In this article we’re going to be covering what it’ll take to make your bug out vehicle bug out worthy. If you’re looking for what makes the best bug out vehicle check out our article for that. Being preppers we’re always looking for ways of upgrading what we have so that they can serve us better during a bug out scenario. So we are going to go more in depth on the types of upgrades you can add to your bug out vehicle. Making the best bug out vehicle can be one of the most important investments you make as a prepper so lets get to it.
Best Bug Out Vehicle Lighting Upgrades
Lighting is a great way to make your bug out vehicle stand out (literaly) having lots of lights can attract a lot of attention if you need it and if you don’t you can always shut them off. There are loads of lights to use on your bug out vehicle. I’m going to start off by saying that you should go with LED’s if you’re going to be adding an upgrade you might as well make it last. LED’s are great they consume less power and often have a higher output of light that your regular halogen lights. Another thing I like about them is that if you crack a lens and water gets in you’re not going to immediately pop the bulb. Spot lights are a great for putting on your bug out vehicle you can put them almost anywhere you want. If you have a grill guard you can mount them directly to that or on the top your bug out vehicle mounted to a luggage rack. This gives you the capability of essentially making your bug out vehicle have 360 degrees of lighting. Amazon sells both a spot light and a combo pack with a spot and flood light they are reasonably priced too. The spot light goes for $20 and the combo pack sells for $40 be sure to pick up the wiring harness as well. These would make your bug out vehicle light the way very well.
Make Your Bug Out Vehicle Tough
If you’re going to spend the money to get a bug out vehicle you’re going to want some way of protecting it. Think of it as a kind of insurance for your rig. Make your bug out vehicle tough by adding different types of guards. There are loads of different types of guards you can get one of the most important ones I think is some type of grille guard. This upgrade is going to make a bug out vehicle more resilient to damage in the front which is where a lot of important components are. In addition to grille guards there are bumper guards and tail light guards, these can also be great additions to your bug out vehicle and further increase the protection of your bug out vehicle. There are a few different styles and choosing which one is best for you can be a little bit tricky check out Auto Anything to learn how to find a guard that works for you. Winches are another accessory that will come in hand during a bug out scenario. These can be easily installed directly to your grille guard and are a great option if you have some extra money to put towards one.
Making Your Bug Out Vehicle Do The Work
When you’re in a bug out scenario you generally want to carry as much gear as you can. Having a cargo rack allows your bug out vehicle to carry the gear for you. There are lots of different options out there I recommend going with a roof our hitch mounted cargo rack. With the addition of these you’re able to carry all the necessary gear you need to set up shop at your bug out location. The hitch mounted type cargo racks are great for loading up additional fuel and water. While the roof mounted racks can be used more for bug out bags, sleeping bags, food, etc. This will also free up more room inside the vehicle for either more gear or additional passengers. Curt makes some great roof mounted cargo racks that have good reviews on Amazon and Highland makes affordable hitch mounted racks that will stand up to any bug out scenario.
There are loads of options available on the market out there to make your bug out vehicle but out worthy. These are just some of the options that I would recommend you look into getting from the research and experience I’ve had. I hope this helps you in building the best bug out vehicle to get you out of any bug out scenario you might find yourself in. Thanks for reading and check back in for even more posts. If you have any comments or suggestions feel free to leave them in the comment section below.
The folks over a Motoped have been building motorized bicycles for a while. They have recently released a product that places itself somewhere in between a standard mountain bike and a performance dirt motorcycle. These bikes have a range of 125-150 miles on gas and as far as you’re willing to pedal on human power. This is definitely a take you anywhere vehicle.
Motoped Survival with optional 1 gallon gas tanks.
check out their video below. I’ll be placing my order with them. At just over 100 pounds this bike could be the answer to getting you home or getting away.
According to the US Dept. of Transportation, there were over 253,000 cars registered in the US in 2012. Chances are, you probably own at least one of those vehicles. And if you are like many Americans, you probably commute to and from work, use your vehicle to run errands, and take road trips and vacations with it. This means you spend a lot of time in your car.
