In the process of preparing everything for an eventual bug out, one of the most important pieces of equipment will be your bug out vehicle. We all need SHTF vehicles to get from our current residence to the bug out location as fast as possible.
While most of us won’t end up using the vehicle for very long, it’s a pivotal piece of the puzzle that will help get you and your family out of harm’s way.
When you look at your current situation, is your bug out vehicle ready in the event of a scenario right now? Do you even have a bug out vehicle? Is it maintained, stocked, and ready to go?
Keep in mind that it’s not as simple as throwing everything in the trunk and moving out. You need to make sure the vehicle is well-maintained, stocked with the essentials, and prepared to get you where you’re going in a hurry.
This guide will ensure that you’re ready when the time comes. We’re covering vehicle types, maintenance, gear to have with you, accessories, and driving to the bug out location.
15 Best Bug Out Vehicles
As mentioned, the choice of a bug out vehicle will vary depending on your individual preferences. Once you have picked the vehicle type you want, it’s time to compare the options
Among the various options in the market, here is our bug out vehicle list to help you make your choice.
1. The Jeep Wrangler
Often considered the ultimate choice for outdoor enthusiasts, the Jeep Wrangler’s excellent off-road capability makes it a great bug out vehicle.
Be it a forest, mud, rocky terrains, or a desert, the four-wheel-drive capability makes the Wrangler a highly capable performer. Even if you need to cross a few streams or small rivers, the Jeep will handle it like a champ. In addition, it provides enough comfort and safety for all the passengers.
Then again, the Wrangler will also fulfill all your on-road demands with reliable performance.
Make sure to check the trims, and equipment packages to look for features that you need.
While the Wrangler looks and feels rugged, there are plenty of ways for customization too. Moreover, the 4-door Wrangler can hold over 70 cubic feet of cargo. That provides ample space to carry all your emergency provisions.
- Offers great diversity
- 2 door and 4-door options
- 4-wheel drive
- Easily available aftermarket parts
- It’s an expensive vehicle
- Not the best fuel economy
2. Earth Roamer XV-LT
The Earth Roamer is an offroad “luxury expedition vehicle” that’s designed to offer off-grid independence. What’s makes it special is it can operate without water, electrical, and sewer hook-ups.
A vacuum-infused carbon fiber body and military-grade tires makes this a heavy-duty camper. The vehicle is designed for all-weather performance and offers great off-road capabilities. Since it runs on solar and battery power, you can be completely grid-independent.
Everything about this vehicle has been carefully designed to offer a premium user experience. You can customize the floor plan and materials as well. Overall, this is a luxury-grade camper with a truck bed that can serve the common purpose of a bug out vehicle and a survival property.
The only downside is, it comes at a hefty price. But considering the top-notch quality and countless features, this rugged cabin-on-wheels it’s a solid choice if you can afford it.
- Great off-roading capability
- Comes with batteries and an inverter
- Ideal for a large family
- Luxurious interiors
- A super expensive choice
3. Mercedes G-Class
The Mercedes G-Class may look somewhat old-fashioned, but it’s a highly capable vehicle that is still a cult off-roader. As a bug out vehicle, it will allow you to cover long distances with ease, and enough luxury to camp in the vehicle if needed.
In terms of off-road performance, the G-class can wade through 700mm of water and climb 45-degree slopes. While off-road behavior was always a priority for the vehicle, Mercedes has also improved interior comfort with the new models.
While it remains tough as a beast, The new G-class also more agile with better road manners than the older models. Other than that, the cabin space has also been improved. You get tons of space for storing gear.
On the whole, it’s one of the best luxury SUVs that will be a safe and reliable bug out car during an SHTF situation.
- A reliable luxury SUV
- Great off-road prowess
- Offers excellent acceleration
- Uber-luxurious interiors
- Hefty price tag
- Poor fuel economy
4. Ford Explorer
The Explorer is a SUV that has been around for more than three decades and still going strong. The design language of Ford has evolved with time and today, we feel it’s the best bug out vehicle for large families.
Even though the interior isn’t the best in terms of comfort, it’s perfectly functional. The vehicle also offers improved ergonomics and sufficient cargo space for families. Ford has added smart safety features and additional driving-assistance technologies.
