Today, we take a look at DIY vehicle modification and preparation. We explore ideas on how to enhance your car’s storage, security, and overall reliability. We also go over some key considerations before purchasing and modifying a bug-out vehicle.
When life as we know it is flipped on its head in a crisis, a swift evacuation could be in the cards. Of course, leaving your home does present several challenges, not least of which is storage.
This is where bug-out vehicle trailers come in. Today, we will take a look at the utility of bug-out trailers, and some of the essential gear that you can store with them. We will also look at some of the best trailers you can buy today, as well as some cool homemade trailer ideas.
The best bug out trailers include the Vorsheer XOC-R, our pick for the best bug-out trailer, and the Highland Expedition Outfitters T3.5, an excellent off-road trailer. The best cargo trailer is the Journey SE, while the best survival camper trailer is the Off Grid Trailers Pando 2.0. The GO camping trailer from Sylvan Sports is the best small trailer for cars.
You can use this list of bug out trailers to jump straight to the trailer that interests you most:
A bug-out trailer is a trailer or wagon that is used together with a bug-out vehicle. Basically, it is a trailer that you will use to haul your stuff out of dodge if, or when, SHTF.
These trailers are usually used with land vehicles, although I’m sure certain life rafts could serve a similar purpose for your bug-out boat. However, for the most part, trailers are used by cars, trucks, SUVs, ATVs, and RVs. Motorcycles can also be hooked up to trailers but, for this article, we will focus primarily on trailers for cars, pickups, and SUVs.
As a consequence of our modern consumerist culture, our homes are LOADED with items of variable usefulness. We love hoarding furniture, clothes, memorabilia, and anything else that catches our eye, and the thought of leaving it all behind is just a little too much to bear.
However, when disaster strikes, you must act, or risk facing serious to-life-threatening consequences by clinging on to your stuff. The prospect of bugging out in a vehicle will force you into this decision, and you might have split seconds to make one.
Enter the bug-out trailer, a firm endorser of the survivalist route. These tools will help you ensure you don’t leave it all behind. You can rest calmly in the knowledge that you can hold on to the more-than bare essentials and perhaps a few luxuries or sentimental items.
You must not underestimate the value of storage in an emergency evac scenario. Your car might be able to carry your golf bags and suitcases, but can it support you and your family’s bedding, grooming, cooking, food, water, and security needs? For an extended period?
With a trailer, you can boost your storage capacity. Chances are, if you have a big family, you may already own an SUV, a minivan, or an estate wagon, which is good. Not only are these vehicles "bug-out ready" in terms of storage, but they are also particularly powerful and trailer-friendly, which could effectively double their storage capacity…at least.
These storage tools are also referred to as “survival trailers” because they are most associated with storing and transporting key emergency resources, tools, and gear for when SHTF. Many militaries, emergency services…and homeless people all over the world use trailers in the never-ending pursuit of survival. It is the ultimate way to enhance your bug-out bag!
With modern trailers being relatively light, agile, and almost all-terrain-friendly, they have become a must-have for preppers on wheels.
One great thing about trailers is the varying sizes, functions, and features. Some trailers are covered, which is ideal if you are bugging out in an area prone to lots of rain.
Other trailers are larger than others, which allows you to get the most out of really powerful cars and trucks. The opposite is true as well, with many cute miniature trailers that are perfect for an escape hot hatch.
Below are some of the very best trailers on the market right now. With many manufacturers producing a great number of high-quality trailers, it would be impossible to list every good one out there.
As such, we’ve identified the best trailers across different survival segments. Fair warning, price may be a common theme but, remember, a trailer may prove to be priceless when the time comes.
While it is difficult to list every great trailer, we must choose the very best one. This is no easy task but the quality, capabilities, and usability of the Vorsheer XOC-R (or Extreme Overland Camper) have shone brighter than any other. The awesome trailer is what every prepper could ever hope for from a mobile storage solution.
Where do we even start with this rig? Let’s just get some of the basic stats out of the way. The XOC-R is a two-wheeled trailer that weighs in at 2600lbs with an incredibly low tongue weight of 170lbs! You see, a trailer’s tongue weight is the level of downward force the trailer puts on a vehicle’s rear towbar. These numbers highlight the XOC-R’s incredible balancing.