But what happens if disaster strikes when you are in your vehicle? What if you need your vehicle to get home DURING a disaster, or OUT of a disaster area? Is it prepared and able to help you? If you aren’t sure, then read on to learn how you can prepare your vehicle for a crisis situation!
Start with a Plan
If you have been following this blog, you know that I advocate beginning anything with a plan. All the gear in the world won’t be of much value without a plan or the knowledge of how it works and in what situations to use it.I would first sit down and determine not the worst case scenario, but the most likely scenarios. The chances of you having a flat tire or being caught in a massive traffic jam are MUCH more probable than an EMP attack.
My friend Graywolf wrote a great article on the dangers of prepping for only worst case scenarios. If you have not read it, I would encourage you to do so.
Once you have your bases covered on the most likely events, then start looking at worse case possibilities.
Do you live in an area that experiences hurricanes? Tornado’s? Is there a chance that you might need to “bug out” to get out of harm’s way? If so, you need to have an evacuation route (and at least one backup route) planned. I’d also have some possible contingency plans in place as well for unforeseen events.
To help you draw up some evacuation plans, I thought I’d give you some pointers and things to consider when drawing up your plans:
Have a final destination already planned out. Simply bugging out into the unknown should be the LAST thing you want to do
If you have multiple members of your group/family, the chances of you all being together at the time disaster strikes is slim and none. Make sure everyone in your group knows the plans and the final location.
I would have pre-determined rally point along the way to meet at if your final location is a long way off. You might also devise a means of communicating with them should the rally point become unsafe
Know the routes AND the area in general ahead of time. Where are the gas stations? Is there a grocery store nearby? A hospital? What other points of interest are along your intended route?
How many different ways do you have of getting to your destination? Your primary route may suddenly no longer be accessible.
Have contingency plans in place for different routes to take or even different means of getting to your final location
Do you have not only the gear you need, but a way of safely and securely transporting it?
Identify areas that you could potentially cache supplies. Are there friendly areas (a friend’s house for example) that you could make a pit stop if needed?
Identify areas that could potentially be choke points or trouble spots, and ways to avoid them
The better you know your routes and surrounding area, the easier it will be to plan for the unexpected. It will also prevent you from becoming lost or disoriented. Landmarks can be a wonderful thing. But what happens if you are bugging out at night? Or if the landmarks are suddenly gone? That old blue water tower where you turn right has been there for decades, but now it has vanished!
I would make a dry run several times in different conditions. Do it noon, then again later during rush hour traffic. Try again later on at night, and in conditions such as rain. Make your run via your backup area as well.
I would also make the run from time to time to see if things have changed. It would really suck to have a gas station or bridge you had counted on in your plans to be closed down when it really counted.
For extended routes, I would certainly document your route. This will help you to develop your bug out plans.
Bug Out Vehicles
“Bug Out Vehicles” (BOV) are a popular topic and great to have in a pinch. To be honest, I personally don’t really have a big need for one based upon my situation. The vehicles I do have should be suitable for most emergencies, although I have contingency plans in place if I have to go via other means.
But if you have the need and/or the means to acquire a BOV, there are a few things I would look for in a Bug out vehicle:
4 wheel drive or all wheel drive. (I would avoid rear wheel drive as those vehicles do not do well off road)
A good set of all terrain tires
A good size gas tank or the fuel range to get you to your destination
I would probably look at an SUV over a truck if you can. SUVs typically have more passenger room, and internally stored gear is not as susceptible to the elements/theft like it would be in the bed of a truck
Ability to add a safari style cargo rack to the roof
A vehicle that blends in. No reason to draw unnecessary attention to yourself. See below
If you are trying to maintain OPSEC and simply slip out of a SHTF area unnoticed, which one of these vehicles is likely to not draw a second glance? Which one screams “I’m a Prepper and most likely have a crap ton of stuff you DON’T have but now want really badly?” I’m here to tell you from personal experience, OPSEC can save you A LOT of time and heartache!
