We spend a lot of time talking about bug out bags, survival gear, long term food storage and weapons here at SurvivalCache.com, but we haven’t spent a lot of time debating the Ultimate Survival Vehicle (Bug Out Vehicle).
In the event of a major crisis, there is a very real possibility (especially if you live in a more urban area) that you may have to leave your primary refuge. During a disaster, following your Plan A and staying in your home fortress might be derailed due to any number of reasons (ex: flooding, urban unrest, biological/chemical, nuclear fallout, viral pandemic, economic collapse, TEOTWAWKI, etc.). When you have to turn to a Plan B and you have your bug out bag in hand, which method of transportation do you turn to?
But also remember that it’s not always simple to have a perfect ready-to-go vehicle, and in that case, it’s best to put together a proper vehicle ops kit. Check out the book below which covers everything you need to know:
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Best Bug Out Vehicle: Top 15 Picks
Let’s go over the the different bug out vehicles. By no means is this an exhaustive list. The list is also not ranked in any particular order. Each vehicle has pros and cons.
1. Earth Roamer XV-LT
Let’s just start off by saying this Ultimate Bug Out Vehicle is pretty cool. If you have 5 people or less and had to make it to your Bug Out location during TEOTWAWKI, this would be a very nice way to get there. This is basically a modified truck bed camper attached to a Ford Super Duty F-550 truck chassis and then totally tricked out
This Ultimate Survival Vehicle comes with a twin-turbo diesel engine, 10,000-pound towing capacity, solar power with large battery back up pack, 85 gallons of freshwater, dual water filtration system, cassette waste management system, propane free appliances (everything runs on diesel fuel). This rig also comes with heavy-duty off-road tires, brush guard, full-size spare tire, 16,500-pound front winch, 9,500-pound rear winch, 90-gallon optional fuel tank, on the board air compressor, and much much more. If James Bond had a survival vehicle, this might be it.
Pro’s – too many to list, this thing is a beast. We are sure that there is an option for a twin .50 cal machine gun turret on top of this thing, we just could not find it on the Earth Roamer website.
Con’s – If you are the Octomom with 8 or more people in your family this might not be the best choice, take a look at a school bus. Needs fuel to run. The Earth Roamer XV-LT isn’t cheap, with a price tag of $225k to $300k you might have to sell your baseball card collection to get it.
2. All Terrain Vehicle (ATV):
There are a lot of people out there who own ATVs and they make a pretty good argument for the Ultimate Survival Vehicle. With powerful engines, 4 wheel drive, aggressive tires, and a width of only 48 inches (or less), this Ultimate Survival Vehicle can go anywhere and over almost any obstacle. There are many aftermarket options for ATVs and a lot of those options make sense for an Ultimate Survival Vehicle such as a small utility trailer to go behind your ATVs for added carrying capacity.
Pro’s – Can go almost anywhere, Can cover difficult ground at great speeds, Fairly fuel-efficient, Built for the extreme so they are fairly reliable if you buy a solid brand (ex: Honda, Polaris), Affordable (you can pick up a used one pretty cheap)
Con’s – Limited protection from the elements, Limited range (bring a fuel can), Limited carrying capacity (even with trailer), requires fuel, Limited number of passengers
3. The Human Body:
This can be your first option and it most certainly will be your last resort regardless of any other fancy options you may use along the way. When everything else fails your body will still be there with you.
Hopefully, you’ve been able to take care of it along the way so that it can help you “save your skin” literally. Let’s face it, you and your body have a vested interest in survival. When thinking about a bug-out situation, you might end up walking, climbing, running, or swimming. You may have to huddle for long periods in dark places or uncomfortable positions while you wait for a “clear” path to freedom. Here are some things to think about: How much weight can you functionally carry and for how long?
Do you have a bug out bag, does it contain truly useful items? Have you hiked with it before? Do you have a good pair of broken-in shoes or boots? When is the last time you walked more than 10 miles in those shoes/boots? Are they waterproof or can they dry out quickly? Consider breath-ability vs. waterproof features.
Pro’s – The Human Body can go almost anywhere and cross any type of terrain. It does not require any type of processed fossil fuel (user-level energy procurement from raw materials), very cost-effective (for a small amount of money you can outfit your whole body) and it can be very quiet.
