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10+ Must-Haves When Building Your Bug Out Vehicle

When planning for disastrous times, consider ten must-haves when building your bug-out vehicle (that’s to leave, rather than regular vehicle preparedness). There is no reason to cheap out when preparing for a potential survival situation, so get the best options for your bug-out vehicle. Let’s take a look at what’s practical in a bug-out car.

What Is a Bug-Out Vehicle?

If you have yet to hear about the latest trend in the end-times community, then a bug-out vehicle might be foreign to you. It is an automobile outfitted with survival items and features for national or global crises.

In some situations, the bug-out vehicle is your primary car. For others, purchasing a vehicle for the sole purpose of survival is the plan. Either way, this vehicle has to be able to get to a remote, safe place to avert whatever crisis is happening.

The purpose of a bug-out vehicle (besides getting to a remote location) is to keep you alive with minimal essentials on board. You will need to make lists and decide how much space you’ll have for supplies.

Why Should You Have a Bug-Out Vehicle?

It might seem far-fetched to have a bug-out vehicle for catastrophic times, but let’s talk about why you need it.

No matter where you live, there will be catastrophic events. Hurricanes haunt the Southeastern shoreline of the United States along with the Gulf of Mexico; landslides are common along the Pacific seaboard; tornadoes plague the Midwest of the United States; and blizzard conditions are a certainty in the New England region of the country.

Having a bug-out vehicle isn’t just for nature’s wrath however. As we saw during Covid-19, there could be a time when we must shelter in place. The government could shut down daily operations, causing supermarket shortages, gas limitations, education lapses, among other havoc.

Many people invested in bicycles during the Covid shutdown. Some bought campers and RVs to get out of the house. Still others focused on water sports to keep their minds off the impending crisis. These were mechanisms helpful for mentally surviving during a pandemic. 

But what about physically surviving an even bigger catastrophe? A bug-out vehicle would be your survival kit for a grander crisis.

How To Construct the List of Necessities for Your Bug-Out Vehicle

You must consider your particular situation when building your bug-out vehicle must-haves. (If you live in the Florida Keys, you most likely won’t need heavy blankets in your bug-out vehicle.) It will save money to focus on the things that will be most useful to you.

Cold climate residents will want blankets and hand warmers on their list. Warm weather residents will put sunscreen and battery-operated fans on their list.

Also think about the capacity of your bug-out vehicle. If you only have one or two children, you can use a sedan as your bug-out vehicle. Consider getting a bug-out van if your family has more than four people.

What Is a Bug Out Van?

A bug-out van is a great option for a large family to help prepare for a survival situation. A van has plenty of space for bug-out bags, people, and essential supplies. With a bug-out van, you and your family can survive for quite a period of time before needing to go anywhere.

What Are the Ten Must-Haves When Building Your Bug-Out Vehicle?

Although it may seem simple, every family has different needs in times of disaster. Some families might have dietary restrictions, while others may need pharmaceutical drugs for chronic diseases. However, there are several things that every bug-out vehicle should feature:

  1. A tire patch kit with a gauge and pump is a must.
  2. Tire chains are another must if you expect a natural disaster to ruin roads.
  3. Fuel containers filled with gas will always come in handy, but be sure to refresh the fuel ever so often. In this same category should be some form of a fire starter.
  4. A basic tool kit is another emergency item vital for any situation.
  5. A few spare parts for the vehicle will be worth the time to pack. It can include windshield wipers, light bulbs for the headlights and blinkers, and fuses.
  6. Jumper cables or spare batteries would be a brilliant addition to your emergency stash.
  7. A jack stand or two would be an ideal addition to your bug-out vehicle.
  8. Non-perishable food is a must-have for everyone’s bug-out vehicle. You want to think of canned goods such as beans, veggies, cooked ham, canned tuna, soup, and canned chicken.
  9. Water bottles, along with a water purification system, are an essential for all bug-out cars. You can buy individual water bottles with purification cartridges in the lids for hiking and traveling purposes.
  10. Battery-operated radio for communication. If you become stranded at your bug-out vehicle, you’ll want a way to communicate to emergency personnel.

What Is the Bug-Out Strategy?

There is a strategy behind creating a versatile bug-out vehicle. As mentioned above, you need to consider your location and specific needs.

It’s also helpful to think of an emergency situation that would be realistic for you and plan for that. Here are a few things to think about before gearing up your bug-out vehicle:

  1. The space of the vehicle is vital to your plan for must-have supplies. Obviously, a larger vehicle will accommodate more must-haves and create a longer survival span.
  2. Thinking about the terrain around you during the emergency, will you need any special features built into the vehicle? For example four-wheel drive is good in snowy conditions, and tire chains are essential for icy roads.
  3. Will your bug-out vehicle need to be fast? For example: If you are outrunning an erupting volcano or landslide, you will need a fast car.
  4. How does the car measure up in the safety category? Does it have any added protection devices such as armor or bullet-proof glass? You may need these things in a looting situation with desperate thieves. 
  5. Keep your budget reasonable and within check. There is no need to go broke when building a bug-out vehicle. 

Remember that there is a wide variety of bug-out must-haves. One end of the spectrum is merely packing your trunk with emergency items such as a blanket, water, non-perishable food, and flashlights. The opposite end of the spectrum is buying an extra vehicle and adding solar panels, internet connectivity, bullet-proof windows, among other things.

What Makes the Best Bug-Out Vehicle?

Although the best bug-out vehicle is objective, here are a few that would make excellent choices for anyone:

Best Bug-Out Van

The Sports Mobile is a van that checks all the boxes for a bug-out vehicle. The back is big enough for a bed, their fuel efficiency is better than a truck, and their fiberglass shell will protect you in serious combat. In addition, it has some of the best technology you could want in an emergency situation.

