Top 5 Awesome Bug Out Vehicles You Can Actually Afford

Curtis Lee
By Curtis Lee November 29, 2016 14:06

Top 5 Awesome Bug Out Vehicles You Can Actually Afford

When you need to get out of town as quickly as possible in an emergency, not all vehicles are created equal.

What’s ideal in one situation probably won’t be ideal in a different set of circumstances. Therefore, this article will look at several affordable – totally different – vehicle options.

This is what a bug out situation will likely look like.

This is what an evacuation looks like.

Option 1: Fuel Efficiency and Mobility (Starting at $4500/ Used But In Good Shape $3000)

In this first approach, you will focus on being able to travel as far as possible on a given amount of fuel and have the option to cut through traffic. The most affordable option is the motorcycle.

Honda Gold Wing

Honda Gold Wing

Its advantages include:

  • Relatively low start up cost. Even a new motorcycle can easily cost less than $5,000. The more expensive models are still significantly cheaper than a new mid-sized car.
  • Maneuverability. Motorcycles can cut through traffic and get around abandoned cars more easily than any other vehicle option.
  • Fuel efficiency. A large number of motorcycles get at least the equivalent of a fuel efficient mid-sized car, but with far superior performance. For example, the Honda Gold Wing gets around 35 miles per gallon (MPG). Many motorcycles will get over 60 MPG, such as the Triumph Thunderbird.

But a motorcycle isn’t the perfect bug out vehicle for all situations.

Some disadvantages include:

  • Not-so-great overall range on a single tank of gas (although you get a lot of miles for each gallon).
  • You need practice in order to safely and effectively drive a motorcycle.
  • You’re exposed to the elements.
  • A motorcycle offers no built-in shelter. However, there’s always the option of towing a small camper.
  • Motorcycles are often louder than a typical car.
  • Motorcycles don’t handle ice or snow very well.
  • A motorcycle has limited cargo and passenger carrying capacity, even when towing a trailer.

Option 2: Balance and Blending In (Starting from $27.000, Used But In Good Shape $12.000)

This second approach emphasizes not standing out and being able to do a lot of things moderately well. An affordable recommendation is the hybrid sedan.

Toyota Camry Hybrid Sedan

Toyota Camry Hybrid Sedan

The reasons for this recommendation are:

  • Good fuel efficiency. A hybrid sedan will easily get 40+ MPG.
  • Decent passenger and cargo space. A backseat and trunk provides a moderate amount of room to carry supplies and people.
  • Makeshift shelter. A car isn’t an ideal place to sleep, but it will protect you from the elements. It also has built-in cooling and heating, although these features will use up precious fuel.
  • It doesn’t stand out. If you’re reading this article, you’re probably going to be more prepared than the average citizen during an evacuation. This means you are a prime target for charitable requests (at best) or thievery and violence (at worst). The last thing you want your vehicle to do is broadcast the fact that you have plenty of supplies.

Some drawbacks to using a hybrid sedan as your bug out vehicle include:

  • Poor off-road handling, at least compared to a dedicated off-road vehicle.
  • A more intricate engine compared to a non-hybrid vehicle. This makes on the spot repairs a little more difficult and complex.
  • Not as much carrying or towing capacity as a van, truck or other large vehicle.
    Slightly higher cost than a non-hybrid sedan, although easily affordable. Many hybrid sedans can be purchased new for under $30,000.

Option 3: Extra Space and Blending In (Starting at $25.000 – Used But In Good Shape 15.000)

This third approach is to use a minivan, which is very similar to the second approach, but provides more cargo carrying capacity while still blending in.


Dodge Minivan

Advantages of using a minivan as a bug out vehicle include:

  • Plenty of carrying capacity, whether it’s extra passengers or supplies.
  • More livable space. If you’re going to be sleeping in your vehicle for more than a few nights, you’ll appreciate the extra room a minivan provides.
  • Blends in very well with other vehicles in traffic.
  • Has towing capability if a hitch is installed (and the minivan itself isn’t already fully loaded).

Cons for having a minivan as your bug out vehicle include:

  • Usually more expensive than a smaller car
  • Generally poorer performance and lower fuel efficiency than a sedan.
  • No off-road capability.

Option 4: Off Road (Starting With $20.000, Used But In Good Shape $6500)

If you know you’ll be avoiding the roads in your bug out situation, an off-road vehicle is probably a must-have. There are many off-road capable vehicles, but an affordable and practical option is a pickup truck with a camper shell.

