With an uncer­tain future on the hori­zon, it’s time to start tak­ing pre­cau­tions for your fam­i­ly if you have not already. A bug-out vehi­cle is a cru­cial part of any emer­gency or sur­vival plan. This arti­cle will teach you how to build your own, buy one, or plan out what type of vehi­cle would work best for you and your fam­i­ly in var­i­ous sit­u­a­tions so that when shit hits the fan you are ready!

To be fair, I am writ­ing this post, think­ing most­ly about SUVs, pick­up trucks, box trucks, bug-out trail­ers, etc.  I am not real­ly focus­ing on Bug Out Bikes, motor­cy­cles, hand-pulled carts, cross coun­try skis, boats, etc.  I just want to set expec­ta­tions.  I mean your Bug Out Vehi­cle could be a shop­ping cart for all I know… But like I said, we’ll focus on the SUV(ish) BOV today.  For most peo­ple the car, truck, van, or SUV is going to be the most com­mon mode of trans­porta­tion, bar­ring an EMP that may dis­able many vehi­cle types.

What Type of Vehicle Should I Buy?

A bug-out vehi­cle is a cru­cial part of any emer­gency or sur­vival plan. When I was sin­gle, my Bug Our Vehi­cle was my 1990 Jeep YJ. Now mar­ried to Mrs. Prep­per, and hav­ing Kid­do Prep­per run­ning all around the house, today I have a bare­ly mod­i­fied 2018 Toy­ota 4Runner as my get out of dodge vehi­cle. I know some of you are curs­ing me because you may think I need a pre-1980 some­thing in the event of an EMP. While I’ve writ­ten a bit about EMPs in the past, I am less wor­ried about them today than I am a cyber­at­tack on our pow­er grid, or a phys­i­cal attack on the major sub­sta­tions through­out the coun­try tak­ing down parts or all of our grid. To me, these are more viable options than spread­ing radi­a­tion glob­al­ly…

There are three main types of vehi­cles that would be opti­mal as a bug-out car: The Bug Out Vehi­cle You Already Own If you have an exist­ing high clear­ance truck then this could already be the per­fect bug-out car solu­tion for you. Be sure to check with local laws on whether it can actu­al­ly be used off-road because some­times cer­tain trucks can­not leave city roads due to their height or oth­er restric­tions. If you have an SUV or wag­on, these can also be great bug-out vehi­cles as long as they have some off-road capa­bil­i­ties and are able to car­ry the nec­es­sary sup­plies. 

If your only mode of trans­porta­tion is a small car, don’t wor­ry – there are options for you as well! You could con­sid­er pur­chas­ing a trail­er that can attach to your car which would give you more space for sup­plies. The down­side to this option is that it will lim­it your mobil­i­ty if SHTF if you do have to go off-road.

A note on oth­er types of vehi­cles.  Scott B. Williams an author who wrote the book “Bug Out: The Com­plete Plan for Escap­ing a Cat­a­stroph­ic Dis­as­ter Before It’s Too Late” is par­tial to motor­cy­cles due to their agili­ty.  Don’t lim­it your­self if a lift­ed off-road vehi­cle does not fit your needs for your­self.  There are many options out there

Buying a Bug-Out Vehicle

The Bug Out Vehi­cle You Need To Buy if you have the bud­get, and do not already own one is a “high clear­ance vehi­cle with off-road capa­bil­i­ties.” This is what I did with my 1990 Jeep. It was already lift­ed… I did put a rebuilt motor and trans­mis­sion in it. I also pulled out the back seat and put in a steel Tuffy box for secu­ri­ty. Put on a new spare tire car­ri­er, rock climb­ing bull bar, etc.

Your Bug-Out Vehi­cle does not have to be a mon­ster truck, just one with some ground clear­ance so that if you do have to go off-road a bit, rocks, stumps, etc don’t take you out of the game of get­ting to a bug out loca­tion. These types of vehi­cles can often be found used and at a frac­tion of the price of buy­ing new. Be sure to do your research and find a vehi­cle that is right for your needs, is mechan­i­cal­ly sound, and that you are com­fort­able dri­ving your fam­i­ly in. Some fac­tors you may want to con­sid­er are the size of the vehi­cle, how many peo­ple it can hold, off-road capa­bil­i­ties, fuel effi­cien­cy, and stor­age capac­i­ty.  In hind­sight, I most­ly impulse pur­chased my Jeep.  Had I done more research, I like­ly would have cho­sen a dif­fer­ent SUV…

If you have not already built or pur­chased one, this arti­cle will teach you how to build your own, buy one, or plan out what type of vehi­cle would work best for you and your fam­i­ly in var­i­ous sit­u­a­tions so that when SHTF, you are ready!  Places I gen­er­al­ly look these days to find a good used vehi­cle for Bug­ging Out would be craigslist and Face­book Mar­ket­place.  I use FB Mar­ket­place more than CL today, but CL is still wor­thy of look­ing at, in case you find some­thing that is wor­thy of your cash.

