Bug Out Vehicle Load Plan – Get Out of Danger Fast

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Last Updated on January 16, 2021

In the face of disaster, preppers know we need to move quickly. We should be prepared to act at a minute’s notice when we realize our family is in jeopardy. We each have our Bug Out Bags ready to go or they should be but it is a different matter altogether if the family bug out mobile is involved. How many times have you watched a Prepper show where the family simulated loading all of their gear to escape town? Often it took them much longer than they anticipated and in at least one case, they couldn’t even take their main prep with them.

We have talked about conducting a trial load of your bug out vehicle before and that makes perfect sense, but what if you had a simple way to plan and stage your bug out vehicle equipment, food, and gear that would only take you 10 to 20 minutes to load, was ready to go when you needed it and would give you just about everything you would need to live on your own for at least 30 days? What if this simple bug out vehicle load plan could get your and your family on the road faster? Do you think it would be worth it to spend a little time now as opposed to wasting life-saving hours later?

What do you need to pack if you are running away from disaster?

The idea for the bug out vehicle load plan comes from a couple of places. First, like so many of you, I have tried to figure out and plan for all my supplies if the situation dictated that I needed to throw everyone in the car and leave. I have written about my plan to shelter in place because I think everything being equal, it is much easier to weather some disasters from the comfort of your own home. However, I do realize that I don’t always get a vote. Perhaps a chemical spill 5 miles away was causing illness and evacuations. I would need to go and quickly.

I have many prepping supplies that I think are vital to living and surviving away from my home, but I don’t have them all packed and ready to go. I have some items in closets, some in sheds, some under beds, in spare closets and others strewn in numerous drawers. If I have plenty of time, I think What I have collected so far can cover a lot of bases, but in this scenario, we want to get out quickly. It could be that you want to beat the rush that could quickly cause the highways to be parking lots. It may also be that if you don’t get to safer ground, you will die.

Your bug out vehicle load plan needs to be simple and done well in advance.

Roof racks greatly extend your cargo carrying capacity.

The list I have put together draws a lot of inspiration from camping trips. I do still maintain that in many aspects, living off the grid is very similar to camping. Yes, there are many ‘but what about’ to that analogy, but if you have the basics to live in the woods for a week without starving, you are in pretty good shape. Will that last years? Will that keep you safe from hordes of Mongolians on horses? No, but we are working towards a goal here. Not everyone is able to have a bug out retreat.

What do you need to survive?

The consistent part of prepping is that everyone needs the same core things to survive. You need water, food, shelter, and security. Technically you don’t need security if you are on an island and no creatures or humans are trying to separate you from your head, but you get the idea. In this world, you will likely need to defend yourself from others, in some situations, at some point.

Plano 1919 Sportsman's Trunk

Plano 1919 Sportsman’s Trunk

So our packing list is broken down into storage cases that represent some of these crucial elements. My plan is to have weatherproof cases packed with all of these supplies ready to go at all times. If I need to go, it is a pretty simple matter to load them on my vehicle, secure them, and roll out of the neighborhood.

The cases I use are from Plano. They are called the Sportsman Trunk 1919. The case dimensions are 37.75″ X 18.25″ X 14″ and I have room for three of these on the top of my vehicle plus more actually. I have more room inside the vehicle too, but I will get to that later.

Planning your bug out vehicle load plan

Case 1 – Food

I think what goes in your food case will vary greatly. What I am comfortable eating would make some of you wince with pain. You have to consider the weight, storage space and caloric benefit of what you do pack though. For example, if you fill your food case up with nothing but bags of rice and cans of beans, that will last a while, but will quickly become boring. How sad is it when nobody wants to eat your food to survive? ‘They’ll eat when they get hungry enough!’ I know, I have said that too, but we should be able to agree a little variety is better.

Hopefully, we all know that nothing refrigerated should be going in this case and I would even argue against a cooler too. You should be packing food that you can forget about and only bring out when you need to leave. Coolers are big wastes of space.

What kind of food? I have several boxes of freeze dried food from a few different vendors. With choices like chicken noodle soup, mashed potatoes, powdered milk, chocolate pudding, rice, fruit, mac & cheese, etc. there is bound to be something we can all enjoy. Plus, the freeze-dried food takes up so much less space than cans.

Bug Out Vehicle Load Plan - Get Out of Danger Fast - The Prepper Journal

There are many creative options for extending the usefulness of your vehicle to keep you comfortable away from home.

