Most preppers have at some point asked themselves what the ultimate, most powerful, most affordable, bug out vehicle would be. If you are at a point of considering it a bug out vehicle, as a prepper, you’ve likely surpassed the point of needing to gather up your bug out essentials. However, if you haven’t, I suggest you start there. The prepper hierarchy means having a survival checklist that’s mostly “checked off” by the time you get to the survival vehicle.
Like so many things in prepping, a bug out vehicle is something that’s a subjective experience and based on personal needs and surrounding terrain. If you need to bug out in fast order, then depending on where you live and how many of you there are, you will need something unique to your circumstances. This is the same type of thinking we find with bug out bags.
What Is A Bug Out Vehicle
A bug out vehicle is a vehicle which allows you to escape perilous circumstances. The circumstances of the escape will presumably “drive” the specifications of the bug out vehicle.
Allow me to extend on that thought. If the dollar crashes and the global economy is compromised, riots and civil uprisings are likely to become a reality. If you are living in an urban city or will have to drive through one, you’d need to account for that when compiling the specifications of your survival vehicle. An economic collapse could mean your vehicle would need to be equipped for “war” type circumstances. If you are concerned because you live in earthquake country, your vehicle might need to be built for driving through broken glass, collapsed structures, and possible floods.
No one survival vehicle is the same. See how that works?
So the first step in deciding on a bug out vehicle is deciding what the heck you think you might need it for. Here are some considerations to make.
- Do you live in or near a major urban area?
- Do you live in a place that has winter?
- Do you live in earthquake country? (Oklahoma is now included)
- Do you live in Tornado alley?
- Do you live in a flood zone?
Bug Out Scenarios – Negotiating Statistics
When it comes to bugging out, one must consider the odds of catastrophe and prepare accordingly. Disasters such as tornadoes and earthquakes are very likely scenarios depending on where you live. Check out our how to survive a tornado series if you do live in earthquake country. While it has been a while since a major earthquake hit the United States, no one is arguing that one won’t hit. It is going to happen.
Now, the negotiation begins with scenarios that while likely, aren’t AS likely. For example, if the global economy crashes or an EMP attack happens.
Size Of Bug Out Vehicle
Size matters, no matter what she says (sorry, I had to). If you are just one guy with no family living in close proximity and no neighbors you care too much about, then you can definitely get away with a smaller size capacity vehicle. This will save you costs and allow for more space for bug out essentials.
The size of your bug out vehicle is likely the easiest part of the decision you will make. If you have a wife or husband and 3 children and an elderly mother in-law occupying a spare room, then you will need a place for each of these individuals to sit in the vehicle. Additionally, they all need food, first aid, water, and probably medicine. You can guarantee space needed for four bug out bags. If your normal packing for the airport for that family trip causes arguments because you can’t fit all the luggage, your current vehicle isn’t going to work out in a survival situation.
Bug Out Vehicle Gas Mileage
How far would you need to drive to safety? If you are a qualified homesteader who would just need to drive to the nearest desolate area, you could really ramp up to a tactical bug out vehicle. Here’s the thing, those big monster military bug out vehicles may look like the best of all worlds (designed for war, can tackle tough terrain, can carry a load of cargo and passengers) but they, unfortunately, come with one major flaw: They eat fuel. And if the global economy collapses, or an EMP attack goes down, you might not even have access to fuel. So you’d be running on your prepper fuel supplies.
Gas mileage will also be adversely affected by tough terrains, such as hills and driving over collapsed trees or structures.
Think of it this way, if you have a survival plan that includes you driving 300 miles to shelter, but your bug out vehicle only gets 200 miles on a tank, you might be carrying your old mother in-law 100 miles through the snowy mountains because you never considered gas mileage.
Should Your Bug Out Vehicle Use Diesel Or Gas?
Oh boy, time to get stressed and complicated. You probably already realize that regular gas is the most available fuel source commercially. Pending the fuel pumps remain in working order, regular gas would be everywhere. You might check out my how to siphon gas article to learn more on this matter.