Besides, the Explorer Timberline variant is also available in AWD, which makes it a capable off-roader. It comes with additional features for improving off-road traction and steel underbody skid plates to tackle rough terrain.
While it’s not the most comfortable vehicle when the going gets rough, the spacious and comfortable interiors are a big plus. To sum up, the Ford Explorer offers excellent value as a bug out vehicle.
- Can seat seven people
- Available in AWD
- Ample interior space
- Comfortable on-road performance
- Lacks the refinement of class leaders
- Cramped third-row seating
5. Chevrolet Suburban
When it comes to interior space, the Chevy suburban is simply unbeatable. In addition, it also provides the right amount of ride comfort and the overall driving experience is great.
As a full-size SUV, the Suburban can seat nine people. It can also accommodate a lot more in its impressive 41.5 cubic feet of cargo space. Moreover, it’s also a rare SUV that offers good comfort in all three rows.
Keep in mind, only the Z71 trim comes with a four-wheel drive. Also, the overall safety features are good but not the best in class. However, there are plenty of high-tech goodies to improve the passenger experience.
If the big and bold design is acceptable to you, this is one of the best vehicles that will accommodate every item in your bug out gear list. But if you’re looking for something smaller and more rugged, there are other options.
- A super spacious SUV for large families
- Good comfort level
- Ample interior space
- High-quality cabin
- Not for small families
- Higher trims are pricey
6. Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road
Quite simply, the Toyota Tacoma is a no-nonsense vehicle when you need to get stuff done. Over the years, Tacoma has earned a reputation as one of the most reliable midsize pickup trucks in the market. No wonder, it has a lasting appeal.
The rugged styling of the Tacoma matches its torque output that feels powerful and responsive. With beefy tires and an efficient shock-absorber, the off-roading capabilities are good too. While the V-6 engine is not the most powerful, it’s perfect for overcoming rocky trails.
However, the interiors are pretty lackluster with a straightforward feel. Moreover, it’s not the best choice when it comes to cabin space. Taller occupants will find the headroom to be limited.
On the whole, Tacoma isn’t the best choice in terms of space or comfort. But with its rugged looks and reliable performance, it offers good value.
- A capable off-roader
- Attractive exterior
- A towing capability of up to 6800 pounds
- A high reliability factor
- Lack of interiors space
- Average fuel economy
7. Ford Expedition
This flagship SUV from Ford is another spacious vehicle that also boasts of an impressive towing capacity of 9,300 pounds. That makes it a good choice for large families hauling a ton of gear to a bug out location.
Apart from the brawn, the Expedition offers a buttery smooth ride quality. It’s also equipped with Ford’s BlueCruise driver assist technology that allows full hands-free driving. Four-wheel drive capability is present across the entire lineup.
Most significantly, it also has a special off-road themed edition, the Timberline. The Timberline has improved ground clearance, underbody cladding, and all-terrain tires that make it a capable off-roader. A great choice if you are looking for a large vehicle that can handle technical terrains.
If you want to compare it with the Toyota Explorer, note that the Expedition is a larger and more spacious vehicle. However, the Explorer is the better choice for small families looking for a more affordable option.
- Excellent hauling capacity
- Spacious interiors
- Good ride quality
- Multiple trims and varied features
- Fuel efficiency is limited
- Not easy to maneuver
8. Sportsmobile Classic 4×4
As a camper van conversion company, Sportsmobile has been around since 1961. This model is an adventure van built on a Ford cutaway chassis and an integrated penthouse top.
The van has been designed with two primary objectives- durability and off-roading. To achieve this, it combines the Ford cutaway body with a steel-reinforced fiberglass shell. Moreover, it has an excellent towing capacity of 10,000 pounds.
You can choose from four different floor plans depending on the storage and lounging space requirements. The layout is also customizable. The van has an electrical system, along with water and electricity hookups.
You may not like its design, but the Sportsmobile Classic is a home on wheels, built for off-grid use. While it’s a pricey option, we consider it a dependable long-distance bug out vehicle.
- Excellent hauling capacity
- Superior quality by Sportsmobile
- Can be driven rear, front, and 4WD
- A reliable 7.3L V-8 engine
- Stands out on the street
- Beefed up design is a hit or miss
9. Ford Ranger Raptor
Quite simply, when you are heading out for unknown terrains to survive a SHTF situation, the Ford Raptor is the perfect all-wheel companion.
