For decades, the Jeep brand has been synonymous with off-road versatility, reliability, and ruggedness. This all-terrain dominance has seen them employed by the world's best militaries, emergency service providers, and thrill-seekers young and old. As preppers, this utility naturally begs the question: would a Jeep be a suitable bug-out ride?
That is exactly what we hope to establish today. We will explore some of the merits and limitations of choosing a Jeep as your survival vehicle. We will also examine some of the brand’s notable vehicles, some awesome modification tips, as well as some helpful consumer advice.
The best bug-out Jeeps are the Grand Cherokee, Cherokee, Wrangler, Wrangler Unlimited, and the Gladiator. Discontinued Jeeps that are also worth mentioning include the Liberty, the TJ Wrangler, and the Patriot. All Jeep’s feature the brand’s iconic 4x4 drivetrain and a host of technological features.
Here is our full list of bug out jeeps you should consider when looking for a bug out car:
Are Jeeps good bug-out vehicles?
Jeeps have long been considered among the best off-road vehicles, so much so that even the U.S. military adopted them as all-terrain warhorses when the second World War was brewing. Back then, the company was known as Willys-Overland, and their first approved military 4x4, the MB (or “Jeep”), was an instant hit with the U.S. and Allied Forces.
Following success in WWII and subsequent wars, the military found that it had a surplus of Jeeps on its hands. These were put up for sale to the public, where they were quickly snapped up. This immediately prompted the commercial production of the Jeep, beginning with the Civilian Jeep (or “CJ”) which was launched in 1943. The rest, as they say, is history.
Now, I don’t know about you, but a vehicle that is capable of vanquishing the Nazis is definitely worth considering for any SHTF situation. While modern Jeeps have come a long way in terms of design and technology, they still carry a lot of the Willys MB’s lineage. Four-wheel drive, off-road nimbleness, and decent ground clearance are just a few of the great things modern Jeeps have inherited from their famous ancestor.
Another great evolution Jeeps have made over the years is family-friendliness. Several models can seat 5-7 people with great leg and headroom. If you plan on bugging out with your family, friends, or even pets, a Jeep could be exactly what you need. Modern Jeeps also have very comfortable interiors, which will make long journeys a breeze.
Jeeps are also excellent tow vehicles. Storage is a major issue for any prepper, so the ability to haul a cargo trailer is always appreciated. In a disaster scenario, you may be forced to abandon your home. If you do not have an emergency bug-out shelter to retreat to, a camper trailer may be what you need to have access to some home comforts.
Quick storage and practicality are also essential in emergencies. All Jeeps come with handy compartments, door bins, and trunks or bedpans. You can easily store basic luggage and key bug-out gear. They are also equipped with cupholders that accommodate most water bottles and flasks.
Jeeps are no slouches on the technology front either. You can expect a whole host of cool features from these vehicles. Depending on the era, you can expect things like GPS navigation, lane assist, reversing cameras, S.O.S. calling, or even heated seats and steering.
Despite the era, you can also expect a banging sound system…from 80’s cassettes to 21’s Apple Car Play. Android Auto is a bit of a drag sometimes (Siri is way easier to use while driving). However, the sound never suffers…which means you can cruise on exotic beaches, or escape a zombie horde while pumping some serious tunes. Neat!
Of course, the brand’s standout feature is its legendary off-road capabilities. This may prove invaluable in a crisis, for a variety of reasons.
Think about it, if you live in a major city or county, any panic-inducing threat could result in massive stampedes on most major roads and highways. Not only would this increase the likelihood of accidents, but it could result in major traffic jams. Add law enforcement or emergency service blockades to that, and you could find yourself in the middle of a traffic jam from hell.
Going off-road could spare you a lot of traveling pains. You could use your Jeep to escape via a lesser-used backroad or even veer off the beaten path by cutting through forests, open fields, or even shallow swamps. With good ground clearance, off-road technology, and that trusty 4x4 drivetrain, Jeeps are born to tackle the road less traveled.
Jeeps also have loads of room for modification and customization. The company itself offers a rich variety of bonuses and optional extras for all model ranges. You can get roof racks, running boards, or even winches. Various engine configurations are available too. The range of engines allows customers to choose between high-performance or fuel economy for most Jeep models.
