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This Guide Perfectly Explains the Pros and Cons of Each Bug Out Vehicle Choice

Last Updated: January 7, 2020

As someone who spends a lot of time in survival and disaster prepping forums, I can state that there is a lot of argument about what the “best” bug out vehicle is.

Some people just like to make themselves sound smart by pointing out the flaws in every single bug out vehicle option….

Let’s Be Rational!

No amount of online arguing is going to help you choose the right bug out vehicle so you and your family can safely evacuate during a disaster situation.

It should be obvious, but disaster prepping is never the same for two people.  We live in different areas, face different threats, have different gear needs, and so forth…

Instead of going berserk trying to choose one “ultimate” bug out vehicle for all SHTF disaster situations, I like what Gray Wolf Survival recommends.  He says to:

  1. Look at the worst-case scenarios that you think are worth your time and effort to plan for.
  2. Consider how these situations will affect your mobility.
    • Will roads be passable?
    • Will fuel be available?
    • What security situations will you need to plan for?
  3. Then look at the MOST LIKELY disaster scenarios. Consider how these will affect your mobility.
  4. Find a bug out vehicle which suits both your worst-case and most-likely disaster scenarios.

Let’s repeat that because it is important:

Your bug out vehicle should suit both your worst-case and most-likely disaster scenarios!

Bug Out Vehicle Considerations

To make it easier to choose a bug out vehicle, I’ve narrowed the parameters down to a few key considerations.  Take a look at these and see how they suit your worst-case and most-likely disaster scenarios.


Is the Bug Out Vehicle big enough to carry all of your team members? Is it big enough to hold all of your gear? Can the vehicle be used as a shelter?

Fuel Requirements:

Does the vehicle require fuel? What kind and how much?


Will the bug out vehicle be able to get you out of a dangerous situation quickly?


Can the bug out vehicle handle tough terrain such as broken glass on streets, snow and ice, flooding, and backroads?

Ease of Repair:

What are likely repair issues? Do you know how to make these repairs? Are spare parts readily available?

Imperviousness to Damage and Safety:

Will the vehicle be easily damaged from physical threats such as bullets, looting, or the elements?  Will the vehicle be able to protect you from these threats as well? Is the vehicle armored?


Is the bug out vehicle within your budget? Will buying the vehicle take away from other parts of your disaster prepping budget?

Accessibility and Practicality:

Can you keep the bug out vehicle somewhere close by? Can you use the vehicle on a regular basis?

The Top 6 Bug Out Vehicle Choices and their Pros/Cons

There are a lot more vehicles which could be used for bugging out and, of course, there are so many different kinds of cars, SUVs, trucks, etc.

I’ve chosen to focus on the main categories of vehicles because they share the same pros/cons.  Hopefully this will help you make a decision suitable to your needs.

1. Car

car as bug out vehicle


  • You probably already have one and it is likely to be nearby when a disaster strikes
  • Discreet
  • Can be used as a shelter
  • Can carry a decent amount of gear
  • Depending on model, spare parts might be easy to find


  • Probably not 4WD; can’t handle tough terrain
  • Easily damaged by terrain or external threats
  • Could be affected by EMP
  • Requires gasoline, which might not be available
  • Must know how to make repairs

2. Truck or SUV

SUV as bug out vehicle


  • Handles tough terrain
  • Provides protection to occupants
  • Can be armored
  • Can be used on a regular basis
  • Holds a lot of gear
  • Can be used as a shelter


  • Has high fuel requirements
  • Might make you stand out and become a target for looters
  • Must know how to make repairs; spare parts might not be available
  • A good setup will cost a lot!
  • Could be affected by EMP

3. Campers/RV/Vans

bug out vehicle RV


  • Make a great shelter, including for long-term survival
  • Many are already equipped with features like solar panels, bathrooms, and kitchens
  • Huge amounts of space for people and gear
  • Can be armored and equipped with protection elements such as gun turrets
  • Good for large groups (5+)
  • Rugged, off-road campers are available


  • Very high fuel consumption
  • Very conspicuous – sticks out like a sore thumb
  • Many models don’t handle backroads very well
  • Hard to maneuver; difficult or impossible to turn around on narrow roads
  • Much slower speed than an SUV or car
  • Must have a place to park it
  • Isn’t used on a regular basis, so you probably won’t be driving it if a disaster hits while you are away from home
  • Very expensive
  • Could be affected by EMP

*See these Rugged, Off-Grid Campers! They will have you drooling.

