With the current natural and man made disasters, you and your family or team may need to bug out. Having the right vehicle is critical. Here are my thoughts.
When considering a “bug out vehicle” there are many things to consider. Think of the vehicle’s age, parts availability (now and in a bad situation as well as new and rebuilt parts), computers (there have been many computers in different parts of vehicles for different systems for decades now), suspension et al.
Bug out vehicles can be used for many reasons and there are considerations. You may have to bug out due to a hurricane where you expect to head back home in one day to one week. You may be escaping an ex who had become a stalker and your need to get away form them. Your neighborhood may be under the current “peaceful protesters” (rioters, thieves, thugs, anarchist, insurrectionist) control. There can be forest fires, earthquakes, volcanoes, atomic / nuclear, bio and chemical spills and of course TEOTWAWKI events.
While new vehicles have more computers that can be “fried” in an EMP, they do get much better fuel mileage than their counterparts of 10, 20 and 30 years ago. In a grid down situation that mileage may be worth it. On the other hand modern vehicles are more difficult to work on in your yard. You need a computer to diagnose a computer.
Looking at the commonly available vehicle types I have chosen what I consider the most probable ones to use. The van/mini-van, Suburban / SUV, and the good old pickup truck.
Van and Mini-van:
You can sleep in it. Rest is essential and feeling secure when you rest helps improve your sleep.
Overall, there is lots of storage inside protecting the items from the elements and snatch and grab thieves. If it is not crammed with stuff, there is lots of interior room for movement. That can help squirmy kids, the ability to have passengers looking around for trouble or just basic stretching.
If your family or team needs to roll out, several people can easily and quickly get out due to large side doors.
Just as importantly, it can be an everyday vehicle before there is a need to bug out and you get decent gas mileage in a mini-van.
Due to a smaller engine compartment they are more difficult to work on. Especially those that half the engine is between the driver and passengers’ seat.
They are lousy for off road. Even crossing one side of freeway though the median to the other side.
The can only tow light loads. If you plan on using a trailer to haul extra stuff or even a travel trailer, you will be limited in capacity.
In many vans, the rear windows may not go down. While having someone watch your rear area, if they need to shoot while in the vehicle, the percussion would be horrid.
Some mini-vans only have 3 doors instead of 4. This does make egress more difficult.
Going back to the windows, in many vans the passenger and rear windows cannot be opened enough to thrust a rifle through in case there is a firefight.
Most have a rear facing seat. This allows someone to watch your 6.
To my knowledge vans only come with gasoline engines and that tends to go quickly in a crisis where lots of people are leaving the area.
SUV : The mini-suv’s can’t perform many duties and I am not considering them as bug out vehicles, though they can work if you are single and you accept their limitations.
Multiple people can be transported, so if you have a larger family or team they can all be in less vehicles. Remember the more people you cram into it, the less room there is for stuff.
Fortunately, there is lots of interior room. If needed you can normally fold or remove seats and stack things floor to ceiling.
They are easier to get under hood to work on.
Most of them can do basic off road driving. Their suspensions can be upgraded fairly easily with lift kits, skid plates, stronger shocks et al.
Full and mid-sized SUV’s can tow heavy loads.
Side windows can be opened. For fresh air or the extreme need for a rolling firefight.
All SUV’s that I have owned have a rear facing seat so someone can watch your 6 while driving. On many but not all the rear window can roll down for shooting if needed.
A mid size to large SUV is a discrete vehicle and can be an everyday vehicle. You can get gas or diesel engine.
If you have a diesel engine, diesel is normally more available in a crisis than gasoline.
Even older SUV’s like the Suburban, Explorer and Expedition have plenty of parts available at the parts store and in junk lots.
A long wheelbase means not all off road travel is possible. You may have height clearance, however length comes into factor too.
Difficult to sleep in compared to van. With Many you can fold down the back two rows for sleeping, however you lose storage space for this.
The ones whose rear window does not roll down could be an issue in a firefight.
Most SUV’s get low gas mileage. Diesel engines do get much better mileage.
You can carry heavier loads in the bed than either of the above choices. There is an option to add a camper in the bed for better living conditions.
You could add a shell over the bed to keep items stored protected from the weather and they make it a little more difficult for those that want to grab items and run.
Even ½ ton trucks can tow heavy loads. If you have a ¾ or 1 ton truck you can tow even more.
4×4 options allow easier off-road performance and there are plenty of lift kits and modifications that can be done on truck for “mudding”.
Working on a truck is easier than a van and in some aspects on a SUV.
Can be an occasional needs vehicle (lumber, garden supplies).
You can get gas or diesel engine.
If you have a diesel engine it is normally more available in a crisis than gasoline.
Even older trucks have plenty of parts available at the parts store and in junk lots.
If you don’t have a canopy the load in back is open and easier to steal from. Even if you do, they are much less secure than a sealed vehicle like a van and SUV are.
They are difficult to sleep in. For a time, I was homeless with two children, one 18 months and the other under 4. The 4-year-old slept on the passenger floorboard, the 18-month-old slept on the driver’s floorboard and I on the seat. We were never comfortable. Even an extended cab or 4 doors don’t add a lot of room.
There is limited room for transporting your family or team and if you have an extended cab but not traditional doors, it takes time for those in the back-seat area to roll out.
There is much less interior room for movement and storage.
Only the side Windows can be opened in most trucks. If someone needed to shoot out of the rear window everyone is going deaf.
Even with a 4 door or extended cab it is difficult to have someone dedicated to watching your 6, add a camper or shell and it can be downright impossible.
Putting people in a camper or shell while driving, especially during a bug out event is extremely dangerous and communication with them is difficult. While a FRS radio may help with that it is not an end all.
Trucks are not practical as most people need for an everyday vehicle. Even if you use a truck for a living, you have to dump all that you keep in it out in order to use it as a bug out vehicle. Leaving our livelihood of stuff in a garage or house that you are leaving is probably not wise during a bug out situation.
Every truck I have owned has had low gas mileage. Even a small V-8 does not do as well as a mini-van when it comes to mileage. Diesel makes a big difference.
Long wheel bases can be more easily high centered than a 2 door short bed.
Other vehicle options:
I like the idea of a station wagon as a small family (4 people and 1 or 2 pets) bug out vehicle. They tend to get ok mileage, are sealed all the way around, there is normally a back facing seat and the rear window can be rolled down.
Unfortunately, they are difficult to come by due to the Federal Governments restrictions on automobiles hence the surge in popularity of the Chevy Suburban and Ford Explorer in the 80’s and Mini-vans and mid-size SUV’s in the last 20 years. Thanks Uncle Sam.
Well that’s about it on my quick thoughts for bug out vehicles.
Until we meet again, keep your booger hook off the bang switch until on target and ready to fire.