Best SHTF Vehicles


Along the notion of SHTF societal collapse and preparedness for said ‘hit-the-fan’ collapse, regardless of what brings it on (e.g. global financial meltdown), one question is as follows…

What is a good (best?) post-SHTF vehicle?

I will list some questions and thoughts which might help in one’s answer. Because there will be different requirements, there will be different answers for a good (best?) post-SHTF vehicle.

Note: Not only are we talking about the vehicle itself, but the things that it might be equipped with that might make it that much ‘better’ for SHTF (features, options, accessories, modifications, etc..).


Bug-out Vehicle

Will this SHTF vehicle be required to enable you to ‘bug out’ of your existing location? One example might be that you live in the city or a major population-dense region whereby you know it’s going to get ‘real bad’ after the collapse as people get desperate and infrastructure crumbles. In that case, hopefully you’ve already thought about and planned for heading to a safer destination where you will be welcomed. But you will need to get there, in a vehicle.


Get-home Vehicle

Maybe you work in the city or population-dense region but you live well outside of the area in a ‘safer’ place, although a long commute. Lets say sudden disaster strikes while at work and you need to get home (e.g. major earthquake and infrastructure disruption). Will a particular type of vehicle be better than another?


EMP-survivable Vehicle

Some of you have been wondering about this next question… Which vehicles might survive an EMP (electromagnetic pulse)? While an EMP (weapon) attack ‘event’ has never happened before, it is well known that these weapons exist. ‘If’ it happens, it is said that so called ‘modern’ vehicles might become disabled due to the possibility of the EMP ‘frying’ their electronic systems (especially if closer to ground zero). Older vehicles without these electronics will not be affected in this way, so, which vehicles are they?


Practical SHTF Vehicle

Lets say you’re already living in your ideal location when the world around you descends into social chaos due to desperately unprepared people who are now struggling for basic resources – which are now scarce due to a breakdown of the very fabric of modern civilization. What type of vehicle might be practical for life after SHTF in your own ‘ideal’ location? What will it be used for? And how will it need to be equipped to accomplish those uses?


Other purpose-use Vehicles

If you’re ‘working the land’, will you need a tractor?

Will the vehicle be used for patrolling and/or defense/offense?


Other Considerations

What about fuel after SHTF? Will it run out, making a long-term ‘perfect’ SHTF vehicle obsolete shortly thereafter? (A complete infrastructure and distribution breakdown scenario)

Maybe the collapse will not be completely disastrous in that there will still be some distribution and availability of fuel, it’s just that not everyone will be prepared to pay for it or trade for it. Let’s say that you are prepared and therefore you will still have access. So what’s the best vehicle to have?

Does it have to be fast and nimble? Or heavy, tough, and slower? Is speed even a factor? Will it need to be capable of clearing out obstacles?

A truck? Something else? What are the features? 4WD? Off-road capable tires? The ideal color? Diesel? Gasoline? Fuel consumption vs. engine and/or vehicle type? Winch? Other accessories or modifications? Mad Max? .50 cal turret? ;)


Your Opinions

This should make for an interesting discussion as you add your own opinions, recommendations, ‘use-case’ scenarios and the differences in requirements based on what you envision as your primary use (which may be different from one person to the next), etc..

Let’s hear from you

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  1. If at work, I carry my Mountain bike/EDC bag, firearm and backup ammo. I have routes already in place to get me home (mostly rail way).

    If it hits while at home and it’s time to let loose, I have 4 ways to get to my friends horse farm about 12 miles away on top of a mountain. I hope to drive my 4×4 truck there. If not, it’s all on foot through the woods and up a cliff to our destination. Then we will have true horsepower to use for several ideas as well. We could always bug out from there on horseback. Routes, routes and more routes. Every plan should have several back up plans.

    Practice these routes. I have yet the opportunity to do such a task. But we will be backpacking this cliff area this summer at night to check our endurance on getting to the top.

    Never give up, Never give in! That may be the motto that will save you.

  2. Well the first and “Best” vehicle will be one that runs and you have fuel for. Obviously.

    For a “bug-out-V” I’m thinking that old 1961 Scout I just got, it should run even after an EMP, it’s so ugly even I go YUCKO, so there should be no one thinking it’s such a good find. I am totally rebuilding the running gear and motor so it “should” run like a champ. Adding another extra fuel tank (gas) for longer distance, also adding the finer things in life, gun racks hidden at roof line, added suspension for very rough terrain, 1 million lum spot lights for the “blinding” effect if needed, 3000# wench, and so on. Being a Scout it’s a tough vehicle and will go about anywhere.

