Overland Vehicle Equipment and Gear List for Traveling Africa

There is no perfect overland vehicle equipment or gear list when it comes to traveling Africa. What items work best in one overland truck may be worthless in another. However, there is no denying that what you pack in your overland vehicle is essential to the success of your trip.

I spent a lot of time researching, shopping, and traveling to reach a gear list for an overland vehicle. This is the basics of what we’re currently carrying in our truck. We’re in the midst of an overland trip from Cape Town to Nairobi. We just set out on our greatest adventure yet!


Our Overland Vehicle, or Charlie


The overland vehicle we are driving is a Toyota Land Cruiser. It was the only make and model unanimously recommended to us for travel in Africa. After all, Toyotas and Africa go hand and hand due to their prevalence and reliability. Meaning that even when things go wrong there is always a knowing mechanic within reach to help us out.

Our ride to be exact is a 1989 FJ62.  The engine on board is a Toyota 2F engine (yes, it’s not the original for any gearheads out there) an inline six-cylinder famous for its torque output, and a five-speed transmission to help out on highways. This truck kicks ass. And we found it all by chance sitting on a lot we had overlooked in Cape Town. It had been sitting there for two weeks – too big and heavy on fuel for any practical Cape Town driver.

Read More: {Being Undesirable and the Real Reason We Bought a Car in Africa}


Overland Vehicle Equipment and Gear List


Every vehicle and traveler are unique. However, this is the gear list for an overland vehicle that works well for us. It is by no means the bible but should give a general idea of what you should bring when doing the trip yourself. We’re also amateurs compared to some veteran overlanders out there, but feel we’ve gotten a pretty good grasp on things after six months of driving around Africa.

We’re amateurs compared to some veteran overlanders out there, but feel we’ve got a pretty good grasp on things after six months of driving a truck around Africa.

Safety Precautions

This is the gear that we felt necessary to carry for our own personal safety. Some of these items are also required by law in a number of Southern and East Africa nations (Mozambique and Zimbabwe specifically). I would say everything in this section is a necessity for any and every overland vehicle driving across Africa.

  • Fire Extinguisher – We’ll be driving overland and will be in many places where the idea of a fire brigade is non-existent. Our fire extinguisher is vital and located in the front passenger seat. This could save our vehicle and supplies from burning up in the middle of the bush! It’s also the law when carrying jerry cans on your vehicle. 
  • Two Safety Triangles – Maybe these bad boys will save our lives if we break down on the road, but long story short they are the law and will save us a fine or bribe. 
  • Safety Vest – It may be up for debate whether this is a necessity, but run across the wrong cop and you could be facing a bribe or wasted time. We’ll air on the side of caution and carry one for $10. 
  • Reflective Marks – Zambia/Zimbabwe require small honeycomb stickers that are white on the front bumper and red on the rear. Never mind the fact our vehicle has permanent ones already build on the body.
  • Full Medical Kit – At points, we will be away from medical attention so having a good medical kit is essential. We’re carrying things like treatment for Malaria, needles, a blood stopper kit, and butterfly sutures. 
  • A Basic Survival Kit – Emergency food, fire starters, and a few basic tools for the worst case scenario
  • Personal Water Supply – We don’t need a lot to live, but water is essential. This is why we carry enough purified drinking water to last us multiple days and a reserve 25-liter tank in the back. When the water is questionable and we need a drink we filter everything through our Grayl.
  • International Sim Card: It may not be a satellite phone, but the wireless network in Africa continues to grow. If we run into a problem it will be along a road in our truck which most major roads in Africa these days have coverage on. Assuming we are not thick in the bush we will be able to call for help. 
  • Travel Insurance  – Medical evacuation is expensive and can be life-saving. We’re both carrying travel insurance. We both use IMG Global for long term travel and is what we recommend. For short term travel, we recommend going with World Nomads.
Beautiful Zimbabwe And Overland Vehicle

