The viability of bugging out in an RV depends on a variety of factors including your location, budget, personal preferences, and more.
In this guide we’ll talk about the steps you can take to prepare your motorhome for post-apocalyptic life!
A bug out vehicle will no doubt play a key role for mobility, shelter, and storage when SHTF. However, for it to take care of you, you have to take care of it by ensuring that you have all the essentials for its (and your) operation.
In this article, we will discuss some important gear, accessories, tools, and supplies that will take your bug out vehicle to the next level. You might be surprised by some of the key items you might overlook in an emergency, so stay tuned.
Successfully bugging out in or with a vehicle requires several considerations and behaviors. Survivalists must be consistent with a well-defined checklist before and during a disaster. The vehicle must also hold key bug out gear, as well as an appropriate stock of supplies. Vehicle owners also have to keep tools on hand for service and maintenance.
When trouble hits, mobility could be a key factor standing between life and death. A bug out vehicle could save you a LOT of walking and shelter you from the brutal elements.
However, transport and shelter are not the only things that will keep you going. You and your vehicle will need several key items for your survival mission to continue with minimal hitches.
The first thing you will need in your vehicle is your bug out bag. This is your survival pack, usually in the form of a backpack for easy mobility. Your bug out bag is the one thing you will carry with you if anything were to force you to continue the mission on foot.
Normally, the bug out bag would feature basic essentials such as a quick change of warm clothes, a sleeping bag, a survival knife, and torches. Flares and fire-starters (matches, lighters, or flint) are also bug out bag must-haves.
It is important to note that the bug out bag is a last-ditch resource that is only to be used when absolutely critical. You have to make use of your vehicle’s space to store additional, though slightly less essential, items.
In essence, you will be using the vehicle as a bigger bug out bag. If you can afford it, duplicate certain items (i.e., have one flare gun for the bag and one for the vehicle).
Of course, it is impossible to recreate every single home comfort in a vehicle. There will be a steep price to pay for bugging out in a vehicle, although the gradient can be lessened or worsened by the type of vehicle you use.
An RV would be a far better place to live than a hatchback, for example. However, you can zero in on a few essential “life categories” for you and the vehicle.
The most essential thing is food and water…lots of food and water. Naturally, you will need your sustenance and an efficient way to store it.
Lots of non-perishable foods, like canned meats, peanut butter, and coffee are easy to store and require little preparation while on the go. A lot of those things can even be consumed while driving. A propane gas tank and portable stove setup would also be necessary.
You’re going to need water for…everything. Drinking and cooking water is the most important thing. Freshwater sources may be enough for washing up and laundry. You might even be lucky to come across natural hot springs with good camping grounds. Gather and fill up as many water bottles as your vehicle can carry.
Refrigeration is a serious concern as well. Although you can pack non-perishable foods, the convenience offered by a fridge is simply unrivaled.
You can refrigerate your refreshments, preserve any fresh kills or fish, and so much more. If you are unable to get a refrigerator, then a cooler box would be the next best thing.
You will also need weapons and tools. When society collapses, you can expect to come across a looter or two. A pistol or shotgun should be enough to scare off any opportunists.
Pepper spray is also useful in close-quarter encounters. If institutions like the police collapse, you might have run-ins with violent criminals and gangs. Always best to be ready for anything.
The vehicle will also need tools for maintenance and repairs. Jacks, tire gauges, a toolbox, oil, tape, sealants, and so on. Don’t forget jump starters or jumper cables in case your vehicle breaks down completely.
If you live in cold areas, antifreeze spray for your windshield, as well as an ice scraper, would be a clever investment.
There are a few spare parts that you can have on hand too. Product supply chains and licensed vehicle service centers might be disrupted in a crisis, which means some parts might become unavailable.
Spare tires, fuses, and windshield wipers are just the tip of the iceberg where this is concerned.
Fuel could also be a challenge when SHTF. As such, you might have to carry re-fueling cans for filling up when you come across a working gas station. Extra oil will also be required for your vehicle’s services. I would strongly advise that you store reserve fuel and oil cans outdoors.
A roof rack would be perfect for this, as would the back of an open pickup truck. If you can, you might also want to equip your car or truck with a long-distance fuel tank.
Personal hygiene is another major concern you HAVE to cater for. Everything from toilet paper to face masks, soaps, feminine hygiene products, baby wipes and so much more.
