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ORA's Overland Kitchen Essentials Checklist

ORA's Overland Kitchen Essentials Checklist

10 minute read

If you’re going to be in the field for days or weeks at a time, you need an overland kitchen that’s ready to put out good food that keeps you fueled up for the best experiences. Overland cooking isn’t the same as camp cooking or making food at home. For extended adventures, especially if you’re traveling with friends, you want to be able to create real meals with fresh and travel-ready ingredients that give everyone the nutrition they need and the flavors that make your custom truck or SUV the heart of your home away from home. Break out of the MRE and beef jerky rut with the gear you need to deliver fine dining far off the beaten path.

Gear For Grubbing

Your essential gear should be designed by one of the top overlanding manufacturers to meet one or more of the five main overland kitchen needs: 

  • Storage - Effective food storage protects your food from critters of all shapes and sizes—even critters too small to see with the naked eye. While dry storage may keep non-perishable food safely out of the reach of bears or hungry kids, refrigerated storage helps keep food fresh by limiting the proliferation of bacteria and other microorganisms until the food can be cooked and/or consumed.
  • Prep - Food prep includes both the preparation of food before cooking but also the preparation of non-cooked food. Peeling, chopping, trimming, cutting, and marinating all fall under this category.
  • Cooking - Whether it’s direct heat, indirect heat, roasting, baking, or good old-fashioned barbecuing, you need the right gear and the right heat source to go from raw to ready. 
  • Eating - This is the fun and tasty part.
  • Cleanup - Take only pictures, leave only footprints, and along the way, make sure you don’t give yourself food poisoning. These tools are needed to make sure your gear is ready to make safe food for the next meal and that you aren’t leaving trash and refuse behind for the next off-roaders who pass through your camping area.

Camp Vs. Overland Cooking

Camping and overlanding are often used interchangeably because camping out in your vehicle (or on it) is part of the overlanding experience. Your overland kitchen, however, can be very different from the kitchen gear you put together for a simple camping trip. While camping is part of overlanding, there’s a lot more that goes into living the away-from-it-all lifestyle that finds you miles away from…well, anywhere. You pack it in with you, prepare it, eat it, and pack it back out.

Unlike simple camping, which often relies on ready-to-eat snacks or the planning of a few simple meals, overlanders will be away from civilization—including grocery and convenience stores—for days or weeks at a time. While in the field, they’ll be navigating, hiking, hunting, fishing, exploring, and more. All of which work up a healthy appetite that granola won’t always cure. This can compound when it’s a group activity and there’s a half-dozen hungry mouths at the end of every long day driving on the trail, pushing through obstacles, and sometimes digging your vehicles out of obstacles that were a little more than manageable.

That’s why you put together a comprehensive overland kitchen. Rather than the rough grub of a “normal” campsite, you’re going to want real, substantial meals that aren’t just rehydrated from powder. They need to taste good, retain nutrients, fill your belly, and warm you up, because, after breakfast, lunch, or a good night’s sleep, the next section of the trail is waiting for you to conquer it. These overland cooking essentials won’t do the driving, navigating, or maneuvering for you, but they’ll make sure you’re well-fed while you push the truck to its limits.

Food Storage Must Haves

When it comes to storing your consumables, there are three major categories: dry, refrigerated, and water. You’ll need all three to make sure your overland kitchen is ready to put together recipes and put out good food.

Dry Storage

Your dry storage is designed to organize, contain, and protect shelf-stable items, including canned, dried, and otherwise packaged foods or ingredients. Some off-roaders keep this super simple, using the bags their groceries came in, a tote, or even a large plastic tub or cargo box to keep their food separated. Others, however, choose to build their overland kitchen dry storage into the vehicle by assigning a set area of their bed cargo storage to food items.

The Decked Truck Bed Storage System gives you two slideout drawers running the length of the bed to keep your gear organized and safe. One of these drawers is perfect for a mobile pantry. There’s plenty of room to hold both ready-to-eat trail food and snacks as well as ingredients, all in an organized manner that makes your food preparation easier. Just slide out the drawer, grab the cans, bags, or boxes you need, and get to work making quality food.


