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Even though bugging out usually isn’t as safe as bugging in, there are certain scenarios where bugging out will literally be the only option you have. For instance, you may be ordered to evacuate your home by the authorities, or death could otherwise be very certain if you stay.
As part of your bugging out plans, you will need to have a bug-out vehicle unless you want to bug out on foot or on a bicycle. It’s possible to bug out those ways, but you probably won’t get far and your chances of survival will be much lower than if you had a vehicle.
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That said, if you want to throw a couple of packed bags into any ordinary vehicle and call it your bug out vehicle, you’ll already be making a major mistake. Sure, you can try and cram everyone and everything into your little Toyota Prius or Honda Civic, but that really wouldn’t be the best choice for bugging out.
This is just one of many bug-out vehicle mistakes that some preppers will make when the SHTF. Let’s go over some other mistakes that you will want to carefully avoid.
1. No AWD/4WD
First and foremost, any vehicle that you use for bugging out must have AWD or 4WD capabilities. This is because you may have to go off-road, in which case a 2WD or RWD vehicle will not be preferable. If you don’t already own a 4WD or AWD vehicle of some kind, you’ll want to change that.
Take note that switching to a 4WD or AWD vehicle does not mean you have to buy a massive truck or SUV with poor fuel mileage. There are many smaller and more compact vehicles with AWD capabilities as well, such as certain vehicles made by Subaru or Volvo.
2. Little Ground Clearance
Since you may have to go off-road, higher ground clearance will be another must for a bug-out vehicle. This is why sedans, in general, will not be a very good choice for bugging out, even if it is AWD or 4WD.
3. Not Enough Room For Everyone
Your bug-out vehicle absolutely has to have enough room for everyone in your family to sit. This will be a major challenge if you have an unusually large family, in which case an enormous vehicle such as Ford Excursion may be the only type of vehicle that really suffices.
4. Not Enough Room For Food and Water
Your bug-out vehicle is also going to need to be large enough to accommodate extra supplies for your family as well. A three days supply of food and water should be more than sufficient to get you and your family to your bug out location.
5. No Bug Out Bags
Every person in your family will need to have a personal bug out bag stocked and ready to go. You don’t have to keep those bug out bags in your vehicle at all times, but at the very least, you will need to ensure that you have plenty of space in which to store them.
6. No Shelter Items
You absolutely need to carry extra shelter items in your bug out vehicle. Yes, your vehicle in and of itself is already a shelter. But you will also want to have the option to sleep and take shelter in something outside of your vehicle as well, especially if your vehicle is smaller in size. A basic tarp or tent would be better than nothing.
7. No First Aid Kit
A basic first aid kit is something that you should keep in any vehicle at all times. Your bug-out vehicle is no exception.
8. Poor Fuel Mileage
It may sound contradictory to buy a 4WD or AWD vehicle and one that has poor fuel mileage, and back in the day, that would have been true. But today, vehicles have become more advanced so that they have better fuel mileage than ever before. Compact SUVs like the Ford Escape or Toyota RAV-4, for example, can easily attain fuel mileage rates of higher than 30 MPG on average.
That being said, if you buy a larger size SUV or pickup truck for your bug out vehicle, then you are going to likely need to get a vehicle with lower fuel mileage, and that’s a sacrifice you’ll have to make. That’s exactly why you’ll want to avoid the next mistake, which is…
9. No Extra Fuel
There are several modifications that you are going to want to make to your vehicle to make it more suitable for bugging out. One such modification is to give it the ability to attach an extra can of gasoline to the outside of the vehicle (remember that storing fuel of any kind inside a vehicle is very dangerous).
For a pickup truck, you can just set an extra can of gas in the bed of the vehicle. For an SUV or wagon, however, you’re going to have to find a way to securely lash the extra gas can to the outside of the vehicle.
10. No Tow Straps
Any bug out vehicle without tow straps included as part of the package is simply not a true bug-out vehicle at all. If you get stuck when out in the woods, tow straps can really save your day (and your car).
11. No Trailer Hitch
Even if you don’t plan on towing a trailer, something that would definitely slow you down and make your vehicle less nimble, there’s also no denying that it would at the very least be nice to have the option. A trailer gives you plenty of extra cargo space without sacrificing seating for your family.
12. No Emergency Road Kit
Including an emergency road kit is another crucial must for your bug out vehicle. Here is a basic checklist of items that you will want to include:
- Foldable Shovel
- Jumper Cables
- Tire Sealant
- Motor Oil
- Windshield Wiping Fluid
- Rope and Paracord
- Seatbelt Cutter
- Window Breaker
- Siphon Hose and Pump
- Fan Belts and Hoses
- Traction Ladder
13. No Spare Tire
This isn’t just an absolute must for bug out vehicles, it’s a must for all cars in general. If possible, try to include at least two spare tires rather than just one.
14. No Grille Guard
A grille guard attached to the front of your vehicle is not truly necessary, but there is no question that it would be very nice to have. If you inadvertently crash into a fence, into trees, into animals, or even into people while bugging out, a guard can help keep your vehicle protected.
15. Not Keeping Your Vehicle Fueled
You may need to bug out at a moment’s notice, and that means you must keep your bug out vehicle fully fueled, even if it’s a vehicle that you will be using often in your daily life. Here is a good rule of thumb to follow: always refuel your vehicle when it’s half empty. Meanwhile, keep enough gasoline on hand at home to refuel your vehicle all the way to the top should you indeed be forced to bug out quickly.
And remember, keep extra fuel lashed to the outside of the vehicle as well so you can fuel at least partially should you run low while bugging out.
16. No Important Documentation
Keep important documents in your bug out vehicle as well since you may face the possibility of bugging out from your home forever. You don’t have to keep the documents in your car at all times, but you should have copies printed out that you can quickly stash way in the vehicle before you hit the road.
17. No Defensive Guns Within Easy Access
Firearms are a crucial part of any survival plan and you will want to be sure that you bring a few along (and with plenty of ammunition) while bugging out. But it’s also critical to keep a firearm within easy access of the driver’s seat as well so you can quickly prevent an attempted carjacking, which is something that could very well happen in the event of a major disaster.
Keeping a handgun in between the seat and the center console, or under the driver’s seat, will be a very wise thing to do.
All in all, these are the top mistakes that you will want to avoid when it comes to selecting, modifying, and using your bug out vehicle.
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