Con’s – Very limited carrying capacity, Low speed, Limited protection from the elements, difficult to move the young and the old by this method
4. Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV):
The SUV is another good choice for the Ultimate Bug Out Vehicle. They have a good range on a full tank of gas and with 4 wheel drive and fairly aggressive tires they can traverse most terrains you will encounter. With a roof rack, towing capacity and seating for five or more, the SUV can carry a large family and a lot of gear.
Pro’s – Diversity (Can be your everyday vehicle and your Bug Out Vehicle), Good carry capacity, Good range, Decent off-road capability depending on model and set up, Can double as a place to sleep for a small family.
Con’s – Not very fuel efficient, requires fuel, Cannot handle extreme terrain unless modified
5. BMW R 1200 GS Adventure:
This BMW Motorcycle is built with the extreme in mind. With an 8.7 Gallon fuel tank and an estimated cruising range of 465 miles, compared to other motorcycles this thing can go along way before it becomes thirsty. With 1200cc and 110 Hp, this bike will take you and whatever you can pile on it (including extra gas) almost anywhere. It also comes with reinforced aluminum side bags and a top case for extra secure storage.
Pro’s – For a single person this is a great Ultimate Survival Vehicle, Great range, Very fuel efficient, Good off road capability, It is fast, Can double as your everyday vehicle if you like motorcycles
Con’s– Limited carrying capacity, requires fuel, exposure to the elements
6. The Campa EVS:
Campa EVS (Expeditionary Vehicle System) this state-of-the-art vehicle was designed for outdoor enthusiasts, disaster management personnel, and military officials who desire a completely self-contained vehicle system. Many of the same features that you will find in Campa’s trailers have been added to the EVS. Built on a Toyota Tacoma 4×4 V6 chassis, this is the perfect marriage of efficiency and carrying capacity.
This system has a lot of cool features from ammo boxes to a katadyn water purification system with a go-anywhere attitude. Campa USA also makes a cool expeditionary truck trailer with a pop-out tent that you should check out. It might be the perfect addition to your pick-up truck or SUV.
Pro’s – More fuel-efficient than larger trucks, Well thought out emergency survival scenario of what you will need in order to be out on your own for a long period, Full kitchen, Truck chassis upgrade in areas for off-road ability
Con’s – Limited in the number of people you can carry, V-6 could limit your towing capacity, Tent setup could be difficult in adverse weather
7. The Unicat:
If money is no object to you, then a UNICAT Expeditionary Vehicle is what you need to buy. This thing is a monster. Although UNICAT offers different variations of its vehicles, we decided that the 6×6 Amerigo International with the motorcycle/bike rack mounted on the back was the way to go. Built on an International Truck 7400 chassis, this monster will crush those who would stand in its way. As you could expect with the title “Expeditionary Vehicle” this thing comes with 112 Gallons of freshwater, satellite communications, all-wheel drive, 2 x 120-gallon gas tanks (9mm skid plates for protection) with a 2,000-mile range, water fording capability over 5 ft, extra retractable bolts and cylinder locks to secure all doors, theft-proof windows, solar power, and much more. TEOTWAWKI here we come.
Pro’s – Too many to list, you will have to go to the website and read them for yourself. With 6×6, 310 Hp, and reinforced doors this monster was built with TEOTWAWKI in mind.
Con’s – Expensive (a used one is about $600k), At 8 MPG you will be sucking down the fuel but on the other hand you have 2 x 120 Gallon tanks so let them drink until you and your family reach safety.
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8. Jeep Wrangler:
The Jeep Wrangler is in a class by itself when it comes to off road capability. What it lacks in carrying capacity it makes up for with its ability to go almost anywhere that ATV can travel. Another great advantage of the jeep is the after market parts that are available, from tires to under armor protection. If you can dream it, then it is probably available for the Jeep Wrangler including a snorkel for deep water crossings.
