Do You Need Lockers for Overlanding?

Do You Need Lockers for Overlanding?

Overlanding allows you to conquer all sorts of terrain that most vehicles couldn’t even begin to drive on. From rocky pathways to snow-coated landscapes, it’s important that your wheels are working together to pull you through to the other side. Lockers are an excellent tool to lock your axle in place to just make both wheels both cooperatively.

So, do you need lockers for Overlanding? No, you don’t need lockers for Overlanding, but they definitely help. You can drive over all sorts of terrain with AWD or 4WD, but lockers will assist your wheels quite a bit. If you have a 2WD vehicle, lockers are nearly an absolute must for sticky situations.

Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following about Overlanding lockers:

  • Whether or not your vehicle will need lockers
  • Several alternative solutions
  • Price estimates and ways to save money

Are Lockers Required for Overlanding?

As mentioned above, lockers are incredibly useful for vehicles when they’re going off-road, but they’re not quite necessary. You don’t need to have them installed when you’re Overlanding, but there’s no denying the convenience that they provide.

Imagine yourself rolling over gravel and large chunks of rock that extend for miles on end. You might not need lockers, but 4WD or AWD is definitely useful. However, if you start driving over uneven land, then lockers become more and more usable.

The main reason that people get lockers on their Overlanding vehicles is for peace of mind more than anything else. You don’t want or intend to get stuck in a bad situation, but having a locked axle forces both wheels to work hard rather than the lifted one.

On a typical vehicle, the tire with the least pressure spins the most. This process is natural and usually beneficial for fuel efficiency, but it can be terrible when you’re driving off-road. What can happen is your only tire that’s lifted will be spinning in the air while the rest are in one spot.

This problem doesn’t happen nearly as often if you have 4WD or AWD because the rest of the tires continue to spin. Since they’re all working equally as hard, you’ll get yourself out of the rut in no time. However, 2WD vehicles don’t have such luxuries.

To be straight-forward, you should absolutely get lockers if you’re Overlanding with a 2WD vehicle. The problem is that most people don’t even consider doing it since it’s nearly impossible and very uncomfortable. However, lockers are still useful in a pinch on AWD and 4WD vehicles as well.

Note: You have to make sure that your vehicle will work with lockers before you buy them. Some cars don’t even have an option to use lockers enough to make them worth the investment. Compact cars and minivans are two types to name.

Overland Locker Types & Alternatives

According to Overland Bound, these lockers come in three main types:

  1. Rear Differential Locks – these are ideal if you’re driving through soft terrain that forces you to slide and skid around, such as sand. If you’re rolling around on the beach in your overlander vehicle, then rear differential locks will allow you to take control of the rear axle by locking them together for tight turns.
  2. Center Differential Locks – these are designed to allow all four tires to work together without impairing the turning ratio. It fits in the center and acts as an assistant to your AWD or 4WD system. You’ll find this type of locker useful in light snowOpens in a new tab., mud, and other types of slippery terrain.
  3. Front Locks – these are made for slow driving over bumpy, rocky terrain. If you’re going off the beaten path and you want to explore, the front locks will be your new go-to choice. Since you’re not moving too quickly, it puts the power and control towards the front of the vehicle.

If you still don’t want to use lockers for your Overlanding vehicle, then you should probably consider using the AWD or 4WD capabilities. Let’s break down how each of them can be helpful in different scenarios:

4WD Overlander Vehicles

4WD (Four-wheel drive) is when all four of your wheels are used to propel and control the vehicle. This is incredibly useful if you don’t want to rely on only the rear or front wheels. The power is doubled; therefore, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get stuck in one spot. The only downside of 4WD is that it’s not so good on gas mileage.

AWD Overlander Vehicles

AWD (All-wheel drive) is a common preference among the Overlander community. It’s pretty much the same concept as 4WD, aside from the fact that your vehicle will always be using every wheel. 4WD gives you the option to only use two or all four tires, whereas AWD is always using all four tires no matter what.

Common Questions

If you’re shopping for a new locker for your Overland vehicle, then you’re probably concerned about how much they cost, whether or not you need them, and how long they last. Among other questions, let’s examine the common inquiries that people have about lockers.

  1. How much do Overlanding lockers cost? They usually cost between $350 to $3,000, depending on the company, quality, and positioning. If you’re buying rear diff lockers, you’ll have to pay a separate price from front and center lockers. However, it’s safe to say that the average price is about $1,500 to $1,800.
  2. Are they necessary? As you’ve read above, you don’t need to use lockers in order to go off-road and overland. However, they’re a huge benefit if you want to ensure your safety and the performance of your vehicles. Lockers can also transform a 2WD vehicle into an off-road capable vehicle.
  3. How long do they last? Locking differentials last as long as most other car parts. If you take care of them, you can get up to 5 to 10 years out of them. Misuse and bad driving habits can reduce their lifespan, so make sure that you’re using them correctly. Don’t try to lock your wheels if you never plan to drive off-road.
  4. Are they difficult to drive with? No, but you have to get used to the feeling. As with all vehicle mods, driving with locking differentials will change the way you handle your vehicle. Don’t expect anything crazy, but you’ll just feel like you have more power at the cost of speed (in most cases).
  5. Are they illegal? No, not at all. Locking differentials are a safe vehicle modification that doesn’t have any legal limits. However, if you intend to weld locking differentials onto your vehicle, you could be breaking the law. Make sure that you verify with local law enforcement prior to welding lockers.

All of these questions might prevent you from buying lockers for your overlander vehicle, but rest assured that they’re very useful. The answers should’ve been enough to prove their effectiveness as well as their legality.


Lockers for overlander vehicles are a great addition that will broaden the places that you can drive. Whether you’re cruising in a beefed-up 4WD off-road truck or trying to drive through rocky terrain on a small 2WD car, they offer more than enough power to keep you going.

Here’s a list of takeaways from the post:

  • Lockers aren’t required for Overlanding, but they definitely help quite a bit.
  • If you drive a 4WD or AWD vehicle, lockers aren’t as necessary.
  • Even a 2WD car can be modified to go off-road with a good set of lockers.


Jeremy Hoxie

Born and raised in beautiful Northern Michigan, I've have spent two decades enjoying everything the outdoors has to offer. When not working on RigForge, I spend my time Overlanding and tackling off-road trails while sharing my experiences and testing gear along the way. My current rig is a 2013 Jeep JKU Moab.

Recent Content