Yep….a solar storm will NOT take out your vehicles. And as for a nuclear E1 pulse, we do not have enough data to know one way or the other what the effect on vehicles would be. This includes older vehicles! So in reality, it seems somewhat silly to me to spend a huge amount of money on a vehicle for only one specific event that may or may not even adversely affect the vehicle!! But hey, it’s your money. If it gives you peace of mind, more power to you.
What happens if you don’t have vast sums of money to allocate to a vehicle whose sole purpose is a BOV? Sure, a 4 wheel, all-terrain, “tacticool” SUV or truck with oversized tires, a lift kit, and EMP proof wiring might be nice. But for many people, it isn’t realistic or affordable. This means that whatever you currently drive will have to your means of getting you and your family out of harm’s way.
That does NOT have to be a set back. If you plan ahead, and prep your vehicle correctly, you will find that you can most likely not only survive, but THRIVE with what you have. And really, isn’t that the whole point of this?
Have the right gear
I have a Get Home Bag (GHB) that I keep in my vehicle at all times. I also have an EDC/work (Every Day Carry) bag I usually carry. The EDC bag contains a lot of work related equipment. So I don’t always carry that when I am off duty. Between the two bags, I have a majority of what I need for a disaster if I am in my vehicle.
If you are brand new to prepping, or have not really put any sort of bag together, here are just some items I would consider keeping on you/in your vehicle and could come in handy in a disaster:
Small durable knife or other cutting tool
Extra clothing to help protect from the elements, i.e. a hat, gloves, and comfortable walking shoes. Click the link to read my article on clothing preparedness
Means of communication and a way to keep it powered
Fire source – a butane lighter or matches
Map of the area
First Aid Kit
Warm blanket or sleeping bag
At one time or another, I have used most of the above items in various emergency situations. But this list is by no means complete. You should feel free to change-up and add items you feel are necessary depending upon your circumstances.
To give you some ideas on creating your own bag, here is an article I wrote on making a “Go Bag” for a non-prepper. I explain in detail the items I added, and the reasoning behind them. (The bag has already been used in an emergency situation.)
Now I am not a huge fan of having multiple “emergency” bags. I fully believe in redundancy, but there is no need to go overboard. If you prep correctly, one or two overall bags should usually be more than adequate to see you through an emergency. My GHB serves that purpose.
But I realized there were some items that I would need specifically for my vehicles and only need for the vehicles. There would be no reason to carry them around if I wasn’t in my vehicle. So I decided to make an emergency VEHICLE bag that I could keep in the vehicle. If the situation dictated, I could simply leave the bag with the vehicle should I have to abandon my vehicle for any reason.
I used an old duffel bag that was just sitting in my closet. (You could use a vehicle storage bag. They are less than $20.) I decided that would be my “Vehicle kit” bag. In it, I placed the following items:
Extra quart of oil – (find out which type of oil your car or truck needs)
Some antifreeze/engine coolant
Tow chain or Rope
Small bag of kitty litter in the winter time (tire traction if I get stuck)
Small tool kit to include screw drivers and socket set and/or wrenches
Small box of various fuses
Ice scraper in winter
Feel free to add/delete items to this list. For example, you might also want to include extra belts and hoses, or maybe even an extra air filter or two. Or, if you live in a place like south Texas or Arizona, you might not need a ice scraper. Let your location and your situation help determine what you need.
By keeping these items all in a bag, I can easily move the items between my different personal vehicles and my work vehicles. And all of these items would be handy regardless of what vehicle I am in.
Most of the items should be self-explanatory. But there might be a few items you are wondering if you really need. For example, if you are driving a small or compact car and think to yourself, “I don’t need a tow rope. My car is too small to tow anything” I would urge you to consider what would happen if YOUR car was the one needing to be pulled out or towed? “Good Samaritans” are much more likely to help you if you already have the needed equipment and gear to use.
Handy to have in an emergency at night!
The reflective cones come in handy if you are stranded at night and your car has absolutely no power. Your hazard lights may not always work. And even if they do, the more early warning other drivers have about your vehicle being stranded, the less likely they are to not see your vehicle and hit it! They also make good signaling devices if you become stranded and need to be rescued.
And if you have ever been stuck in the ice and snow, you will understand the value of a bag of kitty litter!