    For the Getting Home, I only drive my Chevy 4WD Pick-em-up truck. It’s loaded with all my GHB and things needed for the trip home. I have 30 miles to home from work, so I do worry about the roads, so have scoped out several “Off Road” routes. And if that don’t work so well, it’s Tennis Shoe and Boots, figuring 3 days hike or “borrowing” a bike or 4wheeler. A little hint, don’t let the fuel gage get below ½.

    EMP, I’m thinking on that Scout again, no fancy electronics in that old hunk of junk… Just a key and start button. I have 250 gallons of fuel stored up with treatment, and recycle the Gas as I use it. And did I mention its UGLY!?

    Practical after SHTF Veh, I’m located in a great location, have 99% of everything I will need for better than 4-5 years within shouting range, from food/water to firewood and some power (solar, working on more). Would be nice to have one of those 4-wheelers (lazy man’s horse) to do patrol around the area in, but nada wrong with the old footwear for that, stealth on foot is a good thing.

    After the SHTF I believe footwear is going to be very valuable. Even if we store fuel by the barrel, it will run out. Yes there are “gasifiers” for fuel but have not looked into those yet. Even if there is “some” fuel out there, I believe the cost in money or barter will be outrageous. And with 350 million people all trying to get it…. no thank you.

    FYI, I think maybe the “mad-max” thing might not be so far off, if you consider the number of people that are 100% dependent on their vehicles. Heck, take a look at any big cities “road cams”. Is that 50cal so far off base?

    In the long run I’m more of a “hunker down hard” and stay put type of person, you sure as heck don’t want to be “on the road” in that Saab looking for gas and someone to clean your windshield for you.

    My recommendation is to find that “hunker down” spot and get there, set yourself up as independent as you can, get your preps ready, and live life to the fullest (enjoy yourself), but be prepared it seems to be coming more and more, read the “real” news.

    1. NRP!
      Dude!! A Scout? Awesome find! Where I live, they are considered “classic” ala Consours d’Elagance price wise!
      I’m salivating for your find! Well done!

  3. I live in the south where trucks are king so a shtf or bug out vehicle is no problem and probably wouldn’t even be noticed.

    My idea of good shtf vehicles – four wheel drive suv, medium size pick-up (it can be slightly lifted also without drawing attention down here), or anything you can ‘go muddin’ in.
    And I personally would go diesel, stick-shift, and get a roll bar if necessary.

  4. My ultimate idea of a SHTF transportation would be a horse, but alas I cannot have one where I live.

    1. Before powered vehicles the horse was the main “Beast of Burden”. The owner generally walked alongside.
      Often the punishment for stealing a horse was summary execution – other times it was a lengthy prison stay.

      Anecdote for you. Years ago I worked in an Asian country where the water buffalo was the general tractor. If a truck driver inadvertently knocked over and killed a water buffalo the locals could ask up to $10,000 as compensation.
      If the truck driver had knocked over and killed a child the compensation would be less than $1,000 – you can make a new one of them in nine months.

  5. I have a 2001 2500 Ram 5 speed Cummins 4×4. 8 foot bed. Meyers plow. Toyo off road tires.If its other than an emp I will be ok. The down side is my BOL is 4 hours away, but i do have 6 ways to get there that arent on the highway. Being diesel the fuel milage is better. We have done a pre load of the truck of in house supplies and we did the load out in 20 minutes. Not bad for 2 people. My follow vehicle is a 97 Ford conversion van E250 with the V8 converted to a rolling house. Currently working on fuel tanks for the Ram, one being diesel the other gas. They will be full and loaded on the Ram with my Case. 50 gallons each. I would like to make steel hangers for over the wheels and rear axle area, Mad Max style. And the plow may or may not be used. Its slows us down en route but is useful for light ammo deflection and moving other vehicles or junk from the path. But priorities first. More ammo, food and water, though we have 2 fresh springs on property and purification systems in place. Lastly I am saving for a diesel generator and solar panels. When it happens I wish all of you luck !!!!!!!! Eyes to the front and rear and we will make it many a year !!!!!

  6. I used to own a 1976 Scout. It was a little longer than the Scout II’s they were making till they went out of business. Anyway, this was back in 1994 or so and even back then I was thinking how great it would be to trick it out as a “get out of dodge” vehicle. The motor and dana rear end was the boss, but those scouts held water in all the wrong places, and rusted out quicker than you know what. There are new replacement parts available for them now, which would stop the rust and lighten the load a bit. To the guy with the scout, good luck. One piece of advice…buy a back up carb kit for it.

