5 Questions Helping You Choose The Right Overland Vehicle

The different overland vehicles from Terratrotter

Choosing the right overland vehicle is a daunting task. There are so many excellent options out there. How do you know which one is the right one for you? While we were looking for ours we came up with the following 5 questions to help us in the process:


1. WHERE will you be traveling?

We are all-rounders. We like the hustle and bustle of dense cities, as well as the tranquility of dewed forests and the challenge of mountain terrains. Regarding general safety features, we will try to avoid treacherous areas, but theft and vandalisme is possible everywhere (sadly enough we are in the midst of experiencing this firsthand at the moment I’m writing this post).

→ 4-wheel-drive & enough ground clearance
→ a compact vehicle
→ ability to secure the vehicle, when we are away and while driving (some areas are known for brake-ins trough the roof window while you are enjoying a ride)


2. How SELF-RELIANT do you need/want to be?

We love boundocking (wild camping) for longer periods of time, meaning that we need to be able to live off-grid.

→ enough water and food storage
→ water filtration system
→ large enough solar system (maybe a generator as emergency back-up)
→ biodegradable products


3. What kind of CLIMATES will you encounter?

From extreme warm (e.g., Burning Man event in the Black Rock Dessert-Nevada has been on my bucket list for a while now) to extreme cold (e.g., the Alaskan and Scandinavian winters have a strong appeal to us).

→ sufficient insulation
→ rain-, wind- and stormproof, for more than a few days
→ windows and fans, maybe even a small AC, to escape the heat


4. What are your personal and vehicle NEEDS?

What are the things we personally can’t live without? What are our basic needs now and to be foreseen in the future?

→ privacy to take care of hygienic needs (especially for women this should not be overlooked; some cultures are not that open-minded)
a fixed bed
→ …

What are the needs of the overland truck itself, to cover such terrain, climates and distance?

a motor and chassis that has been built for this kind of hard labor
→ storage for maintenance equipement


5. What are your technical and mechanical SKILLS?

We know the basics but are far from being experts. We need to be able to help ourselves in remote areas where a technician or mechanic is difficult to be found.

→ too sophisticated technology should be avoided


And of course it all has to fit within your budget 🙂

4 thoughts on “5 Questions Helping You Choose The Right Overland Vehicle
  1. Hi Guys

    Thanks for the superb blog and website, i think you are living the life.
    Me and my wife are busy doing our homework on buying a overland vehicle and we are stuck at the moment not nowing what vehicle to buy.

    We have 2 options at the moment a unimog u1300l or a steyr 12M18 🙂
    We want to take off for 1 whole year.

    We currently live in Dubai and want to drive from here back to South Africa.

    My other question is how do you sustain yourself (get income) to travel?

    Thanks and hope to hear from you.

    Jaco vorster

    1. Hi Jaco,

      Totally happy that you like our website so much! Thank you for letting us know.

      Making a choice is really difficult. There areso many great options out there. So whatever truck you finally decide upon, it will probably be a good one anyway.
      We have not compared the U1300 with the 12M18 on actual driving tests, but we can confirm the Steyr really performs well in the field.
      A common disadvantage of the Steyr is the heater in the drivers cab. It works well but does not close off completely, therefore allowing cold air in. But we mostly fixed this by taping off the area where the cold air enters (but still letting the hot air in through the other vents). Maybe another less favorable aspect is that some replacements parts might be very expensive or hard to find; although we can’t say this with certainty since we did not yet encounter this.
      On the other hand the Steyr has no portal axles like the Unimog. We saw this as an advantage, since the information we found on these portal axes is that they are more maintenance intensive and expensive. And with the Steyr we already have enough ground clearance for off-roading.
      A big advantage of the Steyr is the spacious driver’s cabin, especially the extra space behind the seats. This allows for reclining the seats and also for storing your bags, jackets, cooler … or some extra room for a pet.

      Sustaining a life on the road, we will definitely write more about this topic in the future. It’s a topic everyone struggles with. Finding the solution will probably require compromises, creativity, and determination; at least it did for us. Elmer is lucky enough to already have a job (in the airline industry) he can combine with living on the road. However, this comes with the downside of him being away from the truck and me for a fortnight or so every few weeks (we will also have to return to major cities with airports then). I was less lucky in the sense that I had to make the drastic decision to give up a good career for which I worked very hard. I simply could not combine it with our dream and a choice had to be made. But I still need/want to work so I’m in the process of setting up a small online business.
      Many other long term travelers have passive incomes, like rent from real estate for example. We like this idea very much, since it also provides the extra security of having a place to return to when needed.

      Hope this already helps a little.

      Keep us updated about how your travel plans go, we are curious!

      Nicole & Elmer

      1. Hi there dear crew of the TERRATROTTER.
        Thank you for your very interesting blog of building your overland truck.
        I’m in this wery difficult position of select the next camper car, and I have come across this Steyr trucks they look interesting.
        But how do you like driving it f.ex. how is the sound level in the cab and how is the gearbox? Is the crushing speed high enough for normal traffic?
        Have you any experience finding spare parts for it yet for example from MAN or other places, and is the engine still in production somewhere?

        Enough questions for now, but I might bug you later with some more questions 🙂

        Happy landings 😉

        1. Hi Sigurbjörn,

          We personal like the Steyr a lot. We can easily reach 105km/hr, so you don’t need to worry about driving along with normal traffic. You can also have a normal conversation in the cab; you don’t need to shout. Negative aspect, during the first 15min of driving it’s often difficult to shift into the 5th gear (other STEYR owners reported this as well). However, you just skip the 5th then and shift immediately to the 6th. I – Nicole – also notice that I need more muscle strength to switch gears or use the clutch in comparison the new trucks; but of course that is not a fair comparison. Another issue that we experience is that somewhere around 90km/h the truck starts to shakes more (to be avoided by driving faster or slower, but it seems to be right around our “cruising” speed), but this due to the tires and not the truck itself. Aside from all that we have only good experiences with the STEYR.
          We did not have any experience with finding spare parts for any major repairs yet. The place where we bought our truck did all the small repairs before we took the truck home.
          I have to check if the engine is still in production, will get back to you about that.

          Please don’t hesitate to send us any more questions. And let us know which camper car you finally bought, we’re always interested!

          Nicole & Elmer

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