Pro’s – Unrivaled in off-road capability, Great aftermarket parts to build the Ultimate Survival Vehicle, Good range, Can cover difficult terrain at good speeds, Can pull a travel trailer
Con’s – Limited carrying capacity, Hard to sleep in (bring a tent), Requires fuel
9. The Modern “Blue Water” Sail Boat:
Before you laugh think about this, ⅔ of the earth is covered by water and this is the only Ultimate Survival Vehicle on this list that can traverse most of the earth under the power of the wind, make its own fresh water and has access to an unlimited supply of fresh food. The term “Blue Water” refers to a class of sailing boat that are built with the harsh seas of the open ocean in mind. The modern sailing boat is truly something of a marvel. New technology allows the modern sailor to use solar and wind power to create and store energy in large battery banks without the need of starting the diesel engine to recharge the batteries. The modern sail boat also has a powerful diesel engine with a large fuel storage tank to get you out of a jam. The interesting part of a sail boat is that under the power of the wind, it can move in any direction except for directly into the wind. That means that it can travel in a 315 degree arch without burning any fuel and at speeds between 5 to 15 knots depending on type of sail boat.
Pro’s – Make your own fresh water with battery powered desalination, Solar and wind powered energy sources available, Total isolation from people, Full kitchen, As long as the wind is blowing you are moving, good source of fresh food (need to like fish), large comfortable living space, endless range.
Con’s – If things go bad the bailout plan in the open ocean is not good (see our book review “Adrift”), Need to have a backup source of vitamins, If the wind isn’t blowing you won’t be moving very fast
10. Sportsmobile 4WD Adventure Vehicle:
TV repairman meets the A-Team. The Sportsmobile 4WD Vehicle is for the most discerning of off-road enthusiasts. Only the best heavy duty components are used to give the absolute best off-road performance while maintaining excellent on-road performance. This is a Ford E350 Extended Cargo Van jacked up on steroids. You will have to read the website to see all the upgrades but just to let you know they are not playing around they put a Dynatrac Pro-Roc 60 front axle and Dana 60 Rear Axle on the Sportsmobile.
Pro’s – This thing is built from the ground up to go anywhere, 46 gallon fuel tank provides a good range (600+ miles), 32 Gallons of Fresh Water, Well thought out living space with the pop up tent camper, Full kitchen, So many off road upgrades that it will make your redneck friends drool.
Con’s – Looks like a cargo van, A little to tall and wide for some off road trails, Needs fuel.
11. The Knight XV:
If you live in a high threat big city environment and you have some extra cash and a spare parking spot, you might want to look at the Knight XV from Conquest Vehicles. This 13,000 pound urban assault vehicle would make the perfect escape from New York vehicle for some Wall Street big shot. With under body magnetic bomb detection, external smoke screen, night vision cameras, electrostatic window opaquing (tinting system), run flat tires, armor that laughs at anything under a .50 cal round and….oh did we mention heated seats. This vehicle will get you and your personal security detail out of the city in a hurry.
Pro’s – a lot of cool features for a high threat environment
Con’s – Expensive ($450k), Needs fuel, Not a lot of sustainability features like a kitchen or water storage
12. Mountain Bike:
The modern day Mountain Bike is a true Ultimate Survival Vehicle. With ultra strong light weigh construction, rack systems for storage, puncture resistant self sealing tires and peddling gears for almost any situation, the Mountain Bike of today can be a stand alone Survival Vehicle or used in conjunction with almost any other Survival Vehicle on this list. In 1941, the Japanese Army successfully employed bicycles in their Southern campaign through Malaya on their way to capturing Singapore from Allied forces. At one point they had 50,000 bicycle soldiers. This proves that while riding a bicycle you can carry a rifle and a pack under stressful conditions.
Pro’s – Will go almost anywhere, easily attaches to trucks/cars/campers/SUVs, No fuel required, quiet, Can cover long distances (40 to 100 miles a day) depending on terrain
Con’s – limited carrying capacity, exposure to elements, difficult to move through snow
13. The ARGO:
Argo Amphibious Vehicles are legendary in the Northern Territories of Canada and Alaska where water obstacles are a common problem. When it comes to a vehicle that does not stop for deep snow or a major water crossing, it is the Argo. With a top speed of 20 mph on land and around 2 mph in the water, the Argo can literally speed into the water, swim to the other side, and climb right out. It comes in an 8×8 or a 6×6 version all wheel drive.