Ford Ranger

Ford Ranger

The benefits of this bug out vehicle include:

  • Good off-road capability, with high ground clearance and four wheel drive.
  • Towing and hauling capability with a high torque engine.
  • A diesel fuel option for certain pickup trucks.
  • Plenty of cargo space.
  • With the camper shell, the truck bed can protect your passengers and/or supplies from the elements. The camper shell will also help shield your supplies from unwanted attention.
  • Good durability.

Potential pitfalls for having a pickup truck with camper as your bug out vehicle are:

  • Relatively poor fuel efficiency.
  • Could be harder to blend in, compared to a sedan or minivan, due to stereotyping.
  • Not as affordable as some sedan options.
  • Less seating than a minivan.
  • Harder to maneuver than a sedan.

Option 5: The Kitchen Sink (Starting With – $70.000, Used But In Good Shape – $10.000)

If you want to be able to have the most amenities and carrying capacity while bugging out, a recreational vehicle (RV) is your most realistic option. While not the most affordable when new, a used 2001 Class C RV with less than 100,000 miles can be purchased for under $10,000.

Super Class C RV

Super Class C RV

The benefits of having an RV as a bug out vehicle are:

  • Comfortable transportation. From bathrooms, to showers to a kitchen, an RV can be setup so it’s like a second home on wheels.
  • Plenty of carrying capacity. With an RV you can carry a lot of supplies and people with plenty of room to spare.

However, the drawbacks to bugging out in an RV are significant:

  • Compared to other vehicle options, RVs have very bad gas mileage.
  • A new RV will be fairly expensive, so only a used RV can be considered affordable by most people.
  • An RV literally screams “I have a lot of stuff.” As mentioned previously, you don’t want to give others the impression you have a lot when everyone else has a little.
  • Large size can be extra difficult to maneuver and operate.
  • Depending on the size of the RV, a special driver’s license may be required.

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Curtis Lee
By Curtis Lee November 29, 2016 14:06
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  1. Ben Leucking November 30, 16:47

    When considering what kind of BOV is best, or whether to make do with what you already have, I think people fail to analyze what conditions will be like two hours, two days, two months or even years after a full blown SHTF situation occurs. Highways and main traffic arteries are likely to be gridlocked almost immediately. Backroads will become increasingly dangerous to drive on, day or night. Conventional law enforcement will be non-existent, and will be replaced with armed roadblocks and roving gangs.

    The ability to quickly go off road and cross country will become a key to successful bugging out. In my view, high clearance, 4WD capability is essential. Having a 40mpg hybrid is irrelevant if you are stuck in the mother of all traffic jams.

    Reply to this comment
    • jim November 30, 20:37

      I have a 4×4 pickup, diesel with a 60gal. Extra fuel tank, can get to the hills quick and easy

      Reply to this comment
    • Dracoe November 30, 22:29

      I agree… but people also make the mistake of being too obvious about it. people tend to want to have a fully decked out, tons of stuff strapped to it, lifted to the sky, painted and decaled with anti-zombie I’m a super prepper SHTF I have stuff for you to steal, looking like a beast from the netherworld, off-road monsters!!… When really, they should have something more like the one pictured in the article, I’d go with something full-size personally, but, the point being, something low key looking, it can have upgrades, loaded with gear (inside)… but outwardly, it should appear as just some dude’s everyday driver, work rig, or weekend camping rig, something the everyman might just have, just cuz.
      And it is entirely possible to get decent fuel milage outta trucks, but really, it’s not so much about how far can I go, as much as gettin’ the hell outta dodge. no matter what vehicle one chooses, part of the included gear should be extended on foot travel gear. because, even if you’ve fully prepared, mapped out the perfect bug out location and path to get there, something out of your control WILL most likely happen, maybe your path is over run or washed out, maybe your car broke, maybe a different scenario occurred than what you expected, maybe you get to your bugout location and someone has discovered it and moved in, maybe something happed where you couldn’t even use the vehicle in the first place…. then there’s just the fact that even if everything went as planned, well, now time has gone by and fuel has run out, but you still need to keep moving. (besides, if you can drive to your bugout location, perhaps you want to rethink that) …. point is, you need to get out now, get off of main roads, and even roads all together, and at some point you will most likely need to ditch your vehicle (unless it is only a short term or localized SHTF situation) Either way, you do NOT want to be on the highway or other major roads, at very least you want to be able to go around the gridlock. And ideally, you want as little as possible strapped to the outside of your vehicle, and that stuff should only be items for getting unstuck, and not easily removeable by some guy at night while you’re sleeping. And I believe a roofrack if incorperated should be accessible from inside, like through a sunroof or similar opening, with nonchalant looking stuff on it (perhaps even disguised) and as much as I see spare tires up there, do you really want to climb up there and lug down that heavy tire, all the while looking over your shoulder… No, you want this to be as quick and easy a proccess as possible, a rear or front mounted spare works great, and front mounted can even act as protection for the front of your truck, and if your tires aren’t ginormous, you could even fit 2 spares side by side. (I know I said you don’t want obvious stuff strapped to you truck, but if you went with the Grandad’s camping rig look, this would look totally natural, also a rear spare comes on some trucks, so this would look normal as well) The undermount style is a nice way to hide your spare, but keep in mind that they take a looooong time to lower them.