What’s in there?

  • Strawberry Fields Cream of Wheat — 64 Servings
  • Maple Grove Oatmeal — 112 Servings
  • Uncle Frank’s Italian Lasagna — 16 Servings
  • Granny’s Homestyle Potato Soup — 48 Servings
  • Traveler’s Stew — 48 Servings
  • Summer’s Best Corn Chowder — 16 Servings
  • Blue Ribbon Creamy Chicken Rice — 48 Servings
  • Liberty Bell Potato Cheddar Soup — 40 Servings
  • Traditional Fettuccine Alfredo — 40 Servings
  • Independence Hall Chicken Noodle Soup — 16 Servings
  • Cheesy Broccoli & Rice Soup — 32 Servings
  • Country Cottage Mac & Cheese — 32 Servings
  • Heartland’s Best Mashed Potatoes — 64 Servings
  • Creamy Stroganoff — 32 Servings
  • Instant White Rice — 40 Servings
  • Chocolate Pudding — 60 Servings
  • Honey Coated Banana Chips — 32 Servings
  • Orange Energy Drink Mix — 32 Servings
  • Settler’s Whey Powdered Milk — 48 Servings
  • Coffee & Filters – Plenty…

This food is stored in a cool dry place in the Plano trunk so it’s ready to go. This should last a family of 4 approximately, 30 days. There are lots of freeze-dried vendors out there. I suggest you do some research and then watch for sales. You can save a lot of money sometimes and it is always cheaper to buy in bulk. Your personal case might need to be adjusted for special diets, but this is an example.

Case 2 – Shelter

This case should be pretty simple to explain. It’s just the big gear we will use to keep us out of the elements.

  • Tent – 6-man tent
  • Tent stakes
  • 3 tarps – One for our ground cover. The others can meet various other needs.
  • Coleman Lantern and spare fuel
  • Camping Axe
  • Sleeping bags/pads


Case 3 – Supplies & Extras




  • Bug Spray
  • First Aid Kit


  • Fire Bag  – Flint, tinder, wet fire, lighter
  • Toilet Paper -Probably not enough to last 4 people 30 days, but enough to get us started.

Is that it?

That is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? I know that some people will have items I have missed and I can easily come up with hundreds myself, but you have to ask if those items are necessary. Can this list keep you alive? Can you store this and get it loaded quickly? I think so and in an upcoming post, I will show you how I load everything.

There are other supplies that get packed in here too like weapons, bug-out bags, and communication items. I also have vehicle preps and clothes so stay tuned for more.

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Freedom-loving American doing what I can to help prepare and inform others. Editor and creator of The Prepper Journal 2013-2017, 2020 -

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Good list.
Since you are moving by vehicle,I would add:
Large and comprehensive first aid kit and smaller trauma kits for all members
several Changes of clothes,socks,socks,socks,
Fishing kit
Shovel,pick,Felling Ax and several fixed blade knives
Tool kit ,Bolt cutters, Pry bar
Jump starter/ power inverter
Hammock’s for all and more tarps
Sleeping bags
Weapons and ammo
portable toilet and bags
Spices: salt ,pepper,or whatever.Freeze dried gets boring too
Hygiene items
Water water water,
Radios,two way,CB,AM – FM and Weather

Stay safe everyone !


Good article, as always, Pat. There is no single end all list, of course, and I would certainly concur with dasbunker on the items he has included. Since you are talking about a potentially fast get-away, I would also suggest that the following items be permanently kept in your vehicle: 12 volt air compressor for your tires military grade ponchos (or several 50 gallon drum liners, at minimum) With the exception of an extended food supply (which is kept cool inside my home) and long arms, everything on my list is either already in my BOV or is within arms… Read more »


Good points. Pre supplying the Bol would make much more sense than filling a car, hoping it makes it to the Bol. even in nice Canada I’m fairly sure main roads will be blocked by demolished bridges to prevent exit north so leave real early if your supplies are dependent on driving them to the bol


I’m way late here, but honestly, why not both? I wouldn’t drive/ride/walk away with three MREs and a camelbak of water just because I had a well stocked BOL 100 miles away. Most folks won’t have 100 miles of 100% back country dirt roads to navigate, and the chance that murphy dictates a change of plans makes carrying a limited supply of gear and food a very smart play. If its already thought through, and ‘prepped’ why would one choose to leave it? If forced out the back door under fire, I get it, but if you are choosing to… Read more »