Aside from that, diesel has some advantages. For one, you can make your own diesel fuel. Let’s really consider this for a moment. If your survival vehicle uses diesel and an EMP attack takes down the power grid and fuel pumps and ATM machines become fast relics of the past, you can make your own diesel fuel. And you might be thinking, “no way I learn to make my own diesel fuel right now.” That’s true, even avid preppers do have jobs and families and can’t just learn a ton of skills all the time. But, there are books available which teach you how to create your own diesel fuel. You should buy the books and just keep them with you. If you choose a diesel bug out vehicle, you will have a handy survival guide for creating more fuel.
This book is a must have book for any prepper who wants to embark on acquiring a bug out vehicle. Even if you choose the option of regular fuel, it is good to have this survival book handy. Education is prepping.
Secondly, you can just straight up by a biodiesel processor (nope, I’m not kidding). Amazon has biodiesel processors for sale. They are pricey, but as a prepper, if you can afford one, you are seriously good shape with your bug out vehicle.
Having the capacity to create your own fuel would be a major prepping advantage in a post-apocalyptic world.
With that Biodiesel processor, you can get 100 gallons of fuel every 23 hours. That’s well more than you’d likely need. Additionally, it eliminates your concerns about gas mileage.
Now, it is over 600 pounds, so the BioPro 380EX would need storage capacity in your bug out vehicle, but man, it would sure be worth it.
Obviously, this isn’t an option for most people. However, I think it helps give insight as to whether or not you choose Diesel or Regular Gas.
But can’t I just use some prepper tools and open up the gas tanks?
This is a highly popular question (and a reasonable one). The answer is yes, and very much, NO. You can open some fuel pumps and loot the gas, but there are a few issues with that. First, you might be in a legit war for gas. You will not be the only one with such an idea and additionally, others may not have compassion or regards for you and your family’s life in such a survival situation. Additionally and most importantly, regular fuel tends to go bad. So you’d be limited in your time span to get to that fuel. At some point, even if you are a tactical military type that could win out under circumstances of civil unrest, the fuel wouldn’t even be an option. If you put bad fuel in your bug out vehicle, it can ruin the vehicle. And I’m pretty sure an EMP attack or global crisis will take out Pep Boys as an option to fix your fuel pump.
Bug Out Vehicle Gasifier
So, there is another option. You could run that survival vehicle off of wood. Here’s another solid survival book every prepper should own.
This book details the installation and operation of a biomass gasifier unit. Essentially, it is a wood gas generator. Yes, you’d learn to make gas from wood. In a survival situation, wood would likely be readily available.
From the book’s description: “These instructions have been prepared as a manual for use by any mechanic who is reasonably proficient in metal fabrication or engine repair.”
Here’s a great watch on Wood Gas Generation
Bug Out Vehicle Repairs
Ok, when choosing a bug out vehicle, you have the gas part down. Your old mother in-law has a seat. Bug out bag storage is not an issue. But what if this thing breaks down? Well, your capacity to fix vehicles becomes relatively important. I can’t teach you that overnight. But, I can say this, you can’t fix what you can’t get parts for use. If you get a foreign vehicle that you always have to order parts for in order to repair it, you’ll be in trouble.
Additionally, for any survival vehicle, one needs to consider having back up or spare parts. You’re a prepper, you probably already know this. When considering a bug out vehicle, see how easy it would be to get basic spare parts. This is your first move.
Bug Out Vehicle EMP Protection
Many people think that an EMP attack is based on conspiracy theory. It is not. North Korea is more than capable of launching an EMP attack and taking out our power grid. The sun is also more than capable.
The first method of protection against an EMP attack for your bug out vehicle is to not go modern. Too many modern vehicles run off of computer systems. I mean, if an EMP attack happened and your door locks and engine ignition started by way of your fingerprint or a remote, you’d have no vehicle (at least the possibility of a dead vehicle would exist). Buying less modern can help protect you from such hazards.
Bugging Out Off Road
Your vehicle should be able to take on off road terrain. Sure, if you are a prepper that lives in Chicago proper, you will need to make sure you can navigate urban threats, but don’t underestimate having some need for off roading. If society collapses, roads will no longer be maintained. Your tires are going to matter. 4 Wheel Drive would matter. Having a lift kit could matter (think debris and floods).
In conclusion, what matters most is that you, as a prepper, take it all into consideration and come out with a bug out vehicle that makes sense for your current and future circumstances. Just like survival knives, you can never ever win every battle. You can only get the best fit for you.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.
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