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The Gearzette


- June 22, 2024

In recent years, overlanding has surged in popularity as adventurers seek to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse themselves in the great outdoors. However, as the popularity of overlanding grows, so does its environmental impact. From increased carbon emissions to habitat destruction, the ecological footprint of overlanding cannot be ignored. Yet, there is hope. By adopting green overlanding practices and taking steps to minimize our impact on the environment, we can ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the beauty of our planet.

© Colin Mileman & Embry Rucker

Go smaller or electric

If you want to do the Luderitz to Walvis Bay big dune route, your vehicle must have a strong petrol or turbo diesel engine. Most vehicles don’t have the power to drive over these towering dunes. However, less than 1% of the overlanders who visit Namibia will visit this remote stretch of dunes; they might instead go to the touristy Sossusvlei or Dune 7. Yet still, they cruise Namibia in their big 4x4s or overland trucks that tend to spend most of their lives on tar or easy gravel tracks when a smaller engine 4x4 would be more fuel efficient and eco-friendlier. ​

Buy an overland vehicle that can comfortably do the tracks you plan on driving. Nowadays, manufacturers such as Tesla, Rivian, GM Hummer, and Land Rover (coming this year) offer fully electric 4x4 options. We are already starting to see kitted-out versions of these on the most popular overland trails.

© Craig Rhodes-Harrison

Leave no trace ​

Another important aspect of green overlanding is practicing Leave No Trace principles. This means respecting nature by minimizing our environmental impact and leaving wilderness areas as we found them. Simple actions such as packing out trash, staying on designated trails, and avoiding sensitive habitats can help preserve the natural beauty of our surroundings. By practicing Leave No Trace, we can ensure that the places we love to explore remain pristine for future generations.​

© Daniel Gassert

Less is more ​

Early explorers of continents only had a few provisions and a camel or horse. Some overlanders carry way too much gear, accessories, and food these days. This often leads to criticism from locals in the area they are traveling through that the overlanders are insular and don’t spend anything at the local markets. ​

You want to cover the basics like recovery gear, comfortable sleeping arrangements, a fridge or cooler box, tools plus spares, and something to make food on, but it’s all about balance. Also, an overloaded vehicle is a vehicle under stress and strain. This principle will come naturally with overlanding experience.

© Daniel Gassert

Explore locally  ​

Exploring locally can be just as satisfying and rewarding as a visit to bucket list locations like the Grand Canyon or Victoria Falls. Still, they could involve a flight, a long drive, and a big budget when many natural wonders are waiting to be discovered and enjoyed on our doorstep. So don’t forget to explore locally.

Use existing tracks ​

We all like to feel that we are the first people visiting or discovering a place. In landscape-rich lands like Namibia and Iceland, the local authorities emphasize only using existing tracks, especially in ecologically sensitive areas where new tracks will scar the landscape for years and years to come. Chat with locals about the best routes, use reliable mapping software, and only use existing tracks. The planet Earth and other overlanders will love you for it.

© Alexandra Adoncello & Embry Rucker

Use sustainable products ​

Buy quality products from manufacturers with a reputation for manufacturing gear that can handle overland travel's stresses and strains. You can use it yearly, expedition after expedition, and it won’t disappoint you. Manufacturers of overland gear have a duty to the planet Earth to produce sustainable and quality products. ​

Overlanding is not just about reaching distant destinations; it's a commitment to responsible travel. By embracing these six green overlanding principles, overlanders can ensure that the allure of off-road adventures remains accessible for future generations. Let's embark on our overlanding journeys with a sense of responsibility, leaving only tire tracks and memories in our wake.