Five tips for kitting out your overland vehicle on a budget MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

Smart Strategies for Outfitting Your Overland Vehicle on a Budget

When I began jazzing up my overland vehicle for our thrilling trek across Africa, I was flabbergasted by the exorbitant costs involved—sometimes nearly matching the price of the vehicle itself! But my resourceful spirit kicked in, and my husband and I resolved to allocate those funds to incredible adventures during our journey. By employing a few clever DIY hacks and keeping a tight grip on our purse strings, we managed to transform our trusty Hilux into a fully equipped travel companion on a shoestring budget. Now, after eight months and 38,000 memorable kilometers, our set-up continues to function immaculately—and there’s very little we regret not splurging on.

So here’s the deal: we didn’t go for the fancy stuff when it came to kitting out our vehicle. No pricey ammo crates or custom-made drawers and sliders for us. Nope, we went for the budget-friendly option and got some plastic boxes from Westpac. And our center console? It’s just a plain old plastic bread box. We might not look as sleek as those other vehicles on the road, but we know we’re infinitely cooler. Plus, we saved a ton of money by going this route. If you’re in the process of getting your vehicle ready for a trip, I’ve got some tips that can help you keep the costs down.

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1. Keep it simple

First things first, figure out what you actually need for your trip. Don’t get sucked into buying every gadget that catches your eye. That’s just a waste of money and space. When we were getting ready for our trip, we seriously debated whether or not to get a winch and sand tracks. We were picturing ourselves stuck in the middle of nowhere for days if anything went wrong. But you know what? We decided against it, and we haven’t missed them one bit. If you’re really worried about getting stuck, why not invest in a good 4×4 driving course instead? It’ll teach you how to avoid sticky situations in the first place. We also thought long and hard about getting a fancy built-in water tank. But with the cost of installation and everything, it just didn’t make sense for us. We ended up buying some plastic jerry cans and they’ve worked out perfectly fine. On the flip side, there are a few things we can’t imagine traveling without – like our trusty long-range fuel tanks, a high lift jack, and some seriously comfy chairs.

2. Create your own drawer system

If you have some time and enjoy tinkering with tools, you might be able to save a lot of money by building your own drawer system. To get started, check out Evan Haussmann’s article on how to build a 4×4 drawer system. When we got our Hilux truck, it had some old and wobbly drawers in the back for hauling fishing gear. We decided to rebuild the drawers and added two sets of heavy-duty sliders on top to store all our gear, clothing, food, and more. The whole DIY drawer and slider system cost us about R600.

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3. Hunt for used equipment online

If you’re looking for a good starting point, the different 4×4 forums can be really useful. Websites like www.hilux4x4.co.za , www.landyonline.co.za, www.lroc.org.za, www.4x4community.co.za, www.nissan4x4.co.za, and www.landcruiserclub.co.za are just a few examples. You can find great deals on fridges, tents, roof racks, and more. Plus, you’ll get plenty of inspiration for your trip from these sites. It’s also worth checking out platforms like eBay and Gumtree for additional options.

4. Take your time to compare

When it comes to buying expensive items like roof tents, it’s important to shop around and consider all your options. Some tents can cost up to R12,000 for the fancy designs with skylights and extra sections over the ladder. However, there are simpler models that do the job just as well and can save you several thousand rands.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount

If you’re spending a lot at one store or paying in cash, it never hurts to ask for a discount. When my partner and I purchased our tent, awning, recovery gear, and other goodies from Tentco in Boksburg, we had a chat with the manager. We explained how much we were buying and ended up getting a 10% discount. It’s definitely worth a try at larger stores, and if they say no, you have nothing to lose.

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