However, the aftermarket palette is arguably much juicier, with beefier (or even warranty-threatening) modifications and parts. Models like the Wrangler are among the most tricked-out vehicles ever, and there are a ton of bug-out mods waiting to be explored.
Best Jeep bug-out vehicles
Now that we have established Jeep's pedigree as a bug-out ride candidate, we must take a look at some of their notable models.
Jeep has come up with a unique range of vehicles over the years, with mixed commercial success. While the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee have been household names for decades, a few other models have found themselves on the scrapheap surprisingly quickly.
However, you should not worry too much if a certain model has been “discontinued”, as that is often a reflection of sales rather than the vehicle’s quality. In fact, you may find tremendous value for money in getting a discontinued Jeep…provided it is in good condition.
This brings us to the next important point…whatever Jeep you get must be in good condition and, preferably, accompanied by thorough service history documents. Remember, we are prepping, so you want to get a car that can also serve as a daily driver in your everyday life.
Jeeps are not cheap, and although they are generally reliable, a bad one will drain your wallet quickly with regular repair costs. This is especially true with discontinued vehicles, which could also have rare parts. Insurers won’t be too kind on discontinued cars either, so beware.
That said, at the end of the day, Jeeps hold an undeniable niche in the auto world, and their build quality, comforts, storage, and that masterfully engineered 4x4 platform makes them a solid choice for a bug-out vehicle.
Jeep Wrangler bug out vehicle
The name "Wrangler" is as synonymous with rugged off-roading as it is with rugged denimwear (which, ironically, isn't bad for bug-out life either). Fun, yet seriously functional. Stylish without abandoning practicality. Recognizable yet infinitely customizable.
The Jeep Wrangler has been around for nearly 40 years, making an instant splash when it was unveiled in 1986. The fun-loving 80s immediately set the ball rolling for this cool SUV. Technically, the Wrangler is the two-door version, while the Wrangler Unlimited is the four-door version.
The latest model, the JL, continues to hold the torch high. With features like a fluid 8-speed automatic transmission (or six-speed manual), various trim levels, advanced safety features, and a fabulous infotainment setup, the Wrangler is definitely worth your while.
Wranglers have also been a great value for money vehicles, with relatively low purchase prices and decent resale values. The Wrangler JL comes fitted with fat off-road capable tires and a jacked-up suspension that can easily be modified by aftermarket experts. The iconic anti-roll bars are also present in all their glory.
The Wrangler comes in a two-door configuration and features a removable roof and doors. There are eight engine configurations available (subject to customer choice or trim package). These range from the entry-level 2.0L Hurricane engine to the 6.4L Hemi V8. There is also the 4XE hybrid Wrangler with 25 miles of electrical range.
The Rubicon trim package should be of particular interest to preppers. With a higher ground clearance, greater water fording depth, and steeper approach angle than a standard Wrangler, the Rubicon Wrangler is truly an off-road monster. You can also install additional features like a winch or even bigger tires.
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited bug out vehicle
The Unlimited line has been part of the Wrangler line since 2004, beginning with the TJ Wrangler. These are typically four-door or long-wheelbase versions of the standard Wrangler. While the original Wrangler was (and still is) a fun vehicle, the two-seater configuration was a bit limiting. The Unlimited, therefore, facilitated the Wrangler’s metamorphosis into a mid-sized family 4x4.
The Wrangler Unlimited JL boasts many of the same features and engine configurations as its two-door sibling, including the 4XE hybrid trim. The Unlimited also has more trim levels, including the Sahara, Sport Altitude, Sahara Altitude, and Moab.
Again, the Rubicon package is one of particular interest to preppers. With beefier tires and suspension, the Rubicon Wrangler is a great choice for tackling the great wilderness.
Just like the two-door Wrangler, Unlimited’s modification potential is…er…unlimited. Jeep offers excellent optional extras and trim exclusives, while the aftermarket offers a whole host of tools and gadgets that will take your ride to the next level.