      Reply to this comment
  2. George November 30, 20:05

    If you want to blend in AND have some of-road capability, get a late model Subaru. They are all 4-wheel drive, they get decent mileage and if you buy the Outback or the Forester, you have a space that provides some extra carrying capacity and a place to shelter

    Reply to this comment
    • RobbRoy January 12, 19:55

      Subarus are great vehicles but they are not 4 wheel drive, they are all wheel drive. There is a big difference in how the 2 very different systems work. You need to be familiar with how both systems work to make an intelligent choice of vehicle. Personally, for a bug out situation I would only have a 4 wheel drive. All wheel drives are great for slippery on road conditions and very light off road conditions but they pale in comparison to a 4×4.

      Reply to this comment
      • J frakes May 18, 20:38

        Yes, Subarus aren’t 4-wheel drive, and that’s what makes them better; the AWD system in a subaru (1992 & newer) actually use a torque splitter, or viscous coupler that puts the power more efficiently to the ground, and it’s always engaged, meaning you don’t have to do anything when approaching an off highway area. My 1994 Legacy wagon climbed hills better than most of my friends’ jeeps, and was great fun driving ralley style. Extremely well built, extremely capable, and extremely fun. I would probably get another subaru instead of MOST 4×4 trucks out there that are late models- they are all subframe, soft ,urban cowboy sissy cars

        Reply to this comment
  3. left coast chuck November 30, 20:53

    While I am not shilling for Rokon because I have absolutely no financial interest in the company, if you are going to spend money just for a bug out vehicle, you really need to look at the Rokon. It is a two-wheel-drive motorcycle that has trailer towing capability. Not as fast as a Honda Goldwing but not as pricey either. Mileage is not as great as a 250 cc dirt bike but can haul a pretty hefty load on its trailer and will carry two people. And the last time I checked, you didn’t have to be Bill Gates in order to buy one.

    Reply to this comment
    • dracoe November 30, 22:33

      The Rokon is an excellent choice for a 1 or 2 person bugout, Also the small size would make it great for putting in a truck bed as an auxillery vehicle. One would be hard pressed to find a place you couldn’t take it.

      Reply to this comment
  4. map guy November 30, 20:55

    Make sure you have all maps of the direction of your travel. Individual county road maps if you think you may go on the back roads and USGS topo maps if going off road.

    Reply to this comment
    • Dracoe November 30, 22:45

      Maps are a great idea, and I would even mark my primary, secondary, and even thirdary routes, in different colors. Practice these routes, and while practicing them, keep an eye out for alternates, and hidden spots to park, areas, that could be compromised and how so, perhaps even possible supply caches, and areas where there maybe resources such as rivers for water and fish, maybe there’s a grain mill or farm, perhaps a store to either check or avoid, speaking of, also keep an eye out for areas you shouls keep away from, whether it poses human, animal, or other threats such as maybe a flooding river, electrical substation that maybe “live” (in a bad way) be aware of dams that could break (upstream), small towns that may not take kindly to strangers (speaking of wihich, if there are such places on your route, stop and get to know the locals during your practice runs, that way when you show up when SHTF, they’ll be like “oh, that’s just Bill.” and possibly even offer help rather than run ya off or shoot you.) GPS may or may not work, depending on the nature of the situation and while may be nice, should NOT be relied upon.

      Reply to this comment
      • Dracoe November 30, 22:53

        ….Oh, and if you have maps with your route marked, keep them private, don’t just throw then up on the dash for all the world to see, keep them in a hidden but accessible place.

