May 26, 2017

A Practical Look at Bug Out Vehicles

A Practical Look at Bug Out Vehicles

When you see the term “Bug Out Vehicle (BOV),” what comes to mind? Is it a pre-1980’s vehicle without a computer that would be EMP proof? Or possibly a vehicle tailored for bugging out that might be impractical but very, very cool, like the “Survivor Truck”?

While I would love a vehicle like that, it isn’t in the budget or practical. So, I view the vehicle we drive every day as our BOV. While it might not survive an EMP, if we look at Disaster Probability, an EMP is one of the least likely events that we would actually need to bug out for. Let me take a step back and remind you that I am of the opinion that 95% of the time, we would be far better served to stay at home and batten down than to bug out. Because that 5% exists, I think we need to have a plan to do so, and the chances that our vehicles will be running is quite high. I prepare with that in mind.

I do think that there need to be some steps taken to make a vehicle a BOV. First take a look at the area you live in; the terrain and possible routes. If you live in Texas, having chains for your vehicle doesn’t make sense. However, if you live in Idaho, it might make better sense.

We have two vehicles; an SUV that my wife drives and a car that is better on gas mileage that I use for commuting to work. You can see what I keep in my car kit by following the link. If I am home and the need to bug out arises, we’ll take the 4 wheel drive SUV. Because of that, the truck has more gear in it than I keep in the car. Depending on how much time we have to bug out, we’ll add more gear, and could even load up the trailer.

One rule that every prepper should keep for all of their vehicles is that, when it comes to the gas tank, half is the new empty. When your tank gets to half, fill it back up. This will ensure that you’ll have at least a half a tank to get you out of the immediate danger zone if you need to bug out. Letting your tank get too low can actually cause damage to your vehicle as well.

Because the need to bug out comes unexpectedly, that means your BOV needs to be well maintained; oil changes when they’re needed and engines serviced when it is required. Don’t place duct tape over blinking lights or turn the radio up to cover the sounds coming from under the hood.

Car kit

I think each vehicle should have at a minimum the gear pictured here, it is:
• Flares
• Ice scraper
• Small tool kit
• Goggles (to keep rain or wind out of your eyes)
• Wool blanket
• 4-way tire iron (I won’t carry any other kind, this is a must IMHO)
• Metal Folding Shovel
• Tarp
• Garbage bag(‘s)
• Emergency blanket
• Paracord (this is hard to see, but it’s a 100ft section in between the flares and the garbage bags)
• Fix A Flat
• Jumper Cables
• Map (not pictured)
• Jack (not pictured)

I also think you and your spouse should know how to use fix-a-flat and how to change a tire using the jack you have. If possible, have a full sized spare tire. A 55 mile an hour spare is not meant for a bug out.

You might be thinking that you don’t have a place to bug out to, so you don’t need a bag out plan. I disagree. In bug out myths, I not only explain why I believe everyone needs a bug out plan, but I also give you a great way to make 4 separate bug out plans, even with no owned location to go to.

“The majority of preppers don’t own a separate piece of property that they consider their BOL. The truth is, you don’t need one. Sure, it might be ideal, but it isn’t needed. Below is a way to develop multiple locations. That way you have four routes out of your area. First, if you have a relative or friend outside of your general area, consider asking them if you could head there.

If you don’t have another location to go, I recommend finding a town that’s big enough to have a hotel but small enough to be inconspicuous, which is thirty to sixty miles away. I say “large enough to have a hotel” because that is the landmark. If they have a room available, stay if you like. If you want to continue on, do so. Do this going north, south, east and west. Now develop a couple different routes to each location and label the routes “1” and “2”. We purchased plastic foldable maps and have one in our BOBs and one in the vehicle.

I think each car should have a map and the directions to each location. If you’re at work and your spouse is at home when you need to bug out, you can send a text or email that says “North, route 2”. Now you know where they are going and the route they’re taking to get there.”

At the time of this writing, gas is under $4.00 a gallon and is not being rationed. I can envision several scenarios where gas could be far more expensive and much less readily available. Because of this, you may choose to store fuel.

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  1. Thanks Chris!

    In regards to the EMP-proof vehicle, I read somewhere, that grounding a newer vehicle may help it survive EMP.

    You would sink a ground rod and clip jumper cables between it and the car’s frame. The metal shell of the car would act as a Faraday cage, in theory, protecting the electronics contained within. Admittedly, it would be impractical to ground your vehicle when you’re away from home.

    I haven’t done it myself, yet, but I thought I would drill a hole through my garage floor for the ground rod, so the process of clipping/unclipping the car would be inconspicuous to neighbors and passers-by.

    • Chris Ray says:

      I’m not sure how this would work, but it is an interesting idea.

    • Rev. Dr. Michael E Harris says:

      When I was the Chief Configuration Manager for a spacecraft manufacturer, most of our military space craft had to have the most sensitive components ‘hardened’ against EMP, etc. This was done for only the most sensitive piece parts, not the entire spacecraft, as that would have been too much weight.

