Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Your Preferred Bug-Out Transportation?

I'd love to hear from readers about your thoughts on bug-out transportation options.  How you will travel in a bug-out scenario is an important consideration and a crucial part of advance planning that is equal in consideration to the bug-out bag and the gear that goes in it.  Your bug-out gear is in fact limited or enhanced by the transportation method, as it is obvious that you can carry more stuff (both gear and supplies) with some options than say the simplest method - which is walking out on foot.

In my book I have a chapter devoted to this topic, and have written my thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of each option I've included.  They are:

  • Motor Vehicles (cars, trucks, SUVs, dual-sport motorcycles, ATVs)
  • Bicycles (mountain bikes, commuting bikes, road touring bikes with panniers or trailers)
  • Boats (canoes, sea kayaks, rowing vessels, powerboats, sailboats, liveaboard cruisers)
  • Pack Animals (horses, mules, donkeys, llamas, goats)  
  • Last but not least - on foot with a backpack
There are a few other options, such as light planes and ultralight aircraft, but these are much less common and not available to most people.

Obviously, where you live and where you will be bugging out from and to has a lot to do with which transportation option you will likely incorporate into your plan.  Packs animals won't likely be an option if you're an apartment dweller in the city, just as a canoe won't do you much good if your bug-out location is in the high deserts of New Mexico.

For most people, the first choice will probably be some kind of motor vehicle, like a truck or SUV.  But have you considered carrying a back-up on the larger vehicle in case of break-down or an impasse that prevents going any further?  Bicycles, ATVs, dual-sport motorcycles, canoes, kayaks, John boats and other boats can be carried on racks or trailers to open up even more options when you get to where the road ends.  Remember that not only do you have to consider how you will get to your bug-out location, but how you will get around once there.  In the most remote wilderness areas, you will likely be reduced to walking or paddling a canoe. In other areas many of these vehicles will still be viable.

I would love to see photos of your bug-out vehicles/boats, etc., and invite you to send them in, along with your thoughts on the subject.


  1. I've only got 50 miles to go, so it's my truck, or my feet... Preferrably the truck!

  2. Truck or van when initially bugging out. After located, a good mountain bike would be useful for distance / hauling heavy bulky items. Imagine packing 40 pounds of water (5 gallons) for two miles by foot, vs. bicycle assistance. If by foot, a surplus pack w/ shelf would likely become very useful. Those Swiss frames used to be sold for $20 or so.

  3. I have a toyota 4 runner. it looks very Grey/ family, But it is a 4x4 and it has a tool box in it that has tools, wool blankets , bottled water, a removerable electric winch and a tow strap. I also have a bicycle, and a couple pairs of good boots along with my alice pack if I am reduced to non motorized forms of transport.

  4. Mayberry, I'm with ya, walking is always a last resort!

    Anonymous, Good thinking regarding using the mountain bike to haul stuff. Even if you can't ride, it would be a good load hauler.

    Kodiak, I like the grey man, blend-in concept. Look like you're going to the shopping mall when you're really set up for self-sufficiency. In a real SHTF situation, it's best not to advertise the fact that you have food, water, fuel, tools, weapons, etc. After Katrina, some people were car-jacking vehicles to get gas.

  5. My first choice is a truck. Unfortunately, my best option in that department is an AWD car atm and that won't be changing in the forseeable future. A close second would be a motorcycle. The only advantage that a car/truck has over a motorcycle is the ability to haul more gear. Setup a bike right, though, and it's shocking how much stuff you can carry. You'd have to stick to backroads and trails that people would have trouble with in anything but a dedicated 4x4 because it would be impossible to hide most of what you're carrying. Anything that you have to power yourself is a last resort as far as I'm concerned. Once you have to rely on a bike or your feet your carrying capacity becomes pretty much non existent and you have to slow down significantly. A boat or kayak would be great if it were feasible in my region.

  6. Yes, you're right about the shocking amount of stuff you can carry on a properly set-up motorcycle. I just recently acquired a KLR 650 dual-sport bike, and I'm in the process of optimizing for off-road and for carrying lots of stuff. The great thing about it is that you can access a lot of forest service and other primitive roads by simply riding around the gates they put up to keep 4x4 vehicles out.

    Regarding human power, you can carry a surprising amount of stuff on a properly equipped touring bicycle, either with racks and panniers or a trailer, or a combination of both. I would sure rather carry 80 pounds or so by bike at 10-14 mph average speed than walk with a 50 pound pack at 3 mph. At least the bike carries the load, and not your back.

  7. I am new to the bug-out/survival planning arena but do have some experience with wilderness survival skills (something I have been practicing off and on for years).

    It seems to me that in the event of a solar flare, EMP, or some similar situation anything that has electric circuits is potentially hosed. Not to mention that even if your wheels survive the initial disaster the roads are likely to be packed with abandoned cars, people on food etc, which all in all sounds like a death trap. Even a motorcycle or bike is problematic as you still potentially have to deal with road gangs, masses of hungry, tired and thirsty people trying to escape the same place (many of which will under- or un- prepared and therefore desperate), and the general chaos that is common to any moving herd.

    With all of that in mind I would thinking avoiding the masses and heading to the woods would be the safer, albeit slower way to go, especially if you are like me and have a very long way to go ( I am a student in south Louisiana, with nearest family/bug-out location in central Missouri). The problem there is that carrying the supplies needed for this longer journey (in time not distance) on foot, with pack, nearly impossible.

    So if motorized transportation is ruled out by the nature of the event, bicycles are made impractical by the need to avoid roads (ie., crazy, angry people), and pack on foot is impractical simply due to the amount of supplies needed for a long journey (like south Louisiana to central MO) then how about a survival sled.

