Bug Out Vehicle


While I’ve spent a lot of time on the bug out bag, and even a little bit on the every day carry, I’ve failed to really cover what might be the single most important means of survival for a disaster scenario – the bug out vehicle.

So seeing as I’ve neglected this for so long, today I’m going to examine the numerous types of bug out vehicles available and provide a quick overview of their pro’s and con’s.

Types of Vehicles

Jeep Wrangler
Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler

Having long been a North American icon for toughness and a “go anywhere” attitude, the Jeep Wrangler is an excellent bug out vehicle for individuals or couples. Due to it’s 4 wheel drive and consequent ability to off road a good Jeep is often able to take folks to bug out locations not accessible by any other vehicle.

There are some cons to the Wrangler however and these pretty much boil down to gas mileage and storage capabilities. It might have enough space for up to 2 people and some gear, but try and pack a family of 4 + bags into one of these and you’ll quickly find out just how well your family gets along…

Pick Up Truck

Next up on the list is the reliable pick up truck. Great for towing trailers, can fit loads of gear in the bed and a good 4×4 can handle all four seasons with ease. This is a great option for most people as most already have one as their every day vehicle. What the truck gives up to the Jeep in off road ability, it makes up for in space as a full sized cab can usually fit a family of 4 comfortable while storing their gear in the back.

The downsides to a truck are fairly similar to the Jeep – poor gas mileage and a lack of space for big families. Towing a trailer of some sort can certainly add to the space available but then it may become difficult to get past roadblocks or traffic jams.


While thoughts of gathering the family and bugging out in mom’s soccer van isn’t the most inspiring of getaway stories, a van can be a very practical bug out vehicle for large families. They often can carry up to 7 people plus gear fairly comfortable and provide a great shelter to sleep in at night.

The downsides to a van of course come down to gas mileage and maneuverability. If you’re ever stuck in a traffic jam or roadblock you’re pretty much doomed to ride it out or ditch the vehicle. With that being said however if you do happen to have a large family, or live in a rural area where roadblocks are unlikely then a van can make a great choice for a bug out vehicle.


If you’re lucky enough to be a single person in a bug out situation there is little better options than a motorcycle. These get exceptional gas mileage, can maneuver where no full sized vehicles are able to go and can often outrun pretty much anyone trying to follow you. Another benefit is that unlike many of the other vehicles on this list a motorcycle won’t completely break the bank.

The downsides on the other hand pretty much come down to cover and size. You’ll barely be able to fit much more than your bug out bag on one let alone a family. You’re also completely at the mercy of mother nature when it comes to the weather which can be a real problem in most natural disaster scenarios – there is something to be said for being able to huddle down in a van or truck for a few hours in a heavy rainstorm. On a motorcycle you’d be forced to find other means of shelter.


If you’re lucky enough to live in a rural area an RV or Motorhome can make a great bug out vehicle. Basically a home away from home these guys can have everything from solar panels to kitchens to showers to bathrooms and can haul pretty much all the gear and family you could ever dream of carrying. If you’ve got a great little bug out location way in the boonies you could do quite well living out of one of these for an extended period of time.

The con’s to something like this are pretty self explanatory – you’re sure as heck not weaving through traffic in one of these and the gas required to fill one can burn a pretty quick hole through your pocket. But then again, it’s impossible to match the kind of long-term staying power one of these provides


While some might laugh at the idea of bugging out on a bicycle, it’s actually a very feasible solution – especially in urban scenarios. It provides the same ability as a motorcycle to go where no car can while also being light enough to carry up stairs or into buildings if necessary. In addition it’s an escape option that won’t cost thousands of dollars.

The downsides to a bicycle however are pretty obvious – manual labour to go anywhere (which burns important calories), zero protection from the elements and little room to carry more than a bag on your back. So while I do think a bicycle is a viable means for bugging out, I think it is really best served as a Plan B.

Other Things to Consider

So now that I’ve laid out some basic options for a bug out vehicle lets take a look at the criteria you should consider before making a final choice.

Availability of Parts

Let’s face it – in a bug out scenario there probably aren’t going to be a ton of mechanic or repair shops available to order in the parts necessary to fix your broken vehicle. Selecting a common make and model is going to go a long way towards being able to secure parts while on the move. I know, I know you were just about to buy that Lamborghini Diablo but hopefully this will persuade you into buying something a little more mainstream.

The Less Electronics the Better

Despite what your kids might say, in a bug out scenario the fewer things that can break or malfunction the better. In addition to that, many fear that an attack by Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is an incredibly likely scenario. Having that beat up pickup truck from the 1970’s that isn’t affected by such an attack could give you a huge advantage on others when it comes to moving yourself and your family to safety

Roof Racks are Good

No matter what kind of vehicle you decide on I’d take a good long look at purchasing a roof rack – especially if you happen to have an extra large family. A roof rack can seriously increase the amount of storage space on any vehicle and can allow you to fit more people and gear. This thing doesn’t have to be sexy, it just has to hold (and protect) some extra items!

In summary

These are far from the only criteria to consider when choosing a bug out vehicle – and there are definitely a number of options out there I didn’t cover that would make good getaway vehicles as well. So as always, get out there and do your own research and testing and find out what works best for yourself and your family.

As always if you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave a comment here on the blog or email me at mybugoutbaglist@gmail.com.




  1. This is really good Jake, nice work. In a perfect scenario I would opt for the Jeep with small trailer that contains the off road dirt/road bike with hard side bags. The pedal bike my friend …no laughing here … I would travel everywhere with that thing … however in a pinch …I would get one .. (worse case scenario) … This is…again, is what about. Thinking about every angle .. a game of chess if you would .. tons of possible moves .. but only a few are going to get you ahead in the game!!

    Well thought out … and I see you have me in “check”,

    My move …
    Thanks … 😉