Bug Out Vehicle (BOV): 5 Essential Elements

Creek's Former Bug Out Vehicle: 1968 Ford Bronco

Creek's Former Bug Out Vehicle: 1968 Ford Bronco

If the study of survival (whether it be primitive, urban or disaster) is your thing, then you’ve probably at least thought about a BOV. For guys especially, it’s fun to dream about these vehicles and how to outfit them with mods that up your buggin’ out chances. I’m asked quite frequently if I own a BOV and the answer is YES. In the past few years, I’ve owned a few actually. As my needs and thoughts change, I update and change my Bug Out Vehicle. I enjoy working with vehicles and I enjoy survival – so the marriage of the 2 is a very fun and rewarding hobby for me. You can see some pics of my current and past Bug Out Vehicles here. But first, I’d like to briefly cover what I consider the 5 Essential Elements of a BOV.

ELEMENT # 1: IN GOOD WORKING ORDER / LOW MAINTENANCE
This is pretty much common sense. Your BOV must be reliable and it must be equipped with the proper tools and parts for emergency maintenance. Below is a basic check-list of items you need to have in your BOV:
– SPARE TIRE (or 2)
– Nice solid Jack & Lug Wrench
– Extra fluids (oil, transmission, power steering fluid, brake, coolant, etc)
– Oil Filter
– New Replacement Serpentine Belt
– Spare Hoses
– New Battery
– Maintenance tools to replace the above mentioned parts
– Trickle Charger
– Work Gloves

If you know your BOV is in good working order you really shouldn’t need a whole trunk full of spare auto parts to get you to your destination. On a side note to this 1st Element – you should know how to work on your BOV. That may mean that you have to practice. My personal BOV is a 1972 Bronco. A big reason for this is that I can pretty much fix anything that goes wrong with the engine. Modern vehicles equipped with computers and 1000’s of parts can be very difficult to work on. This is definitely something to consider.

ELEMENT # 2: OFF ROAD CAPABILITIES – 4×4
Your BOV must be able to go off road. 4-wheel drive is a must. Most SUVs are probably sufficient enough to do the trick. If you are ever in a situation when you actually need to use your BOV, my guess is that it’s not a far stretch to imagine that you might have to take it off road. Having a wench (or 2) would be nice, but those can be pricey. You might be able to find a good used one on EBAY or CRAIGSLIST. At the very minimum, store a COME-A-LONG and 50 feet of chain. Nice solid tready tires are a good idea for snow & mud. Keeping a set of traction devices in your vehicle is a good idea too.

Tire Traction Device

Tire Traction Device

I found these at http://www.tractionaids.com.
A friend of mine told me that you can use scrap carpet pieces in the same way. The bottom rough side gives excellent traction.

ELEMENT # 3: FUEL RANGE / EFFICEINCY
What’s the point of having a BOV unless it has the fuel range to get you to your destination. Your BOV should have a full tank of gas at all times. More than likely, your Bug Out Trip is not going to be a straight and easy uninterupted path to your destination. You might have detours, traffic jams and possibly off road situations. It’s a good idea to know exactly how much fuel you will need to get you to your BOL. After you know that, you need 4X this much stocked on your BOV – either in an aftermarket large capacity fuel tank or seperate 5 gallon fuel cans. No fuel means no driving. You would be naive to think that pulling over for a fill-up is going to be an option.

ELEMENT # 4: CARGO SPACE
Clearly, you need cargo space to transport you and your loved ones. But you also need to calculate in enough space for Bug Out Bags and other essential items that should be in your BOV including shelter, food, weapons, water, maintenance tools and gas, etc… Roof racks and add-on cargo baskets are great solutions to storage problems. I’m not a big fan of towing a trailer with your BOV but if you have to you will need to make sure you have a heavy duty hitch that will take some off road beatings. Below is a picture of one of my previous BOVs. The custom roof cage provided plenty of overhead cargo storage space.

1968 Bronco - BUG OUT VEHICLE with Cargo Rack

1968 Bronco - BUG OUT VEHICLE with Cargo Rack

ELEMENT # 5: SUPPLIES
This topic is not just 1 item. It is a category that encompasses a variety of items that I dubb as SUPPLIES. The whole point of a BOV is to get you from A to B. In my opinion your BOL should be no farther than an 8 hour drive (preferably less) from your home. Theoretically, it should only be a 2-3 hour drive. I say this because just in case your BOV can’t get you there, you are going to be walking and any walk more than a 2-3 day hike is really pushing it – especially if you have a family. Your Bug Out Bag should already contain most of your 72 Hour Survival needs. The supplies in this category are in addition to the supplies already in your BOB. This is not necessarily a complete list. I am always changing and adapting my kits – it’s what I call a ‘live’ list. In no particular order your Point A to Point B vehicle kit should include:

– Full sized axe or full sized saw for clearing brush/cutting wood
– Flares / Signaling Devices
– Shovel
– Fire Extinguisher
– More extensive First Aid Kit than what is in your BOB
– Bolt Cutters
– Heavy Duty Crowbar
– Working CB Radio
– Basic Tool Kit (self explanatory)
– Vehicle Manual
– Clean drinking water – as much as you can store
– GPS
– Local paper maps
– Shotgun & 100 shells (70 pcs. 00 Buck, 20 pcs. Bird Shot, 10 pcs. Slug)
– Extra batteries for any battery powered tools
– 2 Flashlights – MAG
– Binoculars
– Fishing Gear (just because it packs tight and weighs almost nothing)
– 2 sets of clothing per person (should already be in Bug Out Bag)

When it comes to all of these BUG OUT topics – whether it be Bug Out Bag, Bug Out Vehicle, Bug Out Plan or Bug Out Location there is no definitive 100% right answer. Everyone’s kit will vary and should vary. Developing your own kit is a process that is constantly changing depending on your needs and wants.