    1. Thanks
      Backup Carb kit, spare coil/condenser/points/so-on all in a nice ammo box stored in the scout. OHHH and a roll of Bailing Wire and Duct-Tape… LOLOL
      Odd you mentioned a 1976, I just gave my old (tricked out) 76 to my nephew for his BOV, living in Portland I figured he would need it more than me.

  7. A bicycle may not be the best for many of your classifications but is useable for all of them.

    Eventually fuel and parts supply will run out and only human or animal power will remain.

    1. I am thinking about buying an adult tricycle. I am a senior citizen who never rode a bicycle. And I can’t afford another car. If mine stops working, I am done. But a tricycle with a cargo basket would allow me to go the half mile I would have to go to get water from the river. I have 3 types of filters and also have lots of coffee filters, activated carbon and a Kelly Kettle, so I can purify river water.

      1. I would suggest the type of trike with two wheels forward and recumbent or chair seating it the best. These are very stable and can haul a lot up very steep grades, I have 27gears and I’ve heard of 81speed setups. The one wheel forward type are horribly unstable. I would also suggest an Aluminum frame as weight does matter and I’d rather carry stuff then extra frame weight:) Best of luck!

      2. Please be VERY careful. Go to that river with friends or families. My first cousin was handicapped so he traveled to work and back on a Tri wheeled adult bike. Three Mexican teenagers beat him and stole his bike. Randy worked full time as a janitor because he refused to accept welfare. Disgusting

  8. Interesting question — but I suspect the responses will likely be all over the map — similar to asking the question of which model of gun, motorcycle, snowmobile, golf club, (fill in the blank) is best

    As for the EMP question–as a retired engineering manager from one of the “Detroit 3”, I can offer up some insight.
    This is for cars only — light trucks followed at a different timetable.
    Federal emissions started with the 1975 models (all cars), so all cars from 1975 on will have some type of engine electronics on them. But some specific models started using “transistor” ignition as eary as 1967-68, so one will have to check further. If you have points in the distributor, you most likely have a non-solid state ignition– but a word of caution, aftermarket transistor ignitions modules that utilized the OEM points distributor became popular “add-ons” from the late ’60’s, so one needs to check thoroughly.

    There are also 3 other “solid state” components used “back then” that need to be considered–
    Alternators–alternators started replacing generators in the early 1960’s, and by the end of the decade about all cars had alternators.
    Alternators have 3 diodes in them that likely wouldn’t survive a high altitude EMP. Storing a replacement alternator for your BOV/whatever in an EMP proof way would be a prudent thing to do.

    Voltage regulators — voltage regulators come in two types– those integral with the alternator, and those located elsewhere under the hood as a separate component.
    All integral voltage regulators are solid state
    The ones that were a separate component started the transition from the “mechanical” type, to solid state in the early 60’s, but often the timing did not coincide with the changeover to an alternator (it’s very possible to have a late ’60’s car with an alternator and still have a mechanical (non-solid state separate regulator).

    The last item is the radio (if it matters)
    Radios started the transition from tube types to solid state in the mid-late ’50’s. Early ones (late 50’s) were hybrids (part tube, part transistor) but by the early ’60’s, radios were all solid state.

    So if your desire is to have an EMP “proof” vehicle, look for these issues in your choice.

    PS — I enjoy reading your blog !

  9. My B.O.V. is an rv. Hopefully we will never have to bug out, but if we do, that thing will be fully loaded. The wife and kids leading the way in the minivan, heading 25 miles south to a private gated campground (on a lake). If it’s winter, there’s a building there that has a nice big stone fireplace and lots of cut/split wood.

  10. The best is an older Chevy Suburban, 8 cylinder 4WD, build for extra battery and plugins to heat water, use a small fridge, CB radio, large capacity gas tank, tow package, green to match the forest. I wouldn’t want a lot of attention, lay low, and blend in. Oh, that’s what I have.

  11. 1989-1998 (not 98 1/2) Dodge Ram with a Cummins. Will run with no electrical connections. Have to change the fuel shutoff to mechanical to stop it and have a way to start it but other than that, nothing electrical is required.

  12. I’m already living at my BOL but if I needed a BOV I would want a dual purpose on/off road dirt bike with saddlebags and oversize tank. Something similar to a Kawasaki KLR250 or KLR650. It’ll get you where you’re going without the risk of having to drive off road through other people’s property. When traffic is backed up you can lane split or just drive on the side of the road. Obviously you’ll have to trim down the B.O.B. due to weight restrictions. I guess maybe it’s more of a get home vehicle, but the ability to weave in and out of traffic is a plus.