A small stash of pharmaceutical products (first aid kits, bandages, aspirin, etc.,) wouldn’t go amiss as either.
Next is communications. Your phone should always be charged and ready in the event of a disaster. There are lots of portable charging banks and car chargers that you can use to boost your battery. Cheap burner phones are a good backup too.
Of course, you cannot just assume that cellphone service will be available in an emergency. Floods and earthquakes can easily disrupt these cell towers and the internet, so you will need other ways to communicate. Police scanners are a fantastic way to get in touch with emergency service providers for aid or directions.
If you are bugging out with your family or a group, walkie-talkies would also be useful if you choose to split up temporarily for foraging or search parties. Getting lost in the woods is easier than you might think, so you should seriously consider it.
Satellite comms just might be the future of all communications. Depending on when SHTF, it might be widely available and affordable. Today though, there is a handful of sat comm-ready laptops that you should think about saving up for.
In a pinch, flares and reflective clothing could also be employed as modes of non-verbal communication, especially to people at a distance. For your vehicle, you should also get a set of reflective triangles to warn other road users when your vehicle breaks down.
The next consideration is shelter and clothing. Make sure to pack clothing that is appropriate for your climate and the environments you wish to traverse through. Sorry, ladies but you might have to forgo the stilettos.
Protective boots are a much wiser choice but do not be afraid to pack something more breathable for hot days as well. I would recommend that you pack winter clothes as well, regardless of your climate because you never know.
Unless you’re bugging out in an RV or have access to an emergency shelter, tents and sleeping bags should not be neglected. Sleeping in a car (or even an SUV for that matter) is simply not sustainable. You really cannot pack too many blankets either.
If sleeping on the ground is not for you, then you should get an inflatable mattress. A lot of modern air mattresses have quick self-inflation and deflation. They also take up very little physical space when deflated.
Navigation is the next life category you need to pay attention to. A good compass, compass apps, and real GPS gear would tick this box nicely.
If you are lucky enough to have a seasoned ornithologist within your ranks, they could even establish your direction by observing flocking patterns of certain bird species. If not, there are loads of ornithology books that could actually help you with navigation. Survival can hinge on such general knowledge!
This brings me to the next category…information technology. Although technically under the communication category, your computers are also vast libraries of data. Every volume and article from the great library of Alexandria would fit in a $300 laptop! A physical collection of books would consume too much space, especially in smaller vehicles.
Your smartphone is also a torch and navigation device. It can track your steps, measure your sleep schedule, it has a calendar…and it tells the time! The super-durable smartphone niche is finally getting consistent flagship-style love, spec-wise. A lot of great protective cases can also protect the still-so-delicate “harder glass” on iPhones and many others.
You should also carry your personal documentation with you when SHTF. Most cars and trucks have glove compartments that you can use for storing your passports and driving or firearm licenses.
A physical contact book with emergency phone numbers and radio frequencies is a necessity in case anything happens to your phone or computer. Remember, technology might be a useful tool when bugging out, but you must not rely on it too much.
Other miscellaneous items would serve you or your vehicle well. While not technically IN the vehicle, a winch is an invaluable tool to equip your vehicle with.
There is a decent chance that at some point, you could be forced to go off-road. A winch would help you, and other vehicles, overcome some seriously treacherous terrain.
Bolt cutters are a versatile tool that could help you gain access to locked buildings, other vehicles, or even potential loot boxes. A Swiss army knife is also a good tool for…well, anything.
You can even use it to cut off your seat belts in case your vehicle overturns or crashes into a body of water. A crowbar is another essential multi-use tool that can save lives.
Flashlights and lamps will also be required. Solar is your friend here, and there are many solar-powered lighting solutions available on Amazon.
Small solar charging panels and power banks are reliable and easy to use. However, you should also have a few packs of traditional alkaline batteries and backup torches that use them.
Depending on the nature of the crisis, gear like safety helmets and gas masks could be crucial to survival. If the disaster is a war or armed conflict, you might even need bulletproof vests on hand for you and your companions. It wouldn’t hurt to pack some flame-retardant clothing either.
While most people might assume that "bug-out vehicles" are limited to cars, trucks, or RVs, that is simply not the case. Motorcycles, boats, or even bicycles can also serve as bug-out vehicles, albeit with certain restrictions. You could even bug out in a helicopter if you're wealthy enough! Such alternative vehicles require special considerations like helmets, life rafts, and parachutes.
