Best Bug Out Vehicles: Ultimate Guide to Choosing a BOV

It doesn’t matter whether the BOL is your home, or a secret cabin placed out in the woods, a BOV is almost always necessary. There comes the possibility that one day the BOL could be overrun or in the future one needs to go somewhere unexpectedly.

Now, this doesn’t mean that a bug-out vehicle has to be some jacked-up 4×4 turbo-diesel truck with grille guards and a machine gun turret attached to the back, but something that can get you from point A to point B carrying all the appropriate supplies will be necessary.

Since all bug-out situations are different we know that there is no such thing as a “perfect BOV”. What might work best for one person could end up being a complete disaster for someone else. That’s why we’ve created some guidelines below for you to follow so you know what kind of BOV fits you and your family best as well as what supplies should be carried onboard.

Have a Plan

First things first, make sure to have a plan for what you’re going to do in a bug-out situation. Know exactly where you’re going and what possible routes you may have to take. It is recommended to test drive each of these routes to get an idea of what could possibly go wrong in a mass evacuation.

By expecting the unexpected while bugging out you will be able to better prepare yourself when SHTF. If your current vehicle won’t be able to handle the possible terrain you will endure in a bug-out situation then you might want to consider getting a new BOV.

Since we know that not everyone can afford to buy another vehicle, preparing your current BOV as well as you can is highly advised. While a car may not be as effective as a 4×4 truck when it comes to driving on rough terrain, a car is still better than nothing at all. Just be sure that you’re ready to leave your car and set out on foot at any time. This goes for no matter what vehicle you own because you never know when something could go wrong.

If dealing with a post-collapse situation be sure to avoid major highways at all costs. This goes for high traffic areas as well, they will most likely turn into a crawling halt leaving you stuck in danger. Instead, get a paper map of the area and figure out what other routes can be taken to get to the destination.

Helpful Hint: You can use Navmii on an Android or iOS device for GPS without being connected to WiFi in case SHTF.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a BOV

If you do happen to be on the market for a new bug-out vehicle, then be sure to be properly informed on what to look out for. Everyone has an idea of what makes a good BOV, so we decided to discuss the most important aspects for you to consider before making a purchase. This way you can be ensured that you’re getting the right vehicle that fits your bug-out plan accordingly.

Type of Vehicle

The first decision to be made when choosing a BOV is what type of vehicle to get. Preppers often say how a lifted truck or Jeep would be the optimal bug-out vehicle, but it really depends on the situation. This is why thoroughly thinking over your bug-out plan before deciding what type of vehicle to get is essential.

For example, while living in a city getting a motorcycle or bicycle should be considered as they are much easier to maneuver in traffic. If living around mountains or marshlands, a 4×4 truck or jeep will probably be more suitable, just be sure to have a crew cab or truck cap to keep the bug-out gear secure. SUVs or RV’s on the other hand would be more appropriate for people with large families.

Gasoline or Diesel

Depending on the type of vehicle one wants to get, the next big question is whether to go with gasoline or diesel. If optimal performance is essential, then diesel is the way to go. The only time it is recommended to use gasoline instead is while living in an environment where it gets extremely cold. This is because diesel engines have a hard time starting at excessively low temperatures.

Many preppers believe gasoline to be the better option as it would be easier to find vehicles to siphon from. While this may be true in many situations, there is still the problem of gas quickly going bad if it’s TEOTWAWKI. Plus everyone else and their mother will be trying to siphon gas from other cars they can find.

While everyone else is siphoning from the same cars, diesel users can siphon from semi-trucks, construction equipment, farm equipment, locomotives, commercial generators, etc. You can even convert an older diesel vehicle to run on biodiesel or vegetable oil if you’re really devoted to continuing to drive after TEOTWAWKI.

One of the other major benefits of diesel is that it lasts much longer than gasoline. This means you can store it for a longer period of time and continue to drive while everyone using gas will be stuck to using other means of transportation.

Related Post: How to Store Gasoline Long-Term

Not only does diesel have a longer lifespan than gasoline, the engine running it will usually last much longer as well. This is due to the engine being built more heavy-duty to withstand the higher cylinder pressures of running diesel. Because of the longer lifespan, it’s much wiser to buy an older diesel vehicle compared to a gasoline model.

Then there are also the benefits of diesel being more fuel-efficient than gasoline by about 25 to 30 percent, which of course makes it easier to reach the destination without having to refuel. If towing anything from behind then the fuel efficiency is even more prevalent. (Hence why semi-trucks use diesel)

Manual or Automatic

While many preppers will swear up and down that manual is the way to go, it really comes down to what kind of situation you believe you may find yourself in.