    Note: Lane splitting might not be such a good idea after all. If its a major SHTF moment and traffic is backed up, you can bet lots of people will be opening their doors and getting out of their vehicles trying to figure out what’s going on.

    Option #2: An ambulance, with all your gear and family tucked inside.

  13. A mountian bike with a little trailer so one can put extra supplies in.
    The little trailer is one like little kids sit in. But is big enough to hold a B-O-N….

  14. Halter broke calm cattle, they can pull a cart, plow, supply milk, and are quite tasty.

    1. all true. If one starts them young, can be amazing co operative. Too, cows (from my recollection), are somewhat of an “alert” if strangers in yard. If you / your family are the ones feeding/caring/training them, they are likely to raise a bit of fuss if strangers come close to them.

  15. Well, both my current BOV are Dodges. 4×4 ’96 lifted Ram. Never been stuck in snow or mud, except for that time I forgot I was in 2 wheel drive. That was quickly remedied when i got my head out of my a$$. Currently driving down a 8 foot deep ditch to get to my house. Water is only a foot deep. It helps to keep the undesirables away and truck has no problem. Wife’s vehicle is an older Durango with a hemi. Full time 4 wheel drive. It gets 24 mpg after tune up on hwy. Currently getting 22mpg hwy. Been stuck a few times in it. Also have a 48 Farmall for EMP. All have bikes too with extra parts. I am planning to bug in. We are very rural. 7 miles from the closest town. Fortified and armed to teeth with lots of supplies and sustainable food. Kids and I can walk home. Relatives know what to do. My wife is the wild card. She works 20 miles away. I have planned her escape route and I will meet her once kids are at homestead. She has a bag in the vehicle with plans, food, water, arms, camo, cash, compass, etc. Now, for the best BOV. I am thinking something modified from farm or construction. Definitely diesel since you can make your own. My nephew will be heading this way with his Cummings and long guns. Lots of farmers and construction guys out my way. A few have already armored dump trucks.

  16. As for EMP proof vehicles most made before 1973 will do fine , as long as there is no electronic ignition , and instead a points type ignition , the only part that might have to be changed out if it is connected when the EMP occurs , would be the condenser , a few of the older Dodge pickups with the older style Cummins Diesel will be ok . As for most newer vehicles if not all will be dead in the road , if the electronics are put back In a Faraday cage , there is a chance you could change them out and the vehicle would run again , but gas stations will be down , the only way to get the gas would be to use the manual pump system where you drop a rubber or plastic hose that is connected to the pump , down the fill pipe located on the stations property , then hand pump out the gas or diesel that would go through the fill hose and into the vehicle tank , you would definitely need a security detail with you when attempting this . With your BOV , just be sure if you have to go through fences or some small obstacles , if you don’t have a crash bar on the front of the vehicle , use the rear of the vehicle to break through said obstacle , this way maybe you can save that radiator . Depending on where you are heading or where you are it might be better to use county roads instead of highways , this way you might can avoid most of the folks who have panicked or have not prepared , also you can just drive around some traffic tie ups , and when you are in the vehicle be sure to keep a rifle nearby but a handgun right with you as it will be handier to use in the confines of the vehicle . There are numbers of suggestions , these are just a few . Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

  17. The best SHTF vehicle is a horse. Baring that, a rugged bicycle with a cart attached. Think how difficult it will be to find gasoline after a collapse. Chances are highly likely that even two weeks post-collapse, that you’ll be unable to source any gasoline or diesel. However, if you have a sturdy bicycle with an attachable cart in which to haul things (gleaned food, supplies, harvesting an animal, etc) then this would be immensely practical.

  18. I’d like to second NRP’s comment about footwear becoming very valuable after a SHTF type event. I had a similar thought recently and will be keeping a few extra pairs of shoes on hand. I lucked out a few days ago and saw my favorite walking/hiking shoes on sale for 59 bucks, down from 155. Score! lol. I am also working on my ability to walk/hike further almost daily and put said shoes to use.

    Daisy-I like your tricycle idea. I’d get some spare inner tubes and tires too if it were me.