What makes it one of the best bug out vehicles?
Firstly, the Raptor is excellent for off-road driving and delivers a comfortable on-road driving experience. It can easily withstand constant abuse from the roads without breaking a sweat. The vehicle can even wade through 850mm of water.
Even though the Raptor isn’t the fastest in its category, the ride and handling make it one of the most composed pickups in the market. And in case you want to reach your destination quickly over rough roads, the Raptor won’t disappoint.
The interior isn’t premium but has enough niceties to make it comfortable enough for a small family. However, the Raptor is an expensive choice and not the best option when you’re looking for more space.
- Grear suspension for handling off-road challenges
- Feels indestructible even on rough terrains
- Off-road seats with a high seating position
- A tough exterior design
- Low payload rating of 1,400 pounds
- Not the most powerful engine
10. BMW X5 Protection VR6
If you’re looking for full-proof security while driving through conditions like civil unrest, the BMW X5 Protection VR6 is an excellent choice.
And it’s not just about protection from blunt weapons or handguns. The armored shell of the car is robust enough to offer protection from the 7.62×39 ammunition used in AK47 bullets!
Other features include steel reinforcement in vulnerable spots, multi-layered safety glass, and a self-sealing fuel tank.
Coming to the off-road capabilities…
Fact is, this isn’t a true offroader that can tackle rough terrains with ease. With all that additional weight, this is not a nimble SUV either. However, the twin-turbo V8 engine is a dependable performer on trails.
In reality, with unique features and a high price, this isn’t a vehicle for everyone. But if you’re looking for legitimate defense capabilities in a bug out vehicle, this fortress-on-wheels is a solid choice.
- A legitimate armored vehicle
- Looks like a crossover SUV
- Uses post-blast protective technology
- Uber-luxurious interiors
- Not the best choice for off-roading
- Limited protection on the roof
11. Jeep Gladiator
The Jeep Gladiator offers some serious off-road chops along with an appealing design. It comes in two off-roading trims- the Rubicon and the Mojave. Both trims are superbly competent and have a lot in common. So choosing the best can be tough.
That said, the Mojave is a more efficient desert runner.But if you want a steady vehicle for tackling rocks, the Rubicon is a better choice.
In reality, the Gladiator feels like a Wrangler with a bed. The Transformer-like durability is mixed with a comfortable and roomy interior. In terms of interior space, it can seat four people comfortably. The payload ratings vary between 1,075 to 1,700 pounds.
The Gladiator isn’t the ideal choice for street comfort. But when you need to cross tough terrains to beat the apocalypse, it performs like a champ.
- Classic Jeep styling
- SUV/Pickup truck hybrid design
- Great safety features
- Multiple customization options
- Not the best bang for your buck
- Low gas mileage
12. Ford F-150
The Ford F-Series has been the highest-selling pickup truck in America for years. It’s a reliable workhorse that offers a super-roomy cabin, good fuel economy, and firm ride quality. On the whole, a reliable bug out truck for carrying gear.
And if you prefer a serious off-roader check out the F-150 Lightning that can handle steep, rocky paths or dry riverbeds with ease. With a set of all-terrain tires, the Lighting can handle all the rough stuff while heading to a distant bug out location.
Beyond that, the F-150 also offers better interiors than its competitors. You get high-quality materials, a 12-inch display, and a simple dashboard layout. Ford provides six engine options with the vehicle. The good news is all of them offer a smooth and refined performance.
The F-150 balances its rugged exterior with the right amount of comfort in the interior. Besides, you get a wide range of prices to choose from.
- Multiple engine choices
- Top-of-the-range towing capacity at 14,000 pounds.
- A maximum payload capacity of 3,325 pounds.
- All models come with a 4 x4 drive
- Limited in-cabin storage space
- Not the best fuel economy
13. Knight XV
The Knight XV from Conquest Vehicles is an armored vehicle with ultra-luxurious interiors. In fact, you can think of it as a tank with an overdose of luxury.
The Knight is a flagship model hand-built in Canada and top-grade armoring materials have been used to manufacture it from the ground up.
The vehicle uses transparent ballistic glass and specially designed opaque armor. Other features include a special fireproof wall between the engine and the passenger compartment and night vision cameras for security.
