Overlanding is a type of camping that has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. In this variation of camping, campers travel in off-road vehicles to remote locations, where they set up camp for extended periods. Reflecting the camping industry’s growth, this thriving trend is predicted to continue.
In the 2022 North American Camping Report of Kampgrounds of America (KOA), the largest system of private campgrounds in the United States and Canada, findings show that 27% of campers took an overlanding trip for the first time in 2021, and 46% of all campers want to try overlanding this year.
The popularity of overlanding is likely due to the increased interest in camping and outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic, Shane Kwaterski, the sales manager of EarthCruiser, told Modern Campground.
“I think with COVID specifically, people want to get away, they want to get lost in nature, and they want to find a sense of a place for themselves every now and then. And overlanding is a great opportunity to do that,” he said.
When the virus halted airport traffic, people flocked to campgrounds where they could be free to explore and take advantage of the natural and open spaces.
According to KOA, camping accounted for 40% of leisure trips last year, with 53% of travelers including camping in their travel plans.
With more people interested in camping, overlanding provides a more challenging and adventurous option for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life for the weekend—or longer.
Designed to go further for extended periods, overlanding vehicles are now being used for full-time RV living by younger campers, said Kwaterski. While EarthCruiser’s customer demographic used to be older individuals with a passion for expedition truck-style travel, the company has “seen an incredible shift” in its demographic.
“We’ve seen that change drastically in the last 24 months where people are considering these vehicles […] as an alternative […] to a stationary home,” Kwaterski said. The Get To Know The New RV Buyers survey of the RV Industry Association published in May 2021 noted that 38% of last year’s new RV buyers were millennials.
These young campers are also growing their businesses or careers from their rigs. “So we have many customers in their younger business careers; they’re working as digital nomads, and they live full-time out of these rigs,” Kwaterski added.
In April, The Dyrt conducted a study that revealed the number of people who worked from a campsite nearly tripled between 2018 and 2021. RVIA’s study also suggested that 22% of new buyers cited being able to work remotely as their reason for buying an RV.
Another factor to consider for overlanding’s popularity is the rugged look of overlanding trailers which suggests a more rustic and off-road form of camping that younger campers prefer.
In a conversation with Modern Campground in May, KOA Chief Marketing Officer Whitney Scott said that most younger campers seek to be strongly connected to the environment. They also value the importance of getting outdoors as well as how the outdoors is preserved.
Overlanding fulfills these, which is why Kwaterski foresees an outward trend toward more expedition-style camping such as overlanding.
“So getting away [and] using public lands that are all ours to use and enjoy. And so, that’s where you’re definitely seeing the industry go. And I think there’s tremendous growth opportunity as long as we, as manufacturers and industry leaders, continue to educate the public on how to do that,” Kwaterski said.
Featured image from EarthCruiser.