Our Vehicle, Equipment and Spares


Our Vehicle

For our trip we purchased a 1995 Land Rover 110 Defender, County Tdi.  When we purchased it our Land Rover had about 118 000 kilometres on the clock and had already completed a trip from Johannesburg, South Africa to Hamburg, Germany.  In theory therefore, we could just put it on autopilot and let it lead us to the European Continent.  Since we left Cape Town we have put almost 20 000 kilometres on the clock and we are not even past Tanzania yet! Although providing a good basis, having had a lot of kit fitted already, we spent a lot of time adding more and improving on the existing set-up.


The original Land Rover shocks, coils and steering dampner were replaced with Old Man Emu nitro charger shocks, steering dampner and heavy duty coil springs. Not only does it give the Landy a much more comfortable ride, but it also helps to handle the emmense load we carry. Another modification we could have done is to add set of second shock absorbers all around, apparantly that helps even more. Alas there is just no end to the preparation you can do for this sort of journey.



The 1995 Land Rover 110 Defender was sold with Steel rims and General Super All Grip 750/16 inch tyres as Original Equipment. When we purchased our vehicle, it was fitted with 4 rather sorry looking General Super All Grip tyres on the vehicle and 2 of the same tyres in reasonable condition, fitted to the 2 spare rims. After careful consideration, we decided to stick to the Original Equipment tyres and purchased 4 brand new General Super-All-Grip (SAG) 750/16 Inch All purpose Tyres. Unfortunately one of these new tyres was irreparably damaged on a particularly rocky stretch of gravel road close to Swellendam after only 3000 km's ! Fortunately Continental, who manufactures these tyres in South Africa, took pity on us and replaced it free of charge, as they felt these were some of the toughest all terrain tyres on the South African market. Except for this incident we have had no other problems and look forward to testing these tyres properly on the remainder of our trip. For the time being, we can certainly recommend them.

Spare Wheels & Carriers, Compressor & Puncture Kit

We also carry two spare Super All Grip Tyres, one on the bonnet, which required special re-enforcing to carry the extra weight and one on a special carrier mounted onto the rear of the vehicle so as to prevent damage to the rear door, to which it is also attached.


We also have a Volcano air compressor which plugs into the 12 Volt power plugs on the vehicle and seems to be ample when inflating the tyres after driving in sand. As a backup we also have a small footpump, which I sincerely hope I never have to use!


In case we have any punctures, we have a spare inner tubes, a set of tyre levers, a puncture kit and some quick fix type tyre sealant. So far we have only needed these 30 km's from home in Cape Town of all places! Hopefully we won't have to make a habit of using these either.


Equipment and Accessories

Roof rack

A roof rack is one of those essential items on an overland journey, as you can store firewood and all sorts of odds and ends on it. The challenge however is to keep the weight down to approximately 140 kg's, up to a maximum of 250 kg's in an emergency, as recommended by Land Rover, including the weight of the roof rack. Disobey this recommendation at your own peril, as it will not only damage your vehicle, but it could also result in landing it on its side if driving at a side angle (not uncommon in Africa).

To keep the weight down we use an aluminium roof rack and try to store only items which are light but bulky. The only really heavy item we have on the roofrack is our rooftop tent, mounted on the front part of the roof rack, which probably weighs about 60 kilograms. To help support this weight in front, we have added steel supports from the roof rack onto the body. Keeping the weight on the roof low is an ongoing struggle and we will remain nervous when driving at side angles.

There is also a ladder in the back of the vehicle giving access to the roof rack as well as housing our two camping gas bottles which are securely locked inside the ladder.

High Lift Jack, Spades, Panga, Axe...


As mentioned in the Recovery Gear section we carry an ever useful High Lift Jack to help us from changing tyres to getting us out of mud holes. This important piece of equipment is mounted on the drivers side of the roof rack and locked for security, along with our two shovels, Panga and Axe.

Bull bar


This is an important bit of equipment if you want to keep the front of you vehicle intact in case you hit a goat or some other animal, which is not at all unlikely in Africa. Ours has added protection in front of the headlights as well. A winch plate has also been added to house the winch on the front of the vehicle. Having all this additional weight on the front of the vehicle provides another good reason to improve the suspension.


Radiator Grille Protection

To keep those nasty bugs and grass seeds out of our recently cleaned radiator, we have covered the radiator grill with metal guaze. The guaze is not very fine and therefore doesn't restrict the airflow much. It is also very easy to clean as it merely requires a quick brush once in a while. A cheap and very usefull modification.


Our vehicle is fitted with a roof top tent manufactured by Cristys Sports in Kendal Road, Cape Town, South Africa. Having a roof top tent has proved invaluable to date as it is extremely quick and easy to open or close. It also provides a safe haven from creepy crawleys and other unwanted guests. The only draw back is that we have to take down our tent if we want to drive anywhere, which probably makes roof top tents less suitable when camping for a long period of time at one place. That has however not been a problem for us as we mostly only spend one or two nights at a specific place.