The spacious interiors can seat 6 people. It comes with wool carpeting, a conference room, and cabin seating.
The gas guzzling Knight XV isn’t an everyday vehicle. But this urban assault brute can be the perfect choice to drive out of a city on the verge of apocalyptic chaos.
- Excellent security features
- Precision craftsmanship
- Fully customizable interiors
- A reliable Ford V10 engine.
- It is a super expensive choice
- Limited availability
14. Yamaha Raptor 700R
The Yamaha Raptor is an extremely capable beast that is hailed by enthusiasts for its superb versatility. The best part is, even if you’re a newbie ATV rider, you’ll find the Raptor an easy-to-manage vehicle that offers a balanced ride.
The 686cc, liquid-cooled engine of the Raptor delivers enough power to climb hills or for jumping. The combination of an advanced chassis design and great suspension ensures solid handling in rough conditions.
Moreover, the comfortable ride quality of the Raptor will not tire you out after the end of a long day. And the Raptor is also equipped with a powerful headlight and a LED taillight for night riding.
If you prefer a Sport ATV to take you out of harm’s way or as a backup in your bug out location, this is a great choice.
- A sporty aggressive look
- Excellent handling
- A durable but lightweight chassis
- A fully adjustable suspension
- Not for hauling heavy loads
- No AWD available
15. BMW R 1200 GS Adventure
If you have planned to use a motorcycle for making a quick getaway during an emergency scenario, check out the R 1200 GS. This masterpiece from BMW is designed for touring and offers a reliable performance even when you head off-road.
What makes the GS a go-anywhere motorcycle is its ability to float over rough surfaces; thanks to the front suspension design. Then again, there is plenty of power available when you need it. Besides, the low-speed balance is top-notch.
Other features include a height-adjustable windscreen, heated grips, and good storage ability. It also uses a 6-axis IMU technology to provide better performance in each riding mode.
With a perfect mix of sporting attitude and comfort, we feel the R 1250 GS is the only motorcycle you need as a survivalist.
- A great mix of utility and versatility
- Easy to ride
- Powerful performance
- Tons of features and convenience
- A tall and heavy design
- High cost of ownership
Choosing The Best Bug Out Vehicle
Let’s be real for a second, very few of us have the money to go out and purchase a bug out vehicle built specifically for the purpose. Most of us will need to customize a current vehicle, upgrade it, or build out our own.
Now that we’ve made it through the bug out vehicle list, let’s talk a bit about the different types of bug out vehicle options.
Bug Out Van
If you have a large van or camper, you’re in pretty good shape. You’ll be able to fit a large number of items in here such as food, water, ammunition, and whatever else it is you’re bringing. It will also serve as a much more effective home away from home if you don’t have a bug out location and need to live on the road.
We need to keep in mind the obvious shortcomings though. You’re very limited on the terrain that you can travel. If you’re bugging out in a location that gets a lot of snow or you need to “off-road” you might be in trouble.
Bug Out Jeep
The Jeep might be the ultimate bug out vehicle because it’ll get decent gas mileage, you can cover rugged terrain with all wheel drive or four wheel drive, and you’ll have enough room to store your gear. The Jeep Wrangler is suggested by a lot of experts as the bug out vehicle of choice but keep in mind that you won’t have as much room for storage.
What you will get is enough towing capacity to pull a trailer though. Just remember that you don’t want to put a target on your back when the SHTF. If you’re stuck in your vehicle and people see you pulling around a trailer with a Jeep full of supplies, you might be in for it.
Bug Out Truck
Trucks have a lot of room for gear and the best bug out truck should have no problem traversing any terrain. You won’t likely have as much room in the cabin as you would in some of the other vehicle types so it may make sleeping a challenge if you’re stuck in the truck overnight.
What you have here is a nice multi-purpose option because you can prepare the truck and ensure that it’s always ready in the event of a bug out but also use it on a regular basis for everyday activities.
There’s no right or wrong truck to have. A Ford F-250, Toyota 4runner, or a Chevy Silverado should do. These trucks contain the off-road capability for an ideal survival vehicle. Plus, their full size nature will help with offroading.
