Nadia and I follow and find inspiration from a lot of overland blogs. So far however, we’ve only found one documenting a similar trip in a Jeep; and he was going solo without much gear. The majority of overlanders seem to drive Land Cruisers, pick-up trucks, and custom big rigs. Then there’s the people who travel long-term with their pets, and they typically have a fifth wheel or RV.
Jeeps are, hands down, the best vehicles for offroading. Whether or not they’re the best for overlanding, howevaer, is debatable. We love our Wrangler though, and we were determined to make it work. We knew that maximizing the space in the Jeep would require some creativity, so we spent a lot of time discussing ways to best organize Ohfosho.
We considered taking out one or even all of the back seats. We discussed replacing them with a bed or a built-in storage compartment. We racked our brains on ways to fit a bedroom, kitchen and office into a few cubic metres. Ultimately we decided that taking out the back seats wouldn’t give much more space than just putting them down, and we wanted to have seats in case we spent any time driving with visitors or friends. (This turned out for the best – we’ve done a lot of ride-sharing.)
In the end we amassed a huge wish list of updates and modifications, but only made a few small changes before leaving Canada. All of them have had a significant impact on the amount of free space and the level of organization in our Jeep:
Removing The Back Headrests
If you have a JK you might know what we quickly learned: Removing the back headrests is a long, complicated process. However as a one-time thing it’s well worth the time. The feeling of free space it created is insane, and it allowed us to rest the seats flat when we put them down instead of at an angle (with the headrests on they propped up against the front seats).
Read our easy-to-follow instructions on removing the back headrests from a JK edition Wrangler.
Installing Seat Covers with Storage
Our first “big” purchase for the Jeep was a set of Smittybilt Front G.E.A.R. Seat Covers (which we bought on sale with the next item on this list). These have been fantastic. Not only do they protect our leather seats from wear and tear, but they provide easy access to all the little things we want while on the road. Best of all, these things are stored in non-invasive space that would otherwise be empty.
Read more about our Smittybilt G.E.A.R. and how we use it.
Installing a Tailgate Cover with Storage
The second part of our “big” purchase was a tailgate cover, which also features smart, space-saving storage compartments. Like the seat cover storage, the bags are removable and interchangeable. We use these pouches to store our first aid gear. It’s easily accessible on the road, and easily removable for hiking trips and other on-foot ventures.
Adding Storage Compartments
I hate living out of a suitcase. I do that enough going to and from camp for work. We wanted to have all of our everyday items within reach and well-organized. So, we went to Canadian Tire and bought two sets of plastic storage drawers. They fit perfectly in the back of the Jeep, and allowed us to store our clothes, kitchen gear and extra toiletries. Only one drawer, which is blocked by the subwoofer, is difficult to access and we use that to store things like oil, coolant, washer fluid and tools. It’s a huge time saver and it eliminates a tonne of clutter. Not to mention, when we lay our heads in one place for a while they’re easy to move in and out.
It took some experimenting to see what worked, but in the end we developed a great system. All of this was done without any exterior modifications like a roof rack. I was even able to bring my guitar. As it turns out, the angular space between the back seat the the plastic drawers perfectly fits the guitar. There’s no room for a case, but I don’t mind a few travel scars in exchange for all the added space.