The Ultimate Guide to Overlanding Upgrades for Your VW SUV
Off-roading and camping adventures are rewarding experiences for the entire family. And with a few simple modifications and careful consideration, you can easily transform your family car into a highly capable off-roading vehicle! Check out our ultimate guide to the best overlanding upgrades for your VW SUV.
When transforming your VW SUV for overlanding, the lift kit is one of the first upgrades that should be on your list. A lift kit is a vehicle modification tool that allows you to alter your SUV’s height and suspension geometry, enhancing its off-road capability and performance. Lift kits such as ours—available for the VW Tiguan, Taos, and Atlas—provide a range of benefits that can significantly improve your overlanding experience.
Firstly, lift kits eliminate factory-standard tuning characteristics, such as negative camber. Camber, a measurement that refers to a tire’s angle relative to the road, impacts performance aspects such as handling, turning radius, on and off-road comfort, and more. Negative camber is common for commercial vehicles because it provides superior on-road handling, comfort, and fuel efficiency. However, neutral and especially positive camber both effectively enhance off-road stability and overlanding performance. A lift kit allows you to make camber adjustments to your tire by slightly modifying the suspension without sacrificing handling or proper alignment.
Secondly, installing a lift kit adds extra fender space, which is crucial if you upgrade to bigger all-terrain tires. The additional clearance prevents the larger tires from rubbing against the fender, ensuring smooth and uninterrupted rides. More fender space also supports exterior modifications such as fender guards, body armor, and more. Ultimately, lift kits provide just enough additional ground clearance to fine-tune crucial aspects of your vehicle. And with positive camber and added fender space, you can now shift focus to the ideal overlanding tires!
The type of tire you choose can significantly affect your vehicle’s performance during overlanding trips, so selecting ones specifically designed for off-road use is crucial. The ideal overlanding tires have aggressive tread patterns that provide excellent traction on various off-road surfaces. Deep, wide grooves help to eject mud, sand, and rocks from the tire, preventing them from becoming lodged in the tread and reducing grip. There are three tire treads worth considering for your overlanding VW SUV, and each provides unique benefits depending on your lifestyle needs and preferences.
All-terrain tires offer a balance between on-road comfort and off-road capability. They have a less aggressive tread design than mud-terrain tires, making them a good choice if you plan to use your SUV for daily driving as well as overlanding. On the other hand, mud-terrain tires have larger, more aggressive tread patterns for maximum traction in muddy conditions, but they can be noisy and less comfortable on paved roads. Hybrid tires combine the best of both, offering aggressive tread patterns for off-roading while maintaining a level of on-road comfort—naturally, these are often the most expensive option. The best option for you depends on your overlanding frequency and the types of terrain you’re likely to encounter at your usual off-roading spots.
Flush Kits (Wheel Spacers)
Wheel spacers, also known as flush kits, are a popular and cost-effective upgrade for overlanding enthusiasts seeking to enhance the performance and look of their VW SUVs. These simple devices fit over your vehicle’s holding bracket and push the wheels further apart, widening the car’s stance. This modification results in improved handling and stability, particularly when navigating challenging terrains common in overlanding. Aside from enhancing off-road stability, flush kits also reduce some suspension strain, creating a smoother and more controlled riding experience.
Beyond performance benefits, wheel spacers also play a crucial role in accommodating larger tires and enhancing the aesthetic appeal of your vehicle. Moving the wheels to a wider position creates additional space that allows for installing bigger all-terrain tires, which are essential for overlanding. Moreover, wheel spacers help achieve a flush look, where the wheels and tires sit more in line with the wheel arches. This change gives your VW SUV a more aggressive and robust appearance. The aesthetic enhancement, combined with the performance benefits, makes wheel spacers a worthwhile consideration in your overlanding upgrade plan.
Raised Air Intake
Contrary to popular belief, a raised air intake, commonly referred to as a “snorkel,” does not turn your VW SUV into an amphibious vehicle. Instead, its primary function is to ensure the delivery of clean, dust-free air to your engine, which is crucial for maintaining optimal performance during overlanding adventures. Sure, certain raised air intake products make an otherwise inaccessible river crossing possible. However, even with a snorkel, water exceeding a certain level is dangerous for all cars.
In off-road conditions, especially in arid or dusty environments, the amount of airborne dust and dirt significantly increases. When these particles enter your engine, they can cause wear and tear, ultimately reducing its lifespan and efficiency. You would position a raised air intake at roof level, far from the dust clouds stirred up by the wheels, allowing it to draw in cleaner and cooler air. This measure helps prevent dust and water from entering the engine, enhancing its durability and ensuring smoother rides on challenging terrains. So, while it may not make your vehicle capable of deep-water crossings, a raised air intake is an essential upgrade for any overlanding enthusiast.
When preparing for an overlanding adventure, it’s essential to consider how you’ll manage and store your cargo. The amount of gear required for a successful trip can quickly add up, and without careful planning, you could find yourself without enough space for all your essentials. Every item needs a designated place in your vehicle, from camping equipment and cooking supplies to spare parts and recovery gear.
One of the first considerations should be maximizing the use of your vehicle’s existing storage spaces. You can utilize the trunk area, under seats, and even the glove compartment with some thoughtful organization. Using storage boxes or bags can help compartmentalize your gear, making it easier to locate items when needed. It’s also helpful to prioritize your packing, placing frequently used items in easily accessible locations and less commonly used items further back.
However, sometimes the interior space is just not enough. In these cases, external storage solutions can be a lifesaver. Roof racks, for example, provide additional storage space without compromising the comfort of the passengers inside the vehicle. They are suitable for bulky items such as tents, spare tires, or jerry cans. Similarly, rear-mounted cargo carriers can hold heavy gear that might otherwise take up valuable interior space. While considering external storage, it’s important to remember the impact on your vehicle’s center of gravity and adjust your driving accordingly. If an exterior storage product disrupts your handling, it might not be right for more extreme overlanding activities.
Preparing your VW SUV for overlanding is an exciting journey that involves various upgrades and modifications. Remember, the goal isn’t just to make your SUV look tough; you want to ensure it has the capability and durability to handle whatever the trail throws at it. Explore our selection of overland VW parts here at B2BFAB and start optimizing your SUV’s off-road performance today!