        Reply to this comment
  5. Jim December 1, 04:23

    Ive got a 77′ JEEP 4×4 that runs on LPG. Also an M105 covered trailer with 3-55 gal. drums…for water, tools and clothing. Got a good supply of canned and dry goods with plenty of tarps, blankets, prepper gear, and my guns and ammo. That being said this is for secondary use…I plan on bugging in because I live outside of a small town in the country.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Sundaydisco December 1, 13:11

    What about a high roof delivery van. They are usually on an heavy duty frame and can be had with diesel engine and 4×4. A couple of Joe bobs plumbing signs stuck on the side is about as low key as it gets. Off road tires and heavy duty bumpers fit into this package well.

    Reply to this comment
  7. K.I.S.S. December 1, 22:51

    I thought about a buying a used moving van. Put your gear inside and if your delayed getting to your destination you could park at a Uhaul lot with the rest of moving vans and hide in plain sight. Of course the vans outside color should match the vendor’s lot your parking at or near. Don’t park a truck you bought from Ryder in a Uhaul Lot.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Jean-Michel December 2, 14:21

    Mon rêve : un polaris général. Le premier prix est de 8500 euros avec un moteur de 500 cv. On peut les équiper d’un treuil puissant et ils ont un petit coffre. Ils peuvent se faufiler dans les forêts si les arbres ne sount pas trop serrés

    Reply to this comment
    • Enigma September 21, 22:01

      France est assez petit pour votre marcher, vélo, ou bateau à un refuge de bug-out pre situé et préalablement fourni.

      Beaucoup abandonnés et demi-abandonnées villages médiévaux dans le Sud-Ouest France. Localiser un refuge loin d’et à chaque fois, et qu’en transit, les autoroutes majeures et chargeur.

      Reply to this comment
    • Enigma September 21, 22:08

      Climate matters. Diesel fuel can grow bacterial mats in warm-humid places, or get ‘jellied’ in really cold weather.

      An option not mentioned in main article is multi-fuel multi-terrain vehicles. Rather popular in Australia, and South and Central America.

      Reply to this comment
  9. like2liver December 2, 23:01

    I think most of this talk about buggin’ out is nonsense. Where would one go to?…up to the hills? Everyone else will be fighting to get there too, or already there. Roads will be jammed with crazies and yahoos that are working in freak out mode already. And, who are we running from; ourselves? If things get that bad, wake up folks, we’re all in this together, like it or not. It would be wiser to stay where we are and try to work together in a civilized manner to help each other rather than jumping to freak out mode.
    None of us know what it would be like if we all freak out together; I am sure none of us wants to go there.

    Reply to this comment
    • theoldman December 12, 20:59

      “work together in a civilized manner to help each other” sounds good . Cut off food stamps for one day and see how that works out for you.

      Reply to this comment
    • Ben Leucking December 19, 13:05

      Bugging out is the last thing I would want to do, but I also realize that I won’t be the one dictating the circumstances. Even if you can successfully remain in place, you will still need a vehicle that can handle the new reality of permanently blocked roads.

      The largest metro area in my state has 3.9 million residents and nearly 5 million registered vehicles (private, commercial and govt.). Excluding semi-tractor trailer rigs, that equates to nearly 28,000 miles of vehicles end to end. Do anyone seriously think they could navigate through that kind of mess?

      Reply to this comment
    • Enigma September 21, 22:09

      Like button pressed.

      Reply to this comment
    • Gary January 4, 14:31

      When it comes to the survival of my family, protection and supplies are a number one priority. Therefore on my way out I will be stopping by your house to take your stuff. Wake up cupcake, people will go into survival mode not freak out mode. There is no compromise, just survival of the fittest if SHTF.

      Reply to this comment
  10. The Georgia Clawhammer December 5, 16:38

    Use your God- given common sense. If you live in a neighborhood where everyone would go heathen. GET OUT NOW, while the getting is good or at least move somewhere else even if it is a cheaper place and lacks conveniences. There are good neighbors still in this world and a lot of them are thinking about things too. Educate yourself. If pepper spray is not available use wasp and hornet spray. Cheaper but will cause permanent damage. Embrace guns as they are your best friends when the grizzly or heathens come. Have suitable clothes, 25 year food in mylar packs are a great option along with small propane bottles and a propane stove. If at all possible be very close if not at where you need to be. If you truly think this thru,are prepared, and pay close attention, you are way ahead of the game. Let not your heart be afraid!