Building a Bug-Out Vehicle

I guess you could say my Jeep was a hybrid of Buy and Build. I think most peo­ple will be in the same boar… How­ev­er, if you are mechan­i­cal­ly inclined (I am not) you may want to go out buy your base vehi­cle and start out­fit­ting it… Build­ing your own bug-out vehi­cle may be the best option for you and your fam­i­ly depend­ing on the size of your fam­i­ly, the num­ber of prepa­ra­tions you may be trans­port­ing, the ter­rain you are trans­port­ing over, etc. This can be a great project to work on with your fam­i­ly and friends – every­one can pitch in and help build the per­fect bug-out car for YOUR needs. There are end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties when it comes to cre­at­ing a DIY bug-out car – from mod­i­fy­ing an exist­ing vehi­cle to con­struct­ing some­thing com­plete­ly new from scratch. If you decide to build a vehi­cle from scratch, be sure that the mate­ri­als and tools need­ed are avail­able in an SHTF sit­u­a­tion for repair and replace­ment. I used to car­ry spare parts in my Jeep, as well as a set of tools just in case I need­ed an ad-hoc repair.

What Type of Fuel Should I Use?

Anoth­er impor­tant fac­tor to con­sid­er is what type of fuel your bug-out car will run on. The three main types of fuels for vehi­cles include Gaso­line, Diesel, and Elec­tric Hybrid. In gen­er­al, gaso­line is going to have greater stor­age capac­i­ty than diesel but it’s also flam­ma­ble so there’s a high­er risk if not han­dled prop­er­ly or acci­den­tal­ly ignit­ed. A hybrid could actu­al­ly work well as a bug-out vehi­cle because they get good gas mileage which would increase the range before need­ing refu­el­ing while still being able to car­ry plen­ty of sup­plies with room over! They can also switch to elec­tric mode if the sit­u­a­tion allows for it. So, what’s the best fuel for your bug-out car? I have prep­per friends that swear you need a diesel-fueled vehi­cle, and noth­ing else. It real­ly depends on your needs and what is avail­able to you in an SHTF sit­u­a­tion, what you are com­fort­able with, and where you may or may not be able to store an addi­tion­al vehi­cle and fuel.

What Should I Pack in My Bug-Out Vehicle?

Now that you’ve decid­ed on a type of bug-out car, it’s time to start pack­ing it with gear for the road! The list of items you’ll need will vary depend­ing on your spe­cif­ic needs but some basics include:

  • food
  • water
  • IFAK/first aid kit
  • firearms (local laws apply)
  • ammu­ni­tion (local laws apply)
  • defen­sive weapons (local laws apply)
  • shel­ter
  • tools
  • cook­ing uten­sils
  • hygiene prod­ucts
  • cash
  • extra gas cans
  • Maps of the local area(s) you are start­ing from and going to
  • sun­glass­es
  • sun­screen
  • insect repel­lent
  • Mul­ti­ples copies of impor­tant doc­u­ments such as birth cer­tifi­cates, social secu­ri­ty cards, etc.

In addi­tion to the basics, some oth­er items you may want to con­sid­er include:

  • farm­ing sup­plies
  • hunt­ing equip­ment
  • canoes or kayaks
  • fish­ing gear
  • tools for repairs
  • clothes and footwear
  • blan­kets
  • duct tape
  • road flares
  • jumper cables
  • etc…

My 4Runner has enough gear in it that my Get Home Bag can also act as a Bug Out Bag, and has many (sans guns, ammo, etc due to state laws) in it ready to go at a moment’s notice. This will like­ly be repli­cat­ed with a new Bug Out Vehi­cle that can bet­ter serve the entire fam­i­ly in the future.

A Quick Note on Bug Out Locations

What if SHTF while I am away from home? It’s impor­tant that your bug-out plan and vehi­cle are ready to go, and this includes get­ting to your bug-out loca­tion where the rest of your fam­i­ly will meet after leav­ing their homes. This is espe­cial­ly cru­cial if there are chil­dren involved – they won’t be able to trav­el as far so it’s best to have a safe place picked out already for fall­back or ren­dezvous! Have mul­ti­ple fall­backs and/or bug-out loca­tions in mind just in case one becomes com­pro­mised some­how whether by weath­er, dis­as­ter, or human inter­ven­tion. Your meet­ing spot should also be eas­i­ly acces­si­ble by whichev­er mode of trans­porta­tion you choose — don’t pick an area that would require a long hike from your bug-out vehi­cle if you can.

Conclusion What should I do now?

So, what are you wait­ing for! Whether it’s build­ing or buy­ing – get start­ed on cre­at­ing or acquir­ing the per­fect bug-out car today and always remem­ber to leave your­self an out when prep­ping because the best-laid plans don’t gen­er­al­ly sur­vive first con­tact with a SHTF sit­u­a­tion.

Start think­ing about how you’ll create/acquire a BOV of your own right away! You can also begin research­ing loca­tions where you could meet up after leav­ing home if SHTF while still at work/school/etc. These places should be eas­i­ly acces­si­ble by whichev­er mode of transportation(s) is used in case every­one leaves their homes at dif­fer­ent times so they won’t all arrive togeth­er.


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