If worried about being hit by an EMP, then a manual transmission would be the better option as you will be able to push start the vehicle. If a lot of stop-and-go traffic is expected, then an automatic will surely be much less annoying.

You also have to take into account the possibility of something happening and one of your other passengers having to drive. If you’re the only one experienced with driving a manual transmission then you could potentially run into problems.

The one major advantage manual transmission does have over automatics is that there are fewer parts involved making it less likely to run into problems. Autos also tend to require a little more maintenance compared to their manual counterparts.

Fuel Efficiency

Many preppers love the idea of driving an old military vehicle as they are big, powerful, and frankly pretty badass. The problem with these large monstrosities is that they are terrible when it comes to fuel efficiency.

You need to make sure that you can easily reach your BOL on your fuel supply as well as be prepared for anywhere else you might need to drive. This means you might need to give up some cool points for a BOV that won’t leave you stranded somewhere after SHTF.

Know Your Terrain

When making plans for bugging out you really need to take pay attention to the different routes you could be forced to take. If your BOV can’t handle the possible terrain you may have to travel then you will surely find yourself in a world of trouble.

Short of running out of fuel or breaking down, there is nothing worse than getting stuck or not being able to cross a certain path when trying to bug out. In fact, it could even be the difference between life and death.

Make sure to get the right vehicle and make the proper modifications that will allow you to handle anything that might come your way. This could be getting a 4×4 truck, adding on a lift kit, and then switching out to some off-road tires. Of course if you live somewhere such as in a city then your needs will be vastly different.


Your worst nightmare has finally come true, sh*t has finally hit the fan and it’s time to bug out to your BOL. You’ve been prepared for this day for many years and you have everything ready to go. You hop in your BOV, put the key in the ignition, and as you try to start your vehicle… nothing happens.

While having an older vehicle could be beneficial in the case of an EMP, they are also more likely to run into potential problems. Though compared to newer models they’re usually easier to fix if something does go wrong. This is mainly because of the abundance of parts and electronics that you find in today’s automobiles.

No matter whether your vehicle is old or new, always make sure to perform regular maintenance on your BOV to ensure you’re good to go if SHTF.

Blending In

Crazy BoV
Hey Jimmy.. I think that’s one of them so-called preppers

After spending so much time and money working on perfecting your BOV and bug-out supplies, I will admit it’s kind of hard to not fall in the trap of wanting to go all out decorating your ride. You will find many bug-out vehicles covered in survival decals and even painted camouflage. But instead of the camo helping you blend in, it actually causes you to stick out like a sore thumb.

When times get rough, people will constantly be on the lookout for food, water, and supplies. If your BOV screams out “I’M A PREPPER”, then you can expect for your vehicle to be seen as a goldmine for anyone that is desperate.

It’s best to make your BOV look as ordinary as possible so you can avoid unwanted attention. Yes again you may lose some “cool points”, but with survival being the ultimate goal you need to take every precaution you can take.

Carrying Capacity

Finding the right size vehicle to carry your expected number of passengers and all your bug-out supplies can sometimes be easier said than done. If you have a rather large family then it might be a little harder to find the perfect BOV compared to someone who is only carrying a couple of passengers at most.

Before you go out and purchase a bug-out vehicle you would be better off making sure you have already bought all the bug-out supplies you need beforehand. This way you can get a good idea of how much extra space you will need to fit everything in.

Some preppers even opt for pulling a trailer behind them so they can carry extra food, water, and supplies. Once again this all depends on your situation as carrying a trailer does come with extra risks involved.

Besides just causing you to burn more fuel, a trailer makes it harder for you to maneuver around obstacles and makes going off-road near impossible. Furthermore, you will be a bigger target for looters and if you manage to get stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic it could end up being a nightmare.

EMP Proofing

Amongst the prepper community, there has always been a lot of controversy regarding EMP’s when it comes to bug-out vehicles. Because of the difficulty of finding an EMP-proof vehicle that meets individual needs, many preppers just completely ignore the chance of an EMP happening altogether. Then there are those who will either search for a vehicle that isn’t prone to EMP attacks or even go as far as building a faraday cage to store spare electrical parts to replace what goes bad.

If you’re wanting to get a BOV that will continue to run after an EMP attack then you’ll need to look into older models prior to 1986. Essentially if there are any electrical components that are required for the vehicle to operate then it would be considered virtually useless after an EMP strike. Of course, if it’s just the starter that goes out you can still push-start your BOV if it’s a manual transmission.

