Posted on August 18 2020
Overlanding is an art in and of itself. It’s a type of vehicle-based travel that is focused on the journey, enjoying exploration, and learning from experience and the world around you. We sat down with John Kingston, overlanding fanatic and the inspiration for our latest Limited Edition Field Watch, to learn a bit more about the ins-and-outs of overlanding and what you’ll need to get started on this type of adventure.
111: How did you get into overlanding, what draws you to it?
Kingston: Growing up in New Hampshire, I spent a lot of time in the woods. So being outside, exploring, it feels like home to me when I get to be in the wild.
111: Are there different types of overlanding? Is it dependent on terrain/region?
Kingston: I think it’s overall the same thing but can have different meanings to different people. I think it’s a great thing to keep it open to interpretation. It’s whatever you want it to be.
111: Tell us about your first build and what you’ve learned since then?
Kingston: The first?! A prius. HA! I got that car for taking long-distance road trips to shoot landscapes and such, way back when. But I quickly learned that I needed something with more room. And with each build, they have been getting progressively bigger.
111: What are must-haves when putting together an overlanding vehicle? Bare essentials?
Kingston: A place to sleep. Either inside the vehicle or outside in a tent. And you can do that on the cheap. Second up, I’d say some good tires. Just in case you get caught down a wet dirt road or in some slick snow. Thirdly, a good food cooking setup. It makes a big difference when you get that dialed in.
111: History of overlanding... How has the community evolved as it’s grown?
Kingston: When I think of OG overlanding, I think of South Africa and Australia. I think the technology and overall growth has made the global overlanding such a big community that it's great to finally find like-minded people.
111: Give us some details on your most memorable trip(s)?
Kingston: The most memorable trip was driving a Toyota Hilux through an Icelandic mountain pass, and getting stuck in a whiteout snowstorm. I couldn’t see anything one to two feet from the vehicle aside from some markers every so often. Eventually, I came to the top of the mountain pass and it was just clear blue skies. I took a few minutes to enjoy the view and the moment then had to head back down and do it all over again just to get to camp.
111: Space is clearly a premium, what are some tips for maximizing the space and organization?
Kingston: Make sure your stuff is lightweight and packable. I think a lot of people are in a car or small SUV when they start out so a backpacking tent and bag are perfect. Especially because you can always hike into awesome spots with gear like that. After you go on a few trips, you learn a bit more about what you need and what you may be able to leave behind.
111: What about planning meals and cooking, how do you go about that?
Kingston: This is one of my weak points, I just buy a bunch of food I would normally have on hand. But, I will say, food prep would save you a ton of time and possibly money.
111: Overlanding involves putting your truck in some gnarly situations. So, you probably have to plan for every eventuality… what are your recommendations on recovery equipment? What are the risks and what are critical elements for safety?
Kingston: If you travel alone a Garmin Inreach would probably be your best safety precaution. It’s expensive but essential for backwoods adventuring. If you don't have a winch, some recovery boards have tons of ways they can come in handy.
111: Tell us about logistics for planning trips and finding routes. Are you seeking challenges, blazing new trails to find secret spots, or is it simply exploration and scenery and getting away?
Kingston: Sometimes wandering is the most fun. But google maps is free and very useful for finding places to go. Also knowing what type of land you’re on. National forest, BLM, etc. Personally, I like both ways of going about it. And, time dependant, I love to just stay in one area and explore as much as possible. But in the end, it’s really just about being outdoors.
111: Where does your next adventure take you?
Kingston: Planning something big for next year, so you gotta stay tuned for that. Until then, just smaller trips!