    My own SHTF vehicle is a full-sized, fairly nondescript AWD van. Best vehicle I have ever had in the snow. It is my daily driver too. I have a bed in it and a Thetford toilet. I have battery powered LED lights in it, some rechargeable. Depending on what gear I have along with me, I can cook in or outside of the van. I have made coffee and boiled water for Mountain House pouches numerous times inside (with windows open) of it with my Jetboil Flash. I have a Biolite and a Solo wood stove for cooking outside. I also have an alcohol stove for cooking outside. Under the bed I have a 210 amp hour sealed deep cycle battery for power. To charge that I have a 125 watt solar panel mounted on the roof. I have a 2000 watt inverter under the bed as well. All of the windows are tinted, and I have also made curtains for privacy. If it is cold out I have a small, low-wattage heating pad for the dog that I can run for a long time off the battery even with no sun. I use a warm sleeping bag, and I also have a little 200 watt space heater that I have run for a little here and there to warm up the van a little in the morning. I have camped out in it several times for up to 5 days and it’s pretty comfy, has everything I need. I get internet using my phone as a hotspot. I might put a signal booster in it too though for phone/internet. Pretty much anywhere north of me the signal is weak to nonexistent. I coated the roof with this RV rubbery type material that has cut down on the heat in the hot weather. I’m also working on making some custom-made screens for the back windows to help with heat and keep out bugs. It is a great vehicle for road trips too. My only complaint is that it is not a hightop, so it can get a little tiring being hunched over. It is ok, just can’t stand in it. Oh, and it will just be a steel and glass tent after an EMP.

  19. Somebody needs to do some extensive research on EMP’s on vehicles. I have seen an article where some very lacking, testing was done, the problem is that they used low level EMP, and I think they only had one car die, and I don’t remember if they diagnosed what caused it to fail.

    Someone needs to run tests on a variety of years of test cars that fit into a variety of categories. Categories of Alternator/generator, Points/electronic ignition module/distributor-less ignition, along with varieties of the above, and when failures happen, diagnose the failure to find the part that failed and why it failed and the intensity of pulse when the car stopped.

    I would love to participate in a test, I know vehicles, I understand the basics of an EMP, I just need a EMP generator that can produce a pulse high enough to be of use. High enough to disrupt the signals in a human brain, but I will need a volunteer for that test. Then I would need to track down a variety of donor vehicles to fry.

    After the vehicle tests, I would like to test different faraday cage types and electronic devices.

    I would also like to have access to a specialist on the subject so I could learn about the other effects of an electromagnetic pulse. Effects on the ionosphere and what effects that would have on electronics. How long the effects would last in a solar and a nuclear event.

  20. There have been a couple of big-city get-back-home events that fall well short of TEOTWAWKI. NYC and London terrorism and Tokyo earthquake stopped all traffic and much public transport. Bike shops sold out within hours. If you work in a city and need to get to the suburbs, any bicycle can take you 30 miles within 4 hrs.
    Folding bikes can be stashed in a car. 20″ wheel models are compact and rideable. For office storage you can get smaller 16″ or even 12″ folders.
    If you can store a non-folding bike, these are better.

    Your GBH bag for a bike can be very minimal, for a 1/2 day of travel. Map, water, food and puncture kit.

  21. If you are car-free/car-less in the city, a bike can be rigged for bugout. Look to touring-style luggage solutions with rack and panniers and/or trailer.
    You can carry far more than a walking load, faster and longer.
    Trailers will be useful in hard times for small-scale local haulage. Need to shift some logs, bag of grain, animal carcass, load of manure, seedlings, chicks, box of tools?
    I use my 2-wheel, flatbed trailer for all kinds of loads. 1-wheels trailers track better over rough ground but 2 wheelers carry big loads better. Child trailers are best for children, flat-beds are stronger and more versatile.

    1. Michael, I have a 20 inch folding bicycle in my vehicle at all times. I’m looking for never flat or solid type tires for it. Any ideas? Thanks!

  22. I favour Schwalbe Marathon Plus as a really tough pneumatic tyre.
    For solid ones, try Tannus, reviews show they ride almost as well as heavy-duty pneumatics for commuter use, ideal on folders.

  23. An old microwave works great as a Faraday cage, to store communication radios, (I am a licensed Ham Operator.) small electronic devices.

  24. There are allot of good choices out there, and I will add Jeep to the list. Specifically, Jeep YJ, TJ, LJ, XJ, and JK models. Here’s more information on those models and why I recommend them…

    Jeep YJ (Wrangler) 1987 – 1995: This is the typical model that people think of when they think “Jeep”. Between United States and Canadian models apprx. 557412 were produced.

    Jeep TJ and LJ (Wrangler) 1997 – 2006: Updated version of the previous YJ model. The YJ used leaf springs for suspension both front and rear. The TJ changed to coil springs. 965,465 were produced. 55,970 of those were LJ models which were simply longer versions of the TJ model.

