Best Overlanding Books

13 Best Overlanding Books: From How-To Guides to Adventure Chronicles

Embarking on the adventure of overlanding isn’t just about packing your gear and heading out; it’s a continual process of learning, adapting, and seeking inspiration from those who’ve tread the path before you.

Knowledge is as vital as enthusiasm and both can be the difference between a memorable trip and an unpleasant ordeal. A little guidance can transform challenges into cherished memories.

The list of books below is an essential reading list for those keen on honing their skills and feeding their inspiration. From hands-on guides penned by seasoned overlanders to evocative narratives that traverse continents and cultures, each book is a quality read that offers unique insights.

Practical Overlanding How-to Guides

For those venturing into overlanding, having a solid foundation is key; these practical guides offer the essential information to ensure your trips are both enjoyable and safe.

The Four-Wheeler’s Bible 

By Jim Allen

Four Wheeler's Bible

Written in 2009, this comprehensive guide has become a staple in the world of four-wheeling. Allen’s in-depth approach covers all aspects, from selecting the appropriate vehicle and understanding its mechanics to mastering off-road driving techniques. He delves deep into modifications suitable for a plethora of terrains, catering to both novices and experts.

The Overlanders’ Handbook 

By Chris Scott

Overlanders Handbook

This 2011 publication by seasoned overlander Chris Scott is a gem for those contemplating long-distance vehicle expeditions. The Overlanders’ Handbook meticulously addresses aspects like choosing the most apt vehicle for cross-continental journeys, maintenance intricacies, and adapting driving techniques to diverse terrains.

Vehicle-Dependent Expedition Guide 

By Tom Sheppard & Jonathan Hanson

Vehicle Dependent Expedition Guide

Published in 2014, Tom Sheppard and Jonathan Hanson’s guide is tailored for those serious about remote and rugged expeditions. Beyond mere travel narratives, it sheds light on the exhaustive planning, preparation, and execution of vehicle-dependent excursions in isolated terrains. It’s a manual on gear selection, confronting logistical challenges, and survival strategies in the great outdoors.

4×4 Driving

By Tom Sheppard

4x4 Driving Guide

An early book by Sheppard, published in the early 2000s, 4×4 Driving stands as another great cornerstone for mastering the 4×4 experience. With decades of expertise, Sheppard elucidates the intricacies of off-road driving, from sand dune navigation to water crossings. Enriched with visual aids, this guide marries practicality with Sheppard’s profound understanding, making it an invaluable companion for those ready to tackle rugged terrains.

Adventure Motorcycling Handbook 

By Chris Scott

Adventure Motorcycling Handbook

This 1991 classic, while primarily catering to motorcycle enthusiasts, embodies the essence of overland travel on two wheels. It’s replete with advice spanning from pre-trip preparations to managing cross-border bureaucracies and presents itself as an invaluable resource for those aspiring to explore continents on motorbikes.

Books about Overland Journeys

Having covered the nuts and bolts of overlanding, it’s time to delve into the stories that inspire many to embark on such journeys in the first place.

We Will Be Free

By Graeme Bell

We Will Be Free overlanding book

Published in 2013, “We Will Be Free” narrates Graeme Bell’s and his family’s inspiring venture across the diverse landscapes of South America in their trusted 4×4. This travelogue captures the essence of freedom and adventure, taking readers through vivid locales and untouched wild terrains.

Jupiter’s Travels 

By Ted Simon

Jupiter's Travels book

Published in 1979, this riveting account narrates Simon’s audacious four-year motorcycle journey, spanning 78,000 miles and 45 countries. During the turbulent 1970s, he encounters a world in flux, presenting an unparalleled vista into global cultures and societies.

Long Way Round

By Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman

Long Way Round book

This 2004 chronicle isn’t just about McGregor and Boorman’s motorcycle journey; it’s a deep dive into human endurance and friendship. The duo’s 19,000-mile trip from London to New York, transversing Europe, Asia, and America, provides profound insights into the challenges and marvels of overland exploration.

First Overland: London-Singapore by Land Rover

By Tim Slessor

First Overland Book

In this groundbreaking 1957 narrative, Tim Slessor takes us on the historic Oxford and Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition, a pioneering journey from London to Singapore by Land Rover. This concise recounting vividly captures the camaraderie, endurance, and spirit of adventure, as the team navigates uncharted territories and faces unpredictable elements, making it an inspiring read for aspiring overlanders.

Wide-Eyed Wanderers

By Chris Stewart

Wild Eyed Wanderers

In 2019, Richard Ligato and Amanda (Bejarano-Ligato documented their incredible three-year, 60,000-mile journey through Mexico, Central America, South America, and Africa in their self-published book, “Wild Eyed Wanderers”. They share not only the breathtaking vistas and diverse cultures they encountered but also the inevitable challenges and joyful surprises that are part and parcel of overlanding.

I Can. I Will: Women Overlanding the World

By Sunny Eaton, Laurie Holloway, Karin Balsley

I Can I Will Book

This 2020 publication is more than an anthology; it’s a beacon of empowerment and inspiration. The Women Overlanding the World collective shares firsthand narratives from fearless women who have embraced the adventures and challenges of overlanding. Through diverse and heartfelt stories, this book not only narrates personal journeys but also encourages readers to venture beyond conventional boundaries, fostering a spirit of rugged adventure tinged with a feminine touch.

In Patagonia 

By Bruce Chatwin

In Patagonia Book Cover

Bruce Chatwin’s 1977 work isn’t just a travelogue; it’s an eloquent tapestry of history, anecdotal narratives, and keen observations. As Chatwin traverses the remote Patagonian landscape, he unravels stories that are as vast and varied as the terrain itself.

The Road Chose Me Volume 1: Two years and 40,000 miles from Alaska to Argentina 

By Dan Grec

The Road Chose Me overlanding book cover

Dan Grec’s memoir, published in 2017, presents a detailed chronicle of his overlanding adventure across North and South America. More than a mere travel diary, it brims with practical advice, captivating encounters, and insights into the sheer vastness of the Americas.

Final Thoughts Before Hitting the Road

Navigating through the vast world of overlanding literature can be as exhilarating as driving on a rugged trail. The books highlighted here serve a dual purpose: providing valuable information for the novice and seasoned overlander alike, while also inspiring wanderlust with tales of grit, endurance, and breathtaking landscapes. Every turn of the page offers insights and memories from adventurers who’ve traversed this path before you.

But the journey shouldn’t end here. At Ordealist, we’re committed to being a compass for your overlanding aspirations. For those taking their first steps, our guide on how to start overlanding for beginners offers a roadmap to launch your adventures. Need a checklist for the journey? Don’t miss our comprehensive roundup of essential overlanding gear. And for those keen on mastering the art of maneuvering challenging terrains, our article on basic off-road driving techniques is a must-read.

Books can spark your passion, but the open road solidifies it. Use these resources, craft your own journey, and remember—every challenge faced on the trail is but a chapter in your ever-evolving overlanding story. Safe travels!

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