If the faraday cage idea sounds more appealing to you then you can always go that route as well. All you have to do is get all the spare electrical parts that your BOV requires and then build a proper Faraday cage to store them in. If you want to avoid having to buy all new parts then you can always check your local junkyard first in order to see what they have. Just make sure you know how to actually take out and replace these parts or else it will all be a waste of time.

Bug Out Supplies

 decoding=Have everything ready to go

Deciding on what bug-out supplies to carry in your BOV can end up being a hard task to accomplish. You’ll need to carefully think over your bug-out plan in order to figure out what items will be essential for your journey. Since everyone’s bug-out plans are different, it’s hard to give a general list of essential supplies to bring along.

For example, if you’re planning on bugging out for good then you’ll want to make sure to take certain tools such as a water purifier along with you. Though if you only have a short distance to travel to your BOL, then you should only pack what you believe might be necessary.

Since we know how hard it can be to decide what supplies to carry in your BOV, we have made a list below of possible items you might want to bring along.

  • Food (MRE’s, nuts, energy bars, etc)
  • Water
  • Jumper cables
  • Spare tire/s
  • Floor jack and lug wrench
  • Extra fluids (oil, transmission, brake, power steering, etc)
  • Extra batteries
  • Proper maintenance tools
  • Matches/Lighter
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Work gloves
  • Clear siphon hose
  • Trickle charger
  • First aid kit
  • Extra clothing
  • Power inverter
  • Gas can
  • Bolt cutters
  • Local paper maps
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Knife
  • Gun and ammo
  • CB radio
  • GPS system
  • Towing cable
  • Tent
  • Pocket chainsaw
  • Fix-a-flat
  • Spare keys
  • Camelbak All Clear Purifier Bottle
  • Emergency blanket
  • Firestarter
  • Duct tape
  • Flares
  • Toilet paper
  • Walkie talkies (I even went as far as getting throat mics)
  • Slim jim
  • Machete
  • Tire plugs
  • Cat litter (for getting stuck in snow)
  • Binoculars
  • Compass
  • Handwarmers
  • 5 Hour Energy’s (personal preference)

Be Prepared for Anything

If you’re going to go through all the trouble of building the perfect BOV and getting all the necessary supplies, it would be foolish to not always be fully prepared. The last thing you want to do is find yourself going crazy searching for all your bug out gear when a disaster situation comes unexpectedly knocking on your door.

While you don’t necessarily need to carry all your bug-out gear with you all the time, it would be wise to have it all in one location ready to go. It’s best to practice loading your BOV regularly so you will be able to quickly do so should the time come.

When preparing your bug-out vehicle make sure to put a lot of effort into ensuring you have the appropriate amount of supplies. I find it best to even over prepare a little bit just because you never know what could possibly happen after a natural disaster or in a world WROL. If you only have a short distance to travel though you don’t need to worry so much, but if the journey to your BOL is rather long you might want to take a few extra precautions.

One problem I see with a lot of bug-out vehicles is that they don’t carry any extra fuel with them other than what’s inside the tank. This leaves you to siphoning fuel out of a random vehicle if you happen to run empty. Depending on your area and situation this might not even be a viable option for you to take.

Since having fuel inside the BOV can quickly become a nuisance because of the strong odor, it’s best to attach a Jerry Gas Can somewhere on the outside of your vehicle. If you have a truck you can even put it in the truck bed, just make sure it’s locked down securely with a holder.

Another mistake that is commonly made is not preparing to be able to sleep somewhere in case of an emergency. Sometimes driving at night could be dangerous or your BOV could run into problems and you are forced to bunker down for the night. If this happens you’ll either have to make enough room inside your BOV or have a tent ready to go. You’ll need to make sure to have enough emergency blankets for everyone in your group or family as well.

Make the Most of It

I know after reading this guide it might sound pretty hard to find the perfect BOV and buy all the right supplies, but just do your best and constantly keep improving. Being somewhat prepared is always better than not being prepared at all. Plus by the time you actually need to bug out, you might be fully prepared and ready to go.

Myself personally, I’ve always found the idea of bugging out to be one of the cooler aspects of prepping, as I’m sure many others do as well. Just don’t allow yourself to get too carried away with “pimping” out your BOV, and remember to stick to the basics. After all, there is only one goal of a bug-out vehicle when SHTF, and that is to help you survive. As long as your BOV can accomplish that then you’re good to go!