The beauty of these items are that none are terribly expensive, all of them could help me in a vehicle emergency, and yet all could simply be left behind in a true SHTF disaster if I were forced abandon my vehicle.
I guess you could take your vehicle kit with you if you had to leave your vehicle. But if you want to carry a 5 lb. bag of kitty litter and a quart of oil with you while escaping the Zombie Apocalypse, well then…more power to you!
What about the car itself
Vehicle preparedness should start with the vehicle itself! It won’t do you much good to have your vehicle stocked with gear and then the car/truck not run. So simple vehicle maintenance is an absolute must!
But what about your other fluids?
I check my oil every month. (Do you know how to check your oil?) I usually check it at the first gas fill up of the month. And at 5000 miles, I change the oil.
Typically I pay to have it done because of time constraints. But doing it yourself is not a bad idea. Here is a video showing you how it is done if you do not know.
And I also check the other fluids regularly. Brake fluid, transmission fluid, fluids in my radiator, etc. Even window wash fluid. All of these help to keep your vehicle running and in good shape.
How often do you check your tire pressure? Keeping your tires inflated at the proper levels ensures better gas mileage and longer tread life for your tires. A flat tire when trying to get home to your family in a disaster is NO BUENOS!
Having a spare tire, jack, etc. would be a huge life saver down the road. But don’t wait until the unfortunate happens to try and figure out where your car jack is and how it works. These are things you should know ahead of time.
I would also learn now how to make simple repairs to your vehicle. In a true SHTF disaster, you might not have AAA to come out and change your tire. Things such as tire changes, replacing spark plugs, etc can be learned. Some of it by simply watching YouTube videos and then trying it yourself. The more you learn now, the less headache you will have later on.
Your vehicle in a SHTF disaster
If things go REALLY bad, there may be a time that you have to use your vehicle as a means to survive. You might have to strip some car parts to use in an extreme survival situation. And while you might not like the idea of tearing your car apart to help you live, just remember that your car is replaceable. You are NOT!
For example, your rearview mirror is most likely held to your windshield with an epoxy glue or screw, and will come off when you apply some force to it. This makes a great signal mirror, and can be used to start a fire. If you break the mirror (or the side mirrors) you now have a cutting edge.
Don’t forget about your head lights and tail lights. The covers can be used as a cutting edge as well. Or remove them whole if you can to use as a container for food, water, etc. I’d try to keep all the windows intact if possible, as the car itself can act as a barrier to the outside elements.
Does your car battery still work? Using wires attached to the positive and negative posts and then touching them together can create a spark. A spark can start a fire. And a fire that is burning a car tire creates smoke that can be seen for miles!
A word of caution….I would NOT try to use gas from the tank to help with a fire. Puncturing the gas tank could also cause a spark, possibly causing the tank to explode. That too can be seen for miles, but you won’t be around to be rescued!
Fan belts, wiring, and/or seat belts make a decent substitute for rope in a pinch.
Many car seats have foam upholstery in them, which you could use to help insulate your clothing in the cold. Maybe use the floor mats as well.
If you find yourself having to use your car parts to survive, you should smack yourself in the head for not following this advice and having a Go bag!
A quick search on Craigslist pulled up 20 cargo trailers with in miles of my home. These trailers ranged in price from $1100 to $4500. Materials needed for a down and dirty cargo trailer to mobile emergency shelter with a little work could easily be completed for as little $1700. This could be a great option for families on a budget. These trailers are light enough to be pulled by just about anything larger than a Toyota Prius and they are usually very well built since they were originally designed to carry heavy loads and commercial cargo.
Vogelzang BX22EL Lil Sweetie Cast Iron Stove
Things you should consider when converting a trailer:
Match the trailer size to your family needs. For example a family of 2 may be able to get away with an 8′ trailer, where a family of 5 would need something in the 12-14′ and tandem axle size.
Insulation: If you live or plan on travelling to colder climates, invest in high density foam insulation before you began framing out cabinets and bunk beds. It will make an enormous difference in comfort.
Find a small wood stove. Pot belly stoves work great. Cement board works great for a hearth and panel.
