The best bug out vehicle

Published on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 By Brad Wardell In Everything Else

Wow! Lots of PMs and tweets regarding yesterday’s article on what would happen with the collapse of the grid.

Let me first say that I make no claims to be an expert on EMP.  There are a lot of people who are convinced that a reasonably strong EMP would disable modern cars.   I don’t happen to agree with that view. Hopefully we’ll never find out. I’m going to assume that the most likely doomsday scenario people will likely face will be a long-term power grid outage that leaves cars functional.

And by doomsday scenario, I mean one where civil society breaks down and electrical power is our Achilles heel.

What happens when civil society breaks down

Food is the link that becomes the limiting factor first. I don’t think that an American population of >300 million can be fed without a reliable power grid. I think state, local and federal authorities could hold things together sufficiently for a month without power.  I think beyond that, things would begin to fall apart because simply put, we just wouldn’t have enough food to go around. And that’s when things get really bad.

The Ultimate survival vehicle Specs

Each person has his or her own opinion on what would be ideal for surviving in the event that civil society breaks down.  Below are a few basics requirements.

1. It needs to be armored against small arms.

2. It needs to be all terrain.

3. It needs to be able to handle lots of different fuel sources (if it requires gasoline, it won’t be viable).

In my mind, those are the 3 minimum requirements.

For me, the purpose of a survival vehicle would be to transport goods and people around safely and securely. That’s because I think people will need to work together in groups (call them tribes/micro-societies/villages/whatever) until order can be restored. And being able to provide a survival vehicle to a group would be invaluable.

Here are some candidates for that vehicle and why.

Candidate #1: The Knight XV

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I’ve seen a lot of “prepper” folks talk about this vehicle. It’s basically a suped-up Ford F550. It’s heavily armored and designed to take a lot of punishment. The interior is somewhat lavishly made.

I don’t find this vehicle terribly practical as-is because it’s too focused on combining luxury with armor.  It has relatively little storage capacity, is immensely expensive >$600k. But damn, it’s cool looking. Smile


Candidate #2: Terradyne RPV

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I’m actually surprised I haven’t seen people talk about this vehicle. I had to do a lot of digging to find it.

It is similar to the Knight XV in many ways. It isn’t clear how easy it would be to obtain for civilian use (though I suspect you can get it, these tend to be modified Ford F550 trucks).

It’s a turbo diesel, definitely off road, and can take 40 gallons fuel.  Like the Knight XV, it’s armored. What I like about this one is that it’s also a pickup which makes it bit more practical for moving cargo (like food and supplies).

Candidate #3: Oshosh Tactical Protector Vehicle


The Tactical Protector vehicle targets law enforcement and homeland security.  I’ve seen it mentioned elswhere and like the others, it’s a modified Ford F550 with a V8 diesel engine. I am not certain how well it would perform off road (I suppose as well as the others). 

It comes with a number of interior options so it could be made to support a lot of storage.


Candidate #4: Custom F450/F550/Chevy/Jeep


If you’re mechanical (I’m not) you can probably build your own ideal survival vehicle. 

This guy: has done that.

He purposely made his vehicle look inconspicuous and he has a point. The other vehicles I talk about draw a lot of attention. One could argue that the best bug out vehicle is one that meets the 3 criteria I mentioned earlier but doesn’t look like it. 


Candidate #5: Unicat UL 15-DK-HD


Technically I’m cheating on this one as it’s not armored and it already weights so much (over 32,000 pounds) that adding armor to it would be ludicrous. But it has one advantage than none of the others have: It’s a portable, self-contained shelter.

When I first saw this, I thought “Wow, I bet the Walking Dead people wished they had had this and not that crappy camper!”

Besides being reasonably well equipped to go off-road, it has showers, stoves, electrical generation, vast water supplies, a real toilet. In short, a true bug-out vehicle.


Candidate #6:  Oshkosh S-ATV

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I’m really surprised I haven’t found any sites discussing the Oshkosh S-ATV.  Ignoring the picture (highly unlikely you’re going to get it configured with a gun turret, especially for the civilian market) it’s most definitely off-road friendly.  It supports Diesel, JP-8 and Jet-A and I suspect it would be able to be modified to handle additional types. JP-8 fuel is nasty stuff (think kerosene) but it makes me think that the engine can probably handle some pretty scary stuff in a pinch.

It’s also a lot lighter than the other trucks weighing in at “only” 10,000lbs.  What makes this vehicle exciting is that it has a ton (4 tons actually) of payload capability and is truly off road capable.

I’ll admit that this one is my favorite.  That’s because it can haul a lot of stuff and doesn’t have to rely on roads to get around but would still do well against small arms fire.


What’s the point?

It really depends on what the point of your vehicle is.

Nearly every “prepper” blog I’ve read seems to focus on one of two plans:

(1) Bug out. They take their vehicle and go to a secure, remote, well prepared location. The vehicle is there to get to the bug out location.


(2) Bug in.  Their stuff is in their home and they work on making it defensible. The vehicle is there to safely get supplies and people and bring them back.

I don’t think either of these plans is viable on its own for most people.  In my opinion, the only viable plan is one that helps create a group of a couple dozen adults with you providing skills or physical assets that justify you being part of that group.

Hence, the ideal bug out vehicle is ultimately going to be something that can safely and reliably (and securely) obtain and deliver supplies and people to different locations.  That means a vehicle that can withstand small arms fire and can avoid the inevitable road blocks that gangs will put up on roads.


What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments area.