Bug-Out Vehicles commonly referred to as BOV’s. Got one? What is one really? It is the vehicle that you have in your driveway when the SHTF and you need to leave NOW. It is that simple. While you may be one of the lucky Preppers that have had the opportunity to go out and procure a dedicated BOV, many Preppers aren’t that fortunate. This is especially true for Preppers that are just starting out and have to work with their Daily Driver and who may have another Driver that the spouse or roommate uses for work. They have their hands full just getting their initial storage and supplies built up.
There are many discussions about what the ideal BOV is. There are advocates for ex-Military vehicles, most of which are not road legal, of various sizes and configurations. While most of these will do a fine job, the purchase of a dedicated vehicle is often too much of an expense for the beginning Prepper to take on. There is another group who consider various specially outfitted off-road vehicles as the best answer. These also are an expense that the average family can’t take on unless they can use it for other purposes also. What this means is that the average family will be working within a slim budget and will concentrate on buying supplies before dedicating a vehicle to Bugging Out.
It is most common to have in our Daily Driver (DD) inventory anything from 4-door econo-boxes to SUV’s. A fair number of households also have a light-duty pickup truck on the side. Now what? If you can afford to go out and purchase a dedicated BOV and outfit it, then by all means … go do it. For the rest of you, let’s talk about how to work with what you currently have.
Let me dispel a common myth before we start. Vehicles are not protection from guns. Don’t believe the TV or movie shootouts. They are lying to you. Most weapons will go right through everything except the engine block like it was tissue paper. If fired on, you better hope that they are bad shots. Otherwise, you will get hurt unless your vehicle is armored … and that costs big money. If you can afford to armor your vehicle, please do. It may be helpful in extreme situations.
The first and most important factor in planning to use your DD as a BOV is getting it in good shape. You need to be sure that all maintenance is kept up. Maintain a full tank (use a locking gas cap) as much as possible. Do not let the tank go below half-tank when you are home overnight. The vehicle must be in 100% condition to assure reliability. You don’t want that weak battery or oil leak to stop you when you need to be moving. Murphy says that it will die at the least convenient time and leave you stranded. Be sure that your tires are good, properly inflated, and have lots of tread left on them. Don’t forget to change all your fluids at the proscribed time (check your Maintenance Handbook for intervals). Have a set of spare belts, hoses, and air filter as part of your kit.
How do you add carrying capacity to your car or truck? The first thing to look for is a roof rack. Then find a container, either soft or hard shell which is weatherproof, to go with the roof rack. This will work especially well for SUV’s or station wagon style vehicles. Adding a ladder rack to a pickup truck bed will provide a framework for adding tools to sideboards and by making a “floor” on top of the rack, additional items can be stacked overhead. These are inexpensive ways to add capacity without compromising the everyday use of the vehicle or drawing excess attention to you.
Most vehicles have the capacity to tow at least 1200 lbs. on a trailer. With the addition of a small trailer hitch receiver to your car you will be able to pull a small utility trailer. These small trailers have a 1000 lbs. load capacity. Using a small trailer allows you to preload non-perishable, non-temperature sensitive items and stores them ready to go if you have a secure location to store it. If you have a greater tow capacity on your vehicle, you may be able to locate and purchase a used (or new) fully enclosed trailer that has a greater hauling capacity. These enclosed trailers can often be found, in decent shape, at auctions for rental companies for reasonable prices. Either solution will greatly augment your carry capacity.
The bottom line for those who are just embarking on their Prepping, and to some who have not reached the stage where they are able to dedicate a vehicle to the “cause”, is that it is possible to greatly enhance your Bug-Out ability with a little forethought and planning. Any vehicle can have its capacity increased greatly for a little money and good planning. If you reach a time when it makes more sense to B-O than to stay where you are, you want to be able to carry your remaining stockpile of food, tools, and supplies, with you. It would be a shame to have to leave it behind after all your efforts to accumulate it.