I’ve learned a lot in the last few months, I’ve made some mistakes, like when I almost put my Wrangler into a ravine, or when I found myself surrounded on either side by mud-bogged Jeeps during a trail ride.

Obviously, I still have a lot to learn and plenty of mistakes to be made.

Probably the most important thing I learned this year was to come prepared for the worst. That means having the right equipment to get yourself or your friends free.

When my brother and I found ourselves slipping off a rocky trail in the Iron Range, a winch could have saved us the embarrassment of having to beg for help. We got lucky, and some good samaritans came along happy to help. But, what if they hadn’t? What if we’d been 100 miles from help?

Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about where to take the Project Wrangler series in 2017.

In the last six months, I have become enamored with overland travel.

I love to travel, but I don’t care to jump on a plane. For me, the value of travel is often found in the journey itself.

Sometimes just reaching your destination is an adventure in itself, and that is why, in 2017, Project Wrangler will shift its focus away from off-roading to overlanding.

Often overlanding takes routes that venture well off the beaten path so having the right equipment to overcome those challenges is key.

For more thoughts on overlanding check out our 2017 Plans for Adventure.

The shortlist

There are four major upgrades I plan to make to my rig next year to prepare for longer multi-day journeys through the backcountry.

  1. Rock Sliders – While I do enjoy a Little Rock crawling from time to time, my plan to replace the plastic side steps on my Jeep with heavy-duty rock sliders has more to do with general protection. For now, my rig is also my daily driver so preventing damage is a priority. – $250-$300
  2. A winch – after nearly losing my vehicle off road in the iron range, I have moved a winch along with a handful other recovery gear to the top of my shopping list. It’s hard to enjoy yourself with your vehicle disabled. – $400-$600
  3. Tires – Whether or not I replace the tires on my Jeep next year really depends on how my current set wear. I know I’ll be moving up to a set of 33-inch tires (275/70R18), but I haven’t made up my mind on which set (leave your thoughts in the comments below). I am considering a set BF Goodrich KO2s, General Grabber AT2s or Nitto’s new Ridge Grapplers. – $1100
  4. Storage – The footlocker in the back of my Jeep may be functional, but it’s not all that practical. I plan to fabricate a simple sliding drawer system with a three-inch false floor. – estimated cost $200

2017’s Project Wrangler series will take on a distinctly different tact than in 2016. A roof rack, new tent, and additional lighting are all in the works, but they will take a back seat to protection, recovery, capability, and convenience.

Stay tuned for the 2016 Project Wrangler Recap early in the new year!