Last Updated on August 5, 2021
Is there any one of us who doesn’t drool a little whenever you see an exotic sports car tooling down the road? I don’t mean a Mustang GT either; I am talking about Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLauren – something in that range. I love these cars and if someone gave me one I would gladly take it. Of course, after I took it out for a good spin I would sell it as quickly as I could. Why? Because I can think of so many other things I need to spend money on besides the most expensive sports car I can find.
One problem I have with a lot of the Best bug out vehicles lists is that they are full of really exotic (expensive) vehicles that the average prepper simply couldn’t afford. If we could, then I guess we would all have that Knight XV Fully Armored SUV that goes for around $800,000 if my source is right.
I started thinking about this subject a little more as I was shopping for my own personal Bug Out Vehicle. After much saving, searching, and research I finally found what I think is a great option for me, but I wanted to talk about bug out vehicles and create a different kind of list. This list will be the best bug out vehicles you can actually afford. So if you are in the market for a vehicle that may help you get out of or survive the next disaster, zombie apocalypse, or the common summer or winter storm, read on.
What is a Bug Out Vehicle?
A bug out vehicle by definition is what you would hop in if you needed to get out of dodge. If you were going to pack your family and all your survival supplies in a vehicle and race out-of-town to avoid danger that was coming for you, the bug out vehicle would be the best option for you do accomplish this task. All bug out scenarios aren’t created equally though and each person has their own needs and preferences. Fortunately for us, there are almost as many bug out vehicle options as there are situations. The list below should account for most of what I can foresee the average person needing in a vehicle.
What should the bug out vehicle allow you to do?
Could you bug out in that 2 seat sports car? Absolutely. You someone bug out on a survival bicycle? Of course and before it’s all over that might be what you are forced to finally resort to, but in my mind a bug out vehicle has to be able to accomplish a few tasks to even make the running. Ideally we have a vehicle that you can use daily that can also hold its own if forced to be put into action to get you out of a hairy situation.
It must hold 4 people – But I am a single girl you say, why would I need something to hold 4 people? I believe it is short-sighted to plan on a bug out vehicle that only carries one or two people. That might be what you are forced to live with if something happened right now, but it shouldn’t be the goal. If this is a real bug out scenario you want to be with some friends or family because there is strength and support in numbers. The best bug out vehicles won’t leave the possibility of taking a few more people with you out of the equation.
It must be able to carry your supplies – Back to the 2 seat vehicle and even a lot of mid-sized cars these days. Most have so little cargo room that you would be lucky to get your bug out bag and a pillow in the trunk but you could forget about all of your prepping supplies, ammo and food and water you have stored. I am not saying that your bug out vehicle should be able to carry everything in your house or else it is worthless, but you do want the ability to pack a good portion of your supplies or gear.
It must be able to navigate rough terrain/rough weather – The first thing that comes to mind when I am considering a vehicle that I could actually use to bug out is 4 wheel drive. I have read other forums where some will complain about the fuel you would need and how a larger vehicle could actually be worse. Some have even recommended a hybrid as a better solution to save gas and I simply disagree. In almost every horrible scenario I can imagine, even something as mundane as a hurricane evacuation, the ability to go off-road is an important advantage. Try taking that Prius across the median of a clogged highway that is soaked with rain. Can you imagine that Chevy Volt in a snow storm with downed trees? Motorcycles don’t pass the test for me on this point although if outfitted correctly, they can go through a lot of rugged terrain. The downside is cargo capacity and exposure to the elements.
It must be fairly nimble and able to negotiate obstacles quickly – Back to motorcycles again. They are perhaps the most nimble but they have their drawbacks. Also, a trailer on the back of your vehicle would give you the ability to carry a lot of gear but seriously reduce your mobility. Try backing up a trailer and turning around to avoid an ambush quickly. Most people have problems backing up a trailer when they aren’t panicked, getting shot at or worse. You could wait for Ford’s Pro Trailer Backup Assist coming in their 2016 line, but is it worth it?
What are the best bug out vehicles?
So taking all of those criteria into consideration and this assumes the market is the US, what are the best bug out vehicles that meet that criteria and won’t break the bank? Most all of these are vehicles that unlike the Knight XV are driven by millions every day and can get you to safety, all things being equal. You can also buy late-model versions of each of these for less than $20,000. Not free obviously, but not $800,000 either.
Jeep – There are several models of Jeep that boast both 4 wheel drive and have a decent amount of cargo capacity to get you where you need to go. For serious off-road enthusiasts there is a huge market of parts and accessories to make this vehicle highly customizable.
Humvee – The average prepper knows all about these vehicles and new ones are out of the realm of possibility, but you can get surplus military Humvee right now for less than $10,000 on the GOV Planet website. If you have always dreamed of outfitting your own mini-fiefdom after the world ends, now is your chance. Of course if you just want a great vehicle that can get you and your family to your secluded retreat, this makes a compelling option at this price.
4 Wheel drive Truck with crew cab – There are too many four-wheel drive trucks to list here, but a crew cab make this a natural fit for a Bug out vehicle. You can improve the suspension, add a cargo top and have a great vehicle that you can drive every day or when the grid goes down.
4 Wheel or all wheel drive SUV – Just like with trucks, SUV’s are everywhere but they aren’t all created equally. Some have 4 wheel drive, but all 4 wheel capability isn’t created equally. For SUV’s I would stick with Toyota 4Runner, Nissan or the Jeeps mentioned above. Obviously, the old Ford Expeditions and Chevy Tahoe can work in this capacity too and there will always be easy access to parts for each.
Best Bug out vehicle upgrades
These vehicles listed above will make great, affordable bug out vehicle options for most people but if you want to extend their capabilities, you can add some fairly simple aftermarket additions to make them even better.
- Roof top cargo racks – This will extend the amount of gear you can carry by a considerable bit. Two well-known manufacturers are Gobi and Baha.
- Improved front and rear bumpers – This is not an upgrade for everyone because they aren’t cheap but if you want some more protection (a lot more) for your bug out vehicle, there are several manufacturers. ARB, Shrockworks and CBI make insanely tough bumpers that you can add to your own vehicle.
- Winch kits – Sometimes you get stuck and if the end of the world as we know it happens and you are riding into the wilderness in your bug out vehicle, you won’t be able to call AAA. Having a sturdy winch could pull you out of a jam.
- Enhanced lighting – Regular headlights are only meant to show the road immediately ahead of you at a normal distance that won’t blind traffic coming towards you. If you are out in the wilderness or a power outage or storm has rendered your world as black as night, additional lights can help you see or be seen. The current LED technology has really increased the amount of available light you can have for your BOV. Some of these lights are capable of putting out over 24,000 lumens! For comparison, your regular Cree mini flashlight has about 200 lumens. Rigid Industries is probably the best known (and most expensive) but there are cheaper options out there if you look around. For instance, Amazon has a 24 inch LED light bar for under $60. That will save you about $800.
- Communication options – CB Radio and Ham Radio make excellent upgrades to your bug out vehicle. Either will allow you to communicate with the rest of your group or rescue sources nearby.
- Additional fuel storage tanks – Increase the range of your bug out vehicle by adding a larger or secondary fuel tank. Of course, there are cheaper options where you can just purchase additional fuel cans and mount them on your roof rack or bumper.
Hopefully, this gives you some ideas if you are looking for a bug out vehicle that you can afford. What are you driving?