The trailer is 7 feet high, 7.4 feet across, and 15 feet long. With a 23-inch ground clearance and fat 33-inch all-terrain tires (plus a spare), it is ready to tackle anything you and your off-road vehicle may come across.
The XOC-R is made from a highly durable aluminum frame that will withstand the harshest elements without a fuss. The bodywork has a rugged appearance, and it does much more than look the part.
Underneath the tough outer shell lies a homely sleeping cabin with enough room for two people and a baby or two. Vorsheer's Fan-tastic fan will keep you and your loved ones cool in the hot summers. The cabin is also a place to store additional bug-out gear to complement your survival backpack.
Vorsheer did not stop there, as the trailer also features a mini-galley with decent storage space for cutlery items, snacks, condiments, small pots, and any other kitchen essentials. That's not even the best bit, because the XOC-R has a mini-fridge, freezer, and a super handy propane stove. Might as well have a cup of tea as you watch the world burn.
This trailer is perfect for SUVs and pickup trucks, although powerful estate cars and sedans could use it comfortably. One particularly useful, but the less-heralded feature is the perfectly flat and smooth bottom which, when combined with the trailer’s high ground clearance, makes this the ultimate bug out trailer, on the road or off it.
Other features include a roof rack, a spare tire rack, a safari ladder, leveling jack stands, independent suspension, and a basic lighting package. There are also a host of optional extras including a propane cabin heater, a jerry can holder, a bike rack, and so much more.
The XOC-R’s list of functions and features is simply unreal. You can even set up a tent on the roof of the trailer and hitch an awning of one of the sides for your very own bug-out veranda. This feature would prove exceptionally useful in desert environments.
Superlatives abound, but they still do not do the Vorsheer XOC-R the justice it deserves as the very best bug-out car trailer today.
Another competitive category, particularly because off-road capabilities are increasingly becoming more important for consumers. Doubtless, the prepper community has swung its ever-growing weight behind that shift.
The Vorsheer XOC-R we’ve just discussed is a fantastic off-road trailer with features suited for steep gradients and rough or slippery terrain. However, it would be a bit unfair to dedicate the whole article to one trailer. As a result, we’ve awarded the title of the best off-road survival trailer to the super-rugged Highland Expedition Outfitters T3.5.
Now, by no means is this trailer second-rate. The HEO T3.5 could have easily snatched the ultimate trailer plug. The competition is that stiff. The T3.5 is a beefed-up version of the Tennessee brand’s excellent T3 trailer. Of particular interest is the T3.5’s larger body and tub, which facilitate 48 cubic feet of space compared to 32 in the T3.
Crafted specifically for Safaris, the T3.5’s aluminum shell is completely impervious to corrosion and rust. The inner tub is completely water-tight when sealed too, which is useful for protecting clothes and food. The roof rack is ideal for cargo cases or bags. You can even set up a three-person rooftop tent! Not to mention an awning for some sweet shade.
Despite its super rugged and jungle-ready appearance, the T3.5 only weighs 700 pounds, which means you could haul it with a small sedan if you needed to. While it performs excellently on the roads, it truly shines when it strays off the beaten path. A 16-inch ground clearance will ensure you do not get hooked when driving over wild terrain.
The T3.5 has some truly impressive standard features, including sliding cargo trays, a re-enforced lockable tailgate, safety chains, and LED lighting. The standard configuration is perfect if you need a really simple but tough trailer.
However, as usual, it’s the options that get you. You can (and should) get the solar package, which includes panels and a battery with built-in USB 12V ports. One stinger though…before you can have your T3.5 equipped with the rather pricey solar package, you must purchase the slightly less pricey aluminum tongue box!
Other options include a spare wheel, a 5-gallon mounted gas can, running boards, a propane tank, and a water can. The awning is also an optional extra, I’m afraid. You can also get the trailer in a color of your choice.
When SHTF, major roads in and around larger cities and towns may be jammed with panicked traffic. An off-road capable car or even a side-by-side would be a major advantage, and so would an off-road trailer like the HEO T3.5
If you do not have a bug-out home, or you are forced to evacuate from your regular home, a camper trailer would be a handy way to ensure you won't be sleeping in your car.
The Vorsheer XOC-R and HEO T3.5, the two trailers we have discussed so far, are excellently well-rounded and would do well as semi-permanent camping rigs. However, the winner of this category has proven that it can go far beyond doing “well”.