Most campers seems to prefer the roof top tent opening sideways or to the rear of the vehicle, but we have found the best place to be on the front portion of the roof rack, flipping forwards, allowing the ladder to rest on the bull bar, by way of specially designed (thanks ARC, Johannesburg) feet. We have found that not only is the weight distribution on the roof rack better this way, but the ladder is also more sturdy and easier to use.



Our vehicle came with a 40L Minus 40 Caravelle 12V Fridge/Freezer. Thus far it has been extremely useful, especially to keep those beers and the ever present Tonic cold. It also works well for keeping meat and salad and other less important food stuffs cold. Unfortunately it does consume a lot of power (2-5Amps per hour), as it uses a compressor, necessitating a rather elaborate battery system. I have heard that Minus 40 now makes a three-way 12 Volt, 220 Volt, gas fridge, which utilises Ammonia gas and apparently is a little bit more energy efficient. If our vehicle didn't come with a fridge we might have considered this option. All said and done, the little Minus 40 has been great to date and hopefully will continue serving us well in future.

Battery/Power system

We seem to have an abnormally high need for 12Volt power, as we run various 12Volt devices, including a fridge, a 12V/220Volt Inverter, a Notebook computer, a Penlight battery recharger, cellphone recharger, various 12V lights, spotlights and our trusty Warn Winch, which is an especially power-hungry beast. To supply all this power we have the Land Rover's Original Equipment 50 Amp (approximately) Alternator, charging through a Mosfet, diode-based battery isolator (effectively isolating the batteries from each other and splitting the charge), in turn charging two Deltec model 1251, 102 Amp hour "High Cycle" Batteries. These batteries are particularly useful as they can be recharged within 3 hours at 50 Amps per hour, as opposed to "Deep Cycle"- type batteries which needs up to 18 hours to recharge. As we are not always driving every day, we have 2 additional 75 Amp hour "deep-cycle" batteries in reserve, one being the original Delco Voyager M24F auxiliary battery that came with the vehicle and the other being a new Raylite R2 battery (cheaper than the Delco Voyager, but far inferior).

As previously mentioned, we also use a small, 120 Watt "Solar Africa" power inverter, which changes 12 Volt DC to 220 Volt AC, to power our 220 Volt equipment.

Integral to powering our torches, GPS, etc., is our Panasonic Battery Recharger and our 20 x AA (penlight) batteries. We try to always keep some charged batteries in reserve as they take at least 6 hours to recharge. Although they are expensive (about R20,00 per battery) they work very well and have saved us loads of space and money. As each battery has 1000 recharging cycles, I am sure we will still be using them long after this trip. Unfortunately the only drawback is that the recharger requires 220 Volt, hence the Inverter

We also carry two 220 Volt battery rechargers for the various 12 Volt batteries as we have found electricity in the strangest places, enabling us to keep the batteries charged whilst camping in the same place for a while.



We bought the vehicle fitted with an Easy-Awn 2000 retractable awning. As the 110 Land Rover is a rather long vehicle, it could accommodate the large awning, which is approximately 4 Metres in length. This canopy is especially useful when it rains as we do not have a tent on the ground which we can use to prepare food in, etc. However, we find that unless it rains, we don't usually use it when we are only stopping over for the night as it does make setting up camp and breaking it down ever so slightly more tedious. Nevertheless, I would recommend an awning for overlanders, especially the retractable types, as it is very useful. I have seen some other vehicles fitted with a canvas-type awning which is stretched over retractable arms - it is claimed that they are much more durable than our type of awning. Be warned however that this type of awning is even more effort to use than ours and in my opinion is no stronger than the retractable type, provided that you tie it down with guide ropes and tent pegs.

Additional fuel and water tanks


The 110 Land Rover Defender has a lot of space for additional fuel/water tanks. One of the reasons we purchased our vehicle was that the previous owner fitted two additional fuel tanks and two additional water tanks. One 55 Litre fuel tank is situated under the body under the driver's seat, connected to the main tank with an electronic fuel pump operated with a button from inside the cab (unfortunately it is a bit of an effort to fill it, as you have to take of the driver's seat before doing so) The other is a 45 Litre fuel tank mounted in the back driver's side corner of the vehicle, forming a first stage to the main original equipment 80 L fuel tank, therefore giving us a combined onboard fuel capacity of 180 Litres. As the Tdi Landi averages a fuel consumption of approximately 12 Litres of Diesel per 100kms that gives us a fuel range of approximately 1500 kilometres, making it just that little bit easier to avoid having to fill up in countries like Zimbabwe, which is currently having a fuel crisis. We also carry 2 empty Jerry cans on the roof in case the going really gets tough.