I would love to hear your thoughts about what I’ve shared here. I would also love to hear about your own BOVs.

Cheers-
Creek

Comments

  1. Marjorie Stewart says:

    Wench it…for rough terrain. raising your chasis was a really good thing to do. Like your Truck.

  2. Chris Williams says:

    My BOV was an ’87 chevy Suburban 2WD. I had space for 4 and all the gear I wanted to carry. The thing was built like a tank. Not having 4 wheel drive was a draw back but the factory 350/350 is hard to beat and you can put a regular carb on top and by pass the fuel injection in an emergency. I got about 15mpg but it had over 300,000 miles on it so I wasn’t too disapointed. It finaly died at about 375 or 400,000 miles. And the sad thing was I never changed the oil. The red light would come on and I would just add a quart. The only thing this truck cost me was tires and breaks and I drove it for 6 years. I only wonder if I had changed the oil and been more responsable if I would still be driving it today. It still ranks as my favorite of all the vehicles I have owned.

  3. Silventar says:

    I’m curious as to your thoughts on outfitting a dual-sport motorcycle as a BOV. I know they are not ideal, but in urban disaster situations a dual-sport can be more agile and go places a larger vehicle cannot; between cars, for example. For city-bound folk like me, a large BOV may well be a death sentence, whereas a dual-sport motorcycle may be the most efficient BOV. As such, creating one would be an interesting task, as a motorcycle necessitates streamlining the on-board gear significantly.

    • Creek says:

      Silventar- A motorcycle BOV does present it’s own unique set of challenges but for those in the city (like yourself), it makes complete sense. If a natural or man-made disaster were to suddenly happen with no warning you can forget evacuating in a 4 wheeled vehicle. They also get excellent gas mileage. If I lived in a large city I would have one – no doubt. Good luck with this project. Creek

  4. dannyb278 says:

    kawasaki KLR650 with hard bags on the side and a rack above passenger seat. i would be willing to bet that you could carry enough supplies for a month, and a spare gas can.

  5. Chris says:

    My BOV will be my 2wd 1974 Toyota pickup. Yeah I know it’s only 2wd but it is super easy to work on and get about 30 mpg. I would love a 4wd but I have had this for years and I know it inside and out. And plenty of spare parts. It has a low mileage 20r with a 5spd under the hood. Those can go forever. But my ideal BOV would be a mid 70s 4×4 3/4 ton suburban with a manual transmission and a multi-fuel engine from a deuce and a half, 2 large fuel tanks, front mount winch and a large roof rack with offroad lights.

  6. Jonathan says:

    Hey Creek, how about a mountain bike? Don’t laugh just yet. For someone like me who has no driver’s license and isn’t worried about toting other people and their gear around with him, I think a bike would be a good option. It’s quiet, very low-maintenance, never runs out of gas unless you do (which is probably a bigger problem than not having transportation anyway), and has excellent mobility. You could even pick it up and carry it quite a while if you had to. You can add saddle bags (right term?) to take some stuff off your back, or add stuff to your supplies if you don’t move anything from your BOB into them. I will cede that like anything it has its drawback like not being able to sleep in it, not being very fast, and not being able to carry much, but I think a bike would be a viable option for a BOV.

  7. Tyler Gladden says:

    First off, just wanted to say my dad had a 68 Bronco with a 289cui from a Shelby GT350 engine under the hood :) I loved that thing. Anywho, depending on someones situation, a good bug out vehicle is actually a Ford Crown Victoria. Every city you go into will have parts off of police cars you can scavenge should you need to replace something. They usually have multiple batteries, and are very durable (plus low center of gravity). Only problem is they aren't 4×4, but they have good ground clearance for a car, and get decent gas mileage. Push bar, and fairly decently protected. Good scout car in case society collapses and anarchy reigns ;)

  8. Ty Gladden says:

    First off, just wanted to say my dad had a 68 Bronco with a 289cui from a Shelby GT350 engine under the hood :) I loved that thing. Anywho, depending on someones situation, a good bug out vehicle is actually a Ford Crown Victoria. Every city you go into will have parts off of police cars you can scavenge should you need to replace something. They usually have multiple batteries, and are very durable (plus low center of gravity). Only problem is they aren’t 4×4, but they have good ground clearance for a car, and get decent gas mileage. Push bar, and fairly decently protected. Good scout car in case society collapses and anarchy reigns ;)

  9. Oswulf says:

    “Having a wench (or 2) would be nice, but those can be pricey. You might be able to find a good used one on EBAY or CRAIGSLIST. ” I’m guessing you meant winch, but this sentence cracked me up.

    Really good article, my BOV is a ’99 Grand Cherokee limited. Comfort with the ability to go almost anywhere.

  10. chris says:

    thank you for the list of essential items for a bov I already know most of the things that I do want to bring but with the list of things you have put in there definitely helps me do a check off list basically for my BOV
    I have been looking for about 3 years now for a 1976 through 1979 Ford F 150 or 250 4 wheel drive manual with a v8 I am still also contemplating on having my Sportster as my BOV