Do You Need a Bug Out Vehicle?


You don’t need to spend much time online, studying prepping and survival, before you’ll find people posting pictures of bug out vehicles. These could be pictures of their personal vehicles on a forum or an article by someone listing the “10 Best Bug Out Vehicles.” Those might range from the Ripsaw E2V, a personal tank, to the Mercedes-Banz Unimog, with a James Bond vehicle, like the Gibbs Quadski Amphibious vehicle thrown in the middle.

It doesn’t take looking at too many of those pictures to start you wondering if you might just need one of them parked in your garage (assuming they’ll fit). I mean, a South African Puma infantry fighting vehicle might make for a really cool bug out vehicle, but where would you park it? How would you keep it out of the sight of your neighbors? Do you have a Batcave somewhere, where you could keep your own personal Batmobile?

Taking it down a couple of notches, you see a lot of people who have four-wheel-drive trucks and SUVs for their bug out vehicles. That’s at least a civilian vehicle, making it a much more reasonable option. But with the way some people are decking out their 4x4s, it’s a dead giveaway what they are.

Granted, we all need a bug out plan and that has to include some sort of a vehicle. But do you really need a dedicated bug out vehicle, that’s set to protect you from zombies and run over all the other vehicles parked on the highways?

First of all, you need to think in realistic terms. Part of that is thinking of OPSEC. If you are the only guy on your block who has an armored personnel carrier sitting in their driveway, it’s just a bit obvious. But that Jeep you wanted with the oversized tires and the snorkel for fording rivers might be just about as obvious, especially when the SHTF. A lot depends on where you live, where you are going to bug out to and what other people are driving.

If you live in Texas, nobody will think anything about you driving a big 4×4 truck, with a brush-guard on the front and a bumper big enough to take on a six-inch tree. Probably a good 25 percent of the vehicles on the road look something like that, and if you include all the Jeeps and other SUVs, you can boost that percentage to somewhere near 50 percent.

But if you live in New York City, people are likely to wonder why you have that brush-guard, winch and dual spare tires on your 4×4 truck. That’s a bit unusual in those parts. For that matter, any 4×4 trucks that aren’t sporting the name of some company on the sides, like an advertising billboard, are a bit rare in that part of the country.

What do You Really Need?

While you might need a vehicle to bug out in, the first requirement has to be stealth, not the ability to be driven up the wall of a building in the concrete jungle. Pretty much any vehicle can be used to bug out; and if a normal car won’t make it, chances are that a four-wheel-drive one won’t either. The perception that a jeep can climb anything is largely a false perception. Yes, they can go places normal cars can’t; but they can’t go literally anywhere.

So let’s look at this from a different point of view, rather than having something that you can drive over zombies with. That is if you really do have to bug out, what does your vehicle need to have, in order for your family to bug out effectively?

  • Enough room for everyone in the family, including your pets
  • Enough cargo space to carry your bug out bags and any other equipment and supplies you’ve determined you’re bringing on your bug out
  • Good gas mileage (gas will become scarce)
  • Good range (this is a combination of the gas mileage and the size of the fuel tank)
  • Runs really good (you don’t want to break down)
  • A real spare tire (not just a donut)
  • Tools for emergency repairs
  • In excellent mechanical order (so it doesn’t break down)
  • Nondescript (won’t advertise you are preppers)
  • You own it free and clear (no payments, no loan, nothing to repossess)

If you can accomplish all that, and have the Jeep or pickup truck you have been dreaming about, go for it. But if not, you might have to forego the cool looking bug out vehicle, in favor of having something that really meets your needs.

It may sound like I’m opposed to the idea of trucks and SUVs, but I’m not. If I could go out and buy any car I wanted today, it would be one or the other. What I am opposed to is buying such a vehicle, just because you think you’re supposed to, when it isn’t practical for meeting your family’s needs. Like everything else in prepping, you have to figure out what fits your family’s needs and budget.

However, I will say this in favor of those pickup trucks and SUVs, they can go some places a car can’t. if you find yourself in a position where you have to go off-road, you’ll be glad for the extra high ground clearance. If you find some mud while you’re off-road, you’ll be glad for the four-wheel-drive. But unless your bug out route demonstrates the possibility of having to do that, you really don’t need it.

Prepping Your Bug Out Vehicle

Whatever vehicle you plan on using as a bug out vehicle will probably need to be prepped for the task. Don’t just assume that you can take the family sedan or mini-van and throw your bug out bags in it. While you can do that, it isn’t the best possible plan.

I’m going to assume that your bug out vehicle is going to be something that gets driven every day. After all, few of us can afford a vehicle that just sits ready in the garage, like the bat mobile, just waiting till we need to bug out. With that being the case, your bug out vehicle should always be in excellent mechanical order, with oil changes and other maintenance kept up to date. The fuel tank should never go below half full and there should be enough gas in cans in your garage to be able to fill it the rest of the way.

In addition, you should keep some emergency equipment in this vehicle. That way you won’t have to stop and pack those items; or even worse, forget them.

  • First-aid trauma kit
  • A couple of gallons of water
  • Jumper cables
  • Tow strap
  • Tool kit
  • Toilet paper and paper towels
  • Bungee cords (for strapping more stuff on the outside, aka “The Beverly Hillbillies”)
  • EDC with a good set of survival equipment
  • Knife (always useful)
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Phone charger
  • Spare ammo for your primary weapons
  • Work gloves

The idea here is to have enough to survive on, if you can’t get to your bug out bag or if you’re trying to get home in the face of a disaster. That might seem like a rather extensive list, but it’s really not. It could all fit in a couple of boxes, leaving plenty of room for your bug out bags, or your groceries.

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