Best Off-Road Bug-Out Vehicles

An off-road vehicle, such as a Jeep Wrangler, offers excellent four-wheel drive options if you anticipate rocky terrain. In addition, these types of vehicles have tons of space to store tools, and some offer exterior protective features such as carbon-fiber shells.

Among the contenders in this category are the Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road, the Ford Ranger Raptor, Jeep Gladiator, and the Ford F-Series.

Other options in this category include the Knight XV and Mercedes G-Class.

Using A Car as a Bug-Out Vehicle

If you don’t have money in your budget for a truck or van, a simple car will suffice for a bug-out vehicle. The advantages are high fuel efficiency and easily hidden in a remote location. The drawbacks are lack of four-wheel drive and minimal space for survival items.

Best SUV Bug-Out Vehicles

If you have a large family, SUVs are the way to travel. They are spacious and feature heavy-duty engines and high towing capacities. In addition, they handle off-roading well. The only drawback is their awful fuel efficiency.

The BMW X5 Protection VR6 offers safety from riots, bullets, and urban outbreaks of violence. Although not the best for off-roading, this vehicle will get you through an angry mob without any problems.

Some of the best for a bug-out vehicle would be the Chevy Suburban, Ford Explorer, and Ford Expedition.

Long-Term Survival Bug-Out Vehicles

Campers and RVs are definitely the best for a long-term survival situation. The biggest drawback is their slow speed and expensive fuel supply. 

The top pick for this category of bug-out vehicles is the Earthroamer LTi. This RV is a beast with a carbon-fiber body, turbo diesel engine, solar panels, among other features.

A good use of an RV or camper for a bug-out vehicle would be to park it on a property, leave it filled with bug-out must-haves, and drive to it when crises hit.

Boats As Bug-Out Vehicles

If you live the island or coastal life, having access to a boat as your bug-out vehicle is ideal. A bug-out boat could be the only way to survive a severe flooding situation. Be sure to have your bug-out must-haves on board before taking off. Also, plan to be on the boat before the flooding begins.

Additional Ideas of Must-Haves for Your Bug-Out Vehicle

If you still have space in your vehicle after packing the ten listed essentials above, you’ll want to think about several more items. Although not all of these items are absolutely necessary, some will make a survival situation more likely to end well.

  1. Flare guns are compact and store well between packed bags. Having a flare in a survival situation, significantly increases chances of being found (if you need saving).
  2. Extra oil for your vehicle. Oil is vital for vehicle function. You do not want to run out of it.
  3. Plastic garbage bags come in handy in more ways than one. Having several stashed away is a good idea.
  4. Ice scraper or pick is good in a cold weather situation as well as extra antifreeze solution.
  5. Ratchet straps can also aid in packing your bug-out vehicle to the max. Strapping bags to the roof will maximize space inside for passengers.
  6. Hygiene items such as toothpaste, toothbrush, qtips, and mouthwash are often the last things you think to grab from your home in a crisis situation.
  7. An extensive first-aid kit with hydrogen peroxide, alcohol wipes, bandaging, antibiotic ointment, and tongue depressors is imperative. 

With these extra items, you will need to prioritize before packing them. For most people, the first-aid kit would be at the top of the list and ratchet straps coming in last on the list.

Customizable Bug-Out Vehicle Must-Haves

Let’s talk about customizing your bug-out vehicle before you buy it. There are several upgrades to enhance the safety of your car.

Tinted windows are a safety feature that can protect you from thieves. If they don’t see expensive belongings in plain sight, they are less likely to break into your vehicle. 

Roof racks will be a valuable upgrade when packing all your must-haves. If this is an upgrade you opt for, get ratchet straps for secure packing.

Another upgrade is a run-flat tire. It is a pricey upgrade because it won’t abruptly flatten when punctured. But in a bug-out vehicle, run-flat tires are worth every penny.

If you anticipate gunshots, an armored shell is an upgrade that could save your life. It is an expensive upgrade but worth it in the end. Just be sure to reflect on whether you’ll be in a situation that would warrant it.

Documentation to Keep in a Bug Out Vehicle

In addition to survival items, you should pack documentation in your bug-out vehicle. This documentation includes anything that can prove you are a legal citizen of the United States. Proof that you own the vehicle is vital, including the registration and insurance. 

A glove compartment with a lock and key is the best place to keep important documents.

Remember that these documents do not have to be originals. Copies of the original documents are sufficient.

In addition, consider leaving cash in an envelope in the locked glove compartment. In times of crises, banks will not be open. In addition, if the electric grid is down, ATMs will not be able to dispense cash. Furthermore, the internet will be down, making credit card machines void.

By AlwaysReadyHQ Team

Pinterest // Email

Location: Atlanta, GA, USA

The AlwaysReadyHQ Team is made up of writers and editors with experience ranging from emergency paramedics to former FEMA policy writers to natural disaster reporters.

Our goal is to provide clear, concise, organized, realistic, and actionable information to help you and your family feel comfortable and ready for anything. Less scared and more prepared.

We only source from authoritative sources such as government agencies and industry associations to bring reliable information to directly to you.

Andrew Riley - Contributing Editor

Andrew grew up in a country known for earthquakes, volcanoes, and typhoons. But despite the chaos and destruction of natural disasters, he remembers the resilience and readiness of neighbors, despite a lack of official government aid. He hopes that his team of experienced writers bring a bit of that to all of AlwaysReadyHQ's readers.