Overland Vehicle Support

  • Spare Tires – The roads will not be smoothly paved highways. Many of the roads will be dirt, mud, sand, gravel, and even worse crumbling roads. The potholes that plague many African roads are notorious for giving flats, carrying spare wheels is vital to get from A to B. We carry one spare wheel and a spare tire to save on weight/cost of another rim.
  • HiLift Jack – Those little wimpy jacks they include with most vehicles ain’t going to cut it when your vehicle is in soft sand, mud, or a soft shoulder. The Hi-lift Jack is an invention from the 1900’s and it’s an overlander’s saving grace. It can be used to recover the vehicle, replace the tire, pull apart, and clamp together. We can speak for its life-saving benefits first hand after resurrecting Charlie out of the deep sands of Botswana.
  • Jumper Cables – These have come in handy a few times while driving overland in Africa.
  • Shovel – No secrets here! A shovel to dig us out of any sticky situations, both literally and figuratively.
  • Gloves – To protect my fingers! 
  • Recovery Strap – In case we need that extra pull to get the vehicle rolling on the road again. Ensure that it is a heavy-duty recovery strap, a heavy truck will easily snap a lightweight tow strap designed for sedans. We also have some D shackles for proper attachment. 
  • Tool Kit – At some point in our trip Charlie will give out on us and we’ll need to give him some TLC to get him back on the road. A proper toolkit will give the ability to replace fuses, tubes, basic wiring, fan belts, or cleaning the carb. 
  • Jerry Cans – Gas may be difficult at times and not having some petrol on reserve would be a serious mistake. When it comes to a list of overland vehicle equipment these or an extended tank rank pretty high.
  • Bushbar – Animal strikes in this part of the world are a serious hazard. Hitting an animal while in the bush could cripple the vehicle the bushbar gives us an added level of protection. It is there to keep us up and running.
  • Navigation – We have a handful of navigation items to keep us on course. A compass, GPS, cell phone, and multiple paper maps. A nice blend of the old and new. The two best recommendations we can give are for Tracks4Africa paper maps and an app called Maps.me that is free on IOS/Android. 
  • Spot/Fog lights – Shouldn’t be much of a surprise that an almost 30-year-old vehicle has some weak lights. So, we’ve added some additional spots to illuminate the dark African roads. 
  • Mud Tires: In our experience having these has been one of the best assets of the truck in Africa. They’re expensive, but considering they’re what some people spend on a fridge.
Overland Vehicle Equipment In Namibia

General Overland Vehicle Spares

  • Anti-freeze/coolant – We already had one issue with the radiator on Charlie overheating. 
  • Cable Ties – I used about dozens of these everyday at my old job, and the habit stuck. They’ve got a hundred uses and are tremendous in a pinch.
  • Q20 – I had never heard of Q20 before arriving in Africa, but it is your general all purpose oil. 
  • Duct Tape – Who could go anywhere without this stuff? 
  • Carb Cleaner – Not everyone has a carb so it’s not necessary for all, but ensuring your engine has proper airflow is crucial.
  • Window Cleaner – The attendants in Namibia and South Africa wash your windows, but since we’ve been out of those countries we’ve yet to have an attendant attend to our windows. 
  • Rags – We aren’t big on unnecessary waste. So we use rags to clean our windows, mop up spills, and wipe the dirt off our hands. 