Refrigerated storage helps keep fresh food fresh, and in some cases, it even keeps frozen food frozen. While the old standby for camping was always the beer cooler with a couple of packages of cheese and bologna floating in it, your overland kitchen can do far, far better. Modern technology has made on-the-go refrigeration more efficient and smaller, saving you both space and energy. This means you can carry more fresh food into the field with you without risking it spoiling, but it also means that any fresh food you forage, catch, hunt, or trap—once properly cleaned—can be kept for the next meal or, in some cases, until you get it home to your big freezer.

The ARB 101-Qt. Fridge Freezer is an overland kitchen beast. Featuring an extremely large capacity and two separate cooling zones to help keep foods refrigerated or frozen, it really opens up overland cooking opportunities. From a variety of fresh veggies to your favorite steaks, roasts, or morning bacon, it can carry the foods you need for more variety in your diet as you work and play hard on your trek. It also opens up the possibility of carrying along frozen treats for when you just need a few moments of peace from the kids.

Water Storage

Plenty of off-roaders remember the food but forget the water. It’s not just important to your overland cooking but also for drinking and cleanup. As a rule of thumb, you’ll need a gallon of water per person per day at a minimum. If you’re planning strenuous activities, the temperature is hotter or colder than moderate, or you know you’ll need extra water for a recipe, plan for more. Clean, potable water is something that should be included in every overland trip plan.

While plenty of people choose traditional jerry cans or pick-up plastic carboys meant for office water coolers, you can get a more efficient system that makes using your water easier, like the Dometic Go Hydration water jug with an optional Dometic Go Faucet. When combined, this gives your overland kitchen a functional faucet for filling pots, topping off personal water bottles, or washing up for dinner. Whether you need more precision for measuring out stew water or just want a hands-free way to get the oil out from under your nails, it’s got you covered.

Prepping, Cooking, and Eating

Sometimes, you are getting ready to turn out a professional quality cooked meal. Other times, you’re just getting ready-to-eat foods chopped or portioned for the next day. However much preparation goes into your meals, there are a few things you need to get the job done right.

Set Up Your Working Location

When it comes time to prepare food, the first thing you need is some elbow room to get your food prepped. A stowaway table can be an invaluable asset for your overland cooking experience. The SmartCap Stow Away Table folds up and secures inside your SmartCap truck canopy directly under the roof to keep it out of the way when it isn’t needed. It’s perfect for giving you a general-purpose workspace in camp, as a platform for stoves and burners, or to serve from for larger events. 

Fire It Up

There are a lot of ways to put out good food from your overland kitchen. You can take your cuisine beyond hot dogs or foil bags with gear that helps you have clean, efficient direct heat. The iKamper Disco Modular Kitchen System is a great choice that offers plenty of flexibility for modern chefs as well as utility for those traditionalists that need the smell of wood smoke with their cuisine. Consisting of a tripod, burner, table, and state-of-the-art skillet, it’s ready to help you eat better–breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The burner can be used with the tripod or as a tabletop camp stove. The tripod can also be used as a set of camp irons over a traditional fire, suspending the included skillet or other cookware, and the easy-to-use-and-clean skillet works with the Disco’s burner, any camp stove, or over your natural fire source. 

Ready to Eat Outdoors!

A sure path to marital discord is taking the good flatware into the field with you. Front Runner’s Camp Kitchen Utensil Set gives you sturdy utensils for getting your grub on. The carrier hangs easily to give you full access to your gear. Included are cooking utensils, a handy cutting board, and the flatware needed to enjoy the fruits (or steaks) of your labor. Featuring forged blades and poly handles, this steel utensil set is ready for the wild.

Cleaning Up

It may be a camp rule that the cook doesn’t have to handle the cleanup, but that doesn’t mean it can wait until you get home. Effective cleanup gets your overland kitchen ready to go for the next meal while leaving our trails beautiful. A small dish tub can make cleanup easy. Just fill it from your water jug faucet, add soap, and get those dishes nice and clean. Don’t forget to bring plenty of trash bags to pack out your refuse after the meal. 

Customize Your Truck For Camp Cuisine Excellence

With the right gear, your off-road truck is ready to make sure you eat well in the field. We have the equipment you need, backed by old-school service that’s ready by the phone days, nights, and weekends. Order your Overland kitchen equipment from Offroad Alliance today.

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ARB 101 Quart Zero Dual Zone Fridge Freezer - 10802962

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