Introducing the Pando 2.0, your home-on-the-go from Off Grid Trailers. This camper is something every prepper should take a serious look at. One thing to note though…it’s not cheap. That said, your considerable buck will get you some considerable bang.
This bug-out trailer features an all-aluminum design, with no wood used whatsoever. This means the Pando 2.0 is completely corrosion and mildew resistant. Perfect for all-year-round use.
Spec-wise, the Pando 2.0 weighs 2200lbs, with a tongue weight of about 300 pounds. The trailer can support up to 1,300lbs of cargo, which is really handy for survivalists with families and companions to consider. When hitched, this trailer has a 21-inch ground clearance and a height of 79 inches. It is 89 inches wide, and 166 inches long.
The Pando 2.0’s interior storage space is truly something out of prepper heaven. With a length of 80 inches, a width of 56 inches, and a height of 46 inches, there is plenty of space for your gear and supplies. The cabin is equipped with small cabinets for quick storage. The interior cabin also has a memory foam mattress with sleeping space for two adults and a child. The Pando 2.0 can support a rooftop tent for additional sleeping space.
The camper also has good water storage capacity, with a 14-gallon water reserve tank included as standard. Off Grid Trailers also offers a 19-gallon secondary tank as an optional extra. In addition to the cabin, there is also a rear galley with four storage cabinets, a spice rack, and a cutlery cabinet.
This camper is chock-full of awesome features and optional extras. From the stainless-steel dual burner stove to the 15-gallon freezer, and handy countertop. There is also a hot and cold deep sink with a fold-down faucet to make this the ultimate bug-out kitchen.
The trailer’s water heater box also allows owners to take outdoor showers with the included shower attachment. The tongue box features a removable shelf for extra storage space, a 10-amp dual bank power charger, a 1000W sine wave inverter, and a Zamp solar port. Electrical power is managed by a 50-amp 12 circuit main BUS.
The Pando needs all that electricity to power additional features like the 10-speed roof fan, interior LED lighting, and dual 120V outlets. You will be able to charge your devices or even watch TV in the comfort of your trailer.
While it is a fairly large trailer, the Pando 2.0 is still quite nimble and not averse to off-roading. SUVs and pickup trucks are the best way to haul this trailer, and Off Grid Trailers have equipped the Pando with the tools it needs to take on most terrains. The trailer sits on a pair of tough off-road tires. The Timbren 3500HD suspension also ensures great handling through backroads and forests.
If you plan on bugging out with family, companions, or even pets, then the Pando 2.0 should definitely be on your shortlist. Just beware of the steep price (plus that of extras), and prepare your wallet.
While some may require trailers that offer the homely comforts that campers like the Panda 2.0 provide, others may be leaning towards trailers designed for hauling as much cargo as reasonably possible.
To that end, look no further than the Journey SE from Pace American Trailers. The best part about the Journey SE cargo trailer is the wide range of sizes you can get it in. The smallest model is 8 feet long and 5 feet wide, while the biggest model is 28 feet long and 8.5 feet wide. All Journey SE trailers feature a flat roof and a V-nose front.
Opening the 32-inch aluminum door reveals ample storage space for all of your bug out essentials and supplies. Interior storage space depends on the trailer size you choose, so you’re looking at up to 208 square feet of floor space in the 28-footer model. With an interior height of 78 inches, you could have up to 1352 cubic feet of storage space…all behind your car!
You can easily haul motorcycles and ATVs when a crisis hits, and escape via major highway or back-roads. The Journey trailer comes with a single-axle (two-wheel) or double-axle (four-wheel) configuration that makes use of 15-inch tires.
This is a no-nonsense trailer that will protect your goods from the elements or would-be looters. Pace American displays its patriotism by honoring the right to choose. With a spectacularly wide range of specs, the Journey SE offers true choice in storage capacity, ensuring you can carry a little more than you need when SHTF.
If your bug-out ride is a little hatchback, or you don't have too much gear, you should probably skip behemoths like the 28-footer Journey SE. What you will need is something compact, light and maneuverable.
Well, that something may very well be the GO camping trailer by North Carolina's Sylvan Sport. This cool-looking trailer is for the survivalist with minimal baggage and even fewer limits.
At just 840 pounds, this trailer is super light and suitable for any kind of car. The GO has an aluminum frame that is 100% corrosion-proof. This is especially useful for off-roading and wading through the unforgiving elements.
