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A shade and light solution for group overlanding. This solution allows multi-vehicle groups to create dedicated spaces for gathering during day or night rest periods.


Fourth Year Capstone Project


8 months

Final Report >


Overview; What is Overlanding?

The first overlanding excursion was done in Australia from 1906 to 1910, where Alfred Canning transported livestock over 1500 km. Over the years overlanding has become an experience about adventure, self-reliance, and enjoying the journey. It involves using mechanized vehicles, from motorbikes to trucks, to venture out into nature and survive in the wilderness. Overlanders can go through various unexplored or under-explored terrains like forests, mountains, and/or deserts.

The overlanding experience lends itself well to creating valuable shared experiences. It can be a very social hobby/lifestyle; people come together due to their shared interest in modifying vehicles, off roading, camping, etc. This creates a sense of comradery among overlanders. Social media and online forums are a key part of connecting overlanding communities, not only for sharing stories and advice, but also for planning excursions. It is not uncommon for overlanders to travel in separate rigs, having parties of two or more vehicles. Overlanders can go out in varying group sizes, from 2 travelers to 15 or more. Trips can be simple day trips or multi-day trips where hundreds of kilometers are traveled each day.
Going out in groups does not only make for good company and good memories - there are several reasons to overland in a group setting. There is a mutual benefit when particular vehicles carry extra tools, food, or camping equipment that may be used by everyone in the group. It is also important to go out in groups so that one vehicle does not risk getting stranded. Also, there are different kinds of group overlanding; some overlanders like to bring their family and close friends on trips, where others enjoy going out with other experienced overlanders. 

Even though overlanding can be done in groups each vehicle usually has its own stand-alone camping set-up. This makes it difficult for overlanders in multi-rig groups to find rest set-ups that facilitate social connections. How might we get overlanders to more easily connect with one another?

Product Research

There is a number of existing products that allow overlanders to interact with one another and connect - whether they communicate through online forums, physically convene under an awning, or even with a simple card game. I looked at existing products that are used in ways that get overlanders to interact with one another. Products like spot locators, radios, propane fire pits, lighting elements, awnings, camp tables, and simple games like cards or Jenga. Products that stuck out to me were awnings and lighting elements (lanterns, string lights, propane fire pits)

After deciding to design a shade and light solution for group overlanding I did additional research on current products/solutions and technologies used. Most shade solutions seem adequate at a glance since awnings can fit multiple people under them, but they are still limited to only being accessible for a single vehicle. Some awnings even come with walls that come down and create a closed space, isolating one rig from others. There is currently no awning that allows multiple rigs to connect with one another.

For lighting solutions, most products only create enough light for one person as opposed to a group. For example we can look at flashlights, headlamps, and lanterns which only emit about 35 to 100 lumens, which is only adequate for about one person. Illuminating a large space for a group would require about 300 lumens of light. String lights can accommodate larger spaces and groups of people, but prove to be cumbersome to set up - especially since every campsite will require a different lighting scheme.


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How might we foster community among overlanders?

Form Exploration

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Using rapid low-fidelity prototypes to explore different forms for a vehicle mounted awning that would allow several vehicles to connect with one another.

Proof of Concept

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Using PVC and tubular steel to verify that the desired form could be achieved. This prototype was made at 1/3rd scale.



Several prototypes were used to gain knowledge on different aspects of the design. 1/18th scale models were made to evaluate the intuitiveness of connecting vehicles. Hinge mechanisms were 3D printed to test the strength of high-friction joints. And several flat patterns were made in order to achieve the desired form when the awning is deployed.

Definitive Design

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Final Design

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