Bug Out Vehicles: Lessons Learned From These Badass Setups

Bug Out Vehicles: Lessons Learned From These Badass Setups
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Bug Out Vehicles (c)So you want to bug out but you’re not keen on walking. I get it…why walk with a heavy bug out bag when you can ride in a badass bug out vehicle? You can carry more stuff and get to your location faster.

If you’re going to bug out via motor transportation then you better choose one that’s ready for SHTF.

In my opinion, there are two kinds of bug out vehicles.

  • The ones that 99.9% of us CAN’T afford
  • The ones we CAN afford

So in this article, I want to cover both.

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We’ll start off by checking out a few of the insanely expensive bug out vehicles…you know, just for fun. However, even tho we cannot afford these bug out trucks…they can still provide some good modification ideas and inspiration for our own garages.

Then, once were done wiping the drool off our faces; we’ll talk about the capabilities that we should be looking for in a solid (affordable) bug out vehicle.

Finally, I’ll wrap things up by sharing with you what I think are the two best bug out options for the majority of preppers.

So Let’s Suspend Reality For A Few Minutes, Shall We…

Obviously, 99.9% of us cannot afford the following ultimate bug out vehicles (including me). However, it’s fun to see what is being designed and for us regular joe’s, maybe they can provide a little inspiration.

Plus, they’re just badass.

The Artic Tacoma

Toyota Tacoma Artic Vehicle

Who knew back in 2010 Toyota built a Polar Expedition truck for arctic conditions. If your bug out location happens to be in Antarctica (hey…at least the population densities are low there) then this would be your dream bug out vehicle.

This bug out truck was designed and used to make a trip to the South Pole. What’s even more impressive is that it successfully did just that in record time (under 40 hours).

If you got one, you’d have a 4.0-liter V6 supercharged engine that makes 341 HP. It also has an extended range gas tank that holds up to 330 gallons (so at 15 MPG you’re looking at 4950 miles until your next refill).

It’s outfitted with a set of Mickey T. Icepack tires, a beefy roll cage, and a custom suspension made with military grade steel. It only took a mere $400,000 in mods to make this cold weather lover’s dream machine.

The Tactical Armored Beast

Tactical Armored Vehicle

Imagine this Tactical Armored Bug Out Vehicle parked in your garage? It’ll be perfect for when the roads are unpassable due to all out chaos.

This survival bug out vehicle’s curb weight is just shy of 20,000 lbs so you can image that it needs something equally as hefty to move it. It comes equipped with a 6.7 L V8 Diesel that puts out 300 HP and more that 600 lbs-ft of torque. It has a few nice bug out features such as a 6-speed auto tranny, 4 by 4, and a 40-gallon diesel tank.

I’m betting fuel economy is going to be terrible with this one…my guess? Probably about 6 MPG.

The Rhino

Rhino GX Ultimate Bug Out Vehicle

Rhino…what an appropriate name for this massive bug out vehicle. As we all know rhinos are tough SOB’s and not an animal to be messed with.

It lives up to its badass name by combining a Ford 450’s Super Duty frame (which is made using 18 gauge steel). It’s powered by a 362 HP engine due to its 6.8 L V10 Single Overhead Cam design. It’s also got all the extras including 38-inch mud tires 20 by 10″ aluminum alloy wheels, heavy duty calipers, and vented disc brakes.

I think you’ll make it to your bug out location just fine in this beast.

The Defender

Land Rover Defender Truck

Looking for a bug out truck that includes camper conversion and side storage for your firearms? Then it makes sense that you’d enjoy bugging out in the Land Rover Defender.

The biggest limiting factor with this one is it only has room for 2. What it lacks in the number of people it can transport it makes up for in camping qualities. It has an outdoor kitchen system, a folding stove, outside lights, and tons of camping gear storage. Who needs a bug out location if you got this guy to survive in?

Now if only it didn’t run on gas…

The Military Combat Machine

Combat Guard Military Vehicle

How about this combat vehicle for your bug out transportation? It’s definitely in the running for my ultimate armored badass vehicle award.