Pro’s – Will swim, Serious off road capability, Comes in a track version
Con’s – Limited carrying capacity, exposure to the elements, drives like a tank, Skid plate is optional but with a plastic shell it would be a good idea
14. Oshkosh Tactical Protector Vehicle:
This might be the ugly brother of the Knight XV and maybe meaner. With the ability to stop up to 14.5 mm Armor Piercing Rounds, this Ultimate Survival Vehicle can take a beating and keep rolling.
Unlike the Knight XV, the Oshkosh TPV comes with side gun ports for blasting your way to freedom and a top gun turret for mounting your machine gun. Another cool option on the TPV is the Nuclear, Biological, Chemical protection system which means you will have a full head of hair when you get to your bug-out location while everyone else is bald from radiation poisoning. Looking good during TEOTWAWKI is important.
Pro’s – A lot of cool features for a high threat environment like Somalia or TEOTWAWKI
Con’s – Expensive ($200k), Needs fuel, Not a lot of sustainability features like a kitchen or water storage
15. Pick-Up Truck:
The great thing about this option is that they are very affordable as far as vehicles go (you can have an older 2WD or a newer 4×4 depending on your budget), many of us already have one as a primary or secondary vehicle, you can carry a great deal of gear in the back and with a modified compartment kit you can even store equipment in compartments and have a bed set up above your storage area. There are modifications that you can add to make your pickup truck more use-able (like a camper shell or regular shell, carpet kits, trailer etc..)
Pro’s – Can be a cheaper vehicle alternative to many of the other options, can be configured to suit needs depending on terrain and gear requirements, You won’t stand out as having an expensive vehicle that would make you a more attractive target to other folks who may be in a more desperate situation than you that you may run into along the way to your bug out spot (i.e. at checkpoints), Can pull a travel trailer, Can double as your everyday vehicle
Con’s – Can be difficult for a larger family to utilize however you can always put the kids in the back (you probably won’t have to worry about seat belt laws during TEOTWAWKI) or opt for an Xtra-Cab or 4 door model, Requires fuel
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Bug Out Vehicles Pros and Cons
But out vehicles can be great tools, but they can also be not so great. Here are few things to consider when planning to purchase or use a bug-out vehicle
Workload: One of the greatest things about a bug-out vehicle is that it does most of the work. It saves the body from expending energy to travel and carry supplies.
Additional Supplies: Since vehicles do all the work and offer more space than a backpack, more supplies can be transported in a vehicle than you could ever hope to carry on your back.
Range and Speed: When you need to get out of an area quickly, almost any type of vehicle is going to be faster than escaping on foot. A vehicle will not only get you out fast, but it will also put distance between you and the danger zone.
Protection: While it may not be an ideal setup, a bug-out vehicle can provide shelter and physical protection from the elements as well as other threats.
Transporting People: Sometimes there are individuals in a group that can slow the movement of the entire group down. This could be because they are sick, injured, young, old, or out of shape. A vehicle will help to keep the speed of the group where it needs to be.
Cost: The idea of a bug-out vehicle usually takes the form of some tricked out 4×4 truck, military vehicle, or some other off-road beast.
The accessories that go with these vehicles are many and I will admit, they can be downright cool. But you better be ready to lay down some serious cash because popular bug-out vehicles are not cheap.
Range: I know in the above section range was a positive characteristic, but it can also be negative.
If the vehicle is dependent on fuel or a battery, how far is it going to get you before it needs to be replenished? What if you cannot refill or recharge the vehicle? A bug-out vehicle may get you a short way into your journey, but it may not get you to your destination.
Maintenance: This is one topic of bugout vehicles that is not talked about much, but it should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Most vehicles have a lot of moving parts that require care and maintenance for the vehicle to work properly.
A person will need to know how to maintain and fix their vehicle as well as have plenty of spare parts available.
Dependency: Most of us take our vehicles for granted and assume they will always be there and work when we need them to. This dependency creates a false sense of security that may not be planned for. Be sure to have a plan in case a vehicle becomes unusable.
Drawing Attention: If you are bugging out, then there is good reason to do so and some type of event is occurring. When disasters happen, there will be some people that find themselves without a vehicle or the supplies they need.
Vehicles, no matter the type draw attention and can be difficult to hide. Having a vehicle may put you in the spotlight, which is not where you want to be.
Expert Debate about BOVs
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Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Which vehicle do you prefer? Why?