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An opinion on bug out vehicles.

August 21, 2012

Peoples opinion on which BOV would be the best, are about as wide as the discussion of which firearm is the best. The final choice will be the sum of many factors, including gear you need to take with you, number of family members, their ages, all the gear for supporting the group, budget for the vehicle and destination of your Bug Out Location.

Item 1.
4 wheel drive vs 2 wheel drive. Obviously 4 wheel drive is superior for dealing with any kind of terrain you may encounter as you have to get off road, due to the complete stoppage of traffic on every major highway, in the ultimate SHTF scenario.

Item 2.
As popular as the good ol’ Jeep Wrangler is, it’s not going to do for a Bug Out Vehicle if you need any kind of cargo space, which we certainly will because you have to take ‘everything’ you’re going to need for your crew to survive when you get to the BOL, unless you trust your ‘secret’ BOL will be secure enough to keep any gear and goodies you stash there from getting looted before you even get there. There’s lots of gear to help a Jeep cope with cargo out there, but its extra money some don’t have for that gear. However, if you have an offroad cargo trailer to go with it, then go with what you have. Even some of the wimpy sized Honda ‘all wheel drive’ SUV’s will be better than nothing. Just be aware that some terrain will break them far sooner than a half ton crew-cab 4×4 truck. The beefier the better when it comes to offroad vehicles.

Item 3.
Keep the thing as ‘stock’ as possible, the more crap you bolt on, the more you may have to fix out in the boonies. And your typical parts for an unmodified BOV will be easier to find. When contemplating buying ‘item X’, ask yourself will this gear increase actual functionality or does it just ‘look cool’. If the ‘cool’ factor outweighs the function factor, it may well be a waste of money in the long run. Upgrades to protect drive train, like skid plates if your vehicle doesn’t come with them, or other items to ‘beef up’ capability, would be money better spent. Your choice in paint color will make a huge difference in how concealable your BOV is out in the boonies. Bright colors will not hide well. Earth tones, like dark browns and greens will do better.

Item 4.
Diesel vs gas engines. Many people prefer Diesel powered BOV’s because of several factors.
EMP resistance. Older Diesels, like older gas powered BOV’s are more resistant to EMP damage, as they are not dependent on computer gadgetry to operate. Units made before 1998 are almost totally mechanical, in their fuel management systems. Finding one in good enough shape to be a dependable BOV will be the challenge. Or, if you’re mechanic enough, find one and rebuild / repair it up to par for your standards. You will be totally familiar with every greasy inch of the thing when you’re done!

Durability. Typical Diesel’s last about twice as long as typical gas engines, if properly maintained.
Somewhat better fuel efficiency is expected of the Diesel fueled vehicle compared to an identical BOV with a gas engine. Also has the benefit of more torque for the same sized engine, comparably.

Non standard fuel substitutes. A diesel engine will run on other fuels that are “not for highway use.” Diesel engines will run on home heating oil, kerosene, JP-5, and JP-8 jet fuels, peanut and other cooking oils blended with regular diesel and even used fryer OIL, not ‘grease’. Most of these ‘alternative’ fuels will need a good filtering funnel.

Filter funnel
Or in the case of used fryer oil, some processing to get food particles and moisture out of it before use. There is information available on how to process fryer oil so you can stock up now.


Storage. Diesel will outlast gasoline twice as long, with added stabilizers and proper cool storage conditions. Even poorly stored, it won’t go completely rotten like gas. It tends to ‘grow’ particulates and absorb moisture after extended periods, but that’s what the neat funnel is for, collecting all that nasty out before it’s in your tank.

A good ‘off road’ trailer, with tires to match the BOV and height to get over obstacles would be nice. A ‘pintle’ hookup ( a ring and latch arrangement) between BOV and trailer would be best for extreme off road use, compared to the typical ball type hitch. You can twist and turn the pintle hookup far more without damage going over very rough terrain. You can also find offroad versions of camping trailers that will follow your BOV most anywhere, as shown here from ‘Little Guy’ campers.

The downside, which is up to you to decide on, is the lack of storage in this little camper. Remember, you still have to pack food and other gear. If you tricked up the Jeep and the trailer with cargo racks to the max, you may do pretty well.

There are diesel conversions available for BOV’s, but they will cost above and beyond what you have invested in your gas powered BOV, so that will have to be a personal consideration as to whether it’s worth the money to convert or better to replace the entire vehicle. Typically you’ll need to find a donor diesel engine and compatible transmission, plus all the mounts, gear, etc. Quite the project.

Surplus / used military vehicles are out there. Like any other auction, be aware you could be buying junk or a gem, sheer luck of the draw.
When you finally settle on your BOV, you can trick it out with useful gear that you could use, like river crossing snorkels, lift kits, etc. You decide if you really need it.

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