    Jeep XJ (Cherokee) 1984 – 2001, with emphasis on 1998 – 2001: Over 2,000,000 were produced. This is the SUV/permanent top version. Identical to the TJ from the front door to the grill as far as mechanical and suspension parts are concerned. Parts are “plug and play” swappable between the XJ and TJ models. XJ’s came equipped with a much beefier rear axle than the YJ, LJ, and TJ.

    Jeep JK (Wrangler) 2007 – CURRENT: The latest version of the Wrangler line. Still solid axle, but with many electronic additions to meet CAFE requirements and expand target demographic to the “soccer mom” segment, “weekend warriors”, etc.

    Even without any aftermarket modification, these models of Jeep are incredibly capable both on and off road. Most owners are amazed at what their stock Jeeps can do when they go off road for the first time. With aftermarket modifications such as lifts, wheel and tire modification, armor, aftermarket off road level bumpers, etc., their capabilities expand exponentially.

    The YJ, TJ, and XJ models that have the inline 6 cylinder 4 liter engine have one of the best, toughest, longest lasting engines of any “modern” vehicle. Good torque, great ability to absorb abuse, and legendary longevity. Very easy to work on when compared to most other “modern” engines.

    Aftermarket support for the above models greatly exceeds aftermarket support for all other models of off road and/or 4×4 vehicles; thus parts are plentiful and inexpensive. In a true SHTF scenario, there are an incredible number of these vehicles to be found all over the United States, thus making it much easier to locate and obtain replacement parts, either from existing vehicles or from aftermarket parts in stores.

    1. I can attest to the longevity of the inline 6. I had a 1994 Jeep and ran it to nearly 250,000 miles! That jeep saw a lot of off-road and a-lot of America.

  25. I have said it before on this site but at the end of the day the best is your own two feet. If a earthquake happens or anything to “grid-lock” the system… Good luck even with a 4×4.

    I know personally if something big happened the roads would be locked up within a min or two, because it only takes one stupid driver to close a hwy, and living in the NW the landscape is cluttered with objects to drive almost all normal 4x4s in. Obviously customized off-road vehicles and barely road legal could go further until it gets to one of the thousands of bridges that would also be locked up by one thing or another…

    When was the last time you walked 15 miles with a pack on non stop? This question is by far more important for determining how you will GOOD.

    Also, unless your tires are filled or solid rubber good luck not getting flats within a short span of time during this kind of event…

    1. Very good points. We tend to overly complicate and focus on tech, both which quickly fail. When I see a 350lb “Prepper” I believe they are not keeping tuned up the most vital tool, their own body.

  26. One cannot make sustainable fuel for most vehicles post-collapse. Therefore if we are to have a serious discussion of SHTF vehicles, then this alone precludes most vehicles that people consider to be useful.
    You have to ask yourself, “Just what is the role of my SHTF vehicle post-collapse? How long will I be able to utilize it? What is its purpose?”

    Now if you’re an urban dweller, then no doubt you’re thinking of a bug out vehicle to get you from point A to point B, making stops along the way, but ultimately ending up in a safe zone. Even then, without fuel, then your vehicle is of little use. Don’t think you’ll be able to find fuel post-collapse. It’s not logical. Sure, there would be caches of it, but think, “Won’t the military rapidly commandeer it as a vital security resource too?” If you’re an urban dweller, then chances are extremely likely that your bugout vehicle will merely get you to a safe zone and nothing more.

    As far as I know, for I “studied up on it a mite” (over decades), there are only two logical solutions for fuel, and neither are great. Biodiesel can be temporarily made (look it up online from recycling discarded fats and grease) but if you use them in an engine not specified for them, it will ruin that engine. It’s useful prepping knowledge, and maybe Ken will write an article about it as a potential skill worthy of learning.

    Some high school “shop” (industrial arts) classes with a good instructor knowledgable in practical mechanics have created discarded oil burning retrofitted vehicles and this is a similar idea. The former is a temporary fuel that will ruin a vehicle but gathering discarded vehicles as you go. The latter is a sustainable way of burning fuel but with the caveat of being able to find grease and oil. Note that this is a problem because extraction of plant based oils is difficult in terms of the amount of acreage to sustain it (likely canola). But one could find crude oil drillers and get oil that way to run such an engine. Otherwise the process of creating gasoline is so complex as to beyond the capacity in a post-collapse world.

