How to Turn any Car into a Bug Out Vehicle

Although many of us may imagine racing around the post-apocalyptic wasteland in a ‘suped up 4×4 mad max-style survival-mobile, most of us need to stay a little more realistic. A bugout vehicle (B.O.V.) has always typically been referred to a 4×4 truck of some kind. However, even the most compact of cars can easily suit your needs.

What is a bugout vehicle?

A bugout vehicle is simply a vehicle that will get your from one secured location to the next, typically from a day-to-day residence to a bugout location. A bug out vehicle can be a car, truck, SUV…heck, if it’s all you’ve got; a bicycle may need to be your bugout vehicle. Although there are benefits t using a large 4×4 vehicle as a B.O.V., not everyone can or wants to buy a large vehicle. Even a compact car can be a great bug out vehicle, and in fact, has many advantages over a large truck or SUV.

What does a B.O.V. need?

In a bugout situation, your vehicle has one purpose; to get you, your family and 3 days (minimum) of gear and supplies to another location efficiently and safely. Since storage room will be limited, especially when transporting multiple people, prioritizing gear is critical.

What you’ll need

Food and water – Although your bugout bag should include 72 hours of food and water, storing additional “quick” foods in the car will make your supplies last even longer.

Weather gear – Ponchos, hand warmers, spare coats, socks and other clothing is important to keep in your B.O.V. – you never know when inclement weather might strike, and keeping a permanent set of clothes in the car can save space in your bugout bag.

Chargers and other electrical gear – ALWAYS keep a spare cell phone charger in your car. It’s cheap, simple, and could be the difference between surviving a disaster and not surviving. A mobile electrical inverter is a great prep for your B.O.V. as it allows you to turn your idling car into a mobile power generator for any device you may need on the road or at your bug out location.

Documentation package – In some disasters, there is no “15 minutes to get out” rule. You may need to leave at a moment’s notice, or in the case of a tornado, there may not be anything left of your preps after the dust settles. After the disaster in Joplin, MO, there were reports of people waiting weeks to even begin the process of rebuilding simply because they couldn’t prove who they were. Keep an updated copy of your documentation package in your vehicle at all times.

The Get Home Bag

The Get Home Bag is an important prep for your bug out vehicle. There are many reasons why you may have to abandon your vehicle in a disaster situation. Streets clogged with cars, running out of gas or any other mechanical problem with the vehicle may mean needing to leave on foot to get home with your get home bag. A proper get home bag will include things like rain gear, a hat, 24 hours of food and water, walking shoes and possibly defensive tools like firearms and ammunition.

The important thing to remember about any bug out vehicle is that it needs to be tailored to YOUR needs. With preparation, any car can become one lean, mean, bug out machine!


  1. Beat The End

    One of the best things is just to put a big pack of water bottles not only can you use them if you just get thirsty, you can also use it in a bug out situation. I would also advise making a Pickup truck sleeping platform if you have a pickup truck.

    1. Ready4ItAll

      Those are great ideas. Any time I have a plastic bottle left over it always gets filled with water for storage.

    2. Nadiea

      Who ever came up with the theory that a bug out will only last three days? Loose the glow stciks and get a head lamp, use a lighter alternative to the heavy shovel, your water sys is way too bulky, denatured alcohol for a stove did you say, loose that and get a esbit stove, the 9mm is only good for self defense and small game. Maps, where are your maps and compass you can lay on the map and that had a mirror, you can get a hatchet that is just as effective but lighter than that one.

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