    Reply to this comment
    • Enigma September 21, 22:14


      ‘Prepper’ means something, and not necessarily those nuts planning to rumble about in a reconditioned military tank or HMMWV

      Reply to this comment
  11. Scouting December 14, 04:40

    Has anyone thought of maybe a E.M.P during your bug out ? I have chosen a 1976 international scout as my bug out vehicle’s 4×4 and doesn’t have electronic ignition so impervious to a emp ..also carries a lot of cargo and 5 people can ride .and I’m currently working on hidden rifle storage compartments for a few of the firearms I want to bring with me ..I do understand people have different preferences. But I’m trying to look at all aspects of a bug out ..and if nothing ever happens then I still have a cool 4×4 camping/hunting rig ..

    Reply to this comment
    • Enigma September 21, 22:19

      Thermonuclear or Coronal Mass Ejection (Solar flare) EMP a distinct possibility.

      Main article hasn’t considered realistic scenarios. Folk need to read books written by those who survived real disasters and conflicts, such as what happened during Indian Ocean tsunami and in Balkans during 1990s.

      Reply to this comment
  12. Boatworker1 December 14, 12:57

    Purchase or “borrow” a tow truck. It’s practically a license to take whatever you need and uniforms will not question your motives.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Country Girl January 12, 03:30

    None of you have even talked about one of the best ways to bug out? It wouldn’t be easy for City People almost impossible. Unless you ever lived in the Country. I’m a Country Girl. Used to using Horses for many things. But along with this you’d need some Pack Mules. To Travel with your foods & other supplies you’d be needing. But again this has to be well planed out. If you don’t already have the Horses & Pack Mules, That is another cost in it’s self. You also need a good hide out easy to get to from where you live. If your in a small Country Town, OR a little bigger Town. This is a easy do. find a Cabin to buy OR build one. Start now don’t wait. You will need a wood stove, stock it with plenty of fire wood & access to water. You will still need the Horses & Mules to get out carrying the extra things you will need. Don’t tell what you have keep it to your self. Make it out of the way out of sight out of mind. You may already have that Cabin all the good. Get it stocked & ready for the long run.

    Reply to this comment
  14. Chasl'homme March 14, 21:53

    For anything long-term, it has to be diesel! Petrol, (gas), goes “off” after a few months. Also, there are far fewer potential electrical problems with a Diesel engine.

    Reply to this comment
  15. Redlist Renegade May 8, 21:08

    Since I already live in the mountains , up in the rockies , I’m not as concerned about bugging out as most people are but IF I ever have to I have a good 4X4 truck with an extra gas tank and a 24 foot travel trailer and a great hidden location that I could reach on mountain back roads within 25 miles or so of where I live and I could easily hide my rig at my BOL with large camo nets that I keep in my trailer .

    Reply to this comment
  16. nâng mũi hàn quốc giá bao nhiêu June 12, 00:52

    Having read this I thought it was really informative. I appreciate you spending some
    time and effort to put this short article together. I once again find myself personally
    spending a lot of time both reading and leaving comments.

    But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    Reply to this comment
  17. Labienus October 24, 18:40

    I wonder what happened to good old fashioned walking? Vehicles are loud, expensive and require spare parts, oil and fuel to run. If you are trying to be undetected, walking is your best bet.

    Reply to this comment
  18. Enigma October 27, 20:59

    Circumstances matter. Persons in your survival group may be assets but none too mobile. Applies to minors too.

    Best to pay attention to actual current events (not wrangling Tweets), anticipate any real crisis, and preemptively use a vehicle to get vulnerable members to/near a sustainable hide you’ve already established. But thereafter exposing any vehicle is counter-survival. Not least, heavy wheeled vehicles leave trails.

    Lugging things around afoot usually onerous; water weighs heavy; so do canned goods and freshly-hunted meat. Depending on the climate and zone, some folk may look into acquiring and maintaining pack animals, yet such must be defended at minimum from predators.

    Best pack animals are donkeys, mules, and lamas. Lamas are actually the very best (reproduce, provide hair, and can be eaten), but can be mean and difficult to deal with. Camels are good in arid places, but are noisy.

    Reply to this comment
  19. rooster December 21, 16:32

    I think everyone should be thinking about electronic ign.

    Reply to this comment
  20. Enigma December 22, 23:21

    Vintage vehicles (pre-1990s) built / restored to only use simple electrical devices are best in a crisis. But they will most usually use also more fuel.

    Reply to this comment
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