The amount of protection you’d have is unprecedented, and it can handle even the most extreme terrains. This 8-ton beast can plow through water levels up to 1.5 meters deep thanks to its .7 meters of ground clearance. I suppose the 54-inch tires are responsible for that.

It’s designed with a 6.5-liter Cobra diesel power plant under the hood and can carry 1.5 tons of weight through mud, sand or loose gravel. While its four-speed auto tranny allows it to do all that at up to 75 MPH.

Seats are equipped with straps and harness, and there’s room for up to 8. As far as protection goes, it’s designed to be able to deflect ammunition and even land mines. Even if you did have the money to blow on something as awesome as this…you still couldn’t buy one. Since its military designed, it cannot be purchased by a civilian (I know!  Bummer.)

Oh and you see that right…it’s a turret poking out the top of this beast.

The Traffic Un-Jammer

Ok, here’s what you need when all the roads out of the city are clogged. Just line em up and clear your own path.

Enough Dreaming…Let’s Get Real

While ogling at those Ultimate Bug Out Vehicle images was admittedly fun, it’s also not realistic. Maybe we can use a few of the broader concepts for some inspiration, but very few of us can afford the 600k + price tags such machines cost.

What I want to accomplish in the remaining part of this article is to show you some bug out vehicle options that the everyday survivalist might be able to 1) afford or 2) assemble.

Before we jump into a few examples of realistic bug out vehicle examples, let’s go over the aspects that make something worthy of being called a bug out vehicle.

How Will Your Bug Out Vehicle Be Used?

The answer to this question will help guide you into making a quality bug out vehicle choice.

Plus, you might prefer to have a big enough, beefy enough vehicle to drive through a fence…

How Important Are Off Road Capabilities?

Personally, I think this is a must for any respectable bug out vehicle. However, I also agree that you don’t need the best of the best here either.

All you really need is for survival is good vehicle clearance and 4 by 4; then you’ll be able to transverse 99% of what you’ll most likely run into.

Without these 2 basic offroad capabilities, you may end up like this.

A good bug out location will be in a remote area, so the odds of you encountering some muddy hills, ruts or offroading is much higher.

While 4×4’s vehicles can also get stuck…if you’re not constantly putting it to the maximum test, then the odds are significantly reduced you’ll get stuck.

Jacked Up Truck

However, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

If you’re thinking about getting this sort of clearance (see image on the right), then sure, you’ll be able to clear anything, but your vehicle’s center of gravity is too high and rollovers are more likely.

If you look back at all the unaffordable bug out truck examples at the start of this article…you’ll see that none of them have extreme clearances.

They all have good clearances, but not at the sacrifice of good balance.

Or You Could Aways Add A Set Of These…

I literally just found these the other day and they look amazing. They can be used in all sorts of terrain but they really excel in softer terrain such as snow.

The Dominator Track System can turn just about any ordinary 4 by 4 truck into an off-road terrain taming beast. It’s hard to believe but the company who makes these claims they are easy to install and can be done in less than an hour. They also suggest that they come off as easy as they are installed, taking your bug out truck (or all-wheel car!) from a super-powered terrain destroyer back to a daily driver in under an hour.

Old Vs New

There’s an ongoing debate over which makes for a better bug out vehicle…old models or newer models. I don’t intend to break down every single angle of this topic today, but let’s hit on some of the highlights.

One major concern for newer model vehicles is how dependent on electronics these vehicles are. In an EMP attack, they may be rendered useless.

However, there are some significant concerns related to older vehicles too.

With really old vehicles it might be a challenge to find replacement parts when SHTF. They also might require more frequent maintenance than a new vehicle. Sure, the design is much simpler so it tends to be more straightforward to work on, but you’ll probably be doing so more often.

Another aspect of this debate is vehicle abuse.

So which survival vehicle can take more abuse? Older or newer? If you choose older, then you might want to take a look at this crash test video.

The saying, “they just don’t make ’em the way they used to” might be right in some respects, but newer vehicles are made with better materials and better designed for safety reasons.

Aftermarket Accessories Options

Ideally, you want a vehicle decked out with bolt on accessories to improve on your stock setup.

