Much like professional football or big wall rock climbing, overlanding was always something I admired from afar (or, let’s be honest, through Instagram) but never really considered doing myself. Unless I win the lottery, I’m probably not going to plunk down the cash for a kitted-out 4×4. So when Front Runner Outfitters, purveyor of roof racks and other essential gear for car camping, offered the chance to take their Jeep Gladiator out for a spin, I jumped at the chance.
Since I’m a newcomer to car camping and overlanding, the Front Runner team gave me the rundown of the various camping equipment attached to the Jeep, including a new pickup bed rack that they’re working on for 2020. Then they handed me the keys.
I ventured out to Mojave National Preserve with my girlfriend and our dog. Once there, we tested out the Jeep’s four-wheel drive on the Mojave Road, a long, sandy two-track that rambles through the desert, and found a place to camp for the night along the way.
I was expecting a big learning curve and maybe a mishap or two, but the trip went off without a hitch. The Jeep floated over the rough road with ease, and we got the chance to go way deeper into the preserve than we would have on foot. Having a vehicle made hauling bulky, heavy gear a non-issue. Plus, sleeping up high not only provided good views, it also added a much appreciated layer of security. Let’s just say I would have been much more concerned about noises in the night if we were sleeping within easy reach of coyotes and snakes. Plus, the Jeep provided shelter for our campsite when the desert wind picked up.
Want to try it out for yourself? The gear below served us well on our trip, but it’s by no means an exhaustive list. You’ll likely need to tweak it for longer or more off-road focused trips. But whether you’re going into the mountains in a rock crawler or heading to a campsite in your hatchback, you’ll definitely want to bring these items along with you.