On the other side of the vehicle we have the same combination of 55 and 45 litre water tanks, each fitted with a manual tap and an electronic water pump. Along with two 25 litre plastic containers inside the vehicle, we carry at least 150 litres, catering for most of our water requirements.




We fitted an Australian make called the Safari Snorkel. It has a air ram on the top instead of another air filter. It serves a dual purpose in that it obviously provides an extended air intake when we drive through deep water, but its main purpose is to provide the engine with cool clean air, being far away from the wheels and the dust, therefore reducing fuel consumption and extending air filter and engine life in general. Having a ram at the end of the snorkel further helps to provide ample air as needed by the engine Our vehicle is a turbocharged diesel and therefore the affect of this is not so great, but with naturally aspirated and petrol engines the affect is astonishing. It might cost a few rand (approximately R2400,00), but this modification is definitely worth it.

Windscreen wipers


This idea came from Andrew St.Pierre White's book, The Complete Guide to a Four-Wheel Drive in Southern Africa, 2000/01 Edition, (ISBN 0-620-24184-5), page no. 123, and works more or less as follows "You attach two wiper blades on each wiper arm and run a brass pipe from the water outlet, up the arm, to spray the water between the wiper blades. A brass bolt is then used to attach two wiper blades to the arm and a thin brass tube is glued underneath the arm. Another brass tube is used to run the water from the outlet to the wiper arm. In order to allow the wiper arm to move, a short length of clear plastic hose is used to join the two brass pipes. To create a jet at the end of the brass pipe, crimp the end so as to narrow the aperture. The windscreen is then conditioned with RainX and lastly a tablespoon of window cleaning detergent is poured into the water reservoir. This system remains effective no matter how thick the insects or mud are splattered onto the windscreen."

Although fairly time consuming, the modification was done with relative ease and works extremely well. The only part that was troublesome and which was not dealt with in Andrew's book, much to my annoyance, is where you find the replacement for the original jet, as the water flow needs to be split. Eventually I concocted something using sprinkler connections, but if anyone knows where I can find something better they must let me know.


Incidentally, I have found Andrew's book very useful and would recommend it to any off-road adventurer as it contains tons of useful stuff. You will also find his website very useful. If you have a moment, be sure to look it up at http://www.4xforum.co.za

Spot lights

Driving in Africa after dark is never a good idea, but sometimes you just can't help it. When this happens you want to have good light, which is why we have two additional 100 Watt "driving" spotlights mounted on the bull bar in front of the radiator grill and wired into the "brights" circuit on the main headlamps. These help a lot but we could probably do with some more, mounted on the roof rack.

Land Rover reverse lights are not the greatest, which is why we installed a Hella "work light" above the rear door, mounted onto the roofrack. We also use this light when setting up camp as it swivels in all directions. I have rigged it so that we can switch it on from the drivers seat as well as at the light. As this light has worked so well I got our trusty friend, Nic Ellender to help me make a bracket and mounted another Hella worklight on the roofrack support next to the windscreen on the passenger side. This light is controlled from a switch mounted onto the front console. This light is great for setting up camp or viewing something next to the road while driving. These lights are unfortunately rather power hungry at 100 Watts each, so I will be changing the bulbs to 55 Watts in the near future. 100 Watts is to bright for a worklight in any event, in my opinion.

Other lighting


Camping in the dark can be very trying. When setting up camp in the dark need lots of light. For this purpose we use a 300 Candle Power Cadac gas light running of our cooking gas cylinders. Once we have set up camp and want to relax, we haul out our trusty standard issue Paraffin "Storm Lantern", which makes a warm glow. These lanterns are cheap to run and cost a dime a dozen. The only drawback is storage, as they aren't particularly leak-proof - we are still working on this issue.

For reading in our tent or for working under the vehicle, we use neon "strip lights" which plugs into the various 12 Volt "pole plugs" we have all over the vehicle. Although not a very soft or yellow light like the gas and paraffin, it is good to read at and also low on power consumption (approximately 0,5 Amps per hour).



As long as we still have our vehicle, our money and passports will be safe, as we have a safe installed underneath the front console between the front seats. Although a bit tricky to open, it is well worth having that extra safety blanket. However, if our vehicle is stolen, we are pretty buggered.


Packing system

Prior to our departure we commissioned ARC in Cape Town to fit one of their packing systems in the rear load area of the Landie. It basically consists of an aluminium frame bolted onto a platform mounted over the wheel arches and rear load bay. Hinged onto this frame are two large plastic drawers on each side next to the windows, making good use of that difficult to load space in the rear corners of the Landie. These drawers are firmly latched down onto the platform whilst travelling and to access them (especially the bottom ones) they swing out to the centre of the load bay, therefore necessitating an empty central load bay when accessing these drawers. To get around this problem we store our large plastic kitchen box in the centre, which can very easily be removed. To keep the vehicle's centre of gravity down we use the bottom drawers for heavy food stuffs and the top ones we use for our clothes - one each, as they can be accessed from the top without removing the kitchen box.