      You might want to consider shielding only those components susceptible to EMP or the computers themselves. A shield for the entire engine compartment would be a consideration. I am not sure how any of this would work, but it might be worth invedtigating.

  2. A scientist formerly employed by the military for development of laser guidance systems attends my church. He said that one would have to be a considerable distance away from ground zero in order for a pre-computer vehicle to be operable–even this isn’t guaranteed. Most of the grounding suggestions shown online are insufficient–he said it’s possible, would be far more complicated than people think, and impractical to do so for most vehicles

    • Chris Ray says:

      I have heard an MIT trained engineer say that he believed that after an EMP even new cars should run, albeit roughly.

      The point is on this topic, most of what people say is based off of speculation.

  3. Two other things come to mind that I have in my auto BOB. On is a can of pepper spray. The other because I don’t trust Fix a flat, I have one of the little kits for tire repair from Walmart (cost ~$5) and and a cigrette lighter air compressor which is slow but effective if you get a decent one.

  4. PS Also add gloves, electrical tape and duct tape.

    • Ah yes, duct tape is so wonderful & has 1000s of uses. I need to put a small roll in each of our vehicles. Could temporarily fix a leaky hose (depending on its pressure). Holds things together. etc etc etc

  5. Good one, from your list I’m missing goggles, fix-a-flat, and flares, I better get on it! Just a comment, I have found it very comforting to have started my prepping journey. In a way it is fun and challenging and has also completely changed my focus in my motivation each day as to what I invest my precious time. My husband and I are very quiet in our mind set, as so many of our friends and family think we’re nuts, sadly. Thanks to this site for all the great guidance!

  6. Rick Larson says:

    May I suggest a inexpensive type of rain gear for the BOB in your vehicles. Thanks for your tireless work on this site.

  7. mariowen says:

    Most important! Always, always carry a case or two of water bottles! We live in the south and on a hot day, dehydration happens quickly! This isn’t just for bugging out – this is for every time you leave home, whether you are running a couple miles to the store or going on a long trip. Always, always carry lots and lots of water. Summer, winter, spring or fall. North, south, east or west – wherever you live.

    If it is stored in the car, you will always be ready for an emergency. Even if you get stuck on the freeway due to an accident ahead. If nothing else, you can pass it out to others who aren’t as prepared.

    • Chris Ray says:

      Good advice for the south, and during the warmer months in the north. but in the winter where it gets cold, they’ll burst.

      • mariowen says:

        What has worked for me is opening the bottles, removing a portion of the fluids, then freezing the bottles. Recap them and then store them in the vehicle. You might have to store them upright in a box since sometimes the bottles warp on the bottom and don’t sit flat. When the time comes for warmer weather, replace them with unopened bottles and use the previously frozen ones. At least you will have fluid if you need it. Is it the perfect solution? There are no perfect solutions – only do-able ones, that I can figure out.

        • Chris Ray says:

          this is what I have done as well, it leaves room for the ice to expand. Some plastic is better suited as well, 2-liter bottles work better then milk jugs.

      • When I posed the challenge of keeping water bottles in my vehicle in the winter, someone said those bottles might be more durable than u think. So I puta couple bottles in a plastic bag in my trunk. The next week, we had a cold front w/ lows in the high teens (F), & my vehicle is parked outside at night, but the bottles held up just fine. Of course up in Minn, it gets much colder than the teens.

        • Oh, I posted that question in the forum.

        • Chris Ray says:

          I learned this lesson the hard way years ago (I should have known better) and had 2 one gallon water jugs in my trunk during the winter. The were both full when they went in, and were almost half empty when I retrieved them later.

          Like I replied to someone else, I think the type of plastic makes a difference as well.

  8. Chuck Findlay says:

    I don’t think it makes a big difference what auto you have post A-Bomb event. The fuel delivery system (infrastructure) would very likely not be up and working. So even if you had a running auto a tank of gas is about all you can expect to have for your use. And if others are without gasoline and a running auto, how long do you expect to keep your car without having to kill others to protect your ability to drive 1/4 of a tank of gas worth of range? Even if you do have gasoline, it will be in your best interest to look like you are in the same condition. Driving around town when others can’t is a BAD idea that leads to bullets flying.

    • Chris Ray says:

      You’re spot on, IF things fall apart in the scenario you have given. However there are countless other possibilities that could take place, where having a running vehicle is quite possible.

      But yes, if there is an EMP does happen, gas stations will quickly be out of gas.

    • This is precisely how I think it would happen! A car to escape in during a collapse would be a death trap which is best to avoid. Put away the keys and bring it out after things are settled down and in the rebuilding stage. By then the crazies will be gone – one way or another – and perhaps you would be surrounded by a degree of sanity. You have made a most excellent point.

  9. Carl Rooker says:

    One problem with Bug Out Vehicles is that they can break down, run out of gas, or be damaged in an accident. In any emergency, if these things happened, you could be stranded.

    Layer your bug out supplies. The absolutely most essential items should be kept in a back pack. If the vehicle is no longer useful, one can at least walk to safety. If bicycles are included in a BOV, it gives a useful way to not only continue the trip, but to also have a mode of transportation at the Bug Out Site.

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