Overland Truck Essential Accessories

  • Gin – Now carrying this in the cabin would be negligent, but not carrying any in our vehicle would be a sad day in Africa. Okay maybe it’s not overland vehicle equipment, but nothing beats a long day on the road than a proper sundowner with a view. Of course, we’ve got plenty of tonic on hand for proper G&Ts as well.
  • Binoculars – It took us a while to finally pick up a pair of binoculars, but we’re so happy we did. They serve so many purposes in Africa. 
  • Bird/Game Book – We need to know what we’re looking at. There are two main book brands distributed for identifying birds in Africa, Robert’s and Sassol. Both have their strong suits, but we prefer Robert’s because of its old school feel.  
  •  Mosquito Repellant – We put this on religiously. Yes, we hate it, but you know what’s worse? Mosquito bites. And worse than that? Malaria. The two main brands in Africa are Tabard and Peaceful Sleep, we have used both and prefer Peaceful Sleep. 
  • Cell Phone Charger – It should go without saying in this day and age… 
  • Cell Phone Holder – We went big and got the nicest dashboard mount we could for the GPS function on our phones. We couldn’t be happier. Even after the roughest roads, the damn thing is the only thing in the vehicle to have stayed in place. 
  • Cooler: We opted for a cooler over the fridges that would require an auxiliary battery system. We aren’t big meat eaters and the need to freeze and keep our meat just wasn’t there to justify the thousand dollars it would cost to place one in the vehicle. We went with a heavy duty cooler meant to last.
  • Cash: In Europe, Australia, and North America we rely on our credit cards for everything. However, we wouldn’t dare go anywhere semi-rural in Africa without cash on hand. When possible pick up the local currency from ATM’s, but we would recommend always having USD on hand, as well as the South African Rand for parts of Southern Africa.
  • Movies and Books: Make sure bring lots of movies and shows on your hard drive. It’s great for those nights spent in a tent. We stocked up on books while we were in Cape Town as well as loaded our kindles before we left!
  • Music: Download enough music for your trip. It’s going to be a long one! Or check out Spotify and download offline travel playlists while in WiFi.

Read More: {10 Books About Africa You Should Read Before You Go}

Gin Kalahari Africa

  Documentation

  • Passports – You should carry notarized copies and have one laminated.
  • Driving Licenses – Just like your passport carry multiple copies.
  • Vaccination Cards – A Yellow Fever vaccination is required for Tanzania and the official document are needed as proof.
  • Vehicle Clearance – Details of our vehicle height and clearance.
  • Letter of Permission – Granting us power of attorney over the vehicle. After lots of frustration, we were unable to register the vehicle in our name. So, we register in a friends name and then granted us a power of attorney letter over the vehicle. The letter has been verified by a commissioner of oaths and we carry multiple copies.
  • Vehicle Insurance – At the border crossing of many countries in Africa a third party insurance is compulsory.
  • COMESA Extension– If you’re traveling through East Africa this can be the biggest tip! Instead of purchasing insurance at every border, or worse having to hunt it down in a neighboring town, purchasing COMESA extension of your third party insurance will save you time, money, and a ton of hassle. The COMESA, or yellow card, is valid in almost all of East Africa starting in Zambia. To get the insurance you must first purchase a policy in a participating country and then extend for the neighboring ones. The commonplace to do so in Zambia, we went with Madison General in Lusaka. I have also known overlanders who have used NICO Insurance.
  • Medical Insurance – In case the worst should happen we need all the necessary documentation. We have copies printed of our medical insurance policies.
  • Medicine List – List of all medicine we’re carrying
  • Serial Numbers – We have all of our vehicle serial numbers listed in a document. Including make, model, VIN number, and engine number. This is for import purposes it is required by many countries to ensure we are not illegally importing products into the country.
  • Emergency Numbers – This is a list of emergency numbers we compiled in the various countries we’ll be traveling through. Numbers include air-evac services since we can not rely on local hospitals for serious injury.
  • Police Clearance – We’ve been asked for this twice now at the Kazungula border as well as the Zim and Zam Lake Kariba border. It’s not required, but you may get asked for it in attempts for you to lose your patience and pay a bribe. They are easy to get so if you have the time I recommend going to the police station and getting the car cleared.

I’m certain that this does not cover all of our overland vehicle equipment. For instance, all of our personal items and camping gear for our truck is absent because we have respective posts on those two topics you can find here and here.


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