Road trips on the arctic ocean, the James Bay Road, Trans-Labrador, Trans Taiga and some pretty difficult trips on some very tough trails. With that knowledge built, we can now improve it and build upon it.

With that said, we adopted a definition of overland that best suited our needs. We use the original definition of Overlanding - which comes from Australia. 

Historically, "overlanding" is an Australian term to denote the droving of livestock over very long distances to open up new country or to take livestock to market far from grazing grounds. Between 1906 and 1910 Alfred Canning opened up the Canning Stock Route. In Australia overlanding was inspired to a large degree by Len Beadell who, in the 1940s and 1950s, constructed many of the roads that opened up the Australian Outback. Those roads are still used today by Australian overlanders and still hold the names Len gave them; the Gunbarrel Highway, the Connie Sue Highway (named after his daughter), and the Anne Beadell Highway (named after his wife).

Overlanding in its most modern form and with the use of mechanized transport began in the middle of the last century with the advent of commercially available four-wheel-drive trucks (Mercedes-Benz G-Class's, Unimog, Jeeps and Land Rovers). Nonetheless, there were a few earlier pioneers travelling in remarkably unsophisticated vehicles.

Overlanding in the US is much more broadly defined. We have no issue with that and frankly sometimes our overlanding fits that definition. But, to reach our goal as a team, we choose to define overlanding in its purist form. 

We need to get to where we want to go.   With the knowledge, most any vehicle will work, with great team work, almost any group will work.


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