Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fast Escape Vehicle or Self-Contained Mobile Retreat?

In deciding how to organize the information on various vehicles in Bug Out Vehicles and Shelters, I had to separate the various modes of transportation covered in the book into three major categories:  Escape Vehicles, Mobile Retreats and Alternative or Back-up Vehicles. 

While any vehicle of any type could be classified as an "escape" vehicle because it could be used to make your escape in a bug-out situation, the primary difference as defined in the book is that for the most part an escape vehicle is the type of conveyance that will enable you to make a rapid exit from a danger zone, or perhaps reach your pre-planned bug-out location or retreat or even get home to your family if you are caught out away when the event happens.  The generally means you won't be thinking of the vehicle itself as a shelter and won't be spending any time in it except for travel.  If the situation calls for more than one day of travel, you'll likely be camping out of rather than inside of the vehicle, simply because it won't have accommodations or be set up for self-contained travel.  Examples of escape vehicles include most passenger cars, pickups and SUVs - the sort of vehicle most people use for everyday transportation and already own.  Other escape vehicles for overland travel on highways and roads include many types of motorcycles and escape vehicles for travel on the water include small powerboats and runabouts, as well as some classes of small sailboats and personal watercraft. 

Those utilizing a fast escape vehicle to bug-out of a SHTF situation will likely be doing so specifically because they have planned their bug-out strategy around quickly reaching a specific bug-out location or prepared retreat, or in the worst case, because they were caught totally unprepared and have to quickly throw some gear and supplies into whatever vehicle they have and go.  In either case, there are all sorts of contingencies to consider and anyone planning to bug out in a vehicle that cannot also double as a retreat shelter should have the basic gear and supplies they need to survive without the vehicle if for some reason it has to be abandoned. 

Mobile Retreats, on the other hand, can be defined as those vehicles which offer both transportation and shelter and can provide long-term support for you and your family both while you are on the move and after you reach a safer location.  A key difference as opposed to escape vehicles is that you can live in them rather than relying on a tent or other temporary shelter.  The ability to sleep inside the vehicle means that it can be set up for more comfort as well as more security, and you don't have to stop and unpack everything to set up camp and repack it to get on the move again.  The smallest mobile retreats will have at least as much storage space as the largest escape vehicles, and the larger ones will have many times more.  Some can carry everything you need for months of self-sufficient travel or living.  Examples of mobile retreats covered in the book include a broad range of manufactured RVs from pop-up campers to motorhomes, DIY mobile retreats such as converted buses, house trucks and home-built camper trailers, and liveaboard boats, including motor and sailing cruisers and houseboats.

Mobile retreats, like any other type of vehicle, can certainly have their drawbacks as well, and among these are the fact that larger vehicles will generally require more fuel, be more difficult to maneuver in evacuation traffic and will be more conspicuous and harder to conceal, which could attract unwanted attention and even attempts by those less prepared to take all the gear and supplies you are obviously carrying.  Deciding to utilize a mobile retreat as your bug-out vehicle will require careful planning and tailoring of the vehicle and its gear to your specific situation.

The bottom line is that any sort of travel after the SHTF will present problems and challenges that have to be overcome and risks that have to be assessed and dealt with.  But in some situations, mobility could be the key to survival.  What kind of vehicle options are you considering?  Do you lean more towards fast escape vehicles to Get Out of Dodge in a hurry, or do you plan to hit the road or waterways in a well-stocked mobile retreat and try to stay away from the danger zones for as long as it takes?


  1. Very good post - a lot of information to consider. I would think if you are attempting to flee a large urban area, the larger BOV may be out of the question - just too many vehicles on the road at the same time. I remember reading many accounts from Highway 45 Houston / Dallas, and how large vehicles became boxed in (in fact, happened with small vehicles as well, idling with low gas reserves does that).

    I remember a blog post from years back, which mentioned another possible choice. Locate and tow a junked van to your BO spot so that it is already in place, remove wheels to prevent theft, and end up with a weather tight 'tent' already sited in a good location. Manually roll up windows, possibly a skylight for better ventilation of heat. Better than a tent in some locations, especially in wintertime.

    Gotta get there 1st though. :^)

  2. This is my first time here so you may have covered this. I have a treardrop trailer that is 4 ft X 8 ft for a BOV. Main reason i have picked it is all my vehicals have hitches.Empty it is just 400lb can be loaded with food and guns in 5 minates{all other gear is already stored in it].a teardrop can be home built for about 700$.Mine always has food and water for a weeks camping in it for 2.A teardrop can be pulled with any 4 or truck.With my ranger i get 23 miles to a gallon pulling it with my car its 27.It,s worth thinking on.there are a lot of designes to choose from but any place a vehical can go a teardrop can with it.In the time it took to read this i could have hitched had in 10 buckets of supplies my guns and ammo and be pulling out.Plus if you take the wife camping you never have to use the words bug out vehical.they are a lot of fun and versital

  3. Scott - Just got mine via Looking forward to digging into it. Hope you have been well.


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