The Volvo Parts, Accessories &
Performance Specialists Since 1963

What Is Overlanding? Going Off The Grid With Your Volvo


What is Overlanding? Going "Off The Grid" with your Volvo.

No, that Mad Max looking rig that just passed you on the highway is not a film prop. It’s more likely something that someone has uniquely and purposefully built to help them navigate through whatever upcoming journey is on their agenda.   You have to admit, it’s a tad peculiar when you’re sitting in traffic and you look over and see a small SUV outfitted externally with gas/water cans, shovels, traction boards, spare tires, awnings, and one of the most incredible inventions, the roof top tent!  Where are these people going?  Are they preparing for a zombie apocalypse?  

The simple answer is these enthusiasts are doing whatever they can to maximize their ability to get “off the grid” and enjoy life.  Overlanding has become a happening activity here in America.  The fact is Overlanding dates back to the 1900’s in other countries.   Some of you may not be familiar with the term “Overlanding” but after you read this article, you’ll have a better understanding why IPD has chosen to take the path of helping Volvo owners find more confidence in reaching their off-the-beaten-path destination. 

Overlanding is all about self reliance and the journey, but not necessarily the destination.  The great part about having a vehicle prepared is so you can literally see any place you like and decide to stay along the explored route. 

Don’t get us wrong, you don’t need a jacked up sprinter van to overland.  Technically fully equipped hikers can be considered as “Overlanders”.   The only difference is they’re doing it on foot instead of having rubber tires beneath them.  Preparing a vehicle for overlanding looks completely different for each individual.  IPD is here to help our customers outfit their Volvos for whatever stage of adventure they’re looking to tackle.  

For some people a sleeping bag along with a camp stove located on the rear tailgate of their station wagon is exactly what they need to enjoy a quick getaway to a remote location.  Others may require gourmet cookware, hot showers, and espresso makers to complete their overlanding adventure dream.  Neither of them is wrong, one just may require a tad more preparation and outfitting. 

Below are a few images submitted to our annual photo contest of Volvo enthusiasts showcasing some exploration. 

Australians and South Africans have been outfitting utes since the dawn of time.  It’s safe to say they paved the way when it comes to utilizing their daily driver as an adventure rig.  We used to only see these adventure rigs in pictures and in magazines boasting huge safari racks, gas cans, gear bags, and snorkels.  When would you ever need a snorkel?  Well somewhere around the world, someone is using them!  We particularly don’t have any desire to run our XC60 T6 Adventure rig through chest deep water.  The fact is here in the western world enthusiasts are doing more to take the road less traveled and they need a reliable steed to do so. 

In most parts of the U.S. RV sites and campgrounds have become a bit of a headache scheduling.  The days of rolling in to your favorite camp spot unannounced are basically over.  Most campgrounds have gone completely to a reservation based system that tarnishes your spontaneity and last minute “get out of town quickly” aspirations.  More families are taking advantage of the great outdoors which cause long lead times and reservations that need to be placed months in advance.  This has forced many of us seeking serenity to become a bit more creative when it comes to exploring the outdoors. 

It’s now time to get further “off the grid” as they say.  More of us want to experience complete solitude which may involve dry camping and alternate road surfaces.  With a little research you can explore BLM, Forester Service, and other public areas that will fulfill your vision quest. 

People have always used their Volvo as a universal vehicle.  In 2005 ipd lit a fire under many enthusiasts with our XC70 All Terrain project car.  This particular vehicle was a complete concept at the time.  IPD partnered with Volvo North America to build an extreme version of an overland machine to be displayed at the Las Vegas SEMA show.  The XC70 All Terrain had a budget that is beyond what most people are willing to invest.  The response was overwhelming from customers who had the same dream of outfitting their own Volvos with the ability to overland. 

Later during our $25K build off, we partnered with a customer who built a less spectacular, but more practical XC70 for recovering hang gliders in central Oregon.  The vehicle was upgraded by adding larger wheels and tires, a small lift, skid plates and brush guards.  

Social media has become a channel for us to see how others are outfitting SUV’s and similar vehicles.   There are pioneers and “makers” who have paved the way for anyone looking to convert their daily grocery-getter into a reliable adventure rig.  In most cases you can have the best of both worlds.  It’s becoming more common to see these adventure vehicles while sitting in traffic on your daily commute.  The purpose is to outfit your vehicle safely and quickly when you get the itch to dart of town.  Social media has allowed us to communicate with others around the world who have purpose modified their Volvo chassis.  For most of us, we don’t have the ability to fabricate lift kits and chassis protection parts.  A lot of these pioneers have made “one-off” items allowing them to use their Volvo as an adventure rig. Since we are The Volvo Specialists many customers are coming to us inquiring about IPD offering similar upgrades.  The best way for us to do that is by developing our own project vehicles and designing parts that will support these requests. 

Remember that you drive a Volvo.  Safety is the most important thing!  When you pack your vehicle, you’re packing to be prepared for unexpected problems that may arise. Overlanding is not just about being able to go over large obstacles, but being able to recover the vehicle or get out of a sticky situation.  There’s a reason you see traction boards and shovels mounted to these vehicles.  Running out of gas, getting a flat tire, or experiencing a dead battery in the middle of nowhere can be a bit traumatic.    Your best defense is expecting the best but preparing for the worst.  Who knows, a bad situation may turn into the best experience you’ve ever had!

Here at ipd we currently have multiple vehicles that are in different levels of adventure preparation.  We have already begun designing and manufacturing HD skid plates, spacer lift kits, and overload springs.  We have also tested hitch and wheel mounting accessories, wheel and tire packages, roof top tent additions, along with experimenting adding multiple lighting upgrades.  We currently offer many suspension upgrades that all contribute to the reliability of versatility.  Our goal is to engage with the community and share our own adventures throughout our social media platforms.  You’ll soon see more conversation around our Aventyr (Adventure in Swedish) line of products.  We’re extremely excited to hear about your overlanding experiences. The best part about being involved in this community is helping others fulfill their visions.  Together our adventures are limitless. 

Thank you to our sponsors for all of your continued support.  We partner with the best in the industry to bring our visions to life.  Stay tuned for future blogs covering the products used in more detail. 
OZ Racing Wheels-  Thank you for helping us with the OZ Rally Racing Wheels.
PIAA Lighting-  When it comes to lighting, PIAA is the brand we have always trusted. 
ROTOPAX-  Providing incredible off road accessories.  Gas/Water cans and mounting accessories. 
THULE-  Our friends at Thule have been extremely generous when it comes to partnering in R&D and supporting us with camping equipment and roof rack accessories.  
TireRack-  TireRack does it better than anyone in the industry.  Amazing customer service and support.  We appreciate the partnership. 
Les Schwab Tires-  Our local Les Schwab has always supported IPD.  Thank you to our friends at Les Schwab