The subject of the bug out vehicle has been visited many times on the net. There are various opinions prevalent as to vehicle type, fuel mileage, 4WD,ect. There are many people who are new to the emergency preparation concept, and as this blog is primarily directed towards them, I thought to share my viewpoints.
Whats the best bug out vehicle? Best for what?” Well, bugging out!” you might answer. Like most questions in regards to emergency preparation, the correct answer is, “It all depends”. And it all depends on a number of factors, some general considerations and some specific to your individual situation. So lets look at some general considerations and then you should be able to make decisions based on your needs.
Some general considerations:
Before you can get specific as to what is the best vehicle for emergency evacuation for you and your family, you need to stop and ask yourself some questions. Write these and your answers down.
- What emergencies am I prepping for? Earthquake? Floods? Tornados? Economic upheaval? Pandemic?, TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It.)
- Where do I live? Mountains? Desert? Plains?
- Where am I going to evacuate (bug out) to? Pre-determined specific location? A general area?
- How far is it? How much fuel will it take to get me there? How many and how far between are potential fueling locations? Diesel or Gasoline?
- How am I going to get there? Primary routes? Secondary routes? Off road? Would I really need 4WD?
- How obvious can my vehicle be considering the area I live in? How much do I need to blend in with the general population of my area?
- How many people will I be taking along, and how much gear will I be taking? Pets? Infants? Elderly people?
Once you have answered these specific questions, you can begin thinking about the type of vehicle you will need.
Dedicated Bug out Vehicle or Family Ride.
Many people have the finances to purchase a dedicated emergency evacuation vehicle, and many have to depend on the vehicle they use for family transportation. And some families already have a second vehicle they might be able to set up as an evacuation vehicle. Some people consider all of their vehicles as potential bug out buggys. Some people will buy the maxed out, super-duper, all the bells and whistles, 4WD HUMMER complete with machine gun mounts and “Cold Dead Fingers” bumper sticker. If you are temped to do that, please read my articles on OPSEC first. Many people buy these wonder wagons as nothing more than an ego boost.
So, lets take a closer look at some of our criteria and measure it against the vehicle you now own, or perhaps a second used vehicle you are considering. Or perhaps you are considering trading in your current buggy for one that is more bug out friendly.
I started with this first because so many people believe that 4WD is a must for a bug out vehicle. Not necessarily so. It depends on where you plan on evacuating to, and the available routes. For example, my wife is German and I am a legal permanent resident of the country. We have residences in both countries. Our family vehicle there is our 2007 Yaris. It’s reliable, gets good gas mileage (God awful gasoline prices in Europe), front wheel drive for bad weather, and is large enough to carry what the two of us need for evacuation. We don’t need 4WD there because all of our bug out locations have multiple paved routes to get there, and going cross-country is not really a necessity. Here in Arizona, I have a 2007 Jeep Liberty that I keep in mint condition. I have the option of going cross-country to various bug out locations and 4WD is a valid requirement. Two different locations, two different weather considerations, two different situations, two different vehicles. The Jeep also allows me to carry a LOT more stuff which we would need here in the Arizona desert. Plan your situation. However, I honestly think that 4WD is good if you can afford it. In many places, you almost need it just for normal daily living. Besides, off-road driving has a lot to do with driver ability and experience and if you are going to count on your 4WD vehicle to get you cross-country, you need to practice driving it cross-country. A SHTF situation is not the best time to begin off-road driving lessons.
Diesel or Gas
Personally I think it is 6 of one, half-dozen the other. Diesel is more expensive, and gas is more available. Diesel does have the advantage that you can make bio-diesel with the right equipment. Maybe for a long-term TEOTWAWKI situation a diesel engine might be a viable better choice. But to get you from point A (where you’re at) to point B (your bug out location) gas will do fine. I also suspect that in a TEOTWAWKI situation, there are going to be a lot of available vehicles around.
If you are serious about prepping, never let your gas tank get below one-half tank. One quarter is even better. This might seem like a bit of a pain, but emergencies can happen suddenly and gas stations could be closed or mobbed. Having the “perfect” bug out vehicle for you and your family does you no good if you get half way to your location and you are driving on fumes and no way to top off. If possible where you live, have extra gas stored in approved containers in a safe manner, and rotate it frequently.
Now we are looking at one of your most important considerations. Does your vehicle have enough room in it to transport the people you are going to be taking as well as all the gear and supplies that they will need for a bare minimum of 72hrs? How about your vehicle emergency kit? Pets? If you do not have a vehicle large enough to bug out in, you need to seriously consider changing vehicles to one that is large enough for your family and the equipment and supplies you need for an emergency evacuation.
Some people advocate a pre electronic ignition vehicle that would be immune to an EMP (Electro Magnetic Pulse) which could come from a man-made event such as a nuclear explosion, or from a solar flare. EMPs from the sun are a fact. There is only limited testing done on electronic ignition vehicles, but what has been done indicates that most electronic vehicles would stop running but then be able to be started again. A very serious EMP could possibly fry the ignition system permanently. It’s a trade off. A pre 1980 vehicle would evidently be immune from an EMP but an older vehicle would require more maintenance. Tune ups at frequent intervals are required. A newer vehicle can go 100,000 without even thinking about spark plugs. Spare parts availability for older vehicles is also a consideration.
I know people whose concept of vehicle maintenance is to put gas in the tank and drive it until it breaks down. Insure you do the manufacturer’s recommend maintenance at the required intervals. Oil and filter changes, the other fluids such as coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid. Regular tune ups. Have the belts checked. If you’re not a wrench monkey take it to the dealer or at least to a drive through like Jiffy-Lube. Have a full-sized spare and check the air pressure frequently. Having a flat tire in the middle of no where is a bad time to find out your spare is also flat. Have the battery frequently checked. being late to work because your battery is dead is one thing. In a SHTF situation, you might end up as dead as your battery if your vehicle wont start.
Emergency Road Side Kit
I’m going to cover a detailed vehicle emergency kit in another article. But for now, at a minimum insure you have a proper jack that works, a correct lug wrench, a spare quart of oil, some emergency flares, and a vehicle first aid kit.
Like every thing elese involved with emergency preparation, your bug out vehicle requires careful thought and an understanding of what you might need to do with it. A vehicle is a tool just like a gun. Any tool is designed to take care of specific needs. Define what your vehicle needs are, then aquire the best vehicle you can to meet them.