How to Turn Your Car Into the Ultimate Bug Out Vehicle

by Tommy Grant

Once you have a bug-out location set up and are stocked with the supplies you need to endure the hardships of the coming disasters or emergencies, you need a reliable way to get there.

When it comes to getting from your family home to the bug-out location, a vehicle will always be the fastest mode of travel.

Turning the average car or truck into the ultimate bug-out vehicle will depend greatly on the type of vehicle and the amount of money you must spend on the project. Regardless, there are some key components that you should be considering.

Vehicle Choice

The best option for a good bug-out vehicle is an SUV or a pickup truck. You’ll want a four-wheel drive and a decently high ground clearance. Choose a make and model that is most reliable and free from chronic issues. The last thing that you want is a breakdown during the apocalypse.

How to Turn Your Car Into the Ultimate Bug Out VehiclePurchasing a dedicated bug-out vehicle is not possible for many people. In this case, you’ll have to modify whichever car or truck you own. You’ll also have to consider your vehicle’s limitations as you plan your routes and during a bug-out.

Related: 5 Vehicles That Can Handle an EMP Attack

Keep in mind the maximum load that your car or truck can carry, the ground clearance, and the number of passengers it holds when planning and preparing the vehicle.


Onboard GPS is great, but you need to have paper maps of the entire route to your bug-out location. Navigating on the fly is critical for reaching your destination, especially when you find closed routes.

You’ll want topographical maps, road maps, a compass, a protractor, and a handheld GPS ready and available to the person in the passenger seat who will be your primary navigator.


A VHF/UHF amateur radio is essential for any bug-out vehicle. All local repeaters, emergency frequencies, FRS, GRMS, MURS, SAR channels, trucker/highways channels, and relevant simplex frequencies must be programmed into the radio.

I recommend installing a radio with dual receive capability to monitor two channels simultaneously. The reason for this is so you can have one frequency set for talking and coordination between people you may be bugging out with, but you still can monitor another frequency or scan a bank of frequencies.

Learn here how to legally turn your CB car radio into a powerful transmitter capable of emitting and receiving communications from hundreds of miles away. After an EMP, this will be one of the only sources of communication left, giving you an important tactical advantage and access to vital information.

Every person in the vehicle must also have a handheld radio in case there is a need to bail out of the car in transit.

Since the passengers will be split up as they bail out on either side of the vehicle, some coordination will be required to reunite. Handheld radios are the best way to do this.


A roof rack is a valuable addition to your bug-out vehicle. This will significantly increase your vehicle’s cargo-carrying capacity, allowing you to transport more food, water, fuel, and gear to your bug-out location.

Trailer hitch mount storage racks are also an excellent addition to the storage system of your bug-out vehicle.

The inside of the vehicle needs to have storage considerations made as well. It is not enough to pile gear into the back; you need to organize everything to easily access the gear you need.

Internal racks, drawers, and shelving are good ways to keep your essential gear organized and available when needed. MOLLE panels are great because you can easily attach bags and pouches for quick access. These panels can be attached to the backs of seats, which is great for keeping essential gear handy for passengers in the back seats.


How to Turn Your Car Into the Ultimate Bug Out VehicleYou must carry extra fuel regardless of the distance between your home and the bug-out location.

Store your fuel in jerry cans, which you will have on the roof or trailer hitch rack. The fuel must be rotated regularly, and a stabilizer must be added.

Related: Cheap Methods to Store Fuels

You must know how much fuel will be required to take the longest route to the bug-out location. Ideally, you will want a bug-out location close enough to not need extra fuel. Even so, if it drops to half full, you must carry enough extra to refill the gas tank.

You should also consider strategically placing fuel, water, food, and gear caches along your routes.

Vehicle Kit

The ultimate bug-out vehicle needs to have the gear it needs to handle roadside issues. Carrying a toolbox is a good start, but several items need to be included in your vehicle kit.

  • Tire puncture kits
  • Oil filter
  • Air filter
  • Bailing wire
  • Zap straps
  • Oil, coolant, brake fluid, transmission fluid, washer fluid, etc
  • Portable jump starter
  • Duct tape
  • Portable air compressor
  • Flares
  • Fire extinguishers
  • JB weld
  • Axes or chainsaw
  • Folding shovel
  • Folding snow shovel
  • Tire traction pads
  • Tow straps
  • Winch

These items need to always be in the vehicle and checked and rotated regularly,

Bail Out Bags

How to Turn Your Car Into the Ultimate Bug Out VehicleWhen loading your bug-out bags, they will likely be in the back or attached to a storage rack.

If you need to abandon your vehicle quickly, you’ll not want to do so empty-handed. This is where a ‘bail-out’ bag comes into play. Bail-out bags are basically mini bug-out bags with the bare essentials of survival.

They are small enough that every person in the vehicle can have one on their body while comfortably seated.

What you place in the bail-out bag will depend on the size of the bag, but it should include the following components:

  • Shelter
  • Fire
  • Water
  • Navigation
  • Food
  • Protection
  • Medicine

The most important medicine you will want to have in your bag is antibiotics. Unfortunately, antibiotics, as vital as they are, are not available over the counter. However, you can learn here how to stockpile antibiotics without a prescription. This method might even save your life in a crisis.

These kits are not designed for long-term survival but to allow someone to bail out of a vehicle and get to the bug-out location.

If you have a bug-out location, you must also have a good bug-out vehicle. While many of us can only modify the family vehicle to be better suited for a bug-out, if you can afford it, creating the ultimate bug-out vehicle will always be the preferred option.

Having a bug-out vehicle equipped with all the right gear is essential, but all these tools and supplies are useless unless you have the survival skills to use them effectively. The Long-Term Wilderness Survival Guide provides those skills, teaching you everything from navigation and shelter-building to sourcing food and water in the wild.

While bugging out is not the ideal solution and staying put is often safer, there are situations where leaving is the only option. This guide will equip you with the knowledge to survive in the wilderness, ensuring that when the time comes, you and your loved ones can make it safely through the wild, even if you don’t have a designated bug-out location.

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