Do you ever just think, “what if”? We live our lives in a world that always changes, why not hope for the best and prepare for the worst? A bug out vehicle can ensure the health and preservation of you and your loved ones. It can also be designed, modified, and packed in many different ways and I am going to cover the best basics to get you headed in the right direction. (Away from danger)
Reliability: The number one priority is finding the most reliable vehicle possible. You want a low maintenance vehicle with readily available parts, so staying domestic is a must. Ex. (Dodge, Chevy, Ford, Jeep and yes, Toyota). Your vehicle does not need to be new or low miles. Older vehicles have better parts available and are easier to work on. With that being said, get familiar with your vehicle and its mechanical basics. A bug-out vehicle is useless if it breaks down and doesn’t get you out of the way of danger.
Tools: You should include tools necessary to take care of basic vehicle malfunctions. So, a basic 150-300pc. socket/tool set alongside a flat repair kit and spare tire with an offroad jack in case of rough terrain breakdowns is ideal. A good quality 12v tire pump or a manual hand or foot pump should be included. You want to be able to do an oil change to maintain your vehicle in case of long term bug-out as well. These things will minimize failures and keep you rollin’.
Interior Space: You need to seat 4 comfortably and sleep 4 semi-comfortably, so 4 doors is a must. You need to be able to keep all the gear that comes with a bug-out, as well as have a good bit of room in the back. If you do choose a truck, I recommend a camper shell on the back for a larger increase of interior space.
All Terrain: I suggest an SUV, Pickup, or a larger CUV. I don’t believe in lifting your bug out vehicle over 3 inches due to fuel efficiency . You'll still want something with all terrain tires, because the safest route will not always be paved.
Roof Rack: Having the added dimension of a roof rack on a vehicle opens an entirely new list of options and comforts. Many systems allow a sheltered environment to be popped up from roof racks and bed racks. You can expand non-perishable food storage or store water up high for easy access to running water. It will be the best way to make your bug-out just a little more successful.
Camping Gear: In a natural disaster situation, you cannot rely on hotels and motels to keep you out of the rain and warm at night, so, you and your vehicle need to be completely self reliant. This means practicing good camping skills and keeping good gear. You can sleep in your vehicle, but in case of a situation where the wheels need to be ditched,, you’ll need to keep a one or two person tent in the pack for each member of your group. A good propane storage and small stove always makes the camping experiences easier, but be prepared to cook on a fire as well. Therefore, include a fire starter and hatchet, or even a small chainsaw to make your work easier.
Water/Food: The most important need is hydration. Therefore, be sure to store water bottles, gallon jugs, and large water storage containers on the roof with water outlets. It can all be done and should be made a priority. Survival is key, and no water means you are only days from your bug-out adventure being over. You need to be prepared for a long term bug-out scenario (since you don't get to choose what gets thrown your way). I suggest keeping two weeks worth of food in a waterproof container for each person in your group. Since you need to store a large amount of food, this makes the roof rack an even more justifiable addition to your vehicle since storage for up to 1 month can be made. And who doesn't like easy food?
Hunting Supplies: Speaking of easy food, it isn’t always easy to come by. The need for hunting supplies isn’t just for if your bug-out situation lasts much longer than expected. Perhaps you ditch the vehicle and have to go on foot due to severe terrain or irreparable vehicle damage. Your food supply will dramatically drop, so you will need a new source and a means to get it by. I suggest a bow and some arrows or a light take-down rifle. Give a man a fish, feed him for a day but give a man a hunting rifle and feed him… well, until he runs out of ammo. Keep a good blade to clean your kill and learn to make the most of every part of the animals you encounter.
Pro Tip: Small calibers make for much larger quantities of ammo storage.
Clothes/Hygiene: Trench foot is one hell of a problem and a wonderful way to ruin your day. Make sure to have sufficient changes of clothes, or at the bare minimum, keep clean socks and undergarments . In addition, keep good hygiene gear for basic cleanliness.
First Aid/Trauma Kit: As stated previously, you can never predict what comes your way. Being able to handle anything from a small laceration all the way to removing a limb is a necessity. In a bug-out situation, you may need to save a life - whether it is someone else’s or your own. Although it isn’t the prettiest thing to think about, this is all about preparing for realistic outcomes. This one is a must!