Wondering how much lift you need to go overlanding? Let’s discuss the minimum amount of lift needed to make your overlanding adventures even better.
How much lift do you need to go Overlanding? 2 inches will do it. However, you just don’t need any if I’m being honest. Now, could a little bit of lift help you manage terrain and ensure a smoother trip? Yes. However, nothing additional in terms of lift is needed to go Overlanding. Let’s take a look at what you can and can’t do with your rig when you go Overlanding both with and without any additional lift.
What is “Overlanding” anyways?
To be honest, its silly word, don’t come @ me Overlanding crowd. But, yeah, I said it. According to Overland Journal, Overlanding is defined as: Vehicle-supported, self-reliant adventure travel, typically exploring remote locations and interacting with other cultures. According to Wikipedia, Overlanding is: self-reliant travel to remote destinations where the journey is the principal goal. Typically, but not exclusively, it is accomplished with mechanized off-road capable transport (from bicycles to trucks) where the principal form of lodging is camping, often lasting for extended lengths of time (months to years) and spanning international boundaries.
So what can we gather from that? Well, overlanding is simply defined to me as an off road journey that is self sustained. The key word in all of these is “travel”. When you go overlanding you need to travel? Simple enough right? Good. Look, I know what your thinking. “Sounds like a fancy word for driving on a dirt road”. You correct, bucko. Overlanding is really just your travel from one spot to another, typically off-road or on a road less traveled.
Traveling off-road and adventure travel will generally take your vehicle down the paths less travelled. Taking these less traveled roads involves terrain that is unpredictable and requires the driver (and passengers) to be aware of the lines picked on the road and an awareness of obstacles in the road. Whether its a small rock/root or a large dip in the road, overlanding requires traversing this terrain to get to the next location?
The crew over at overland bound say it best in this quick 2 minute breakdown.
Off-Road Lift Kits for Overlanding
Lets get one thing straight, you don’t need a big lift kit to go overlanding. You don’t need a 6 inch lift with 40″ tires to head out on a adventure you wont forget. Despite what you see on instagram and youtube, overlanding doesn’t require $75k rigs and gear sponsors. Too often we get caught up in what we “need” to do anything. Fortunately, in this case, you don’t need much, and definitely don’t need an big old lift kit.
While you don’t need a giant lift kit and 40’s, having a bit more of ground clearance over your vehicles factory height will definitely help you get from point A to point B.
A modest lift of 1.5 to 3 inches will often be a huge improvement and all you need. Additionally, keeping your lift options under 3inches will help keep your vehicle at a reasonable height for your daily driving, specifically not hearing your other half complain every-time they get in/out at the mall.
Lift vs Level for Overlanding?
A lift will (generally) use a new set of coil springs, shocks, Upper control arms and geometry components to give your vehicle a raised stance, improved clearance all while keeping safe road positions of your suspension system.
On the other-hand a leveling kit will (generally) place a spacer on top your shock/strut assembly, compressing the spring effectively raising the vehicles stance by 1-3 inches. Concerns of this are the newly created harsh angles on the UCA’s and ball joints, in addition to the spring in an even further loaded position even before any articulation you find off road. More on that drama in this write-up, here.
I’ll let you decide on whats best for you and keep my opinion out of it. For many, it s balance of budget and practicality.
So, How much lift do you need to go Overlanding?
As I stated earlier, none, you literally don’t need any lift to go overlanding. You need a vehicle of any type and an adventurous soul. With that said, the further you plan to venture off the beaten path, the greater the potential for rougher terrain for your vehicle to traverse. Additionally, you are at a greater risk of needing to self-recover your own vehicle as your out on your own and cell service is gone, no tow trucks or passer-by’s in sight.
With it all said and done, a small 2-inch lift will do great at keeping your vehicle just a bit higher off the ground giving you better clearance when you encounter any road obstacles.
Best Suspension For Overlanding
“Best of” is really a subjective term, but, with that said some kits are better than others. You can always grab a 2inch level kit and that will suffice, but a full 4-corner 2-inch lift will do the best at overall ground clearance and vehicle mobility. Brands like Fox, Toyo, Old Man Emu, Bilstein among others are great choices when you start looking.
You may be worried that lift kit may void your warranty and thats understandable, however, checking out this article on that very topic may put your mind at ease, Will A Lift Kit Void My Warranty?
Again, don’t get too caught up in brands, instagram influencers and big YouTube channels as they have really big budgets funded by marketing dollars the rest of us don’t have. Stick with classic names, brands you trust and a the look and capability you will want in your area.
Self Recovery Tools Are Definitely Needed
No cell service, no tow trucks and no friendly passer-by’s to stop and help you out, self recovery tools are a must. When the family and I are out, I take the responsibility to be able to safely self recover my vehicle and keep my family safe a big deal. Having a Lift Kit wont save the day, however a shovel and a tow strap will. At a minimum, I highly recommend keeping some basic self recovery gear in your rig. Check out our helpful guide on vehicle self-recovery here.
We’ve covered the question about “how much lift do you need to go overlanding. So, what have we learned here? Overlanding is a silly word and you don’t need lift to go enjoy driving on a dirt road. With that said, it will definitely help and increase your ability to head further into the unknown.
Above all, pre-planning, driving skill and the ability to self recover your vehicle are by far the most important off-grid essential gear you need. Now go GET OUTSIDE!
Mike is a Colorado resident, a combat veteran, and a former Police Officer, and an avid outdoorsman. Mike has camped, hiked, and Overlanded all over the United States. From backpack Elk Hunts on Public Land, solo truck camping to Multi-week Overlanding adventures with his family, Mike is very familiar with these outdoor topics.