The GO’s expandable/ collapsible gear deck is arguably its standout feature. You can employ a hand-crank mechanism to raise the top of the deck by 31 inches, enough to create storage room for mountain bikes, kayaks, or even an ATV.
The magic doesn’t stop there. The underside of the deck roof houses an awesome bug-out tent that can accommodate up to 4 adults. The tent is made from waterproof ripstop nylon, and it can be set up to be a dining room, living space, or sleeping quarters. With its efficient ventilation system and windows, the tent is a fantastic place to be in.
On the road, the GO is super smooth thanks to its Dexter Torsion Axles and cast-aluminum wheels. The suspension is dampened to ensure the trailer stays planted to the ground at all times.
The GO's features are heaven-sent for preppers, and Sylvan Sport offers a lot of optional extras, including a spare tire, a deck cushion, air mattresses, a solar kit, and much more. This is an absolute go-to if you are on the hunt for a small trailer loaded with big surprises.
The specifics of what you need from a bug-out trailer can only be determined by you and your needs. Some people might need a trailer for hauling supplies to and from their bug-out home. Others, who may not have bug-out homes, might be looking for trailers that can also offer accommodation. Whatever your specific needs, there are some universal considerations.
Storage capacity is consideration number one. Storage is the main reason for getting a trailer in the first place, so you better ensure your potential trailer is capable of housing everything you will need. Large trailers like the Journey SE are great for transporting additional bug-out vehicles like bug out motorcycles and ATVs.
The next consideration is cover. Is the trailer open? Or is it closed off? Depending on where you are, an open-top trailer may be adequate for your bug-out needs. However, in areas prone to excessive rain and snow (or theft), a covered trailer would be the best option.
Size is another thing to think about. Your vehicle’s towing capacity is highly dependent on its own power and efficiency. Therefore, attaching an excessively heavy trailer to your car could negatively impact its fuel efficiency and mobility. Try to always get the right-sized trailer for your vehicle's towing capacity. The size of a trailer may also influence the types of routes you can take, so choose wisely.
A trailer’s off-road capabilities must also be vetted. We’ve already touched on the possibility of long-term off-road travel, so you must factor this in. Off-road-ready trailers are less likely to slow you down out there.
You should also look into any other amenities that your prospective trailers offer. If you want something you can live in, you should check for features like bedding, galleys, burner stoves, solar units, shower attachments, and so on. If you are going to be living out of your car for an indefinite period, you will need some home comforts.
As with most things in the prepper-sphere, survival trailers present many benefits, as well as a few compromises. You should know the good and bad sides before you dive into a potentially expensive purchase.
With the wide range of trailer sizes and styles available today, any car can be a great choice for hauling a trailer.
However, in general, SUVs, pickup trucks, minivans, and estate cars have proven to be the best at hauling trailers of all shapes and sizes. Pickups and SUV’s inherent suitability to off-roading give them a distinct advantage over most other vehicle classes where trailers are concerned.
A common theme in the world of trailers is the relatively high cost of purchasing one. While many of them are great storage solutions, some of the pricing may be a major stumbling block. Luckily, the internet is full of some great inspiration for some DIY trailer building.
With some time, elbow grease, a few friends, and some beers, you could build a full-on camo camper trailer. A camouflage paint job would help with hiding your trailer (and stuff) from marauding looters.
While most of the trailers highlighted in this article tend to limit their use of wood, you can still use this natural material to build a handy trailer for an emergency. A wooden trailer might not have the elemental resistance of aluminum, but it will still hold your stuff. Plus…wood is free.
Head to Pinterest and explore hundreds of other DIY trailer ideas!
Now that you have identified (or built) your perfect survival trailer, it’s time to put things in it. There are several essential items you will need out there when the time comes, so be prepared.
A good bug out trailer should have:
This trailer gear list is not exhaustive, so take time to find what your specific situation calls for and add it on.
For a comprehensive list of all the survival gear and tools you could keep in your car to improve your odds of survival, check out our 5 lists of bug out vehicle essentials.
Choosing the best bug-out trailer for your car is an exercise worth undertaking before SHTF, and the inevitable price hikes.
We’ve listed some great units here that could, at the very least, point you in the right direction. If, or when, you are ever called upon to evacuate during a disaster, you should be ready to roll.