I think vehicle type itself is as important as what goes in it when it comes to preps, all to often BOVs morph into big boys toys, Huge great 4x4s with bling and boxes and bash guards, lights, CBs, winches and other nice but often questionable BLING. Absolutely superb for rock hopping and gully crunching in Nevada in the summer. Great for post apocalyptic movies but not real life, But what about Nebraska, Montana, New York, Washington etc in the WINTER with a wife and three kids PLUS possibly a grand parent and a dog??. BOVs should be sensibly off… Read more »

paul crosley

Interesting. Where is everyone bugging out too? Along with how many thousands of others to clog up the roads.
Look at the roads during Katrina etc. They became giant, long parking lots with people dying of thirst in their cars.
Better to move to your “bug out” location now and set up home, if you live in such a bad area presently.
Just a thought.


Paul , Bob, I encourage those who have no alternative to to HAVE to bug out to consider keeping their BOV outside the city limits during times of heightened tension. If its already outside of MOST ( not all for a myriad reasons) of the choke points they will have a better chance. I also encourage people to become very familiar with back and minor roads in their area.

The Deplorable Cruella DeVille

Add to that the power and pipeline easements. They avoid most of the population centers, and even subdivisions for the most part, are usually traversable with any competent all wheel drive vehicle, and the gates, (if any), where they intersect with roadways are typically locked with a simple chain that is easily cut. However: Be very sure to keep up with the state of these paths. I was doing a test hike-out the other day, and lo and behold, the original, easily forded, 10 feet wide stream was now a 200 foot wide beaver pond. Oops. add another half mile… Read more »


A few years back I found a bloody housing development where I had left a cache hidden,Sheesh. expensive lesson.

The Deplorable Cruella DeVille

Yeah…. I check mine regularly. I’ve had to move two due to farms becoming rural housing tracks.

paul crosley

Point taken. Although you still have to get through to your BOV.
ALSO us Floridians realy only have one direction to go, and that is north!
I tried that in 2004 escaping the hurricanes , on back roads no less. They were backed up too. 2.5 days to travel what should take 18hrs


Bug Out Boat or Air boat????

paul crosley

Houseboat? We could use the Sr. Johns river. It runs north and south but…. it goes through Jacksonville! One of the largest metro areas in the country. As slow as they are it would make a good target.
Helicopter maybe?


You are exactly right. People need to make up their minds now. Almost everyone who has a plan for “when IT happens” will be sorely disappointed when it does and all that planning will go out the window.


Paul, its a good question. In my case my bug out by truck plan relies on getting out ahead of most folks by keeping my finger on the pulse of potential threats and knowing I have practiced my vehicle loadout to stay under 25 minutes (I just did it again last Saturday) and knowing at least 4 seperate routes there with very little ovelap in roads and very few main roads on 2 routes. Since I am headed to a fully stocked BOL anything that goes in the vehicle beside my wife, my dog, and I is just bonus so… Read more »


I know a lot of people that will be looking for loaded vihicles or trailers,motor homes,large trucks on the jamed up or secreat routs.Better leave 3 to5 days early.FEMA believes 180 million people dead in first 30 days.Mostly elderly or very young.Good luck


Sorry if I missed something but what scenario are you talking about where FEMA says 180 million people dead in the first 30 days?


EMP – whether solar or otherwise, could take out 90% of the population if the national power grid was down for one year. I don’t know where Bob’s statistic comes from, but there is ample authoritative (Congressional) documentation on the consequences of EMP.

John D

Great post Pat, but I think you should have a container just for items needed in case the emergency lasts for more than thirty days. Here are a few items to consider: 1. Seeds and garden tools. 2. Live trap(s) for small animals. 3. Fishing and hunting supplies. 4. Rocket stove (To use when you run out of propane, or other fuel). 5. A small, but complete, solar electric system, including: Solar panel(s), Battery, Charge Controller, Inverter, and wiring.


back in 2003 in august here in michigan we had a black out that affected most of the midwest and eastern states that lasted several days. my wife had gone on oxygen that march……we got caught with our pants down around our ankles…..i was lucky and i was able to get to home depot in time to purchase a generator………but now i had to find fuel….between my 3 vehicles and a gas station 20 miles away is had enough fuel to run my generator for the days the power was out…….you would think that being in the marine corp from… Read more »

John D

The need to keep an oxygen generator running is an example of why I tend to promote solar electric systems. With only a generator, you have to be concerned about running out of fuel, and not being able to replenish your supply. How much energy does it take to keep the oxygen generator running?

