Bug Out Vehicles: Some Things to Consider
The consensus is that vehicles manufactured prior to 1986 can withstand an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack and still operate because of the lack of technology, no electronic components in other words. The problem is that no one really knows. Based on common sense and a slight understanding of what an EMP is you can assume that vehicles without electronic ignitions and on board computers would be able to function after an attack.
However, finding one, that age still operational could be a challenge but they are out there. You may have to do some work on the vehicle but to be a true survival/bug-out vehicle it would have to be capable of withstanding an EMP.
Diesel or Gasoline
Diesel engines are the logical choice for several reasons, one being fuel efficiency and the durability of a diesel engine. If you put 100,000 miles on a diesel engine, you have scarcely broken it in whereas a gasoline engine may be gasping for air at this point. You can make bio-fuels for diesel engines if you have the raw material and skill as well.
Have the supplies packed that allow you to siphon fuel from stalled or abandoned vehicles and even from underground storage tanks. Newer model vehicles have guards in place that prevent a hose from reaching the fuel but in a true SHTF situation, you will be able to find older vehicles with fuel in the tanks.
Use clear plastic tubing to siphon with if doing it the old-fashioned way. Using clear tubing means you can see the fuel in the line as it moves upward to prevent getting a mouthful. You can also use hand operated bulb type siphons. Ensure you have enough tubing length to reach underground storage tanks.
You get better torque/pulling power with a diesel. The decision is yours of course based on your situation on the ground at the time you make that decision, but you must also think long-term and not just about what is happening today.
Pickup trucks or SUV’s are the logical choice because of the cargo space. Pickups when empty are lighter than an empty SUV so they would not crash a barrier as easily. On the other hand, you can install a brush/push guard on the front and add weight to the bed using sand bags. Weight of course reduces fuel efficiency.
Things you need to consider include space for people and room for supplies, and in particular space for extra fuel. Adding a trailer is ideal because you can double or even triple your cargo space and you can use the trailer for shelter as well. The trailer should not just be a flatbed type. You should have cargo rails and ideally have built up sides. Simply secure some tarps to the side rails for an emergency shelter. The ideal trailer would be an enclosed one with a door you can secure with a lock.
Most SUV’s allow you to remove the third row seats to increase the cargo space. You can use this space for sleeping as well. The biggest problem you will have however is once you begin packing it you may find you have more gear than room.
Even if you get all of your supplies in then you have taken up all the sleeping space. This means you would have to spend time removing gear for sleeping and this is not an ideal situation when bugging-out. You can sleep outside of the vehicle but you cannot count on being able to do this every time because of weather conditions, safety reasons or other environmental factors.
Cargo carriers on top of the vehicle are an option but they can be a hindrance if you have to go off road because the boxes can snag on overhead limbs and heavy brush. Speaking of off road, four-wheel drive is necessary for any bug-out vehicle because it is unlikely you will encounter clear roads ahead during a bug-out situation.
Answers Some Questions First
Do you have a bug-out-location picked out, and how far away is it? Do you have supplies at your safe haven, extra fuel, tools for vehicle repair and parts for your vehicle and so on?
If you know, you only have to get from point “A” to point “B” during a crisis and you know the number of miles and the terrain along the way this may influence the type of vehicle you need, and what you need to bring.
The reality is you cannot pack enough to last you indefinitely and once you begin packing you will see just how little you can actually carry. You will have to choose carefully and prioritize.
You may not have a place to go to and plan to camp out essentially in some remote area, so this will have an impact on what you pack and how much. You cannot assume there will be a set timetable for when things get back to normal, if it ever does get back to normal. You may have to deal with a new normal. It could be days, weeks, months or even longer that you have to survive away from your home.
There are several schools of thought on bug-out vehicles and even about whether you should ever bug-out at all regardless of the situation.
Some, and rightly so make the argument that a person walking can surpass virtually any obstacle they may find along a highway or trail, whereas a vehicle cannot. You as a person walking can cross-rivers, go through deep snows, maneuver steep inclines and go around stalled vehicles and other obstacle on a bridge for example.
Vehicles run out of fuel and breakdown, and the biggest concern is you load your vehicle with precious cargo only to drive a few miles and you have a mechanical failure or you find you simply cannot find a way around a barrier. Then what, you have supplies that you cannot carry, and decisions have to be made quickly. This is something that must be given considerable thought.
If you are traveling with your family or others, on foot, you can carry only so much and you will only move as fast as the slowest person will in your group. However, the human body is designed for walking and running and you could walk for an indefinite period regardless of the terrain.
To make a decision about a bug-out vehicle you need to think long term. What may apply today could change tomorrow. However, you should always prepare for evacuation because you simply do not know what conditions may arise that will force you from your home or community.