Bug Out Vehicle Upgrades (Truck/Jeep)

Front Bumper Guards
Body Armor Winch Bumper
4.3 Out Of 5 Stars
4 point 5-Stars
Front Bumper Guard
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K Rock Crawler Bumper
4.5 Out Of 5 Stars
4 point 5-Stars
Front Bumper Guard
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Smittybilt XRC Winch
4.4 Out Of 5 Stars
4 point 5-Stars
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Superwinch Terra 35
4.6 Out Of 5 Stars
4 point 5-Stars
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Light Rack
(Truck / Jeep)
Curved LED Light Bar
4.3 Out Of 5 Stars
4 point 5-Stars
Light Rack
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Willpower Spot Flood Combo
4.5 Out Of 5 Stars
4 point 5-Stars
Light Rack
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Back Window Rack
Truck Bed Headache Rack
4.6 Out Of 5 Stars
4 point 5-Stars
Back Rack 1
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Dee Zee Mesh Cab Rack
4.5 Out Of 5 Stars
4 point 5-Stars
Back Rack 2
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Clearance Upgrades
(Truck or Jeep)
Off Road Tires
Offroad Tires
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Lift Kits
Truck Lift Kit
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More Upgrade Ideas
(Truck / Jeep / Both)
Hitch Vault
4.4 Out Of 5 Stars
4 point 5-Stars
Hitch Vault
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Truck Bed Tent
4.3 Out Of 5 Stars
4 point 5-Stars
Truck Bed Tent
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Truck EZ Lift Topper
- No Review -
 Lift Topper
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Jeep Paracord Grab Handles
4.5 Out Of 5 Stars
4 point 5-Stars
 Jeep Grab Handles
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Full Spare Tire

Having a full spare tire is essential. If you blow a tire mid bug out are you really going to put confidence in a donut spare? Enough said.

If the vehicle you have doesn’t have a stock full spare then you need to purchase one and find a way to store it.Full Spare Tire Roof Rack

Here’s an example of a full spare added to the roof of a jeep.

You’ll Need Storage

You’ll want some storage for your survival gear and supplies.

If you have a badass survival trailer or camper you are pulling then you won’t need a ton of vehicle storage. If you are not pulling a trailer or camper then you’ll need some storage space as a part of the vehicle itself.

I like the bed of a pickup truck. Get a topper to keep your supplies and gear out of adverse weather conditions.

So what are the main things you’ll probably be storing?


If you are going further than one tank of gas can take you, then you’ll have to have some extra fuel. You shouldn’t rely on any gas stations to fill up at when SHTF.

Even if you are only traveling less than 1 tank of gas…are you sure your tank will be full when SHTF? Plus, you’ll want to have some fuel when you get to your bug out location.

Emergency Jump Starter

Pocket JumperHaving a bug out vehicle that won’t start isn’t going to do you any good. It’s worth carrying around a small emergency jump starter that can get your bug out vehicle running again if the battery dies.

Keeper Gun Magnet MountGuns and Ammo

Take as many survival guns, rifles, and ammo as you have room to spare.

Plus, you should get Keeper Gun Magnet so you can have your survival pistol close by while traveling down the road.


You’ll want to take a bunch of food you’ve stockpiled with you unless your bug out location is fully stocked ahead of time.


It’s always a good idea to have some extra water on hand. You’ll want your final bug out location to have a natural source of water but if something happens on your way there, you’ll want some water with you.

Just remember, when you’ve found your source of drinking water you’ll definitely want to be able to purify the water before drinking it.

Survival Gear

Don’t forget all the rest of your survival gear. From fire starters to survival bows; survival knives; solar lanterns; to jerry can water filters and maybe even some survival playing cards to help pass the time. It will all add up to a decent amount of stuff and will take up room in your vehicle.

Of course, a lot of your gear should already be ready to go in your bug out bag. Even if you have a bug out vehicle, you should also have a ready to go bug out bag. Never know when you have to ditch your vehicle…

As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We’re Giving Away Our #104 Item Bug Out Bag Checklist. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy.