    This means that biodiesel can create two methods of powering a standard vehicle by modification to make it permanent, or no modification to make a standard vehicle drive for about 150 miles without locking up.

    Otherwise there is one and only one sustainable fuel source and that is wood-gas. This was the primary means of producing a combustable fuel for a standard engine and has been utilized in war-time before. Due to the size of the wood-gas burner, this means retrofitting a pickup truck in order to have both a place to store wood fuel plus the apparatus. This would make a fine article.

    If one were to convert an earlier model vehicle prior to all of the modern day electronics in order to avoid EMP issues, and then add a wood-gas generator, then one could consider all of the other practical aspects of having an off-road 4 wheel drive truck with a winch. Now that would be a genuine SHTF vehicle as it would be durable, lacking in the electronic components that would be disabled, and would have a ready fuel source that could be specifically harvested plus create charcoal as a useful by-product for blacksmithing, water purification, biochar as a soil amenity, medicinal for toxicology, etc.

    1. Ken,
      If you decide to write an article about making homemade biodiesel, many videos exist from preppers and homesteaders on this skill. It’s not difficult but combining several other prepper skills to get a practical product. If one already had a diesel engine vehicle it might prove to be extremely useful over time. It’s an inevitable pragmatic consideration.

      Not only have very early articles been written on wood-gas as a practical solution for retrofitting a truck, but just as importantly, that wood-gas would be useful for continuing to use a generator post-collapse. There are several articles that have been written about both showing inexpensive ways to do these things and would be immensely useful knowledge for preppers to know. It’s just that these are slightly more technical since they are skills you can do once you learn earlier skills like distillation, basic mechanics, making lye, knowing about forestry, basic welding, etc.

  27. I see the primary role of our “bug-out” vehicles to be getting us and our supplies to one of our bug-out locations if we are not “bugging-in”. In that case, their primary job is to get us home from where ever we may be when the event takes place.

    These vehicles not only serve to move us and our supplies from point to point, they also serve as mobile shelter, defensible positions, etc. It’s much more difficult to take down someone who is inside a vehicle than it is to take down someone on a bicycle or on foot. If your reduced to going on foot, or on a bicycle, yes there are a few advantages such as stealth, no need for gasoline, much easier to get around obstacles, etc. However- you cannot carry nearly as much, you are much less well defended, constantly exposed to the elements, and are putting a much higher toll on your body. Yes, we strap on heavy packs and hike to stay in shape and yes- it’s vital to do regularly, but my goal is to get my family and our supplies to our destination as quickly as possible with the least amount of toil and risk as possible. It’s a trade off. Several of the folks in our group have bicycles, and ride them regularly. Their first option for bugging out however is to strap that bike on to their bug out vehicle!

    At least in the beginning of an event that requires bugging out, gas won’t be as difficult to locate as most people think, just a nuisance to obtain and perhaps riskier than going to the local convenience store to fill up. When the gas “runs out” or becomes too scarce, then obviously the vehicle’s usefulness diminishes. But it can still serve as a blockade, storage, cover, landmark, etc.

    As for flats, yes they are possible but with the tires I am running, it’s not likely for the Jeep. I’ve pulled construction screws and nails out of them and they didn’t penetrate deep enough to cause air loss. I have to upgrade the tires on the truck to be as good.

    We can “what if” all day, but what we should really be doing is preparing so that the odds are in our favor. There are no guarantees that anyone’s plan is going to work, thus being able to adapt will be key. That being said, our first options are to utilize bug out vehicles.

    1. I agree that the overwhelming number of folks think of SHTF vehicles in the manner in which you describe. The reason is obvious as the majority of Americans live in urban centers. Of those folks who are preppers, their plans are based upon a strategy of getting to a more remote location with their vehicle.

      I believe that there are major flaws to that stratgy, but I understand that for most people, it’s the best they can do. They’re unwilling to relocate to a safer zone right now.

      Think about that. Ken wrote a fine article some time back about population density and it featured a map detailing how dense the population was (to make a pun) in sheer numbers.

      If we look at Hurricane Katrina as an fairly recent example, and consider the major problem of fleeing people in a disaster, then I certainly think that even the best SHTF vehicle will become stalled in traffic. Yes, they will be able to go off-road and go around obstacles when others won’t be able to. Still, they are limited based upon their fuel tanks and inevitable issues with stalled traffic at bridges and checkpoints.

      The use of a SHTF vehicle in the manner described makes a lot of assumptions about the effective radius of the vehicle without considering refueling and without considering stalled traffic. As such, it’s of dubious merit, I’m sad to report.