4. Motorcycle

motorcycle as bug out vehicle


  • Very fast
  • Can handle many types of terrain and obstacles, including navigating through rubble, road blocks, and backroads
  • Low fuel consumption requirements
  • Easy to hide at base camp
  • More likely to be EMP-proof
  • Fairly easy and fast to make repairs


  • Aren’t able to carry much gear unless you use a trailer, but the trailer will negatively affect your speed and which terrain you can handle
  • No protection from the weather or external threats like projectiles
  • Not suitable for snowy or icy conditions
  • Can’t be used as a shelter
  • Only suitable for 1-2 people
  • You probably don’t use it every day, so it might not be nearby when disaster strikes
  • Unless you already enjoy riding a motorcycle, it means an additional large expense

5. Bike

bike as bug out vehicle


  • Requires no fuel
  • Can get around road blocks and navigate through traffic jams
  • Could be used on small trails which are inaccessible to larger vehicles
  • Impervious to EMP
  • Easy to hide at base camp
  • Can easily and quickly make repairs
  • Very affordable


  • Manual labor to go anywhere – which means using much-needed calories
  • Must be in good physical condition to use; injury would immobilize you
  • Slow speed
  • No protection from the weather or external threats like projectiles
  • Only suitable for 1-2 people (as with tandem bikes or child bike seats)
  • Saddlebags only able to hold limited amounts of gear
  • Can’t be used as a shelter
  • Tires easily pop on broken glass and fire

6. Boat

boat as bug out vehicle


  • Only option suitable for severe flooding
  • Can hold lots of gear
  • Can be rigged to serve as a shelter
  • Good option if you already live near a river or waterway
  • Can run on fuel or with paddles
  • With motor, a boat is very fast


  • Require specialized knowledge to operate, maintain, and repair
  • Could be very difficult to repair in disaster situations
  • Will need to waterproof all gear
  • Inflatable boats are easily damaged
  • Boats which are more impervious to damage are very expensive
  • Unless you live very close to where the boat is docked, it won’t be easily accessible

You Always Need a Plan B!

When it comes to your Bugging Out and Disaster Prepping, you always need a Plan B (and ideally a Plan C, D, etc.).  This applies to your Bug Out Vehicle as well.

For example:

  • Plan A: You use your 4WD SUV as your bug out vehicle because you already use it as your everyday vehicle (i.e. no additional costs to you), it meets your space requirements, and could handle most terrain.
  • Plan B: You realize that the SUV might not be able to get around road blocks or traffic jams. So, you buy mountain bikes for each family member and equip them with saddlebags. When SHTF, you quickly mount those bikes on your SUV’s rack.  When you get to an obstacle, you leave your SUV and switch to the bikes.
  • Plan C: Your SUV could be rendered useless by EMP. In this case, you evacuate on the mountain bikes.
  • Plan D: Your SUV or bikes are stolen. You set off on foot to your bug out location.


One Last Point…

In those prepping forums where I spend a lot of time, a lot of people are really quick to hype up “foot power” as the “ultimate” bug out vehicle.

Yeah, your feet might be the most reliable bug out vehicle across multiple disaster types – but that doesn’t mean they are the best!

We aren’t prepping for every single possible disaster.  We are planning and strategizing for the worst-case and most-likely scenarios.  With these in mind, you are probably going to choose a bug out vehicle like a car or SUV.

Walking should be your last resort bug out vehicle.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that because you’ve thought through the pros/cons of each bug out vehicle and chosen the best option for you.

Do you have a bug out vehicle yet? What is it and why?

Further Reading:

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Leave a comment

  1. My choice of vehicle would be one just old enough to not be run by a “brain-box” so it wouldn’t be affected by an EMP strike! Only if you live near urban areas do I believe that you would have to worry about looters and snipers in the first several hours! When the stores are empty, THEN you would worry. But, by then, I would have been gone for a few hours, on the road to the hideout….

  2. Both of my potential cars are older but new enough to have some computerized parts.
    1990 Cadillac Eldorado. Real Metal. Heavy. 4.5 liter V8. It could be a tank. Can hold lots.
    Con: gas. Uses larger amounts.
    Is rather conspicuous Red/white top wire wheels.
    1989 BMW e30 convertible
    Pro: smaller. Less likely to draw attention. Still gets great gas Milage. Easy to work on. From Germany. As in made there. Pretty damn rugged
    Soft top. Carries less.

    • As with almost everything in prepping, compromises need to be made. Figure out what kinds of disasters are most likely and take it from there.

  3. The issue is how are you going to get to your gear? I live in a small town so most of the time I would not be more than 1 hours walk from home but pity the one who is caught unaware 1 hour drive from home base in a metropolitan area. How about when work takes you hours away from your abode? While situational awareness and gut feeling are important recent events show that things can brew up rather quickly.


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