Hauling Capacity

Are you going to be hauling a camper or a trailer to your bug out location? If so you’ll need enough towing capacity to pull it. Find out what your hauling capacity needs are and then make certain your bug out vehicle meets the minimum requirement.


When the SHTF how much civil unrest will there be? Probably best to plan for the worst. So you’ll want to think of some ways to protect your vehicle from objects being thrown such as bricks.

 Ideally, your vehicle would be bullet proof, but I know of no affordable way to add this to your bug out vehicle.

A Couple Of Realistic Bug Out Vehicles

Here are a couple of videos of realistic bug out vehicles that have most of the capabilities we just covered above,

If I Had To Choose Just One For Survival…

So if I were forced to choose just one realistic but, best bug out vehicle option it would be a toss up between an off-road equipped pickup truck (with a topper) or a jeep wrangler unlimited (with a trailer). Something along these lines… Bug Out Jeep With Trailer Bug Out Truck With Topper Both options meet all the previously discussed bug out vehicle criteria points as well as being reasonability affordable for many survivalists.

To recap

  • It should have basic offroad capabilities with clearance and  4×4.
  • Ideally, it has some aftermarket accessories to add extra capabilities and protection to your bug out vehicle.
  • It needs to have a full spare tire, no donuts allowed!
  • You’ll want something with a good amount of storage or the ability to haul a camper or survival trailer so you can store stuff.

After you’ve met these basic criteria, then you can add as many “extra” accessories to it as you want. You can add some SHTF communications devices and navigation devices. Maybe add a light rack.

It’s up to you, but getting a solid bug out vehicle doesn’t have to be an impossible task. Just stick to the basic criteria and build from there.

As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We’re Giving Away Our #104 Item Bug Out Bag Checklist. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy.

What’s your bug out vehicle of choice? What do you believe are most critical vehicle features when SHTF? Let me know in the comments below.

Remember: Prepare, Adapt and Overcome,

“Just In Case” Jack

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  1. Mike Easterday says

    First I’m a disabled veteran . So I live on a very fixed income. I spent 2 years in the desert of Arizona. I have a 1998 Dodge half ton pickup . You don’t need a fancy rig . My little Jack Russell terrier , is very alert . Security covered ! A good sleeping bag , bedding covered . Small camp stove or small Weber Grill , kitchen duties done. 5 gallon bucket and trash bags , toilet duties taken care of. You don’t need to be a millionaire.

  2. David Madson says

    It is not very smart to have a 50,000 dollar rig.The money could be spent on food and other gear.In a shtf time,that rig will be going down a very dangerous road that has a lot of people ,looking for guys like you coming down that road with all of your supplies.They will shoot your tires out and then probably you.You need to get to your place ,if you have one and hunker down,not driving around ,with a big bullseye on your rig,saying here I am .

  3. Steve says

    Cool keep writing more great articles like this. Great to have you. I watched videos they were good too.

  4. Mike says

    I would also suggest a camouflage net. Once you are in place it provides shade and some concealment from unwanted attention.

    • Just In Case Jack says

      Thanks, Mike. That’s an excellent point. Storing some large camo nets in your bug out vehicle is a must. You want to be able to hide your rig in a forested area to keep anyone passing by from seeing you.


  5. Pat w says

    If you don’t use it you lose it, practice your preps regardless of what you plan on bringing, and cycle out older goods

  6. John says

    I plan on using an old ww2 2 1/2 ton truck tons of supplies and can carry ammo and guns, I will also have a 37mm anti tank gun in tow don’t ask why

  7. Silver Bullet says

    I have 22 extended family all or some will bug out with me. No choice except the extended van. Two 250 watt solar panels on the roof and all other camping equipment. Kerosene two burner stove with stove top oven. 25 gallons of water for bathing in a saddle tank off a road tractor and a zillion bottles of water in milk jugs with a drop of clorox in each. Of course, plenty of food, firearms and ammo.
    Police type push bar on front. Replaced engine with new 460 HP engine from Summit. Four US manufacture five gallon cans, steel, with fuel. Siphon hose for fuel from disabled vehicles.
    Aluminum boat in tow and inside a Yamaha 175 dual purpose trail bike along with many other store able necessaries. No 4wd drive vans available. Winch on the front and snatch blocks. Four extra deep cycle batteries.
    Adding a sun roof for the .50 cal.
    Extra oil for the dirt bike and the van. Two mountain bikes.
    Diesel air horn from JC Whitney and a loudspeaker, “GET THE HELL OUT OF MY WAY!’
    CB and shortwave radio. Inverter for solar panels and batteries.
    Two spare tires and jack.
    Spray foam to fill up bullet holes. Gas masks,.
    These trucks are available online for around $5000. A a brand new engine can be had for about $2000. if needed. More HP more $$.
    I dont plan to bug out. Live in an isolated area already but you never know.