While an ATV may not serve as a long-term bug out option, everyone prepping should have one. If you’re on your own, it’s the perfect low-key vehicle to get you out of harm’s way and to a safe location.
If you’re traveling in a group, an ATV is a nice scout vehicle that you can use to scope out large areas of land to determine if they’re safe.
Motorcycles and scooters are a nice option for urban survival. If you’re bugging out in the city and you don’t have a lot of gear, a motorcycle will make it a heck of a lot easier to get out while everyone else is stuck in traffic.
Keep in mind that when everyone is fleeing the city, this might be your only ticket out. The number one suggestion I have is to bring as much fuel as you can carry because the tank is much smaller.
A bug out boat is a great option if you live near an ocean or canal. I suggest going with a smaller boat because it will allow you to travel almost anywhere. A boat is a great way to escape danger in a pinch and get very far away from the city in a short amount of time.
If you own a boat but don’t live near the water, you can use this strategy too. Have an action plan in place based on different scenarios. Sometimes the boat might be the right option but in many cases, traveling by water could actually become a hindrance.
If you don’t own or can’t afford a motorcycle or electric scooter, a bicycle is just as good. I’m a big believer in limiting what can go wrong and you will have a much better chance of making it out of the city on a bike than you would with a car.
I would recommend getting a bike for everyone in your party. If everything else goes wrong and you’re forced to abandon your vehicle, you could all travel via bicycle and stay under the radar. Just keep in mind how easily a bike can be stolen so you’ll need a way to safeguard them.
Best Bug out Vehicle for EMP
One additional area worth mentioning is the event of an electromagnetic pulse attack. Many preppers believe that a foreign country will attack us using EMP technology which creates short bursts of electromagnetic energy. This can result in a disturbance of the power grid shutting down all technology in the surrounding area.
When this happens, we need to realize that we’ll lose access to most communication and GPS. The best bug out vehicle for EMP would be something simple, lacking electronic features, and built to handle bumps and bruises on the way out.
Many experts suggest going with an older vehicle that you’re not afraid to damage the body. Commercial utility vehicles, Land Rovers, and old pickup trucks may serve best in this scenario. The bottom line is, you don’t want anything that’s new because many of these cars require some form of electronic connection to operate properly.
Everywhere you go there are risks. You need to keep that in mind. So, to prepare for these risks you’ll need essential bug out truck accessories if you expect to make it very long. Even though most bug out vehicles will only serve as transportation from the primary residence to the new residence, you need to prepare for the worst.
Here’s a list of what the ultimate bug out vehicles have:
- Advanced survival first aid kit
- Plastic garbage bags
- Fire extinguisher
- Necessary firearms
- RTE Food or MREs
- Flare guns
- Sealant for tire punctures
- Air compressor
- Tool kit
- Foldable survival shovel
- Spare tire kept at the proper pressure
- Ladder with traction legs
- Fuses, fan belts, wiper fluid
- Spare gas
- Spare oil
- Seatbelt cutter
- Ice pick
- Ratchet straps
- Roof racks
- Winch saw
While this is the ultimate bug out vehicle setup, this list is not limited. If you feel there are more things you’ll need, add them. Just keep in mind how much weight and effort it will take to move all of this stuff and factor in how much it would hurt you to lose it.
You need to organize the gear in a way that will allow you to take the most important essentials if you need to abandon the vehicle. All your gear should be loaded:
- Least important first, most important last
By doing this it will ensure that the most important pieces of equipment such as first aid and tools are with you no matter what.
Bug Out Vehicle Accessories
What about additional purchases? Since we’re not buying a dedicated vehicle, you might want to make some upgrades along the way. If you’re going to do this, here’s what I recommend.
Run-Flat Tires – Some tire brands like Bridgestone offer run-flat tires that will travel hundreds of miles even when they’re flat. In fact, you won’t even notice it. They cost a lot more than regular tires and they’re not available for most trucks and SUVs. If you’re bugging out in a small passenger car, these could save your life.
Roof Racks – A roof rack is much less cumbersome than a trailer and there are even camping systems that allow you to set up a tent on the roof of your SUV. These are highly useful in last-minute situations when you’re forced away from your strategy. I suggest getting a roof rack regardless of your plan because it will provide you with plenty of extra storage space.