While the above categories are a good start, YOU still have to carefully analyze and anticipate your specific needs so you know the items you will include in your vehicle.
Observe your current lifestyle and take note of the things that are essential to you. I recommend that you write these items down and begin procuring and obtaining them for your bug out vehicle well ahead of time… if possible.
Now that we have established the categories of items you need to flesh out, it is time to run through some of the steps you should take to get the most from your bug out ride. Some of these tasks will require an extra pair of hands (at least), which emphasizes the importance of moving in groups.
Vehicles should be serviced as frequently as the manufacturer suggests. Pay close attention to its owner's manual for any servicing tips or guides. Regular service will keep your bug-out ride in tip-top shape, which will prevent any knock-on problems.
Water and oil changes, spark plug maintenance, air filter replacements, etc., are just some of the things combustion engine vehicles need.
You should also be able to carry out basic maintenance such as changing the windshield wipers, changing tires, and checking or adjusting tire pressure.
Changing car batteries is another skill you should learn, as well as how to jump-start your vehicle. Make sure to store a few vehicle maintenance e-books on your computer or smartphone.
Before SHTF, you could have your vehicle professionally inspected for faults. You should also enlist the services of a reliable mechanic ahead of time to make sure you’re all set for any eventuality. I would strongly advise that you acquire brand new tires and brakes while you can.
You should also identify garages, service centers, and other outlets that cater to your specific vehicle. Supply issues may affect the availability of spare parts, especially if your vehicle is rare. Contacts in this line of work would be a great help, and they could even assist you by reserving specific parts for you.
No one knows what the fuel situation will be like when SHTF. Gasoline and diesel might become difficult to source, or it may continue to be normal service as usual.
Whatever the case, you ought to keep your tank as close to full as possible. Any extra fuel tanks and canisters should be filled up at any and every opportunity.
Managing your consumption will be absolutely crucial. Before trouble hits, try to get a rough idea of how many calories you (and your companions, if any) require to function on an active day. Do the same thing for water requirements.
Once, established, plan accordingly and ration your bug out meals. Rationing eliminates waste and restricts stress-induced overeating.
Foraging is also a necessary skill for you to master during stops. Humans have descended from hunter gatherers, after all, so familiarize yourself with wild nuts, berries, and other natural delicacies.
Blueberries have famous antioxidant properties, and they are very rich in vitamin C and potassium. Foraging could be useful in lessening the burden on your rations.
Fishing and hunting are other great ways of sourcing nutrient-rich food. Salmon is particularly beneficial, with essential fatty acids that are good for the heart and joints. Fish can also be cured with salt for preservation. Game meat is exceptionally high in protein, and can also be dried to keep it from going bad.
Your drinking water is precious. If you’re forced to leave your home, and head into the wilderness, who knows when you will come across another drinkable supply?
Try to immediately replace any water you use, whether by purchasing more or by refilling from trusted water bodies. Water purification systems and cleaning tablets would also bail you out of a jam by making dirty water safe to drink.
Plastic water bottles should be replaced after six months, especially if they are exposed to high temperatures in your vehicle. Another thing….DO NOT drink your bug out bag water, if it is avoidable at all.
You may need to separate yourself from your vehicle at a moment’s notice, which means your bug out bag must stay fully loaded at all times.
The survivalist’s mission is never over, and day after day, you will have to find a way to stay alive. As such, you need assistance, and a well-equipped bug out vehicle is a friend indeed.
Everyone’s specific needs are different, of course, but we have compiled a list of some of the general, and oft-overlooked, pieces of survival gear that could make all the difference in a well stocked bug out vehicle:
We also need to touch on a few items that can enhance your bug out vehicle’s utility, comfort, storage, and even safety.
You will need tools to carry out repairs and maintenance on your bug out vehicle. In the event of total societal collapse, accessing mechanics or service centers may prove difficult. Because of this, you cannot have too many tools.
There are several consumables that you and your vehicle will require to keep going. These vital supplies must be acquired and replenished whenever possible.
Let’s start with some bug out vehicle supplies for you:
Now for some essential supplies for your bug out vehicle:
Prepping a bug-out vehicle is a full-time activity that requires an in-depth understanding of one's specific needs and environment.
The above lists should serve as a framework for the type of items you will need, as well as the steps you should take to build the ultimate car survival kit.
The type of vehicle you use will probably be the biggest influence on your particular arrangement…so choose wisely.