  8. T says

    Better to live close to a cave or have secret underground shelter..going camping with everyone else hitting the hills not very good idea..i prefer having a shelter only i know about..ive designed one but when you think about it if it was ww3 would you even want to survive that..nukes in the movies are in no way close to what it would really be like..

  9. says

    A Mercedes G-wagon from the 80’s that runs on diesel fuel with no electronics would be a great vehicle, they go anywhere, easy to work on. Also if there is a fuel supply shortage it could run off other fuels with a few modifications.

  10. says

    Hi, I’m a professional mechanic and fabricator (though now just making nives) and as an OIF SOF combat veteran think i’ve got a few good ideas on what would make a great bug out vehicle. I’m currently working on building mine…. Range is critical if you don’t have a bug out location to go to and are just in exodus… so MPG is huge… something in the class of a small Nissan or Toyota retrofitted with an OEM diesel is ideal here… in the 2.5 to 3.0 liter range looking at 30+mpg but with loads more torque than the gas versions.. swap out the rear axle for a dualy with airbags and you’ve got both more payload and better off road capabilities… tear off the OEM bed and build a custom military style highback type rig with extra under bed fuel tanks and you’ve got the best of all worlds… shit load of torque for hauling, room for lots of supplies or people as needed, a rugged chasis and long range potential all rolled into a rig anyone with basic fabrication and mechanic skills can build for around $5K…. yup $5k… or less … lets do a quick price out… nissan 720 hardbody chasis with blown engine $200 – $500… JDM td25 – QD32 engine and 5speed tranny $1200 – $1800… rebuild kit for said engine around $500 (might as well rebuild it before you drop it in to make sure it’s pristine), bits to and pieces or other parts the vehicle needs for a few hundred bucks, airbag kit and compressor… and lets call it $1k in metal to fabricate a highback style bed…. the dualy axle could be tricky to find but when you do they aren’t expensive…. as my 4 year old likes to say “boom shacka lacka!”

    • Just In Case Jack says

      Hey J,

      I like where your heading with your bug out vehicle build. Got any pictures of it you can share?


  11. Todd says

    Bought a retired ambulance for $300. They were scrapping it because it had the wrong paint scheme as the new trucks and rarely got driven. Has a rebuilt motor with less than 30k miles… SCORE! 7.3 turbo diesel is no slouch. Even came with two full sized spare tires with 90+% tread. Its faster than my GF’s charger all stripped down up to 75mph. Upgraded it with an additional 110 gallon fuel tank (that’s 3000+ mile range) some steel plating in key areas. 200 gallons of water, batteries, solar, 6 months of food for two people. Gun and ammo locker. Ram bars, winch, and a custom made hitch(welded myself for under $50). Sleeps two, carries 8 people comfortably. Less than $2,000 into total and I gaurntee it’s as good as better for practical use then any vehicle in the expensive column. Plus it can tow our trailer no problem!

  12. Jim says

    Keep it simple and you can blend into the crowd.. We have a nothing fancy 1992 GMC 4×4 PU gas burner with a standard cab, 8′ box, and fiberglass topper. This truck has 36 gallon tank and gets 15 mpg giving you a 500 +/- mile range without modifications. Parts are plentiful. Insurance and the cost of plates is minimal.

    I liked the comment about picking up a used Ambulance. The last one I flipped cost me $5,000.00. It was in mint condition with 35k miles. They are built like tanks, all sorts of built-in internal and external storage, plus the are insulated, and ride decent.

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