Extended Gas Tanks – Most trucks and SUVs can purchase extended range gas tanks. This is an incredibly powerful decision to make, especially if you live pretty far out there. When things aren’t out of hand yet, it’s not a big deal to stop for gas. Once the SHTF, there will be no gas and trying to stop for any won’t be a viable option.
Security Tint – Everything is up for grabs when all hell breaks loose so you need to do everything you can to prevent people from breaking into your vehicle. Some people won’t just go around smashing windows, they’ll look for opportunities. If they can look into your windows and see all your stuff, that will increase the chances of them breaking in. Dark 30% tint won’t make it too hard to drive at night but it will also keep prying eyes away from your vehicle.
Bug Out Vehicle Maintenance
If you’re using a suburban bug out vehicle, chances are you’re using it for everything. If that’s the case, you’ll want to make sure you’re always prepared by maintaining the vehicle well and planning for the worst at every turn. Keep it in peak condition with the following tips:
- Always keep the fuel tank half full AT LEAST
- Perform a daily vehicle inspection to ensure there are no fluid leaks
- Check tires weekly for leaks and wear
- Have a regular maintenance plan for filters, oil changes, fluid, and pressure checks
- Check in on your bug out supply frequently to make sure nothing has shifted position
If you’re storing food and water in the vehicle, make sure to check on this frequently as well. You should only be storing non-perishables but certain foods can go bad if they experience drastic temperature changes. The same applies for water.
Your bug out vehicle interior is important as well. Remember that this may serve as your residence for a period of time so you want to do it as comfortably as possible. Be sure to pack things like blankets, sleeping bags, and whatever else you’ll need based on your specific location. If you live somewhere that experiences cold temperatures and you have a family, plan accordingly. Treat it as if the worst-case scenario will always happen.
The Best Bug Out Vehicle Checklist
Here’s a quick checklist to follow. This vehicle checklist should apply to most people in the majority of situations. Change or tweak it to fit your needs:
- Everything in the bug out gear list above
- Enough blankets for each person to have one
- Extra fuel
- Extra oil
- Siphon hose
- Non-Perishable food for 14 days
- Water for 30 days and a way to purify water
- Additional clothing for all
- Phone chargers
- Electric inverter
- Local and regional maps
- $500 in spare cash
- House keys
- Important documentation
- Jerry cans
- Full tank of gas
- Tire check
- Spare tire check
This list is intended as a starting point. These are the essentials that everyone should think about and you can add onto this based on your specific scenario and plans. Given a basic SHTF situation where everything goes right, this can serve as an emergency checklist.
Don’t forget to always have your BOB (bug out bag) and survival first aid kit on you at all times.
Driving to the Bug Out Location
I assume you understand many of the proper procedures for driving to the bug out location. You should already have a planned route to get there and you should be regularly checking on that route to make sure that nothing will cause problems when need be.
You should know exactly how many miles you have to travel, how long it will take to get there, and alternate routes in the event that you can’t take the main one.
Stay away from any major highways, toll roads, or interstates. Travel on as many backroads as possible even if it takes a little bit longer to get there. Make sure you’re trained in defensive driving as well because you’ll need to know how to prevent vehicle hijacking if things get sketchy fast.
Remember, no matter what, do not get out of the vehicle. If you need to park and get out for any reason, only do it off the road in a secluded location. Keep your bug out bag with you at all times when leaving the vehicle.
The ultimate goal of bugging out is to drive directly from point A to point B without any stopping. That should be your goal as well.
During periods of civil unrest there will be a lot of people trying to steal your survival gear and screw with your bug out. Don’t let that happen.
Also, if you’re traveling with firearms, do not panic. Do not make the mistake of carrying a loaded weapon in your lap or unsecured on the dash. You need to keep the gun in the holster with the safety off at all times. If someone hits you or sneaks up on you, the weapon could accidentally discharge, shooting you or a family member.
Always carry it with one round in the chamber. If you have a tactical vest, you’re at an advantage.
Preparing your bug out vehicle for the big day is an exciting but nerve-wracking experience. This is something we spend so much time thinking about and planning for but when the day comes, we all know that nothing will go according to plan. Do yourself a favor and prep ahead so you’re ready when the SHTF. Keep in mind that skills are critically important for the perfect bug out. Knowing how to siphon gas out of another car may save your life.