Jeep TJ bug out vehicle
The Jeep TJ is yet another memorable member of the Wrangler line. Although its production ceased back in 2006, the TJ has remained close to many Jeep fans’ hearts. Its reliability, toughness, and general can-do attitude are some of the highlights that could whet a prepper’s appetite.
Not everyone can afford a brand spanking new Jeep, so scouring the used vehicle market for gems like the TJ is a good alternative. If you find one in good shape, you can expect several years of excellence.
The TJ was originally a two-door SUV available as a convertible or hardtop. The four-door Unlimited version was launched in 2004 with the same roofing options. Some of the TJ’s features, including coil-spring suspension and a 4.0L inline-6 engine, were massive innovations for Jeeps and mid-sized SUVs at the time.
The TJ and TJ Unlimited were available in fifteen standard trims, ranging from the entry-level SE to the Rubicon and Tomb Raider Edition packages. Like the other Wranglers we spoke of above, the TJ’s Rubicon trim was an especially dedicated off-roader, featuring an all-new Ultradrive automatic transmission that enabled it to scale new heights.
As one of the best-selling Jeeps of all time the TJ Wrangler is still a common sight at used car lots and auctions. This makes it easier to get as much bang for your buck as you possibly can. Heck, this Jeep is so popular, you might even have a friend or relative who owns one.
Another benefit of its immense popularity is something all prospective bug-out vehicle owners should pay close attention to…the availability of spare parts. Even though Jeep does not support the TJ anymore, there are still lots of third-party service centers and aftermarket part dealers that cater to this classic vehicle.
Jeep Cherokee bug out vehicle
The Cherokee line, though popular, has certainly experienced a roller coaster since its swashbuckling debut in the mid-70s. Famously regarded as the first vehicle to be marketed as a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), the Cherokee is definitely a cornerstone for modern Jeeps.
The latest Cherokee, the fifth generation KL is an admirable attempt at bouncing back from the commercial nadir the line experienced in the early 2010s. With a meaner, and leaner, crossover design packing a whole host of gadgets, the KL has a lot of ground to make up.
Personally, the third generation Cherokee was the line’s sweet spot. The KL certainly tries to be just as innovative. The car features the all-new Uconnect touchscreen and Apple CarPlay in addition to Alexa for Jeep Skill.
On the road, you can have one of six stellar engines. The motors range from the entry-level 2.0L diesel Multijet II to the 3.2L Pentastar V6. You can also get the Cherokee with a 9-speed automatic transmission or a 6-speed manual.
Of course, as with most Jeeps, some performance features are reserved for specific trims. There are four Cherokee trims: Sport, Latitude, Trailhawk, and Limited. While the Limited is the most luxurious package on offer, the Trailhawk is a much better off-roader.
The ride quality is very good, and there is plenty of storage space for bug-out bags, emergency water bottles, and other gear and supplies. The roof rack rails can be modified for greater utility too. The Cherokee has a towing capacity of 2,000lbs, which is enough for a lot of storage or camper trailers.
While the Cherokee offers good value for money, you might be better served by going for the Grand Cherokee. While the latter is a bit more expensive, it is quite a lot of SUV. However, that takes nothing from the Cherokee, which is a lovely mid-range SUV.
Jeep Grand Cherokee bug out vehicle
The Grand Cherokee, along with the Wrangler, is Jeep’s most successful product. And for very good reason. The Cherokee is Jeep’s true answer to the Range Rovers and G-Wagons of the world, as its tradition of blending subtle style and breakneck performance continues.
Launched in 1993 as Jeep’s first foray into the luxury SUV space, the Grand Cherokee has pioneered many engineering feats and technologies. In the gearhead community, the Grand Cherokee is hailed for its legendary unibody chassis, a framing technique that is not supposed to work on such a tall vehicle but one that just…does.
While luxury has always been the Cherokee's main angle, the last few generations have really acquired a taste for high-octane performance. The Hemi V8 version of the third generation (or WK) Grand Cherokee famously stole the crown of the world's fastest SUV when it first came out. It was the first production SUV to ever clock a 0-60mph time of 5 seconds!