    I can't find any others thinking in the same way so I am probably crazier than the people I am trying to avoid on the roads; but, it seems to me that something like a dog sled, perhaps with removable wheels for those spots/times we can use roads, which can be pulled behind the survivor. Although it would be laborious, it is the best way I can think to carry the supplies needed for a 700 plus mile trip, even with hunting/trapping/gathering along the way.

    So thoughts or ideas. Again be gentle I am new to planning these actions.

  8. That's not completely crazy, although pulling something behind you through the thickets and cutover woods we have here in the Southeast would be difficult at times. The Indians of the Great Plains and perhaps other areas as well made use of the travois, which was perhaps easier to pull than a sled and could be used to move heavier loads than could be carried on one's back. It basically consists of a pair of poles with a platform lashed between them to support the load.

    Of course the other option for getting from south Louisiana to central Missouri would be to make use of the rivers, but that requires considerable experience in small boat handling and paddling if you are going to be traveling upstream. It is possible though, and by working in the eddies and staying out of the strongest downstream currents one can travel up even the Mississippi in a canoe or kayak. It has been done by contemporary paddlers from the Gulf all the way to the source, and of course, back in the day, it was both necessary and common. It's also a very stealthy way to travel, especially at night.

  9. The travois is a nice idea. Seems like it would still be a royal pain to get around or over downed logs, thick brush and the like but is certainly worth considering.

    The thought of river travel has crossed my mind but with my present level of skill and the lack of equipment, it seems impractical for near future planning. That being said, it would undoubtably be less work that huffing all the needed gear on foot even with a sled/travois

  10. I have a caterpillar D4 bulldozer. This may be the slow turtle way but I have it customized to carry 800 gallons of diesel and a special box I strap to the front end that can carry my over-sized bug out gear. The theory is that if something gets in my way such as stranded vehicles I can remove the cargo box off the blade and push the obstacle out of the way. At my best calculations in my area I can get 400 miles on the 800 gallons in 1st gear. Another point is I can mount extra seats on all sides to have a security team secure the perimeter as we travel slowly but surely.

  11. There is one option that most people overlook; the hunting game cart. Most of them are fold-able and can be easily be strapped almost any motor vehicle. Some of them have puncture proof tires. Some of them have waist or shoulder straps for hands free pulling. This is especially important if you are in an area with bears or bad guys and need to keep your rifle at the ready. The heavy duty models carry about 550 lbs. This should be enough to carry most or all your gear if you have to abandon your motor vehicle. It's definitely more than most people can carry on their backs. Game carts are designed for rough terrain and can handle hiking trails or game paths with very little difficulty.

    Game carts can be converted to animal carts or bicycle trailers with a little tinkering. I am custom building my own cart designed to be easier to convert. The puncture proof wheels and frame will handle up to 1,200 lbs. The removable storage box will be waterproof and camouflage painted. I will have skids on the bottom with slots to make it easier to attach floats or sled runners.

  12. Excellent comment regarding the hunting game carts. This is certainly something to look into and could fit in well with a lot of bug-out plans.

    Thanks for pointing this out.

  13. Dear Scott, I am planning on adapting a game cart into a bicycle trailer to use as a BOV. I'm planning on about a 250 lb load. I've googled and can't find much for this particular adaptation. (Lots of homemade bike trailers, not sure they can handle my load, or the terrain)
    Game carts are reasonably priced at around $ 100 to $ 150 and have a great load capacity (300 to 500 + lbs) as compared to the usual bike trailers.
    Do you have any sources/recommendations you can steer me too?

  14. love the comment's, i have desinged and built a pusher trailer for a bike.the idea is to be able to carry 300 lb's of gear on the trailer along with a 5 gallon jerry can of fuel, the trailer is powered by a 6.5 honda clone, the trailer was desinged with saddle system for gear i will share info with any one who is intrested, the idea is to be able skirt traffic jam's and be able to drop gear ,and recon area's with out drawing any attention in populated area's, some picture's are posted on my fabebook page if anyone is intrested. barry colbert

  15. My biggest challenge living on Long Island, NY but only 15 miles from Manhattan,is having to go over one of the bridges to get to my bugout location. My calculations from experience is that within 15 minutes the roads will be gridlocked, so the truck is most likely out of the questions. Bicycles will be touch with a family of 4 and very small children. At this point were thinking of hoofing it as fast as possible, pulling the kids in some sort of cart or bicylce trailer to keep them contained. Perhaps stashing a car on the other side of the bridge to use once we get over. Any other ideas??

  16. Duece and a half...snorkled, loaded, ready to go at a moments notice.

  17. I suggest looking into older diesel powered trucks/vans. You can make your own fuel, and they generally yield better fuel economy than gasoline engines. Another upside is longevity. The older cummins 4bt and 6bt engines are popular.

  18. Check out for the most versatile survival transportation vehicle. They can handle up to 10 people or 3000lbs of survival gear and can cross land, water, snow and even has a PTO for running a generator too.

  19. If I had to choose my preferred method of transportation, It would definitely be my dual sport bike.

    It can go absolutely anywhere. It doesn't take much fuel and is is just awesome.

    That being said, I would also have to consider my situation. I might have other people with me which would mean that I would want some kind of four wheeled vehicle.

    If I needed something with 4 wheels, it would defintely have to be an old pick up truck. 4x4 is preferred. I would want something that I can repair on the side of the road if I needed to.

    I would also want to modify that truck. Big steel grill and big knobby tires would just be the start of the dream survival / bug out truck for me.


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