John D

As an example: If the oxygen generator is rated at 50 watts, and if it is used 12 hours per day, the daily power requirements are (50 times 12), or 600 watt/hours. A 120 watt solar panel and a 100ah battery will meet the minimum requirements. However, due to clouds, seasonal lack of sunshine, and system inefficiencies, there will be shortages at times. I would recommend an additional solar panel and an additional battery.


if we stock piled all the things that we should have to survive in a catastrophic event we would need an all wheel drive semi-truck and trailer. each person has to access what is important for them. each one of us can not think of everything that is needed to survive. but i see item after item that is posted that someone no matter how many years of prepping you see something that you should include in your cache thanks to everyone who post…………..


Thats why if you can you keep extra gear at your chosen BOL location and caches of supplies enroute.


You might be surprised at the quantity of “stuff” that isn’t important in a real survival situation.


Not bad…good thinking bundling supplies/needs into packages (move-out bins). Two things to consider changing (tailoring for desert, just about entire west) or adding, they are: 1. Cans vs freeze-dried food to be less reliable on water sources. Thought here regards load-out vehicle will carry more water not just for rice but drinking; and, 2. Wagons x 2 for after vehicle no good and Rucksacks (big backpacks). Two thoughts – fuel will go away when people use vehicle to keep warm (even in summer), and that is what the Europeans used fleeing numerous modern day wars. Compliments on use of instant… Read more »


Dashbunker included having THE magic keys, in his post.
BOlt cutters, a set of three sizes, are in one of the duffle bags.
However, Pat, I had never considered Plano boxes….stupid me!
Thanks for a great article, yet again.
My next survival vehicle will be my daily driver, probably a Subaru Outback for that
Grey Man Gun Wagon ala Euler Gibbons…

The Deplorable Cruella DeVille

Agreed. I’m looking at the Outback as well. with some relatively inexpensive mods, ie; skid plates, somewhat taller, more aggressive tires, upgraded springs/shocks. It can become a very competent off-roader without standing out. Haven’t seen a rig to allow bolting on a winch that isn’t obvious though.


i have the 27 gallon hard rubber tough totes from HD that i have my gear and food color coded. i can either load these in jeep or in my small trailer which i can detach if needed. the totes are stackable, has slots to ziptie. I have a nice weather proof Pelican case for comm gear and made PVC pipe to hose collapsable beam antennas. for my vehicle, i keep extra set of tire patches, dis cap, plugs, oil, hoses etc and radiater sealant. jug of water of course and fix-it flat. i figure in my area, if i… Read more »


I know it would take up space but if you ever have to walk some distance and carry heavy packs a simple bicycle can be used as a cart for bags. Just strap all the bags to the bike and push it or ride it to get supplies or another vehicle if yours dies.

mike day

To who this may concern Bug out Vehicles should be nothing more than your daily driver ,reason one you will keep it up ,two keep it simple , three if all you can own is a car or simple two wheel drive truck do this simple up grade, up grade the rear end to a limited slip or posi rear end ,this simple up grade is also a must for all 4x4s . Two buy a come along pulling device , next a trailer small if you go by car larger if you go by truck.Build your BOV around going… Read more »


All I need is my loincloth and my machete ! Keep it simple folks !


If I were seen in public (even AFTER SHTF) in a loincloth, with or without a machete, everyone would stay as far away from me as possible….yeah! It’s that bad.

Who Cares

It would certainly be nice to have the time and forethought to have an entire portable homestead ready to spring into action at a moments notice. But the inconvenient fact is that you don’t have it, nor will you have it. You’ll have thoughts about creating one after reading an article like this, and then other things will slowly push them into the background until you read another article like this sometime in the future. Which is just as well, because mostly what the “prepper” sites are doing is making you a target for desperately hungry men who will kill… Read more »


As much as I agree I have to say that if you need to get into a fire fight during bug out your route and timing are poor. Ditch the ammo and rifle. Pistol I guess if you must. Bugging out should be fast, light, and avoiding people. Plan your routes and train by doing parts of them at night. Roads will not be at all safe even in the rural areas. I know some preppers do camping at night but how many hike at night in forests? I’ve done lots of it and it needs practice. Easy to get… Read more »

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