The current generation, the WL, is the SUV’s fifth incarnation. With 11 packages to choose from, there is a Grand Cherokee for almost any need and budget. Engines range from the entry-level Laredo's 3.6L Pentastar V6 to the top-of-the-line Trackhawk’s roaring 6.2L V8. All Grand Cherokees have an 8-speed automatic gearbox.
The Grand Cherokee can seat five adults pretty comfortably. All packages have a minimum towing capacity of 3,500lbs, although the Trackhawk and SRT versions can haul up to 7,200lbs! A large trunk and foldable rear seats can increase the storage space even further.
If you want to tackle uncertain terrain, then the Trailhawk and High Altitude versions are ideal for you. If you want the best MPG, the entry-level Laredo packages are the way to go. Of course, if speed is your need, the pacey SRT and Trackhawk packages are the flagship super-SUVs of choice.
Jeep Gladiator bug out vehicle
The current-generation Gladiator is the hybridized spiritual successor to the J-Series Gladiator pickup that was sold in the 60s. The current Gladiator is a cross between a pure pickup truck and a four-door Wrangler.
In addition to the snug SUV comforts we’ve come to expect from modern Jeeps, the Gladiator features a signature bedpan for added storage. The truck is a great tow vehicle as well, with capacities of up to 7,650lbs.
Jeep offers eight Gladiator packages, with all of them featuring a removable roof for that classic Wrangler experience. There are two engines on offer for this model: a 3.6L Pentastar V6 and a 3.0L EcoDiesel V6. You can also get the Gladiator with an 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission.
Jeep Patriot bug out vehicle
The Jeep Patriot is one of the crossover SUVs Jeep launched in the mid-2000s. The environmentalism wave was beginning to rise and Jeep, faced with stiff competition from vehicles like Toyota’s RAV4, had to come up with a response.
With two gasoline engines (the 2.0L World I4 and 2.4L World I4) and two diesel motors (the 2.0L VW I4 and 2.2L OM651 I4) that were heavily marketed as fuel-savers, the Patriot was an instant hit. The car had three transmission configurations: a 5 and 6-speed manual, and a 6-speed automatic.
The Patriot is renowned for its general versatility and comfort. The Jeep can seat 5 people, which makes it a good bug-out choice for families or groups. Storage space is excellent thanks to a large trunk. The vehicle can also tow a 1,000lb trailer.
Although it was discontinued in 2017, the Patriot remains a popular second-hand go-to. Good deals surely abound for this understated, and underrated Jeep.
Jeep Liberty bug out vehicle
The Liberty line is (or was), in fact, part of the Cherokee family, beginning with the 2002-2007 KJ Liberty and ending with its immediate successor, the KK Liberty.
The KJ Liberty was the more successful of the two, commercially speaking, with a choice of four awesome engines and six transmission configurations (three manuals, three automatics). It was produced with three trim options (the Sport, Renegade, and Limited Edition).
The KK Liberty was actually the Dodge Nitro’s good twin, as both vehicles were spawned during Chrysler’s creative crisis. It was produced with two engine specs: a 2.8L VM Motori diesel and a 3.7L PowerTech V6 that runs on gas. Three transmission configurations were also produced.
As of now, the Liberty name is dead and buried, as far as official Jeep support goes. However, both iterations of the Liberty are still high-quality vehicles. Again, the condition is king.
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How to prepare your Jeep for bugging out
Prepping your Jeep for post-Apocalyptic uncertainty is an absolute must. If you choose a Jeep, you have to make sure that it has all the required gear and supplies for your needs.
If you are to leave your home without an emergency bug out home to go to, you might need to get a camper trailer for you and your travel companions. If you are alone, you might be able to live in your Jeep. Camper trailers allow home comforts like kitchenettes, shower extensions, refrigeration, toilets, and entertainment systems.
You should also equip your Jeep with weapons and various self-defense items. Guns (depending on your area's laws), pepper spray, blunt force objects, and knives could be key to protecting yourself from bandits and animals.
You will also need tools like shovels, repair kits, wrenches, jumper cables, tire sealants, and multitools. A cutting tool (for seatbelts) and a hammer (for windows) could save your life if your vehicle flips over or crashes into a water body.
