Building a Bug Out Trailer: 5 Tips, Pros, Cons

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By Bryan Lynch •  7 min read

When it comes time to bug out being able to take as many supplies as possible can become paramount. New areas offer different resources or a lack thereof so what you have on hand can mean the difference between making it through an ordeal or not. 

Building a Bug Out Trailer 

Most people think about supplies in terms of what they can carry on their back in a bugout bag but given the right circumstance, a person can take much more with them.

With enough warning, a bug-out trailer can be prepared which allows a person to take more supplies. More supplies can greatly increase a person’s chance of survival as well as adding some additional comfort.  

What is a Bug Out Trailer?

A bugout trailer is a trailer that is either open or fully enclosed and can be packed with emergency supplies. The trailer can then be hooked up to a vehicle for transporting supplies during an emergency. 

Building a Bug Out Trailer 

Judge Your Capabilities 

The first thing you must look at is the vehicle that you own and what type of trailer it can pull. A small car is going to pull a much different trailer than a full-size truck. Look into the vehicle that you have and determine what kind of trailer the vehicle is capable of hauling before you decide on what to put into the trailer. 

Also, do not become dismayed and throw out the idea of a trailer just because you do not own a huge truck or SUV. Yes, a larger more powerful vehicle will be able to pull a bigger trailer which in turn means more supplies can be packed. 

However, larger trailers can come with their own complications and even a small trailer will be incredibly helpful.

Lastly, if you do not have a traditional vehicle (car, truck, etc.) do not again dismiss the idea of a bug-out trailer. While they may not be as large, there are trailers available for alternative vehicles such as ATVs and even bicycles.

Storage Space 

The next step that a person should consider is where the trailer will be stored. Ideally, the trailer should be pre-loaded so that it is ready to go at a moment’s notice and as close as possible to your location. This means the trailer should be stored in a garage or as close as possible to your home.

If the trailer is stored outside the climate will need to be addressed. Extreme cold, heat, and humidity can all affect the shelf life of tools and supplies. Some supplies may be able to be preloaded while others should wait to be loaded until the last minute. 

Keeping an outdoor trailer secured can also be problematic. A trailer sitting outside can often attract unwanted attention, especially if someone knows it is filled with expensive supplies. Take whatever precautions necessary such as locks around the hookup site and all access points to keep the contents as safe as possible.  

Enclosed or Open

Choosing a trailer that has open sides and a top over a fully enclosed trailer is going to be a personal choice and dependent on your budget. Both have their pros and cons. 

An open trailer generally has lower sides which will make packing and unpacking easier. An open configuration will also provide quick access to supplies from any point around the trailer. The trailer itself will also generally be lighter and more affordable. 

The biggest downfall of an open trailer is the overall lack of protection of the supplies. Supplies are more vulnerable to the elements, predators of all kinds, and could even possibly fall out of the trailer while traveling. 

An enclosed trailer usually has solid walls, a roof, and doors. This configuration will provide overall better protection from the elements and predators. Also, an added layer of protection can be added to the doors in the form of locks.

An enclosed trailer may seem like the best option, but it is not without its pitfalls. Being fully enclosed makes packing, unpacking, and access to supplies more difficult. These types of trailers can also be much heavier and more expensive.  

Packing a Trailer

When putting a bugout trailer together, packing it can be an important step. View packing a trailer much like you would pack a bug-out bag. Keep the items that will be used the most or that may be the most important along the exterior of the trailer. By keeping critical items packed in this manner they will be more accessible when you need them. 

If the trailer is not full and there is space, be sure to secure as many items as possible with the appropriate style tie-downs. Normal travel conditions can cause items to shift within a vehicle or trailer. During times of bugging out, travel conditions could be less predictable and more chaotic. It would be an unfortunate situation to later find out that supplies had been ruined or possibly fallen out because they were not properly secured. 


Here is a short list of items that would be helpful to have along with a trailer. 

Plenty of cordage, straps, and bungee cords for keeping supplies secured inside as well as on the outside of the trailer. 

Invest in several large and heavy-duty tarps. These can be used to cover and protect supplies in an open trailer as well as help keep supplies “hidden” from curious eyes.  

Be sure to pack tools and hardware for fixing any issues that may arise on the trailer, such as fixing a flat tire, and a broken door or gate. 

Extra locks and keys. If a trailer is broken into and the only thing that is damaged is the lock, a new lock will allow you to resecure the trailer and continue on your way. 

Not all trailers come with interior lights, so it would be a good idea to have an extra flashlight available to help you see what you are doing both inside and outside of the trailer

Bug Out Trailer Pros and Cons 



Wrap Up 

A bug-out trailer can be an asset worth investing in when thoroughly researched and put together. It allows for far more supplies to be taken with than could otherwise be packed into just a vehicle. 

The additional supplies that a trailer provides means less energy and time will be wasted searching for supplies and will allow you to go longer without having to resupply. 

Thanks for reading and stay prepared! if you have any thoughts or questions about bug-out trailers be sure to sound off in the comment section below and let us know!

Bryan Lynch

Bryan grew up in the Midwest and spent every waking moment outdoors. Learning how to hunt, fish, read the land, and be self-reliant was part of everyday life. Eventually, he combined his passions for the outdoors, emergency preparedness, and writing. His goal was to spread positive information about this field. In 2019, Bryan authored the book Swiss Army Knife Camping and Outdoor Survival Guide. His second book, Paracord Projects For Camping and Outdoor Survival, is scheduled to be released on March 2, 2021.