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Top 10 Overland Outback Travel Essentials

This article has been written and provided by Trekking Downunder.

We are a young family of 5 currently overlanding around Australia full-time. Our experience includes Outback remote travel, road/homeschooling, blogs, budgets, reviews, radio and digital magazines. We hit the road in early 2018 and have never looked back! We share our knowledge of travelling with kids and hope to inspire other's to take the plunge and live a more meaningful and intentional life! -Ryan and Amy
Full Size Render

Leading up to our new full-time nomadic overland lifestyle I undertook an enormous amount of research of what others shared that they needed to take on their trips into the remote outback. From our previous experience, I always thought that it sounded fairly reasonable. But when you are living full time in a small caravan, space and weight are at a premium. To see how we manage to live in an 18ft van click here. So we had to rethink what we would take that was a necessity and what was a just in case. Although the 'just in case' items would be great to have with us, the reality is we do not have the space. It is quite easy to get carried away with all of the spares, tools and accessories you should carry to be prepared however we believe travelling with the bare essentials can many advantages such as keeping your weights down and fuel savings.

Below are our main items we believe to be essentials for Outback Travel;

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Satellite telephone

A sat phone is an absolute must if you are travelling on overland/ outback tracks where there is no reception. A Sat phone connects to the relevant satellite network you are signed up to and can connect almost anywhere worldwide. We decided on using a Garmin Inreach unit which although is unable to make calls, it can send and receive text messages and emails as well as being a registered Epirb for any possible Emergency. This device and its features were exactly what we needed and required from a satellite phone.

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UHF radio

A UHF is another must have! Our GME unit has been invaluable for the sheer amount of times we have used it to communicate whilst travelling along the remote outback roads. Its the perfect device to communicate with oncoming convoys, over-sized loads, road trains and even with your own travelling parties in relation to overtaking, road hazards, acknowledgement (etc). Due to its versatility, it makes this an essential and extremely useful device when overlanding anywhere.


Our spares kit includes; air filter, fuel filter, automatic transmission fluid, oil and oil filter and we also have a set wheel bearings for the van. We have a fairly small spare parts kit on board due to keeping our weights in check and our space as a major consideration. We decided to keep the spares to a minimum based on a risk vs likelihood scenario, especially owing to the fact we had a brand new off road van and a 2-year-old Toyota Prado. Click here to check out what vehicle upgrades we made for Outback travel. To back us up in an emergency situation we also invested in our NRMA roadside assistance cover, which covers us in every state of Australia whether in the remote outback or on the coast.

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Bull Bar

Frontal protection is a high priority for any remote travel so if you have any overland plans a good quality bull bar is essential. When travelling in the outback you must keep a keen eye on Australian wildlife. The sheer volume of kangaroos, emus, goats and sheep that run in front of your vehicle whilst your travelling between 60-80km/hr is insane. Having adequate front vehicle protection will ensure you won’t come off second best, keeping in mind swerving the path of an animal at this speed can be more catastrophic than an impact itself.

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Now one could go all out and bring every tool in the garage, but you will need to again be mindful of weight and available space. Travelling with the bare essentials doesn't mean having gaps in the needs department but rather to ensure the majority of tools have a dual purpose. Ensure you have the relevant tools for the car and van, doubling up where possible. There is no point bringing a set of imperial and metric spanners when the metric could do everything you require. By being very intentional with your tool choices, you can well and truly lightened your payload.

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Off-Road GPS - We are big fans of the good old fashioned paper maps, but with the introduction of off-road GPS, these devices certainly make the essential list for overland travel. We use a Hema On and Off-Road GPS for all exploring including our remote outback treks as well as our inland and coastal trips. The ability to track your travels, see your current location, mark waypoints and create your own routes are just some examples of what these devices offer. It adds the great price of mind knowing exactly where you are and where you are going when you have no marked roads or obvious track direction.

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Dirty gear/rubbish bag

This one has made the essentials list as the majority of outback locations/ camping areas do not have any rubbish disposal facilities due to the remoteness. And we definitely do not condone dumping of any rubbish anywhere but in an approved bin or rubbish tip. The use of a dirty gear/rubbish bag makes general waste transportation a very easy process. We use a bushranger wheelie bin gear bag. With its simple to use design all you need to do is release 4 clips and simply place your rubbish or dirty gear in the PVC bag and then clip closed. The Wheelie Bin comes with an option to engage a centre divider or you can use as one large bag for either rubbish and/or dirty gear. We recommend when using as a rubbish bin to either utilise a large garage bag liner or place all your rubbish in smaller bags to keep contents from leaking or spoiling in the bottom of the bin or being an attraction to wildlife.

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It's simple really, one of the most important survival aids in the outback is water, you should aim to carry as much water as you possibly can. It is recommended you should carry at least 7-10L per person/per day and the latter as a minimum in the hotter months according to the Royal Flying Doctor Service. When fully loaded we can carry 360L between our van and car which is sufficient for our family of 5 for at least 7-10 days in total remote area's. Where possible it is advisable to have multiple water tanks as if one tank is punctured you could lose your entire water supply.

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A shovel is a very multipurpose item that can be used in a number of situations from recovery to safety to daily use. A shovel can be used to dig yourself out should your vehicle or van becomes stuck, maintain plus extinguish your campfires and even through to digging a hole for an outback bush poo. You can use a long handle shovel (pictured above) and securely mount it to the roof rack or choose a compact folding shovel that can be placed anywhere within your set up.

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Air Compressor

Finally an air compressor is a must for your Outback essential travel kit. You will regularly find yourself needing to air down to suitable tyre pressure, depending on the road conditions which will then require reinflation once you hit the blacktop, to avoid causing unnecessary wear and tear. The best practice is to always ensure you check your compressor is working prior to heading into the outback, as this is definitely an item you need to perform well when required.

These are our Top 10 Overland Outback Travel Essentials. These are by no means our entire Outback inventory but our essential must-haves that we would never travel remote without.

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