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Jeeps are renowned for their customizability, and there are loads of upgrades you can make to prepare your ride for the great unknown. A winch is almost a must if you choose a bug-out Jeep. Winches are handy for saving your own vehicle, as well as getting others out of a jam.
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A roof rack is also a good way to boost your Jeep’s storage capacity. You can never have enough storage space in an emergency situation. If you come across stranded survivors and their gear, you could offer a hand if your Jeep can support it.
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While modern Jeeps have USB and power outlets, using these to charge your devices indefinitely won’t do your car battery any favors. A solar power bank is a good investment. These are quite advanced nowadays, and you can even use them to power laptops.
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Food and water are the basic necessities of life. Make sure to carry as many reusable water containers as you can. As far as food, try to pack as many non-perishable foodstuffs as you can. Tinned foods, dry foods, and so on. A trailer would be especially handy for this.
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Medical supplies such as first aid kits, aspirin, EpiPens, and stitching kits are essential. Make sure you get these items and keep them in your Jeep at all times. Replace expired drugs and equipment ahead of time so you stay ready for when SHTF.
You should also keep fire starters and lighters in the vehicle at all times. You never know when you will need to start a fire out there. Torches and lamps will also be invaluable.
The list of ways you can equip or stock your Jeep to deal with a crisis is almost endless. Make sure you address you and your family’s needs when prepping your Jeep.
For a comprehensive overview of all the survival gear you should stock in a bug out vehicle, check out our 5 bug out vehicle lists every prepper should know about.
Jeep bug out vehicle: modifications & prepping ideas
If you are short on ideas, you can browse the web for some cool modification ideas. In fact, by cruising in and around your town, you might come across some truly inspirational setups.
Pinterest is flooded with many cool bug-out Jeep concepts. The winch is one of the more common mods, especially among Wranglers. Aftermarket off-road wheels are another popular addition. Some people have even opted to replace the wheels with tank-like tracks!
Getting fuel could be a massive challenge in a bug-out scenario. As such, equipping your Jeep to carry additional fuel canisters could prove to be a very wise move.
Your Jeep's paint job may also be an area of consideration. A flashy Jeep is fun and all, but you might want to keep your vehicle as nondescript as possible. You don't want to attract the wrong kind of attention out there.
Survival Jeeps vs other types of bug vehicle
Jeeps are awesome 4x4 vehicles that can bug out with the best of them. They have better off-road capability than most cars and most other SUVs and pickups while being nimbler and more maneuverable than recreational vehicles (RVs).
We’ve already discussed why the ability to go off-road is crucial in an emergency. Jeeps have this ability in spades, along with decent towing capacities. Onboard storage is not bad either
However, as mid-sized SUVs, most Jeeps, do not have the storage and towing capacities of big SUVs and pickups. With Jeeps, you will likely be able to go as far as a medium-sized camper van. In contrast, some pickup trucks can haul massive fifth-wheel trailers that are way beyond a Jeep's muscle.
Jeeps also are not as livable as RVs or motorhomes. RVs have home comforts that a Jeep just cannot match. Without a camper trailer, living in your Jeep could get uncomfortable over time.
Even if parts are somehow available in a crisis, mechanics and service centers may not be. Carrying out DIY repairs on a Jeep is not as easy as it would be on a motorcycle, for instance. Modern Jeeps are even worse because of all their electronics.
Prepper Jeeps: buying new or used?
Unless you have money to burn, you have to weigh the pros and cons of getting a Jeep. New ones are guaranteed to come exactly as advertised. However, the issue of price and depreciation on new vehicles is a major concern. Resale value on a new Jeep is almost a myth.
The used market is a double-edged sword. There is a fair chance you could strike a bargain of the century. At the same time, there is a chance you could purchase a dud machine that insurers wouldn’t touch with a stick. If you are going to buy used, make sure to go with a trusted mechanic with expert knowledge on Jeeps.
Ultimately, the decision to buy new or used will depend heavily on your budget and personal preferences.
Bug Out Jeeps Conclusions
The Jeep has come a very long way and, given its trajectory, it has a long way to go still.
These unique vehicles are born for the great outdoors, and their potential for modification places them high on any bug-out vehicle shortlist.