Bug Out Vehicles: Lessons Learned From These Badass Setups

By Just In Case Jack | Last Updated: May 15, 2015

Bug Out VehicleSo 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 we’re 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 Arctic 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 imagine 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 than 600 lb-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 SOBs 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 harnesses, 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.

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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 Always 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.

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?

Light Rack

Running offroad at night takes good lighting. You need to be able to avoid rocks, cliffs, and wildlife in order to make it from point A to B safely.

So get a high-powered light rack onto your bug out vehicle.


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 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

Having a bug out vehicle that won’t start isn’t going to do you any good.

It’s worth carrying around a small (but insanely powerful) emergency jump starter that can get your bug out vehicle running again if the battery dies.

This badass device will pay off today and help you be prepared for the future; win-win.

Guns 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…

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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 bulletproof, 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 (like a cell phone booster), navigation devices.

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.

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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