      For those bugging in, who are already in relatively safe zones chosen by low population density, then they likely utilize a pickup truck anyway for agricultural use. They already are felling trees for firewood. They already are hauling around things from point A to point B. They already are hauling harvest animals back to the homestead. For those folks, knowing how to use wood gas and biodiesel are extremely useful skills.

      But the former bugging out folks could also utilize wood-gas and biodiesel knowledge too, don’t you think?

      Ultimately, a sturdy bike with a cart is the most likely useful vehicle for all of the reasons I mentioned. It’s quiet and practical and would logically be the vehicle you use post-collapse, barring owning a horse. Even then, try hauling a harvested animal sometime you took while hunting. I seriously doubt your horse will allow you to do that.

  28. We don’t plan on bugging out for anything less than total anarchy. If we do it will be on our cruising sailboat, which we have sailed throughout the Caribbean. Solar and wind generator dc power producers. DC powered desalinator to make fresh from salt water. I’ve just got to get better at fishing. One 50lb Mahi mahi last trip didn’t last more than a couple weeks. She moves under wind power. We usually keep her stocked with about 3 mths of food stores. This way island stopping isn’t mandatory.

    We plan to drive to the boat from our home about 1/2 hr by car. But we have mapped and practiced multiple ways by bicycle if motorized vehicles are out.

    No worries – sail on!

    1. Sailing is a very interesting alternative to bugging out. If one is self-sufficient enough while under sail, and if pirates (or .gov) aren’t a problem, you can potentially sail off to ‘anywhere’… given the season and weather.

  29. My ‘post-SHTF vehicle’ is an 1985 Suburban with no accessories and a manual 4-speed transmission. It has no computer even though GM started putting computers on NEARLY every vehicle in 1981. You have to LOOK for them but computer-free models are out there. Mine was formerly a State vehicle. It has a locker rear end and granny low gear. I have fitted it with new seats and other mods. My other ‘post-SHTF vehicle’ is a 1970s Kawasaki on/off road dirt bike which gets me about 70 mpg and has a 2.3 gallon tank.

  30. We already moved to our bug-out country 10 yrs ago on a tropical island in the Philippines, where we are in a rental house near the beach and our official Bug-out location in a 12 Ha mountain property with fresh water springs. We live in a Cave Home apartment Inside the mountain witch we can make as large as is wanted. We also dug out a cave garage for our BOV, a Hyundai Galloper Jeep, 4wh.dr. and I believe that once inside its own cave the car will not be effected by and EMP? Having plenty of land to cultivate for organic farming, a 3 month food and water(bottles) supply I believe we can almost survive anything except Nuclear fall out for a long time? We are 8 miles from the beach at a hight of 1500Ft and all can be reached by rural roads so no traffic congestion? We can see a vehicle coming for several miles and prepare for a defence when nessesary?

  31. I’ll take an old ww2 2-1/2 ton truck 6×6
    with a .50 cal turret and a 1,000 gallon diesel tank in the back and a long house for relieving those underground tanks of there diesel I will also have a Ford gpw jeep on a trailer with a trailer so more supplies plus what I can carry in the bed and of course my M1 garand rifle along with some other stuff so I’m good.

  32. Recently we(my sister & I)were given back our dads old 1976 Ford 3/4T truck with granny gear. Dad had used it for hauling cattle, we on the other hand plan on restoring it to road worthy condition. It has beefed up leaf springs, and I have not check under the hood in a long long time to see what mechanics are there.
    It was suppose to stay in the family but a friend talked baby sister out of it before I could pass on dad’s wishes…so when the person passed away her hubby gave it back to us. He kept the motor running on it, yet I know we(dh & I) will purchasing a few parts or repair bills to restore the old girl back to drive able state. Believe we will get rid of the red & white coloring since it eye catching, something less obvious will do.

  33. NRP
    She also has positive traction(1967-Ford), guess that is close to 4 wheel drive??? If I recall correctly dad describing it to me growing up.

    Man I wish we still had the 1958 GMC 4 on the floor also..if I could track it down I would add it to the ‘do over list’. First vehicle I learned to drive by myself on the ranch. My mom would freak out, I would coast down the hill sides in the brush, dad would say “she can not hurt that old truck”.

  34. Well I’m living in my bol a nice quite farm but if I do have big out I’ll take my harley wla reproduction and my parents will take my m3 half track with all of our gear. Those 2 will work for me throw a 50bmg on that half track my dad, mom and me will all have 11911a1′ with 3 mags and I’ll have a Thompson smg on my bike.

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