Are you overlanding… or just off-roading? Here’s the difference

Overlanding. It’s so hot right now! At least, the use of the hashtag to describe truck builds could be considered as such. But are those that talk of vehicular adventure really Overlanding? If you agree with Team O’Neil’s own Wyaxx Knox, the answer is a very clear “not so much”.

The concept of Overlanding refers to those taking long journeys in their vehicles. You’re traveling over the land. When you simply roll out to the desert for the weekend and go camping in your truck or van, you’re just off-road camping. And that’s cool too, of course. Knox says as much in this video. Multiple times, in fact.

What he’s trying to do here is to clear up the concept of what Overlanding is really about. It’s not about a trip to Moab. It would be about someone driving from Alaska to Panama. Are we getting a little pedantic here? Maybe, but Wyatt raises some good points at the same time. It seems the majority of folks living the hashtag-Overland-life are simply flexing for “the ‘Gram”. And that’s missing the entire point of Overlanding.

It’s perfectly fine to document one’s own adventure. But perhaps it should be an adventure worth documenting. Remember that dude who traveled around Africa in his Jeep Wrangler? That is Overland adventure right there. Most of the rest of the “adventure” set are off-road camping. Both are fine. But maybe we should start clarifying which is which…

12 Comments

  1. No, we don’t need to split hairs over this. This smacks of someone who wants to puff themselves up by proclaiming themselves an expert on a subject that has no real definition. You could transpose the two terms and still make as much sense, and still “build your brand”. It also sounds like a petulant 11 year old yelling, “Guys, you’re not doin’ it right!”. It also sounds like classic salesman’s bamboozle, where you keep repeating a nonsense word or phrase at your marks, placing them in a confused state, searching for meaning and looking to you for clarification. Cult leaders use the same technique.

    Language is mutable, vocabulary is highly mutable (don’t get me started on spelling.) It’s also pragmatic; whatever way the most people are using the word, that’s its definition, that’s the meaning they’re conveying to others when they use that word. If 90% of the people using the word ‘overlanding’ are just weekend warriors then guess what? That’s what overlanding means.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cafba44c267b0a0bb11a862b25af886ddba38d59432ef79b2a034a917876ded4.jpg

    1. Offtopic – Plusing for a Richard Dawkins quote because I miss Douglas Adams. Who often quoted him.

    2. I don’t have the desire to watch the video, so I’m just scanning the comments.

      I understand your point about definitions being determined by how people are using a word. However, I think that’s only legitimate when the original definition of the word is obsolete, or nearly so. Overlanding is still a thing, despite the recent surge in popularity of the diluted version using the name. It shouldn’t have to be called “true overlanding” or “traditional overlanding” simply because a bunch of hipsters who occasionally go off-pavement for a remote picnic and tent sleepover wish to hijack the term. If anything, it’s the participants of the spinoff activity under obligation to adopt a new word.

      I would argue that words change because the things that they describe have changed– not just because people have started applying one term for something else. In this case, overlanding is still overlanding. People are now engaging in something that is inspired by overlanding, but is actually different. It needs a different term. Nurse practitioners aren’t physicians. Gardening isn’t farming. Fishing in the winter isn’t ice fishing. A crossover isn’t an SUV. A sedan isn’t a friggin coupe. It’s not pedantics, it’s common sense.

      1. I believe the other term you’re looking for is “camping.” But in today’s instagram perfect world, simply saying you went camping isn’t cool enough.

  2. can I push back against this notion of flexing for the ‘gram? of course they’re flexing. that’s the equivalent of what 99% of sports car buyers have been doing for decades. we can engage in gatekeeping about people Not Being Real Enthusiasts or we can be thankful that other people enjoy these things so we can all have access to them. there’s always gonna be someone more hardcore than us, so why police how casually others are interested in our own hobbies?

    1. This goes straight to the core of why Hooniverse is such a great place to hang out at. The articles are varied, from every corner of the car world, and so is the crowd: People with the rarest, barely functional…eh “cars” spend time with guys like me, a dad with a Camry and a Leaf, which yields a negative car enthusiasm rating. But we’re all interested and open for most of this stuff, just as long as you can call bullshit where it is due.

    2. Full disclosure: I had to google “flexing for the ‘gram” to understand your reference. I’ve honestly never used Instagram.

    3. I didn’t say that Gram flexin is necessarily a bad thing. I enjoy looking at most of these photos, and am occasionally guilty of it myself.

  3. I’ve seen a meme about Overlanding is just a fancy word for car camping, and realistically my college aged son’s Buick LeSabre probably has more off road miles on it than some of of the roof tent bedecked Subarus in town, and probably more real offroading than several of the Toyota Tacoma CVT catalogs too. Then again faux offroad has been around for decades and my feelings about “influencers” and “curating your personal brand” are expressed by my love of Bike Snob and Public Lands Hate You.

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