When asked to imagine the ultimate post-apocalypse vehicle the mind immediate conjures images of road beasts, armored and defended against the worst, capable of crawling over any terrain, tasked with the sole purpose of taking its owner far and away from the crumbling civilization. While such an ideal piece of machinery is the dream of every prepper, cost more often than not douses those dreams with a cold shower of reality and practicality. For the majority, that bug out vehicle (BOV) will likely be the same grocery-getter depended on for morning commutes and taking the kids and forth to soccer practice.
Because the everyday car, truck or SUV will be the BOV for most preppers it’s doubtful the vehicle will be sitting, at the ready, with all supplies packed and stowed. If that was the case, there’d be no room for bags of groceries, duffels of sports gear or the average 2.5 kids. But that’s no reason to not get a head start and make sure the car is ready for the general roadside emergency at the same time.
Roadside Emergency Prep
Since most people cannot afford a separate, dedicated bug-out vehicle and the day to day car can’t be packed full of emergency foods and tanks of water all the time, some dual purpose strategizing is called for. The same equipment every vehicle should have on hand in the event of any given roadside emergency will also be needed should bugging-out become necessary. Keep the car packed with the following;
- Tools: a general toolkit including; screwdrivers (Philips and flat head), ratchet set, adjustable pliers, crescent wrench, vise grips, wire cutters, hammer, electrical tape, pocket knife. A quality multiplier may replace some of these.
- Fluids: Antifreeze, 2 quarts motor oil, brake and transmission fluid, washer fluid, WD-40
- Car manual and/or repair manual
- Jumper Cables and/or emergency battery jumper
- Extra fuses
- Tire gauge
- Car jack, lug wrench and/or tire iron
- Inflated, full-size, spare tire
- Roll of duct tape
- Rope and/or other tie downs
- Pair of work gloves
- Spare rags and/or paper towels and roll of toilet paper
- First aid kit
- Bottled water and some energy or granola-type bars
- Blankets and/or mylar emergency blanket
- Ice scraper
- Roadside flares
- Flashlight with fresh batteries
- Plastic shopping bags
- Pen/pencil and paper
- Tire inflator
- Emergency reflectors or flashing light(s)
Many of these items are included in ready-made emergency kits available online and at various retail locations. These can be supplement with personal equipment and tools. Be sure to maintain batteries, replace food and water every couple of months and ensure fluid do not expire or containers leak.
Once the daily car is set up to weather through a roadside emergency begin planning for all the other needs for a true bug-out situation. The rule of thumb for bugging-out is to ensure the everyone has enough to survive for the first 3 days of a disaster. When it comes to preparing for a BOV escape, think bug-out bag and scale up. A BOV allows for additional supplies a backpack simply cannot handle. While still sticking to the same emergency essentials and being aware of weight and available space a vehicle allows for packing away a larger, sturdier tent, more supplies of water, food and medical supplies, along with additional cooking supplies and fuel. All these items can be prepacked (in plastic, Rubbermaid type bins, for example) and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Aside from the BOV supplies, the vehicle itself matters. Regular maintenance is important. In order for it to get the family where they need to go, it’s vital to have reliable transportation and regular maintenance will go a long way to ensuring the car, truck or minivan will function when needed. Regularly change the oil, rotate and replace tires when needed, flush fluids at standard intervals, and address minor problems before they become serious, costly ones.
The Specialized BOV
Beyond having a basic vehicle, one that will take everyone out of the immediate danger zone is outfitting one with more specialized capabilities, one that may not be limited to paved roads and optimum conditions. Such a BOV will require;
- 4×4 or All Wheel Drive
- Upgraded suspension
- Off-road versatile tires. (consider tires functional for off-road conditions but not unwieldy on paved surfaces)
- 2 spare tires (minimum)
- Sturdy skid plate
- Brush guard for front grill
- Power wench
- Additional fuel storage (larger gas tank and/or jerry cans)
- Cargo cage on roof and trailer hitch attached
- Additional lighting to front, back and sides
There is a full industry catering to off-road enthusiasts offering a multitude of options for someone outfitting any number of 4 wheel drive or all wheel vehicles. Virtually any use or need imagined for a bug-out vehicle has been designed and is available for prepper’s use.
Alternative Bug-out Transport
When considering a BOV most of the time is spent on trucks or SUVs but what if the best way out is not over land but by water? Heading down river, or along the coast or out to sea might just be the logical option. A boat can carry, house and store enough supplies for a family all within a self-contained space. From power or motorboats to sailboats, there are a number of types and configurations to consider should water be the most efficient mode of emergency transport.
Other less conventional choices come on two wheels, motorcycles, and mountain bikes. With the high probability of highways becoming impassible due to the sheer number of evacuees or accidents, a motorcycle has the versatility to wind its way through such obstacles or simply to go off road. In addition, motorcycles get much better gas mileage than a large truck or SUV and can be equipped for long distance, rugged travel. Mountain bikes are worth consideration as an alternative. Carried on the BOV of choice, a bike is useful if the main vehicle is wrecked or breaks down or can serve a way to scout ahead saving fuel.
Now, let’s set practicality out of the way and imagine the post-apocalypse bug-out vehicle of preppers’ dreams if cost and realism had no bearing whatsoever. Numerous foreign militaries around the globe are offering up a variety of their vehicles for sale, making for some wild choices for any hardcore prepper or extreme adventurer.
- Pinzgauer: An Austrian 4×4 and 4×6, highly versatile vehicle in use in various militaries around the world and repurposed as campers and prepper vehicles by many a civilian.
- Supacat LRV 400: What is essentially a rally version of a Defender 90, one of Britain’s (and the world’s) premiere off-road vehicles, the Supacat is a fast, rugged BOV for anyone with a spare $250K burning a hole in their pocket.
- Paramount Marauder: A South African born. tank on wheels. The civilian version of this vehicle was put to the test on an episode of the UK’s Top Gear against a Hummer H3 negotiating fast food drive-thrus, attacking brick walls and even seven pounds of plastic explosives set under their chassis. While the Hummer was destroyed, the Marauder suffered little more than a blown tire.
Whether it’s equipping the family grocery getter to bug-out in the face of imminent disaster or heading out in the ultimate prepper-mobile capable of powering through the wilds of any apocalypse the future might throw your way the most important thing is to have a plan. Plan your escape by knowing where you’re going, how to get there and what you will do once you arrive.