For the rest we mostly use plastic "Ammo cases" under the platform in the rear loadbay and stacked onto the rear seat. Once stacked together they move very little, which is essential when travelling on dodgy African roads. We also use two metal trunks, locked and chained down on top of the roof rack for bulky but light odds and ends like wetsuits for scuba diving etc.

Having a good packing system, is essential when living out of your vehicle for several months. We have far from perfected ours, although we have packed and re-packed our entire vehicle a few hundred times since embarking on our journey. Finally most things seems to have its own place in the vehicle although our system is far from perfected. We'll keep at it until we get to the UK, I think.

Hot water shower and shower curtain

The paraffin hot water shower lives on the rear of the roofrack, where it is locked and bolted down with wing nuts for easy access when ablutions are less than desirable. When needed we simply hang it from the side of the roofrack, with one of our 25 litre water containers on top of a trunk on the roof rack, giving us a lovely hot water shower after a dusty overlanding day. When no one is around we shower in the buff, otherwise a shower curtain is suspended from a aluminium frame, extending from the roofrack.

Tools and Spares


Thanks to our good friend Richard Maspero, we carry a full Gedore toolkit, containing spanners, sockets, screw drivers, Allen keys, Vice grips, etc. Richard was kind enough to lend it to us for our trip, as he had little use for it at the time - Rich, I promise I will try to return it/most of it to you at the end of the trip.

In addition we also have a some hammers, including a rubber hammer as well as a 10 pound hammer which has already proved its usefulness in Chobe when we had to straighten the Landie's track rod. Another useful tool has been the pop rivet gun which we keep using on an ongoing basis along with the ever useful rechargeable 12 Volt drill. Files, a hacksaw, soldering iron and several other bits and pieces have also come in handy already.

The most useful tool we own is of course my Leatherman which Pen gave to me for my birthday just before embarking on this trip. For those who don't know it, it is basically a pocket knife on steroids. It contains amongst other things a pair of scissors as well as a pair of pliers - damn usefull when you want to fix something but don't feel like opening the whole toolbox, or just to open another beer.


Another one of ARC's nifty ideas was the aluminium toolbox which fits underneath the backseat. Although shallow, it is rather long being the with of the Landy and has loads of space for tools and all sorts. When not overlanding all our tools are packed in here, but for the time being we only keep heavy items like lubricants in here which we do not need on a day to day basis as it is a pain to get to it as you have to flip the rear seats forward to gain access, which isn't always possible with ammo cases and other stuff piled high. A good idea nevertheless especially if you want to utilise the dead space underneath the rear seat effectively for those who don't rip it out. The rest of our tools are kept in the neat Gedore toolbox which came with the tools Rich is lending me as well as another ammo case that contains all sorts of odds and ends.


Some people would recommend that an overlander carries a full set of spare parts for most of the vehicle. Some overlanders have even gone as far as carrying a spare gearbox and engine! Unfortunately this would necessitate taking and additional vehicle/trailer for the spare parts as well as costing more than our entire budget for our trip. We have therefor opted for taking as little as possible in this line and have resigned ourselves to limping/walking to the nearest town if anything "big" goes on the Landie. Fortunately there are very few things on the Landie that can't be fixed or patched with the help of our toolbox, detailed workshop manual a phone and DHL. The only thing we would have liked to carry is a set of diesel injectors, but at a cost of R1200 x 4, we have decided against it. Instead we add injector cleaner to our fuel on a regular basis, which seems to work fine. We also carry a number of assorted nuts and bolts, glues, etc., which can and have been used to fix anything that might go wrong.


As it can be fairly difficult to find the exact filters and lubricants you need when far from major towns, we also carry several diesel fuel filters, oil filters, and an air filter and enough lubricants for one change of everything including the oil in the diff's, power steering system, brake fluid and all of those easy to forget items. Except for topping up these fluids, we are hoping to keep these lubricants in reserve and will only need to change them when the vehicle is serviced at a recognised Land Rover agent, which we have done in the past and plan to keep doing in the future to prevent breakdowns wherever possible. In addition I inspect the vehicle on a regular basis including tightening of all those pesky nuts and bolts on the vehicle. I also carry a small grease gun which I use to grease the propshafts on a regular basis.




Unfortunately there is an endless list of accessories, spares and tools one might need and should take along, but at some point we had to draw a line and decide what we thought was absolutely necessary as we simply did not have the space or money to prepare ourselves for each and every eventuality. This is unfortunately the challenge all overlanders have to face, but it also makes it fun.