The Best Overlanding Vehicle? Pickup vs SUV vs Wagon vs Van

We’ve talked overlanding vehicles on the blog before, highlighting must-to-have and nice-to-have features along the way. And we’ve determined that, ideally, the best overlanding vehicle is one that guarantees a combination of durability, capability, reliability, and cost-effectiveness.

Now, while we can’t pick the perfect rig for you, we can help you weigh your needs against your options so you can at least narrow down the search, determining what’s a better investment—a pickup, SUV, or new-age van.

Know Thyself

“Put everything you’d want to take, in your car or in the middle of the living room, and get an idea for how much space it really takes up,” says one wise forum member of Overland Bound,   for overlanders around the world. “Take some weekend and week-long trips to find out what you use every day and what you never touch, 

Basically, establish what you want, then whittle that down to what you absolutely must have. The size of the net total will inform your search for the best overlanding vehicle (at least in the categories of cargo space and towing ability).


Additionally, what you plan to bring is often contingent on where you plan to go. Another Overland Bound commenter advises focusing on what you genuinely enjoy. “Nothing in the Overland rule book says you have to travel only on dirt or gravel. If your wife isn’t up for crapping in the woods, no one is going to burn you at the stake for getting a hotel room. Do some traveling and explore. Experience is the only way to find your direction.”

Indeed, the best overlanding vehicle for you may not be a 4×4 full-size pickup that creates roads where there are none. Maybe it’s  Subar Crosstrek with 3 person hard shell rooftop tent. (Or an upfitted cargo van with a private bathroom space.)


Roomy, versatile, and capable of holding their own amid bad weather and rough roads, traditional SUVs have long topped many a list of best overlanding vehicles. We say “traditional” because the modern SUV has deviated quite substantially from its rugged, adventurous roots. Body-on-frame designs, permanent 4WD, solid axles, and utilitarian interiors have been replaced with “urban transport solutions” that place a premium on mobile integration, infotainment, and a ride quality reminiscent of Disney’s monorail.

The only Cons about SUV, it is his height, if you bring a Hard Shell Rooftop Tent with SUV,  you have to climb 6 foot over the ground, compare to pick up truck, might be only 5 foot tall. open and close tent will be much different, as not everyone is 6 foot tall. 

The Pickup Truck

With little internal space, no real privacy, and a reputation for being austere American workhorses,

However, as adventure enthusiast and journalist Christophe Noel writes for Expedition Portal (another online , “Whereas the SUV has suffered countless insults in the last decade.

F250 with Centori 3 person hard shell roof top tent

But recently, we noticed some experienced overlanders switches their vehicles to pickup trucks.
We were told that one reason for returning to a pick-up truck is, They typically have a better payload and towing for less money. More power usually means better fuel economy if you're towing an off-road trailer. The average longer wheelbase makes it more stablethe pickup has evolved into a comfortable and capable option for those with ambitions to travel long and far over rough tracks.”

The pickup truck can be matched with any size roof tent. Considering practicality, we recommend hard shell roof top tent, whether it is 3 person hard shell roof top tent or 4 person shell roof top tent, whether it is 5'3 Tacoma truck bed Or the ford 250 truck bed with 6’8 lenth, you can choose any model of roof tent to bring you a comfortable night

4 person hard shell roof top tent

The Van

Boasting capable and dependable models like the Ford Transit, RAM Promaster, and Mercedes Sprinter, Van is growing in popularity among frequent and full-time overlanders.

A dedicated design with a unibody construction, the platform offers ample space and respectable fuel economy. However, purchase prices can be high and sourcing parts can prove difficult on the road. “A local mom-and-pop mechanic shop likely won’t have the required tools to service a Mercedes Sprinter or RAM Promaster,” explains Parked in Paradise, an online blog hosted by vanlifers, Kate and Ian Harper. “Transits, however, have the most expansive U.S. dealer network, so it’s not as hard to get them serviced.

The Wagon

Wagon have become a trendy model for overlanding for its  fuel-efficient engine, compact dimensions and symmetrical AWD, More and more overlanders, weekenders, use Subaru as their overlanding vehile, they installed a 3-person hard shell roof tent, which is an excellent match!

Subaru Outback with 3 person hard shell roof top tent

The Trailer 

Overlanding trailer seems very pricy, but it gives you FREEDOM, A camp setup built around a trailer allows the tow vehicle to leave at any time. Trailers are especially helpful to the weekend warrior, as drivers can stage the trailer at a campsite and head out to go fishing, hiking or to tackle an off-road trail. 2nd, WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION, As tow ratings are typically higher than payload ratings, many heavy items can live on a trailer including water tanks, 4 Person Hard Shell Rooftop Tents, someone even towl two Centori Rooftop tent, one is on truck one is on trailer, Transferring these items to a trailer also frees up the tow vehicle from requiring extensive modifications; suspension, tires and a bumper with a hitch would do the trick.

Centori Hard shell roof top tent

The Best Overlanding Vehicle Could Be The One You Already Have!

As we stated at the beginning the best overlanding vehicle is the one that’s best for you and your needs. Choosing the right one requires a little soul searching, a LOT of online research, and a realistic budget. And in the meantime, why not put a few miles on the ride you’ve already got? Who knows, it might just surprise you.

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