Plumbing: Hand pump water and manually operated systems are best. Remember, your not building an RV to plug in to a full electric campsite. You won’t have electricity. In the pictures above you can see a bucket under the sink. I recommend using a valve to allow water to be stored in containers and recycled since you don’t knowingly waste water. This could prove to be very important at some point.
In your spare parts kits always make sure you have necessary tools to work on the trailer and a spare set of axle bearing, grease, seals, jack, and spare tire and rim obviously.
DIY Roof Top Shelter
Roof Top Tenting has become very popular for back packers and hikers. These versatile shelters allow you to pack up and go at a moments notice. No set up required since the shelter is with you, ready to open and crawl in for a good night’s rest. The only drawback to buying one pre-made is cost. For a 2 person tent they range in cost from $1100- $1700 plus $150 shipping on average. We found that you can easily build one if you have the time for around $400 and it won’t be the ultra-thin vinyl you’ll get with a manufactured unit.
Pros: Low cost portable shelter. Easy to set up and take down, portable, and gets occupants off the ground.
Cons: Small, limited to 2 occupants usually although some commercially available rooftop tents can support more people. Can’t use wood source heat.
DIY Cargo Van to Traveling Shelter
Cargo vans can be a great BOV. These vehicles are built on large robust truck bodies and one can usually find high mileage cargo vans that have been maintained very well since these vehicles are typically used by commercial service companies that have a huge incentives to keep them in good working order. With a quick search of craigslist, we found vehicles ranging from $800-$10,000 in varying conditions. Many of these vehicles already had metal shelving and wood or rubberized floors ready to be altered for the perfect BOV for those on a budget. The addition of a wood stove makes for a great campsite home base. These van come in various sizes ranging from compact vans to 1 ton walk up box vans that could easily sleep 8 people with some creative, submarine berthing area, style bunk beds. Solar panels for both electric power and battery storage as well as solar thermal panels for domestic hot water productions could be added. With a couple tilt up 200 watt solar panels and the addition of a 75 watt HAM Radio could be incorporated into your van to keep in touch with the world as you travel around. We aren’t the only ones the think about using full size cargo vans as a rolling shelter. Airstream is a maker of high end RVs ranging in the $125,000 and up, and they make amazing luxury travelling homes for people with money to burn.
DIY Motorcycle BOV
If you’re flying solo or just you and a partner, a motorcycle set up with large panniers or a small trailer could be the perfect BOV. Not only do motorcycles get much better gas mileage than any other option above, they also allow for off-road and on-road travel. A good quality motorcycle can be acquired for less than $5000 and top off at more than $20,000 for a top of the line BMW cross country motorcycle that can take on any terrain with ease. Many larger motorcycles also have the availability for trailer kits and accessories that would allow you to not only travel quickly to your destination on very little fuel, but also provide you with shelter via a pop-up tent trailers or just simply storage for tents and supplies. Motorcycles have many advantages over larger more cumbersome vehicles such as ease of servicing. Motorcycles chains, tires, and just simple maintenance are all easily performed in an emergency with minimal tools and parts. The option of run flat tires or just simply patching a tire can be performed with very little mechanical skill. Some disadvantages include, exposure to the elements and difficulty traveling in colder environments.
M35 6×6 Multi Fuel Vehicle
Affectionately named the “Deuce and a Half” from WWII, the M35 is a versatile vehicle. By it’s design as a utility truck it began life serving in the military and included everything from troop transport, water vehicles, snow plows, to armed combat vehicles. These trucks can literally run on any fuel available. They are certified to operate on diesel, kerosene, jet fuel, heating oil, and gasoline. These trucks are not for the light hearted conversion enthusiast, but M35’s and it’s cousin with a slightly shorter wheelbase M34, can be purchased at surplus for pennies on the dollar from their original cost to the government. Since M35’s are 6 wheel drive and you can take them just about anywhere, including places you may not want to go. They aren’t very fast, and they don’t get very good mileage, but if you carry enough fuel, and don’t mind how long it takes you, you may just need this vehicle when the SHTF.